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Need to find a BYO in Conshohocken area that is not Blackfish

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oogle May 8, 2007 07:17 PM

Can anyone point us in the right direction to a really good BYO in the Conshohocken area? We tried Blackfish and although the food was really good, we left hungry. It is an important dinner with soon to be in-laws and I really want to impress with a "gem" of a find. Help please!

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  1. j
    jwbausch RE: oogle May 9, 2007 04:15 AM

    Well, you've put us on the spot! ;-)

    YMMV, but I would consider Tratorria Totaro (639 Spring Mill Avenue; Conshohocken; 610-828-7050). I can say with relative certainty that you won't leave hungry as the owner Vince serves very generous portions. My wife and I love the calamari appetizer, the whole small grouper entree, and the chocolate bread pudding dessert. If you are looking for a place with a fancy decor, you'll likely be disappointed.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jwbausch
      joluvscards RE: jwbausch Sep 3, 2008 03:34 PM

      Totaro is not byo.

      1. re: joluvscards
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        lmurray517 RE: joluvscards Sep 4, 2008 05:39 AM

        Somebody replied that Totaro's is not a byo. I must refute that comment, but willl explain. Totaro's Bar and Restaurant on Hector St is not a byo, but Vince Totaro's Trattoria on Spring Mill is!!! AND its my favorite BYO:) They are actually brother's with locations one block from each other. If you're looking for a quaint byo with excellent and affordable food - go to Totaro's Trattoria!

    2. Den RE: oogle May 9, 2007 04:48 AM

      You could try From The Boot in Lafayette Hill on Germantown Pike, just a couple of minutes from Conshy. It's a good little Italian BYO. There's also Sorrento on Ridge Pike in Lafayette Hill but I would go to From The Boot first.

      1. j
        JanR RE: oogle May 9, 2007 05:54 AM

        Fayette St. Grill, right across the street from Blackfish.

        2 Replies
        1. re: JanR
          rabidog RE: JanR May 9, 2007 07:03 PM

          does it have to be BYO? pepperoncini is the hidden gem in conshy. elm & poplar. ask to be seated in the back room furthest from the bar. awesome food... i still can taste an awesome crab/artichoke risotto i had last august on the night before i moved from the neighborhood.

          gypsy saloon and stella blu... my memory fails me and i can't recall if they were BYO or had licenses...... CUTE decor, and the food was fine, no complaints, but i didn't find either anything to write home about.

          whatever you do don't go to coyote crossing!

          1. re: rabidog
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            oogle RE: rabidog May 10, 2007 10:09 AM

            Thanks for the suggestions, we do prefer BYO, we love good wine and really dislike the huge mark ups at restaurants.

        2. i
          idia RE: oogle May 10, 2007 03:19 PM

          "A gem of a find" in the Conshy area? I don't THINK so!
          And there are not many fine BYOB's.
          There is Stella Blu but they have a bar.
          Then there's the expensive, upscale and iimpressive Savona (right over the bridge in Gulph Mills) who will allow you to bring your own but has a hefty corkage fee. (But your in-laws-to-be would love it!!)
          You're asking a tough one.
          Blackfish is the only decent restaurant that is also a BYO in that area IMHO.

          6 Replies
          1. re: idia
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            oogle RE: idia May 23, 2007 03:25 PM

            Idia, if you think the only decent BYO in Conshohocken is Blackfish, you must be the owner or something. The Fayette Street Grill and Trattoria Totaro are far better than decent. We have tried both of these restaurants over the past couple of weeks and have to say that the food at both restaurants was delicious! Trattoria is pretty, welcoming and very reasobably priced considering the high quality food and very generous portions. The Fayette St. grill has a great fixed price menu and the food was yummy. You should give them a try.

            1. re: oogle
              i
              idia RE: oogle May 23, 2007 04:42 PM

              Oogle:
              I am sorry if you felt insulted by my post and, no, I am not the owner of Blackfish and have only been there myself 3 times. (If he is reading this, he must be getting a great kick out of it.)
              I have dined at the other two restaurants you mentioned and they were both fine but I had no clue that Trattoria Totaro was a BYOB and for that I apologize because I know you were looking for that.
              Remember, you said that you wanted to IMPRESS your in-laws.
              I was simply giving you my opinion based on the fact that I thought the atmosphere for new in-laws might be an important factor and in that sense, I preferred Blackfish.

              Anyway, I was only giving my humble opinion. We all have different tastes. Don't take it to heart. It's alll subjective.

              1. re: idia
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                oogle RE: idia May 23, 2007 07:14 PM

                Hi again, not insulted at all, just wanted to share some other really good byo restaurants in Conshohocken with you. Trattoria Totaro is not Totaro's (which is not a byo). The owners of each restaurant are brothers but completely seperate restaurants. Trattoria is on Springmill Ave at 7th. Have you been there? If you haven't, try it. We went on a weekend and had to wait a bit for a table because we didn't realize that reservations were necessary for the weekends but I am sure if you went on a Monday or Wednesday you could get right in. If you go, let me know what you think and I will give Blackfish another try, okay? I just don't like leaving dinner in need of more food and I am a small person. Thanks for the reply and happy dining!

                1. re: oogle
                  i
                  idia RE: oogle May 23, 2007 08:26 PM

                  Oogle:
                  Well I am certainly glad we got that straightened out because I now realize I have never even been to Trattoria Totaro.

                  I have been to Totaro's which is not a BYOB as far as I know.
                  I will certainly consider trying it at some point because I do like BYO's, but what interests me even more is their take-out Italian food. I happen to live quite close so it would be a neat alternative for busy days when I just don't feel like cooking.

                  That's for the heads up.

                  1. re: oogle
                    s
                    sanfrantransplant RE: oogle Apr 11, 2008 07:22 PM

                    From time to time I read posts where people say they leave a restaurant and still need more food. I don't see how, if you order well, you can still be hungry. The point at some of these upscale restaurants is not to have a huge plate of food and eat like it's a thanksgiving meal... it's to taste the chef's creations and take their "ride"... If you go into a place like blackfish and order an app, entree and dessert, there's no way you can not leave full. I wonder how many people get only an entree and expect it to fill them up? If you do that, you've missed the whole point of the dining experience. I hear the same thing about Majolica. I've eaten at both places and don't see it. And no, I don't work at either one. By the way, the oilve garden has never ending bread basket and salad bar...

                    1. re: sanfrantransplant
                      saturninus RE: sanfrantransplant Apr 14, 2008 06:28 AM

                      I disagree. I have had an appetizer, entree and dessert and left restaurants hungry.

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              amblerdude RE: oogle May 11, 2007 07:49 AM

              There actually a couple decent BYOs in Conshy. Try the Spring Mill Cafe. It's French cuisine in a 200 year old house. The atmosphere is really homey and the food is excellent. There is also the Fayette Street Grille. The food is good, but it's definitely lacking in atmosphere.

              1 Reply
              1. re: amblerdude
                Mawrter RE: amblerdude Apr 11, 2008 01:49 PM

                I haven't been to SPMC in a long time - because of my lifestyle stuff, not because of lack of love. I prefer Michele's classic French cuisine to the North African specialties, but that's probably personal preference more than anything else. There is nothing "edgy" about the place, but if you like cosy & French, this is your place.

                www.springmill.com <-- with sample menus, recipes, events like themed dinners
                164 Barren Hill Rd
                Conshohocken, PA 19428
                (610) 828-2550

                And I almost forgot: It's BYOB.

              2. d
                dinwiddie RE: oogle May 11, 2007 07:52 AM

                I can't give you any specific recommendations, since I live in the DC area but here is a tool from a Phila. area website that you can use to get info about BYOs near you.

                http://www.winelovers.net/res.php

                1. j
                  JABDDD RE: oogle May 11, 2007 07:54 AM

                  What about Alison's in Blue Bell? Not far from Conshy. Although I am not sure it will be your cup of tea after your statement about "huge mark-ups." I have not found this the case with many restaurants, BYO or otherwise, after all, you do get what you pay for, but opinions certainly do differ.

                  Either way, I wish you the best of luck with the soon to be in-laws.

                  1. a
                    AndyKadick RE: oogle May 12, 2007 08:38 AM

                    It's funny that jwbausch mentioned Trattoria Totaro because me and my future in-laws (so I'm really trying to impress them ha) ate there and it was fantastic! We started off with the bruschetta platter (three different types all homemade, my favorite the caponada), the caesar salad (homemade dressing!), and mussels in white wine and garlic. For my entree, I had the duck ( for the first time in my life) with sweet potatoes and brocalli rabe and it was so good. It was grilled just perfectly. My fiancee had a trout special and she cleaned her plate. Her parents loved their food as well. Her dad is culinary instructor and loved everything which I think is a testament to how good the food is. All in all, it's not a fancy place and my in-laws are used to eating high end, but between the food and the attentive, but not overbearing service, we felt like family. Oh, and the homemade chocolate cake (the owner's mother makes it) is awesome! :)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: AndyKadick
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                      jwbausch RE: AndyKadick May 12, 2007 12:58 PM

                      AndyKadick, I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it. I hope you got to meet the owner Vince. He is a great guy. If you get a chance to try their seven fishes dinner in December, go for it. It was wonderful.

                    2. k
                      kevinabeatty RE: oogle Sep 3, 2008 02:26 PM

                      We ate at Trattoria Totaro's on Spring Mill for my birthday the other week. The appetizers and entrees were basic home cooked italian meals. Nothing fancy AT ALL, but basic trattoria fare. The food was a tad under salted, but some salt fixed it up nicely.

                      I will say that for $20-$30/entree it totally wasn't worth it. In Atlanta, you would pay about $14-$17 for the same food. Also, the atmosphere was like being in a take out shop...which it is. The service was also like a small diner: nice, friendly, but nothing extraordinary.

                      After eating, we decided to try one of their great desserts mentioned on this website by others. My b-day was a Wednesday and when i asked about desserts, the waitress informed us that she was in charge of making them and had not made any that night since it was gonna be a slown night (we were one of only 2 tables that night). She said she had 2 left over desserts from Tuesday night or ice cream. Yuk. I ate at Blackfish the next week and there is absolutely no comparison in food, service, or atmosphere. Blackfish the best we've eaten at in Conshy. Trying Fayette St. Grill and Pepperoncini this week.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kevinabeatty
                        k
                        kevinabeatty RE: kevinabeatty Jan 7, 2009 08:32 AM

                        OK, have finally tried Pepperoncini and Fayette Street Grill. Pepperoncini is off Elm St. in downtown Conshy. The service was friendly and swift. It is not a BYOW, so i ordered a Sauvignon Blanc off the menu that was generic enough but tasty. The pasta we ordered was excellent. Tons of garlic, so if you hate garlic, BEWARE. But we found it marvelous and have returned several times. Not a fancy decorated place. So don't assume a grand dining hall. More like a pub with a dining area.

                        Ate at Fayette St. Grill last night. They sat us right beside the kitchen counter (it's an open kitchen, much like a Waffle House) and all we could smell was sizzling grease and raw fish. We had to ask to be moved because the smell started to get to some of my tablemates.

                        Near the front of the restaurant was much better...and away from the kitchen airs. I will tell you that the food is copious, from the app to the entree to the dessert. It is a fixed menu at $33 a person.

                        I ordered the pumpkin ravioli for appetizer. I got about 10 in a bowl with a nice sauce. The ravioli themselves were not homemade. A brand i'd eaten before from Whole Foods, actually. The pumpkin was pureed in chunks and it was pretty bland/tasteless once you actually bit into the ravioli. I wouldn't order again. I thought how much i would have much preferred to be eating the pumpkin ravioli at Alba in Malvern...but alas.

                        Then, i broke a cardinal rule of mine: "never order something that looks too good for the price". I opted for the special, with just a small $5 supplement, a grilled lobstertail with grilled shrimp and drawn butter. Served over green beans and white truffle risotto. The shrimp were tasty, but the lobster tail was raw in the middle. I had to send it back for more cooking. The green beans were barely cooked. Now, i LOVE my green beans lightly steamed vs. boiled, but anyone else probably wouldn't have eaten them. They were steamed for no more than 3 minutes. Fortunately, I could withstand them. The white truffle risotto i could easily have made at home. In fact, i have, and it tasted JUST like the one Fayette Street served. There were no actual white truffle shavings in it and very little, if any, white truffle flavor. I know what they used. It was a white truffle olive oil. I have used it before in risotto. The problem with a white truffle olive oil is that the powerful flavor of the olive oil takes over any white truffle. Using a grapeseed oil that has had white truffle aroma infused makes for a MUCH better cooking oil. So, the risotto just tasted of olive oil, althoug h the texture was not gummy. I dunno, the lobster and shrimp on their own were fine, but the accompanying starch and greens didn't fuse well at all.

                        I concluded with the maple creme brulee. Like most restaurants that cannot, due to its size, afford to have a pastry chef on staff, the desserts were the usual: cheesecake, creme brulee, a cinnamon bread pudding, and ice cream. While the creme brulee was large it was not firm nor rich. Tasted much more like a flan and i didn't taste any maple. I watched ice cream exit the kitchen for another table. 3 large scoops in a dish. At least 10 oz. of ice cream. Come on! Who wants to be served that much dessert?!?

                        Final Assessment of Fayette Street Grill: Not a bad neighborhood restaurant if you don't expect much and like very large quantity. Imagine it as an upscale diner and you'll be much more pleased with the outcome. Order the simple items. Complex items require complex ingredients and Fayette Street Grill just doesn't have them. The service was very congenial and quick.

                        I rank restaurants with the following scale:

                        4 - Best in the City
                        3 - Definitely Worth a Visit
                        2 - Good in places, but needs work
                        1- Dreadful. Avoid at all costs.

                        For Conshohocken restaurants, here are my ratings thus far:

                        Fayette Street Grill - 2
                        Spring Mill Cafe - 3
                        Pepperoncini - 3
                        Blackfish - 4
                        Shula Steaks - 2
                        Stella Blu - 3
                        Trattoria Totaro - 2

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