Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Pennsylvania >
Aug 12, 2008 05:07 PM


We have lived in Birchrunville for over 30 years and visited BSC when it was owned by Gar and again when it was reopened by Francis. Recently we decided to see if all the fuss and acclaim was warranted. We made reservations for July and August. After our July visit we soon canceled our August reservations.

They are only open three days a week so the place should be spotless and reflect their high ratings. But no. The napery was tattered, unironed, not shabby sheik, but should have been put in a rag bin, table was sticky and wobbled. Our server attempted to adjust with a pre-cut, ready to help cork but it was unsuccessful. I held it steady with my foot during the meal. What they thought clever was not a remedy and the fact that the corks were ready cut was a clue that it is a often needed fix. The rugs need a major cleaning.

The asparagus gazpacho soup with crab contained a skimpiest portion of crab and it was not lump crab meat. Our entrees: Salmon with crab cake (again not lump) was not remarkable and we did not finish. We are foodies from before the word was coined and we usually clean our plates. We knew immediately after the so-so soup that the looked forward to crab cake would again be backfin or whatever it was that was not jumbo crab which it should have been in any 4 star establishment. Our other entree was veal with chanterelles. It was hide and seek with the mushrooms. Where are they? The sauces are thin and off target. This a French chef!

Our shared dessert of warm butterscotch cake with pinenut and caramel gelato was very good. We did ask the server for her recommendation. We asked on the other courses as well but she was unable to give an answer as she had not sampled the courses. Why not? What about staff on staff meals? At least we ended on good note but the coffee was ordinary.

It was mentioned that Francis was preoccupied with his other effort of replacing Martin at St Peter's Inn but that only diminishes his BSC effort.We did indeed see him that evening. We have learned since that he is no longer at St. Peter's. Rumors????

It was so much better years ago. We did overhear direction conversations on the phone. Acoustics are not good. Directions from the website, could be better. We have lived here 30 years plus. We have assisted lost patrons over the years that have driven by our home on their lost route to the restaurant. We think that folks are just so happy to have found the place that they are thrilled. We have driven by the establishment numerous times and seen very happy diners stumbling out of the old general store. Way back when it was still the "general store" and we used to put our Sunday NYT and milk on our tab, and there were no "tourists" anywhere in the vicinity, it was a very cool place to be.

How time changes everything. NOLA will remain our best place to dine in the USA. Skip Birchrunville and book a flight to New Orleans and go to Galatoire's. You will never be disappointed.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I also visited BSC back in the GAR days, and although he was charming, a true gentleman and very much missed, there is no comparison in the quality of the food that he put out and the food that is served today by Francis and his gang. My husband and I have dined there many times - we even changed the night that we got married so we could dine there afterwards. The charm of the restaurant, the professionalism of the staff and the top of the line food that Francis and his staff deliver is unbeatable. We have taken many friends to this restaurant - including Chicago friends who have been to Tru and Vie out in their hometown, and they all leave saying it is one of the best meals they have ever had. I am not one to respond to a lot of these entries, but as a foodie who has been to The French Laundry, Del Posto, Inn of Little Washington, and Vetri, I can tell you that Birchrunville rates right up there with the best of them and I wanted to let other diners know! :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: SUZSS0811

      I have to agree with Suz. I am a fan of BSC (and of Galatoire's, BTW, although I don't get there that often).

      It's a shame you had a bad experience, but if you read this board over time, you will see that the raves outnumber the problems (the most common of which is a "small portions" comment) by a wide margin.

      There may have been some distraction while he gave some attention to the Inn at St. Peters, but we continued our once-a-month visits throughout and noticed little change, only the loss of the old hostess.