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Jun 13, 2009 04:00 AM

DeTerra Wine Bar - all I can say is wow!

The new wine bar in Ambler had a soft opening this past week so my husband and I stopped in last night to check it out. We were absolutely speechless from the minute we walked in the door. The place is gorgeous, I didnt feel like I was in Ambler anymore.

First there is a beautiful patio you see when you first walk in with an outdoor fireplace. The restaurant itself is spectacular, very modern with wood and black granite. There was a huge curved black granite bar, every detail was amazing from the light fixtures, to the floral arrangements. It is a two story restaurant and there is another fireplace on the second floor, with a wine storage area that looks to be suspended on the second floor above the bar. Visually it was very cool.

We just went for a glass of wine, their by the glass selection was really good, but quite small. Prices were reasonable, from the $7-$15 range. They said they plan to rotate the by the glass list. My husband got a nice spanish Tempranillo that we had never heard of before and enjoyed it. I am pregnant so I was stuck having water. I cannot wait until this baby is born because they have a signature cocktail list and they have a watermelon martini that I am dying to try!

The place was pretty crowded but not overly so. Service was nice, but the bartenders were pretty slow, it took forever to get the bartenders attention to get a wine list. Waiting for the bartenders attention made me feel like I was in a center city bar and not Ambler (and not in a good way).

We did not get a chance to try the food but many people were eating at the bar. The person next to me ordered a veal chop and it looked and smelled amazing. But, we looked at the menu and the veal chop was $45. Yep. The menu was amazing but it could lead to a darn expensive dinner. The veal chop was of course the most expensive entree, they did also have pasta options for $18+ and roast chicken for $27. It seemed like a great spot for drinks and appetizers. They had a nice selection of pizzas for $10-$15, a charcuterie pizza on the menu looked great. They also had a cheese plate and some other nice appetizers, those prices were much more reasonable. The waitress mentioned they are going to run some mid-week specials, like an after theater special of 2 glasses of wine and a pizza for $15. I heard the chef is from the former Blue Sky restaurant in East Norriton.

Overall, it is a gorgeous addition to town, and I definitely plan to go back. It seems to be a great option after the theater, or for an after dinner drink. Having the two theaters right across the street, From the Boot also opening across the street, the Schanachie practically next door, the new coffee and gelato shop (open late) , etc. makes that stretch of Butler Ave really nice and walkable for a night out.

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  1. I never did "get" Schanachie as I think it's overpriced and the food quality is marginal. While they are different types of places, I think local diners will gravitate to From The Boot rather than DeTerra given the prices. They may still do well given similar pricing to San Marco and will probably pull business from there. BTW, DeTerra's owner is a building contractor, hence the over the top construction. I know some of DeTerra's suppliers and they say the new kitchen is over the top as well.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Den

      You don't get Schanachie? I'm guessing your last name doesn't begin O' or Mc. Seriously though, I've always thought it was more about the atmosphere than about the food. The food's OK to good, not great. We've been there a number of times with family and friends and everyone's always enjoyed the place. On a cold winter day, my wife can't get there fast enough to down a bowl of Irish Beef Stew! We're definitely going to have to walk through DeTerra's door and see what "upscale" Ambler is coming to!!

      1. re: bucksguy14

        The food was a lot better until about eighteen months ago. The original chef, Brian Duffy, who had conceived the menu, left, and the menu has been seriously reduced. The menu originally had some "new irish" type of cooking, styles you could find in good restaurants in Dublin and London where there were creative takes on pub classics.

        Today when I go there, I gravitate towards the salmon plate for the appetizers and the salads which are big and fresh. The rest of the menu is just pub comfort food. Prices have inched up a bit.

        But the real joy of the Shanachie is the feel of a homey pub. Gerry and Ed will make everyone feel at home. I remember high fiving Gerry during the world series after a Phillies home run .. something you don't find at every establishment. The Shanachie is about friends, community and tradition

        The entertainment if you like traditional Irish entertainment is top notch, especially the "session" on Tuesday nights.

        My complaints are around the beer selection. I want more micros on tap.. I prefer O'Hara's to Guinness (heresy to many .. ) and the taps tend toward the bigger breweries with one or two locals like Victory or Dogfishhead on tap.

        The Shanachie may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it certainly fits in with the image of Ambler. A community gathering place in a small downtown area. Welcoming service, and decent food.

        1. re: cwdonald

          I completely agree. I think thats the beauty of the Schanachie. Does it have the absolute best food? No, its good but since Duffy left its not longer great. That said, its a wonderful neighborhood pub, everyone knows everyone and is friendly and welcoming, Gerry and Ed will always come over to say hello. The live music is great, the Tuesday "jam" session just a great experience. It all equates to a great neighborrhood bar. But since it is a beautiful space, and slightly on the upscale side (you typically think dive bar when you think of a local bar) it really does represent what Ambler is. This town really is a mix of old and new, blue collar and white collar. When you think of DeTerra, while stunning and beautiful, it is solely geared towards younger locals and people coming in from other towns. Its definitely not what you would call a local hang out.

          1. re: AmblerGirl

            $45 for a veal chop? $27 for chicken? $7-$15 for a glass of wine?

            All I can say is wow, you could eat at Waterworks for less, the place may be nice, but WAY overpriced for the area, it'll be closed in less than a year.

            It's Ambler, not Doylestown, sorry, just a fact.

            1. re: john237

              John, I'm not sure that statement is entirely fair. I agree that $45 is really expensive for an entree, way higher than I would spend. I probably will never wind up going there for a full meal because of the prices, just drinks and appetizers. But, I would not spend that much in Doylestown, Center City, or anywhere else for that matter. But there are plenty of people who do - look at other Ambler spots like Bridget's, San Marco, etc. they all seem to be doing well even with expensive menus. We're not exactly in the boonies - Blue Bell, Spring House, etc. are all very well off areas and people are eager for good places to eat without trekking to center city. I think having a mix of high end/low end establishments is good. I'll personally frequent the low end more, but there is a market for everything.

              1. re: AmblerGirl

                San Marco, the most expensive thing on the menu is Filetto ai Funghi Selvatici $28.95

                Bridget's I don't know, there is no website that I can find.

                My point is, if I was spending $45/entree, Ambler is not the place I would go. My example of WaterWorks offers alfresco dining with views of Boathouse Row and the Philadelphia Art Museum.

                At $45 entrees, you better be a desitination point, you'll never survive as the "local place" In this economy, fine dining is have a difficult time.

              2. re: john237

                I don't believe there has been a decent review of Waterworks in quite some time.

              3. re: AmblerGirl

                Can you please explain what the location of a restaurant has to do with the quality of the food or service? I don't care where the restaurant is located, if the food is great and the service is great I'm more than willing to pay a fair price. What I cannot stand is paying a high price for mediocre food and poor service just because of the location. I'm not sure you've ever eaten at the Waterworks. Yes it is beautiful but their food is rather expensive and their service is just about the worst I've experienced. It was the location that got me to go back and give them three chances but not again. Also it's a bit insulting to insinuate people in the suburbs do not know good food when they taste it or that we can't afford it. Believe it or not some of us are not named bubba, are not both a sister and a mother to our brother and we even know that Phantom of the Opera is not actually an opera.

              4. re: cwdonald

                I agree. Love going there especially during the holidays when the fire is lit and there is live music. This place is all about comfort & feeling welcome. As for the food, try the chicken saltimboca or the scallops - very good.

              5. re: bucksguy14

                I agree with Den about Schanachie(and my last name is Sweeney)....terrible food, overpriced, with no atmosphere....looking forward to trying Dettera this tuesday...will post my thoughts then.
                -Matt from Ambler

            2. I have to second AmblerGirl's wow. The place is beautiful, what we ordered was great -- margherita pizza, edamame truffle dumplings, and roasted brussel sprouts. It's true it's expensive, but the bar is spectacular. The owner, who came over and introduced himself, did a bang-up job on the place. The bartender said they plan to introduce a bar menu later and will probably add lunch hours in September. Please, please, patronize this place. I would hate to see all that hard work go to waste.

              1. I had a memorable veal chop a couple of years ago so even at $45+, I'll give it a try.

                The economy is bad etc etc but I would like to see inventive, great places succeed there.

                1. Well, went over to Deterra after work for a quick drink just to see the place. I liked the architecture and finishes. Took a look at the menu and it looked interesting. I had a glass of Malbec which given the place wasn't outrageous at $7. The negative is that for a wine bar I would have expected more wines by the glass.

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