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Nov 13, 2010 06:27 AM

Ambler Restaurants - Surprised by Bridget's, let down by Shanachie

I'm not sure how we've managed to overlook Bridget's for so many years but I was very pleasantly surprised last night. Our habit had been to go to the Shanachie for dinner, hit the theater for a movie and then head back over and talk about the movie over drinks. However the last time we went to the Shanachie the food and service were so awful that I was not willing to go back.

Initially we decided to go to From The Boot, in large part because of the glowing reports on Chowhound. It is not my habit to go out for Italian food because I am often disappointed or simply feel that their dishes are not as good as mine. Still I was excited but when I learned that I could not make a reservation and we would likely wait at least a half an hour at 8pm on a Friday night we decided to go another way. We put FTB on our list for a mid week supper sometime.

I made my reservation at Bridget's using Open Table via their website. When we arrived, I was first stunned by the noise level in the bar. Next the very polite host apologized and explained that our table was not ready. We were seated at a high top in the bar and had drinks while we waited. It was very loud in the bar area but also seemed loud in the adjoining dining room. We wondered if we would have been less likely to encounter a delay if I had called the restaurant directly to make the reservation but we also noted that many restaurants expect patrons with reservations to wait twenty or thirty minutes at the bar without so much as an apology.

We enjoyed the tuna duo, scallop and sweet potato gnocchi, mandarin duck and a bass special entree with shrimp ratatouille. With the exception of the tuna, which was presented nicely but not particularly flavorful or well prepared, the dishes were really very good. I thought the prices were right on point given the level of preparation, food quality and service. Bridget's strikes a great balance between great food quality and comfort. Once we were away from the noise it was very relaxing and not at all formal. We will definitely go back.

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  1. I've heard good things about Bridgets, but never been. our neighborhood is having a holiday block party there next month, so I'm excited to try it out!

    1. Glad you had a nice time at Bridget's, its one of our favorite "nice" restaurants in the area. I love the atmosphere and we always have a fantastic experience with the food and service. You might also want to try Deterra the next time you are in the area, initial reports when they first opened were that they were way overpriced (which they were) but prices leveled down to closer to the level at Brisget's. And definitely try to get to FTB, love that place, but agree a weeknight or lunch is your best bet.

      I have been disappointed by the Shanachie lately in terms of food. I love the decor, the staff and owners are great. They must have a new chef, because a year or two ago their food was fantastic.

      1 Reply
      1. re: AmblerGirl

        We were at Bridget's again last night and very pleased. They were running a veal, shrimp and risotto special that was fantastic. Also they have a very nice arugula salad with beets and fig. We headed to the Shanachie for drinks (not willing to try the food again anytime soon) and the atmosphere was great. They had a nice duo that started playing around 9.

        I've hit FTB in Lafayette Hill for lunch a few times and loved it but I don't want to do the Friday night wait.

      2. We were quite pleased with Bridget's food, service and venue also. We did find it a bit loud. We had scratched Shanachie for food quite a while ago. FTB is very popular and for Italian American food in a friendly atmosphere at a reasonable price it is dead on.

        1. Last Fall we did something similar -- enjoyed an excellent dinner at Bridgets, went to the theater, then ended with drinks while listening to an excellent trio at Shanachie. Although we had a good time at Shanachie, I didn't see it as a place I'd really like to go for a meal. Dirnks and bar food, maybe, but not a meal.

          4 Replies
          1. re: PattiCakes

            Totally agree about Bridgets. I've really enjoyed them since they put the tapas menu in place and offered more variety.

            As for Shanachies, someone should really let Gerry, the owner, know about your bad experiences. My take is, he would be very concerned & want to do something about it. Something to think about next time you have drinks there.

            1. re: truffles2

              If I recall correctly either Timlin and/or Kane, the Irish singers, were involved as owners or part owners. Good singers, good guys and if they are still involved I would expect they would be interested providing good food. Is Gerry a partner, one of them, or was my information wrong?

              1. re: Bacchus101

                Gerry is Gerry Timlin, who is the owner along with Ed Egan. The Shanachie opened with a great chef, Brian Duffy, who put together a very ambitious menu, in the vain of "new celtic", similar to what some of the better restaurants in Dublin were doing. Brian has since left, and is the creative force behind Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar on the Main Line.

                The menu has evolved over the years and during the economic downturn definitely simplified, and some of the more ambitious dishes have been taken off the menu. To be fair, I personally stick to some very simple dishes there. I like their potato leek soup, and their smoked salmon plate, and their salads. I have heard mixed reviews on the fish and chips, the bangers and some of the other mains. So I think of it as pub food now, not creative new Celtic the way the menu and restaurant was originally conceived.

                1. re: cwdonald

                  Interesting thanks. Pub food is more than fine with me as long as it is good pub food. I suppose we need to give it another try.