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Apr 13, 2011 12:14 PM

Philly Burb Recommendation

Can anyone recommend a formal (i.e., jacket and tie required) restaurant in the NE Philly suburbs (e.g., Montgomery or Chester County). A friend is looking for a place to take his wife in May for her birthday and asked me as the resident food snob. I am afraid I can't think of any truly formal places.

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  1. Chester county is pretty far west of the city, Montgomery county is north, Bucks is to the northeast. Where do they live, approximately?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Buckethead

      Dilworthtown Inn? We got my nephew to wear a tie there and he wasn't out of place.

      1. re: Buckethead

        They are from near Boyertown. My instructions were to find a place between there and Philly but not in Philly.

        1. re: CChaz

          OK, thanks, that narrows it down quite a bit. Chester County to the NE burbs covers quite a wide area.

      2. I hear raves about Moonstruck, which is just over the Montgomery County line in Fox Chase. I think it may be formal, but I'm not certain.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tourmama

          I have been to Moonstruck and while there may be some people dressed formally and the maitre'd is suited, casual attire is not uncommon. It is however a relatively elegant atmosphere and if you requested a quiet nook for a birthday I am sure they would accommodate (the restaurant is large but has many small rooms.)

        2. Truly formal - ah the days gone by.

          I have never been there for dinner but Joseph Ambler Inn?

          Actually, here is my advice for your friend - pick a good place to go based on food and, if they want to dress up, tell them to do so!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Betharu

            I second the recommendations for the Joseph Ambler. It is suburban inn dining at its finest.

            I would add two others. First is the William Penn Inn, Lower Gwynedd, another inn with classic cuisine. I have eaten at both, and they would both meet your needs.

            The last place, I have not been too, George Perrier's restaurant George on the Main Line in Wayne is more casual than Le Bec Fin, but offers the diner the opportunity to experience a lot of the Perrier charm in the suburbs. I have not been there myself, but it would be a good choice if the diner enjoys classical French food.

            For steak, consider the Seven Stars Inn in Phoenixville. Historic restaurant around since before the Revolution, but does a great steak.
            Gilmores in West Chester, (still BYO) is another place to consider. Former Le Bec Fin chef Peter Gilmorre runs a very formal french restaurant in the heart of West Chester.

            Birchrunville Cafe is a fantastic BYO that offers French and Italian food. Hard to score a reservation but wonderful food.

            The Inn at St Peters is another place that has a great reputation that I have not been to, but has a reputation for doing wonderful food.

            Again in Phoenixville Majolica would be a great destination. They changed their menu to be more bistor like, but this BYO is puting out some of the most creative food in the region.

            My two cents worth. I am sure others can add to this list.

            1. re: cwdonald

              CW, excellent suggestions! Reminds me of places I have not been to in a long while and which should be listed for a visit. Also we have not been to The Inn at St. Peter Village since the new ownership (yes I know that is years).

              I must say I am always surprised when Majolica is mentioned as good, let alone a "great destination".. Ok, Craig likes it and many here like it! We have been twice and thought the food was really not close to good. The menu then looked like something out of a pretend French Bistro in the 80"s with city prices. I might be tempted to try it now that the menu and prices have changed. Ah well maybe not!

          2. Duling-Kurtz House comes to mind as the quintessence of Chester County old school restaurants and not that far from Boyertown. From recent experience, Joseph Ambler Inn was elegant enough. I'd like to add Wm. Penn Inn (maybe some nights are better than others) but sitting across from grungy teens wearing Eagles sweats and even caps through Thanksgiving dinner in the Monet Room was a total turn off for me. Yes, that bad. What use is a dress code if not enforced?

            12 Replies
            1. re: Chefpaulo

              CP, just a +1 on the dress issue. We, Americans, continue to provide many laughs for most Europeans on this issue. Seems in other countries even those with only one good shirt or jacket know when they should deploy them. Bourdain, who is as casual as can be, noted this issue. A ball cap and tee shirt on a Holiday in a nice establishment would make me crazy! Last time I was accused of being an Old Stuffed Shirt (revised for publication). Well sad to say, The Ugly American still lives and is more obvious by their dress than ever! One man's opinion.

              1. re: Chefpaulo

                Wow Chef, I have never had that type of experience at WP. I have gone there off and on over about an 18 year period, and mind you it was more for business functions, but I never experienced an Applebees atmosphere in that stately inn. That said, I am wondering if holidays are more likely to draw a wider crowd of people than weekdays... The biggest criticism I have heard of the WP is over the food. Its old tired Inn food. And between the Joseph Ambler and the WP I would choose the former every time, especially since they have a nice wine cellar.

                1. re: cwdonald

                  Sadly, I too have had negative experiences at WP Inn - particularly during the Sunday buffet. I guess Old Country Buffett must have been closed because it was sweatpant and baseball cap heaven. As I noted in a previous post, nothing like Sunday Buffet with your 70+ year old mother and she proclaims "I think they are going to have sex in the buffet line" as two twenty-somethings go at it over the bagels and whitefish salad.

                  Had the same experience at Coleman's several years back. $200+ for Mothers Day dinner and people walking around in basketball shorts and Eagles' tshirts.

                  We're trying Bridget's in Ambler this year - again a very pricey restaurant. We'll see how the dress is!

                  1. re: Betharu

                    We go to Bridget's often. I have yet to see sport clothing. If we ever see that. I will complain.

                    1. re: crazyspice

                      Well - Bridget's tonight for Mother's Day. My brother in a shirt and tie - my mother and I in dressy tops and slack. And yes, children in jeans and sweatshirts and men in cargo shorts and flip flops.

                      Once again - $200+ for dinner and people look like they are eating at Burger King!

                      Gone are the days!

                      1. re: Betharu

                        I had dinner at Osteria tonight... there was a party behind me singing like the bar scene from Top Gun.. and I was greeted as I entered Osteria by a family all in jeans, mother, father and two children exiting the restaurant. I am officially an old fogie and I am not even collecting social security yet.

                        1. re: cwdonald

                          I am young enough to never expect to collect Soc Sec, and while jeans don't bother me so much, I cringe when I see baseball caps being worn in places like Osteria, Franklin Mortgage, Southwark. Even my generation was taught to take your damn hat off when you're inside.

                          1. re: barryg

                            Oh yes - that too - baseball caps inside.

                            And, my new favorite, Game Boys and Ipads at the table so we don't have to teach the little darlings to sit and have a conversation.

                            1. re: Betharu

                              Just to continue the rant, I was at Matt Ito's Fuji last night and while waiting to be seated saw a small girl (5?) walking along the back of the banquet on the wall to the right as you enter. 5 minutes later, after we had been seated to the left of the door, this same small girl appeared at our table. We said hello and, realizing it was the same child, asked if her family knew where she was. The family was seated right beside us - she had been walking on a ledge, 4+ feet in the air, behind other diners with her family in the other room. Really

                            2. re: barryg

                              The last time some one called me a stuffed shirt to my face I was just 40. So I believe the "dress issues" are a learned behavior or perhaps not learned, less related to age than to upbringing. I can not get too negative about jeans if the rest is nice casual in an informal place. The hat, cap off thing is about as basic as one can get! I do expect to collect SS and also expect to see some restoration of polite society. It usually only takes a negative result or rebuff for the youngest adults with aspirations to see there is an ante to be made in the way of civilized conduct and appearance, right or wrong, fair or not it is evaluated. Love the Curb Your Enthusiasm where an attorney is meeting with a new client on casual Friday and the prospective client bags him from the start, I don't feel my issues are casual! Like CYE should be our guidepost for good behavior.

                            3. re: cwdonald

                              cwdonald, I can top that. I saw the same kind of dress on a Saturday night at Vetri.

                    2. re: Chefpaulo

                      Gotta blame the adults picking up the tab somewhat on that one CP. But yeah that does sound depressing. When John goes to WPI with his dad he always has to wear a suit. But he never complains because he is getting half way decent food for free plus cocktails! It helps that John wouldn't be caught dead wearing sweats in public. :)

                    3. Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll forward them all on.

                      He did have one more requirement: A good wine list. (Sheesh, he's a very demanding guy and we all are not getting paid for this!)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: CChaz

                        Krazy Kats at the Inn at Montchanin in Chester County is also a nice dress-up option, with great food. And, maybe stay over at the Inn?

                        Krazy Kats Restaurant
                        Kirk Rd, Montchanin, DE 19710

                        1. re: tourmama

                          Oops - my mistake. Thought it was Chester County. Still great food, though!