Surprised that Dettera in Ambler doesn't get more love on this board
My husband and I have been to Dettera at least 10 times since it first opened. We have seldom been disappointed and frequently wowed. I know it is not cheap for the burbs, but the quality is imo equal to anything good downtown. Last night's meal there was perhaps the most exceptional to date.
We shared two appetizers: the lightest housemade ravioli in a delicious jus and a first for both of us, lamb belly which must be tried, if you are a fan of the currently ubiquitous pork belly. I liked the ravioli slightly more only because it was lighter. For entrees, I ordered blue cod, which is more like traditional cod than it is like black cod. It was perfectly prepared with crispy skin, served on a bed of interesting crunchy veggies that didn't overpower the delicate fish. My husband had duck that was as soft as a confit, although it was served as a steak, accompanied by a delicious risotto and pieces of super flavorful maitakes.
Since we had cocktails first, we only ordered wine by the glass. I was not that familiar with the glass offerings, but the waiter did an excellent job of wine pairing each of the entrees.
We shared a carmelly pannacota and one glass of dessert wine and finished with single espressos that would be considered doubles at most places. Not a cheap meal; over $200 with tip, but worth it.
Two apps, two entrees, one dessert and three glasses of wine? Bill over $200. Unless you left a very big tip, that's a bit high. I've been to Deterra a few times and liked it. The food is pretty good. What I found outstanding was the service. It's big and noisy. At those prices, I would rather go to center city.
Not 3 glasses of wine, a single malt Scotch, a top shelf Manhattan and two expensive glasses of wine, one $13 and one $15. The point is, it is comparable in quality, imo to downtown, there's a great arthouse movie across the street and a more relaxing drive for those who don't live in center city than schlepping down 95 or 76 every single time you crave good quality and some innovation.
Thanks for your detailed review of your dinner, very interesting and enticing. I have only been to Dettera twice and both times I came away feeling that I was served a bit too much attitude and that the food, while good enough, was over priced. Admittedly those experiences were months ago. I do not get to Ambler frequently but based on your comments it is probably time that I let the past be the past and give them another try. The other problem I have with revisiting a previous disappointment is that there are so many good restaurants and so little time.
I think they made an improvement in the past year or so. When they first opened, I think they earned a reputation for being a little more expensive and "high end" than they should have been. I live nearby and visited there only a few times because, while the food was good, there were some service glitches and I never felt satisfied for the amount of $ I spent. I have been there a number of times recently and saw a vast improvement in service. I also noticed they did reduce menu prices and offer a great fixed price chef tasting menu which, while expensive, feels like a good value for what you get. I think value is really defined as feeling satisfied with what you paid for. The best value there is to share a cheese plate, pizza, and a bottle of wine and sit on their back/side patio.
I stopped going to Dettera because I thought there was too much attitude and I felt like I was getting ripped off. I ordered a glass of Chianti which was $14. I asked to see the bottle and wrote down the producer. When I went to the Wine & Spirits store the bottle was $13.99. That was the last time I went there.
I'd say the cost of your glass of Chianti was correctly priced. If you know anyone in the restaurant business, they'll tell you that the first glass pays for the bottle and the rest is either profit, if they sell more of that wine, or break even if they toss it after a day or two because no one else wanted the same wine that you chose. That was the pricing policy of a member of my family who owned three very successful restaurants and whose pricing for a bottle of wine was to add $1 to the cost of the bottle and then double it (($14 + $1) x 2 = $30 for the bottle), which most people who know wine pricing will tell you is extremely fair.
Regarding Dettera personally, I ate there 3 times before I decided I would not return. I was unhappy with the service, and I did not think I got value for my food $$$. There are too many places that offer both better service and better value.