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Nov 3, 2013 09:34 AM

Any early opinions on Caleb's American Bistro, Lahaska?

Open just a month or so, the parking lot appeared full last evening. Is this new bistro, featuring the cooking of a former chef from New Hope's Marsh Brown, a worthwhile addition to the Bucks dining scene?

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  1. We are frequently in this area of Bucks Co.; thanks for the heads-up on Caleb's. Read a bit about Caleb subsequently and with his pedigree we will definitely make an initial visit in the near term.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bacchus101

      Thanks for the headsup Famdoc. First of all thankfully this property is not part of the Peddlars Village complex but rather right next to it. (Next door to the Pretzel Factory and Firehouse) in what used to be Waterlillies. With regard to parking, there never seems to be enough parking there relative to the number of tables they have.

      You can see the menus here. The lunch menu doesnt look exciting, the dinner menu has promse but definitely a bit on the high side, though he is supposed to be featuring local and organic ingredients which sometimes effects the price. And littlecmad, they are serving pumpkin ravioli.

      There was a nice writeup in the local paper here. I wish him all the best. We need better restaurants in the area.

    2. Sunday breakfast was quite impressive. Omelets, eggs, frittatas, pancakes, etc. Lots of nice specials, including pumpkin-cranberry pancakes. Pancakes and French toast served with REAL maple syrup (no extra charge). Caleb made the rounds to greet guests and was warm and friendly. Anxious to try his dinner menu. Plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free choices a real plus.

      1. After a very enjoyable brunch visit to Caleb's American Bistro, we decided to give it a try for dinner on a recent weekend evening. While our table enjoyed a few of the dishes we ordered, the experience was generally a let-down. Most important, the noise level was deafening. The room is small, the tables spaced close to one another and there is no noise-baffling. Combine those factors with a BYO policy and you've got diners who, with each refill of their glass of wine, get louder and louder. By the middle of our meal, we just resigned ourselves to not being able to converse.

        Secondly, Caleb's wild popularity (many guests had followed his career from his days at Marsha Brown's) means that, at least on a weekend evening, each table is booked for three parties. No time was provided between our starters and our mains and our check was dropped along with our dessert. Perhaps a more relaxing place on a weeknight, there is no excusing a fine establishment rushing customers from their table.

        As for the food, our table enjoyed the tuna poke starter and the brisket. However, the salmon was fairly tasteless and the green vegetable with which it was served was overdone and swimming in liquid. We chose not to send it back. The fish tacos, at $18, were just fine, but tastier tacos can be enjoyed at many Mexican places for $12.

        Service was friendly and helpful. The floor staff is not to blame for timing of apps/mains, nor are they to blame for dropping our check with dessert service. We were sympathetic to them, and to the diners waiting to be seated as we finished our meal.

        Again, we dined at Caleb's on a crowded weekend evening. The experience may be different on a weeknight, but, I believe, a restaurant is only as good as it is when the kitchen and staff is under the gun. We hope Caleb's will attend to the noise issue and space its reservations out a bit better.

        4 Replies
        1. re: famdoc

          Famdoc do you know if they are using opentable or another automated reservation system? Turning a table three times between 530 and 10 means max you have 90 minutes for dinner which certainly does not allow much time between courses.

          Were there many specials? Or is it mostly the set menu? Any dishes you remember from Marsha Browns? (And should we avoid Marsha's now that he has left?)

          1. re: cwdonald

            At this time, they are not on Open Table.

            There were specials (as I recall, a Manhattan clam chowder, a roasted chicken, which one of the guests at our table ordered and enjoyed).

            We never ate at Marsha Brown's, so I couldn't tell you whether Caleb brought any of his menu items over.

            I'd be curious to return in the spring or summer, when Bucks is in full bloom and the selection of fresh, local products is fuller. At this time, however, my preference remains with At The Pass, D'Floret, El Tule, Hamilton's Grill Room, Maize (despite some service flaws) and a few others in the Bucks-Hunterdon area.

            1. re: famdoc

              Have you been to Quinoa yet? And I am surprised you didn't mention Via Ponte... ;-)

              1. re: cwdonald

                Of course, Via Ponte!

                Haven't been to Quinoa yet, but, you know it's owned by the El Tule family and I live closer to L'ville than D'town.

        2. My husband and I plus another couple had dinner on Saturday night at 7:30. Our table was ready when we arrived and we sat in the glass enclosed addition room. The noise was horrendous. The meal took a long time to be served. The place was packed.
          My husband like the pork tenderloin but not the sauce in which it was swimming. My friend loved her Monkfish which also had way to much sauce. I had a salad with chicken and someone had the claims and linguini. Both decent.
          We won't go back on a weekend mainly because of the noise level.

          2 Replies
          1. re: suzy

            Wondering whether your table was booked for another party on Saturday evening and whether you felt rushed to complete your meal and pay your check?

            1. re: suzy

              I don't know if the table was for someone else. We were seated there upon arrival. We were not rushed at all. There were empty tables as we were finishing up our meals so there would be no need to make us leave.

            2. Thanks to Famdoc & Suzy for saving me some time and money I will apply elsewhere considering your reviews and the noise factor which does tend to severely effect my attitude toward the restaurant.

              12 Replies
              1. re: Bacchus101

                So, Bacchus101, during your visits to Bucks County, I recommend our go-to restaurants: The Pass, Hamilton's Grill Room, Maize, D'Floret and Via Ponte. Happy eating!

                1. re: famdoc

                  And in defense of Bucks County... The Pass Hamilton Grill Dflorette and Via Ponte are in NJ. Maize is in Perkasie. And please listen to Famdoc, he knows what he says!

                  1. re: cwdonald

                    Glad to see you like The Pass. We are going for the first time this weekend, and looking forward to it.

                    1. re: JanR

                      Look forward to hearing about your experience. Matt Ridgeway is doing some nice stuff up therer.

                      1. re: JanR

                        We had a great meal at the pass in Oct. don't remember specifics right now but everyone enjoyed their meals

                        1. re: Bigley9

                          The menu changes weekly and is posted on their web site.
                          I've got nothing but admiration for Matt, setting up in that location, coming up with a new menu every week, quietly building a culinary reputation. Just great.

                            1. re: Bigley9

                              Thanks for the replies. Looking forward to this, and will report back.

                    2. re: famdoc

                      Famdoc, do love Hamilton's Grill room and the boat house bar across the driveway. Thanks for the others, guess it is time to try Maize again; initially I was a bit put off by the noise and one loud mouth server. Oh yes and the time from order to service ( yes I know all is chef made in the moment). Thanks very much.

                      1. re: Bacchus101

                        I think we exchanged opinions on Maize here last summer. I think the food at Maize is, perhaps, the best in Bucks County. As I said in the prior thread, Maize is an all-evening experience and best done with close friends and good wine. That server you mention has been there for years and is a bit eccentric. The only time he presented a problem for me was during our most recent visit when, with a group of six diners, we did the tasting menu. We brought a variety of excellent wines, each to be paired with a separate course. After the second course, we asked for clean wine glasses. He refused and seemed miffed. He took the glasses away, splashed them with water and returned them. I asked the young lady busing tables for clean glasses and she cheerfully provided them. I registered my dissatisfaction with the owner the next day and he apologized quite humbly. Enough said. Time to go back to Maize. Regarding the noise level: like other BYO places, best to be seated a bit late-ish, so most parties leave before you hit the middle of your meal.

                        1. re: famdoc

                          Yes, now that you mentioned it I recall an other issue I had. Whatever the food was that we ordered neither of us like it and let major portions uneaten. I did like the colour they chose to paint the room. Not exactly a reason to return. I will again thank you for your other recommendations and leave this one for others to "enjoy".