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Any recs for upscale dining in Chestnut Hill?

JunieB Dec 6, 2013 05:54 AM

Is there an updated thread for Chestnut Hill? Just moved back to the area after 13 years. I'm sure there have been some changes. Looking for a good restaurant to take visiting foodies (without going into Center City).

We actually live in Wyncote and there are a couple of interesting restaurants in Jenkintown but I think Chestnut Hill has a better vibe.

We've only been here two weeks and unpacking is currently hogging all my time but I can't wait to explore the dining scene.


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  1. j
    JanR Dec 6, 2013 06:05 AM

    Heirloom is quite good and byob. Mica is also good as I recall but I've only been once, a long time ago. I think it is more expensive than Heirloom. Others here can give you more recent opinions on Mica.

    1. crazyspice Dec 6, 2013 06:06 AM

      We really like Mica and Heirloom which is a BYOB.

      1 Reply
      1. re: crazyspice
        JunieB Dec 6, 2013 06:46 AM

        Thanks. Those both sound really good. Great menus and I like the "cooking in season aspect." We moved from Western MA and we're used to knowing the farms where our meat and produce come from! Can't wait to try both of these.

      2. a
        arepo Dec 6, 2013 06:58 AM

        I'll be at Heirloom myself next weekend.
        Mica is also a good recommend.
        Please don't hesitate to add the wonderful Italian Stella Sera to your list.
        A true favorite of mine and all are BYOB.
        Welcome back to the City of BL.

        2 Replies
        1. re: arepo
          JanR Dec 6, 2013 07:05 AM

          Are you referring to being able to BYOB at Mica for a corkage fee? What is the fee?

          1. re: arepo
            JunieB Dec 6, 2013 07:24 AM

            Thanks! Stella Sera looks good too.

          2. h
            Hungryin theBurbs Dec 6, 2013 03:11 PM

            Since you are in Wyncote, you might also be interested in several new places in Elkins Park, near the Creekside Co-Op (a nice little store if you are also looking for shopping).

            The most foodie is probably Park Plates, which just opened. I haven't been yet but have heard good things from friends who have gone:

            Also, there is Alexander's a little Polish place. Not fancy, but quite good.

            Finally, Leila's Trattoria:http://www.yelp.com/biz/leilas-tratto...

            9 Replies
            1. re: Hungryin theBurbs
              JunieB Dec 6, 2013 03:56 PM

              Thanks! Yes, always looking for grocery shopping options!

              We've eaten at Leila's and loved it! Park Plates looks very interesting. Will definitely check it out. Alexander's looks really sweet inside. Is there a large Polish population in this area? I was used to that up in Western Mass. but not really expecting it here. I was surprised to find pierogi on the menu at Linda Jean's (I think that's the name (by the Jenkintown train station). I ordered them and they were the worst I have ever had. They tasted and smelled like cardboard - or like something that has been kept in the freezer too long (in cardboard). Just awful. Their sandwiches and other things might be okay but we haven't gone back.

              If you think of anything else in our area let me know. The places we've tried so far are - Mandarin Garden (very good), Argana Tree (very good), Drake's Tavern (okay), Glenside Pub (okay), Roman Delight (hmmm?), Bonnet Lane Diner (it'll do for breakfast),Trolley Car Diner (we liked it),Trios Tomato Pie (not bad), and of course Lee's Hoagie. Had Korean fried chicken from Cafe Soho - very tasty.

              We've heard that Jasmine and Pho & Beyond are good. Looking forward to trying them. We had a burger at Iron Hill Brewery in Media and liked it. I see there's one in Chestnut Hill. I kinda hate that it's a chain.

              Can't wait to explore the Center City food scene. I know it's changed a lot. The only new place we've eaten at is Kanela.

              Thanks again!!

              1. re: JunieB
                Hungryin theBurbs Dec 6, 2013 08:01 PM

                Definitely check out the Co-op for food shopping. It is a nice little store that is working hard to improve the community.

                Sweet is a good word for Alexander's. I haven't been in a bit, but we went a lot when they first opened, and everything was fresh and well prepared. Nice people too. I don't know that there is a huge Polish population out here, but I assume you know about the Port Richmond area and all the Polish stores and restaurants there--an easy jump down 95.

                Pho and Beyond is very good. Not as good as the places in South Philly, but plenty enjoyable. We also discovered a great little Cambodian place in Northeast Philly, sort of near the Pho 75 on Adams avenue. It is called Angkor. It's set back in a sort of scary strip mall, but is really delicious.

                The Korean soft tofu place--Jong Ka Jib is just down 5th Street from Cheltenham Avenue, not far from Cafe Soho. It is very good.

                For Indian, there is the Tiffin in Elkins Park.

                1. re: Hungryin theBurbs
                  JunieB Dec 6, 2013 08:51 PM

                  Good stuff! I like to support local co-ops.

                  The good Indian places seem to be kind of spread across the region. My husband has several Indian co-workers so I'm looking forward to trying their recs. I think we tried Tiffin once several years ago but I could be wrong. If it was, I wasn't all that impressed.

                  Not all that interested in the Polish places. I lived in Warsaw and although I love the food, it's a little heavy at this point in my life! I got the pierogi at Linda Jean's just to see if they knew what they were doing. I was just surprised to see them on the menu of an otherwise basic American grill. And I really couldn't understand why, if you were going to put something so out of place on your menu, you wouldn't make sure they were really good. I'd rather see a restaurant have a limited menu and everything be good than to see them try to make everything in the world and do it badly.

                  Am definitely interested in the Korean places.

                  I have a friend in the Northeast. She's not much of a foodie but maybe I can get her to take me to the pho place.

                  Any good Mexican food around? Western Mass. was finally getting some authentic restaurants but for most of my time on the east coast the Mexican food scene has been the pits.

                  Friends who live in Paoli are taking us to Restaurant Alba in a couple of weeks. They have a very interesting menu.

                  I'm salivating, just thinking of all the possibilities!

                  1. re: JunieB
                    Bigley9 Dec 10, 2013 10:16 AM

                    Regarding Mexican food, both South Philly and Norristown have a number of authentic mexican restaurants, just search this board

                    1. re: Bigley9
                      JunieB Dec 10, 2013 12:39 PM

                      I'm looking forward to exploring the Mexican food scene in the area. When we lived here before there were only a couple of places.

                  2. re: Hungryin theBurbs
                    Bob Loblaw Dec 8, 2013 03:15 PM

                    Glad to hear that the Cambodian place is good. We were planning on going there tonight, till the snow interfered.

                    1. re: Bob Loblaw
                      Hungryin theBurbs Dec 8, 2013 03:22 PM

                      Yes, we've been several times now and it is always good. The woman's English is not good, but usually the son is there, and he is great about explaining the dishes, making recommendations, etc. It is usually pretty quiet in there, and you can tell they are making things to order (because sometimes they take a while).

                  3. re: JunieB
                    barryg Dec 10, 2013 04:51 PM

                    Jasmine is ok for greasy Chinese take out dishes. Most of the menu is plain bad.

                    1. re: barryg
                      JunieB Dec 10, 2013 05:09 PM

                      That's not good. I think we'll stick to Mandarin Garden.

                2. PhillyBestBYOB Dec 6, 2013 04:59 PM


                  'Nuff said.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                    JunieB Dec 6, 2013 05:55 PM

                    Reservation made :)

                  2. l
                    littlecmad Dec 7, 2013 12:03 PM

                    I love CAKE! Go there every time I stop in Chestnut Hill and sometimes go out of my way to just go too!

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: littlecmad
                      JunieB Dec 7, 2013 01:09 PM

                      Thanks for that rec. I saw Cake when I quickly Googled restaurants in Chestnut Hill and I thought it was a pastry shop. Looks like it's much more. Thanks!

                      1. re: JunieB
                        JanR Dec 8, 2013 06:21 AM

                        I believe Cake only serves dinner on Thursday and Friday nights. They are byob. The locations is charming. I don't think the food is as good as at Mica or Heirloom.

                        1. re: JanR
                          JunieB Dec 8, 2013 08:19 AM

                          Well, it might be hard to compete with "One of the best new restaurants in America." The oven-roasted meatloaf w/braised leeks caught my eye. I rarely order meatloaf in a restaurant but this place might be a good place to try. The other Philly restaurant (that I know of) with a great meatloaf is LeBus in Manayunk. I haven't eaten there since the 90's so I don't know if it's still on the menu. I don't even know if LeBus is still there but I hope it is!

                          Speaking of Best New Restaurants, this just showed up in my inbox. Philadelphia's Serpico made the list.


                          1. re: JunieB
                            PhillyBestBYOB Dec 8, 2013 11:56 AM

                            KILLER meatloaf at Sbraga.

                            1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                              JunieB Dec 8, 2013 12:41 PM

                              Thanks, PhillyB! That's definitely one for the bucket list. I love how playful the menu is.

                              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                JunieB Dec 10, 2013 12:35 PM

                                Thanks! That's very good to know.

                                We were in Chestnut Hill last night and stopped in Iron Hill Brewery. One of their specials was turkey meatloaf. I had never had turkey meatloaf and until now always tried to avoid it, but it was amazingly good! I think I am going to like that place despite it being a chain.

                                Also stopped in the olive oil store! Good addition to the main drag.

                                1. re: JunieB
                                  gaffk Dec 10, 2013 01:34 PM

                                  That store has the best oils and balsamics. Make sure to check out Penzey's, the cheese shop and the chocolate shop (zipf's) as well.

                                  I also saw today that a new bistro will be opening soon at the old Melting Pot location next to the Chestnut Hill hotel. Not many details to this link, but I'm sure I'll check it out in the new year.


                                  1. re: gaffk
                                    JunieB Dec 10, 2013 03:21 PM

                                    That sounds interesting. What is that photo in the ad?! Maybe just something off the internet. I remember the Melting Pot. Fondue is one of those things that come and go. Bistros are in vogue now :)

                                    I saw the Penzey's store. I have so many spices I had to get rid of a lot just so they would fit in my new kitchen! Cheese shop and chocolate shop will be regulars. I bought some oil and will be going back there a lot. Great selection!

                                    1. re: JunieB
                                      gaffk Dec 10, 2013 03:28 PM

                                      I assumed the picture was an "artist's rendering" of the bistro. But then, you know what they say about assumptions.

                            2. re: JanR
                              littlecmad Mar 6, 2014 03:36 PM

                              I guess I will have to try Mica and Heirloom then. I love the food at CAKE, I only go to CAKE for lunch. I love their salads!

                        2. k
                          Kshell Dec 10, 2013 10:59 AM

                          Not in Chestnut Hill, but close: For upscale Mexican, look at Cantina Feliz in Fort Washington; for Indian, I like Saffron in Ambler (BYOB).

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Kshell
                            JunieB Dec 10, 2013 12:36 PM

                            Thanks! I'll put these on my list.

                            1. re: Kshell
                              JunieB Mar 6, 2014 03:04 PM

                              We've tried both of your recommendations and liked them both! I had the short rib tacos at Cantina Feliz, but everyone dining with me got other things and all were pleased with their choices. Great appetizers! Service was good.

                              The menu at Saffron was very limited. I'm a sucker for samosas and they weren't the best but everything else was great. I had one of my old standbys, chicken tikka masala, and my husband had chicken korma. Both passed the test with flying colors. Waiter was pulled in many directions and keeping up just fine.

                              We'll be going back to both.

                            2. k
                              Kshell Dec 10, 2013 02:02 PM

                              Oh, and since you are interested in food co-ops, there is always Weaver's Way in Chestnut Hill. If you're not a member, though, it's kind of expensive. I forget what the annual fee is.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Kshell
                                JunieB Dec 10, 2013 03:22 PM

                                Weaver's was nice. Picked up a couple of fancy schmancy gift items.

                              2. sockii Mar 6, 2014 03:28 PM

                                Mica, Mica, Mica.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: sockii
                                  JunieB Mar 6, 2014 05:58 PM


                                2. a
                                  asmith Mar 7, 2014 06:59 AM

                                  Mica is the best for upscale dining. We really enjoy Heirloom and now that it's sister resto is open (Paris Bistro), we are anxious to try that. On the Asian side, Cin Cin does a very good job with Chinese food ("with an French flair") and Osaka cures the Japanese craving. If you like Indian food, the takeout place in downtown Mt. Airy called Jyoti Bistro is the best Indian I've had in Philly and also, happily, the most reasonable. Lastly, I have the same fear of Iron Hill that you do, but have been pleasantly surprised the few times I've gone there.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: asmith
                                    JunieB Mar 7, 2014 12:07 PM

                                    Thanks. We love Indian food and I don't think anyone has recommended Jyoti. I really need to get to some of the upscale places, besides when company comes. My husband always thinks they're going to be stuffy and pretentious (even though they rarely are) so it takes a while to convince him to try new ones. I agree about Iron Hill. We went again last night and so far everything we've had there has been good. No misses at all so far.

                                  2. j
                                    jay seigle Mar 9, 2014 07:56 AM

                                    We live in Wyncote and rely on destinations on our way here rather than neighborhood spots. Umbria (also BYOB, Germantown Ave, close to CH) is always amazing and we tend to forget about it. Upscale, international and accessible, as good as it gets in this part of Philly.

                                    Two new better than average, could be upscale take-outs: Barry's Palate and Bhagya's Kitchen on Willow Grove Ave., in Wyndmoor. Tucked into an unprepossessing strip across from the Wyndmoor Fire Comp, both have savory and delicious items.
                                    Barry Sexton is a classically trained chef, formerly of the Hamilton Grill room (Lambertville) and Striped Bass. Also impressive Food Network credentials. We ordered shrimp puttanesca and shrimp scampi (to-go), the first with a delicious garlicky tang and the other briny and spicy (a little uncooked so when you reheat the shrimp retain their flavor) and each dish able to feed two...and only $15.00 per dinner. Need to put your order in before you arrive and I think he closes as 5:00 pm (215-233-8977). A limited menu daily, made to order but seriously good food.

                                    Bhagya's Kitchen has been there about 10 years, started in the Chestnut Farmers Market. The chef used to work at the original Roller's. Some items are outstanding, including mango smoothie, Naan and lamb dishes. I think the owner also bought Sultan in North Wales, which has excellent fare.

                                    We thought Heirloom was welcoming in atmospherics but disappointed with the food at such a high price point. Oddly enough, after living in CH and Wyndmoor for several years, we only recently tried McNally's (probably because we make some attempt to eat healthy). While the menu is filled with more high calorie items, there is a nice section of fresh turkey sandwiches and home made soups. One can always split the more sumptuous sandwiches!

                                    Flying Fish continues to be very good, trying to balance new styles of cooking with some old favorites.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: jay seigle
                                      asmith Mar 9, 2014 08:00 AM

                                      Hi Jay, Umbria has been closed for a while. Glad to hear about Barry's Palate. Must try.

                                      1. re: asmith
                                        jay seigle Mar 9, 2014 10:05 AM

                                        I need to be more mindful of restaurants I have eaten at within the past year, tx! Barry's is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

                                      2. re: jay seigle
                                        JunieB Mar 9, 2014 07:26 PM

                                        Thanks! I'm not a big fan of take-out or ordering ahead, and often those restaurants don't last but it's good to know about them. Managing to get an order in before 5 would be nearly impossible for us, so Barry's is probably out, but the fact that Bhagya's has been there for 10 years is a good sign that they're doing something right so I will check them out.

                                        Unless I forgot them already, I don't remember anyone mentioning Flying Fish or McNally's so I will definitely look into those.

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