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Glenside, again

I know there was a thread here last year on the topic but that's a bit long in the tooth now, and besides, there have been a few changes in the area. Anything new worth talking about or are we still stuck with the same old meh?

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  1. Not Glenside, but close...

    A couple of new restaurants have opened up in Elkins Park, near the train station.

    We particularly like Alexander's. It is a cozy place serving homestyle Polish food as well as other items to round out a small menu. BYOB

    Leila's Trattoria is related to Leila's Bistro in Jenkintown. They have upscale pastas and pizzas.

    I haven't tried Park Plates yet...we call it the secret restaurant because there isn't much in the way of signage. But people are finding their way there, and I hear good reports. My friends stopped by after a hike, so they certainly weren't dressed up, and they were welcomed in. The menu looks great....interesting and far more sophisticated than your typical neighborhood place. BYOB

    We also liked Argana Tree, which is Moroccan BYOB in Jenkintown. I

    4 Replies
    1. re: refinnej

      Park Plates is quite good. We've been there twice and the service is excellent and the food preparation quite professional. We also like Argana Tree. Neither are anything I'd drive far for, but both are less than 15 minutes from us, so we consider ourselves lucky since we live in Mehland (Northeast Philly).

      1. re: refinnej

        Just lost my reply so hope I'm not accidentally replying twice.

        I live in Glenside. I've been delighted by all of those mentioned so far, none of which were here yet when that last thread was going. All are within a 10 minute ride of Glenside, even less depending on which part of G. you're in.

        Until last night, we'd only had lunch (which we enjoyed) at Alexander's. Last night four of us had dinner. They don't take reservations but you can call ahead a half hr. and have them hold a table for you. We were glad we did that as our table was the only one available when we arrived.

        The printed menu is small and casual, but there were also several daily specials. I had the grilled salmon with pears, walnuts (not candied, which I appreciated), and blue cheese on a bed of spinach, and ate every bite. The others were happy with their choices as well; dh had the beef goulash with gnocchi, one friend had the Polish combo plate, and one had another of the specials, a sea bass dish but I don't recall how it was prepared.

        We've only dined once so far at Park Plates, but were both very pleased with our dishes. The menu was more sophisticated than we expected, and our waiter was also much more knowledgeable than we typically find in these parts. We didn't have dessert that night but saw some on other tables that looked delicious.

        We ate once at Leila's Trattoria and it was good, nothing extra special but we'll go back. However we didn't have the pizza and that looked very good. My mother (Sylvia G on this board) and stepfather, and dh and I, all loved the original Leila's Bistro in Jenkintown, the small French bistro, the one time we had dinner there. Pricey, but worth it.

        Dh and I have also had good lunches twice at Argana Tree, once outside on a beautiful fall day, which feels like forever ago! Service was a little slow which was fine when we were there but we wouldn't go there if we had somewhere to go next.

        Also, although it was there by the last part of the old thread, I do want to mention Trevi right in Glenside. Delicious Italian.

        I'm so glad for these terrific new choices. I only wish we could get a good restaurant or two right in the Keswick Village part of Glenside. Unfortunately, the Keswick Theater's presence allows very mediocre places to survive for years and years.

        That being said, a brand new pub type place opened up in place of GG Brewers, across the street from the old GG's, and just a few doors down from the theater. Has anyone eaten there yet?

        1. re: lauracohenromano

          No! I noticed that too, and then promptly forgot it existed. I will try to get there soon and let everyone know. It looked kind of interesting, but small. It'd be nice to have a decent casual pub-type place around (sorry, Keswick Tavern).

          1. re: lauracohenromano

            You're being nice, I suppose by not mentioning Athena by name when you say places that stay in business because of the theater. We eat there whenever we go to the Keswick because we want a place that takes reservations and won't kill us, really our only requirements. It always lives up to it's well deserved reputation. If you've got a craving for veggies that come right from a can, Athena's your place.

        2. I'm new to the area so I can't offer anything new here. We live in Wyncote but I consider Glenside and Jenkintown part of my neighborhood. We like Argana Tree, Leila's, Trevi, and Trios. West Ave. Grille was okay but we've only been there for breakfast. We've had pretty decent food at the Drake and the Glenside Pub, mostly burgers. My husband had a decent meal (delivery) from Linda Jean's but I ordered pierogies and they were awful! I still haven't tried Alexander's or Park Plates but will soon.

          Not to highjack the thread but I would like to know where people do their food shopping! Everywhere I've lived I could count on Whole Foods for good meat but I bought beef twice at the Whole Foods in Jenkintown and it was inedible. I bought two rib-eyes and they were both tough but one was so tough you couldn't even bite through it. Next I bought stew meat and the consistency was like cardboard - chewy and dry. Huge disappointment. I bought stew meat at O'Neill's Market and it was outstanding but it looked like they have a limited selection, unless they have a butcher in the back that I didn't see. So where is the best place for meat and fresh produce? It would be nice if I could get it all under the same roof but I know that's asking too much!

          32 Replies
          1. re: JunieB

            I haven't had any issues with the meat from that WF, but maybe you could try Illg's in Chalfont? Everything I've had from there has been awesome, and it's really one of the only real butcher shops around.

            http://www.illgsmeats.com/

            You could also try HMart in Elkins Park; they have a really awesome selection of meats and fish and the produce is usually very good too.

            1. re: gcwebber

              Thanks! Illg's looks like an amazing butcher shop. Wish we had one in this area but a Saturday trip to Bucks County can't be all bad. Haven't been to HMart yet so that's a good rec too. I'm glad to hear you say you haven't had problems with WF's meat. I'm wary of trying again but maybe I will if no one else has had complaints. Thanks again.

              1. re: JunieB

                The one other place to try that is closer to Glenside is Reikers meats, in Fox Chase. German butcher, make a lot of their own sausages in house.

                In Phoenixville, Foresta's Market is worth considering. They also do deer processing.

                1. re: cwdonald

                  Foresta's Market looks great - thanks!

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    I know. I only managed to get there once! Not fair.

              2. re: JunieB

                You can also go to Joe's Meat Market on Jenkintown Rd in Glenside. We have gotten excellent meat there and their chopped pork salad is delicious. My daughter is intrigued by their barrel of pickles, too.

                1. re: ameliemarie

                  Wow, Joe's sounds like a real butcher shop, AND it's nearby. Thanks so much. I can't wait to go there.

                  1. re: JunieB

                    And it is the place to go on Thursdays to get the chipped beef you need to make your very own steak sandwiches.

                2. re: JunieB

                  If you don't mind spending a bit of Saturday schlepping around for good food sources, here are a couple in Silverdale, PA (about 30 minute but some nice backroads if you avoid 309):

                  1) Blooming Glen - learned about it first from Chowhound years ago and it is extraordinary source for all things pork and very inexpensive. In the summer (we can dream), they have several barbecued foods available for take away including brisket, pulled pork and more. Only open W- Sat.

                  2) While you are in the Blooming Glen area, Bolton Farm Market (within a mile of Blooming Glen, open all year, not Sundays) is another destination for natural beef, chicken and turkey. They also carry home made chicken stock for about $2.00 a quart.

                  3) Reading Terminal is only a 24 minutes train ride and the meat vendors there are consistently excellent. Not around the corner but worth the trip downtown. The vendors truck in from Amish farms and others and have a rich selection of meat, both organic and not.

                  4) Up for a real adventure and a 45 minute drive? (On the way our grandma's and a one of a kind experience) Down the Lane Farm in East Earl, PA (right across from Shady Maple). Careful, you need to look closely as you drive on Rt 23. There is a little sign: "Grass-Fed Beef," turn on 897 and then another sign at the end of a field lane, on your left. This is a farm with a fridge and freezer right on the premises, in the middle of the farm. You can visit with the animals and buy beef, chicken and turkey right there. The freshest of eggs $2.00 a dozen.

                  1. re: jay seigle

                    Yes, these are my kind of places! In Western Mass., where we moved from, we had access to all kinds of local farms that had fresh beef, pork, chicken, milk, eggs, and produce. I liked knowing where the meat I ate came from and how the animals were treated. There was a wonderful bison farm with a cafe and take-out. We had our favorite farm for corn and another one for tomatoes, etc.. That's what I'm hoping to find around here. I've never heard of Blooming Glen or East Earl but I'm looking forward to finding them!

                    I'm very familiar with Reading Terminal and I love it. We lived in Narberth in the early 90's and there were a couple of farmer's markets out that way that sold fresh produce, Amish meats and poultry, cheese, etc.. I don't know if they're still there. One was in Narberth in the old Albrecht's building and the other was in Suburban Square.

                    I would think Bucks County would be a place to find this kind of stuff also.

                    Thanks!

                    1. re: JunieB

                      Funny, we just turned down a move to western Massachusetts. Folks around this area are more oriented to Bucks County but the Morgantown area (off the Turnpike) is rich with farm markets and local products.
                      Another foodie destination in the same area (but not cheap) is Wyebrook Farm, which offers their own locally raised meats, some prepared items (CIA trained chef) and the best burgers in a breathtaking setting. Only open weekends until 6:00 pm. It is an adventure to find the shop and restaurant but winding one's way there is half the fun. In warmer months, Wyebrook features local musicians and encourages BYOB at their outdoor picnic tables. A little jewel and happy to share it with others.

                      1. re: jay seigle

                        Thanks! That's a wonderful tidbit of information and we love country roads and weekend adventures.

                        Western Mass. is one of the most unique areas in the country - I think. Very active in finding alternative energy, solutions for aging, and caring for the poor and homeless. More bookstores per capita than anywhere in the country, 5 colleges, and a great arts/music scene. The restaurants aren't as good as the locals seem to think but there are a few jewels and it's a farmers' paradise.

                        I'm printing out your recs so I can look them up on a map and not forget them. Can't wait for the warmer weather to go exploring.

                        1. re: jay seigle

                          Who do you think serves the best pizza in the Wyncote/Jenkintown/Abington/Glenside/Elkins Park area?!

                          1. re: JunieB

                            What kind of pizza do you like? For basic suburban pizza, we like Golden Crust in Elkins Park. It's take-out only, but I think it's got the best crust (from a not very stellar bunch of choices). I've not tried the pizza at Leila's Trattoria, which I think is more Neapolitan style (?). Not real pizza, but that's what the call it, is Jules Thin Crust. Best toppings and ingredients in the area, but really more of a flatbread.

                            1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                              Thanks. It's hard to describe pizza, but I like a thin crust, but not too cracker-like, a bit chewy but not tough. I prefer a tomato tasting sauce, not sweet. I like for it to taste like fresh tomatoes. And I like the kind of mozzarella that stretches a mile between the slice and my mouth (I think that's some kind of industrial mozzarella)!

                              Hadn't heard of Golden Crust and have not been to Leila's. Ate at Trevi a couple of times but haven't had the pizza. I will put all those on the to-try list.

                              We've tried Bella, Apollo, FiestaV, Trios, Jules, and K&J. They were all okay, but just okay. I was hoping there was a hidden jewel that we hadn't discovered yet. I agree about Jules. I loved the toppings. I thought the crust at Trios was kind of tough. I find that some pizzas don't travel well.

                              I should be grateful for what we have because the last two places I lived had terrible pizza choices. Maybe I just have to travel a little farther here if I want really good pizza.

                              1. re: JunieB

                                Of those, Golden Crust is probably closest to Fiesta in style, though I think the crust is chewier and less doughy, and the tomato sauce isn't too sweet (though I wouldn't say it comes anywhere near fresh tasting). FWIW, we go into Philly for really good pizza, but Golden Crust is our local go-to spot (mostly because it is pretty close, not sure I'd travel too far for it).

                            2. re: JunieB

                              That is a tough one. Folks rave about pizza from Trevi (Glenside Ave, replaced the former tired Rizzo's) but we find it just a little better than okay. Trios Tomato Pie (Easton Rd) is again better than average but not terrific. We have resorted to buying pizza dough at the Coop in CH and making it ourselves. Or, we purchase four pizzas to go from Pepe's when we are in New Haven and stuff them in the freezer!

                              1. re: jay seigle

                                Thanks. I was just eying the pizza dough at the Coop a day or two ago. It sounds like I should at least try Trevi's. Having lived in Western Mass., and driving in and around New Haven for over 12 years and I still haven't tried the famous pizza joints there! I have several favorites in NY though. Not sure they would travel and freeze well, plus my freezer is pretty small :)

                                1. re: jay seigle

                                  Just tried the pizza at Trevi for the first time. It didn't have the cheap stringy cheese that I like but the sauce tasted like fresh tomatoes. I just got plain and they call it tomato pie and I see why! Next, I want to try EBB in Mt. Airy.

                                  We also got an order of spaghetti w/marinara and I think it weighed about 5 pounds!! It was better than average but there was enough for about 4 or 5 meals, which is okay unless we get tired of it before we run out of it.

                                2. re: JunieB

                                  Probably doesn't count but I kind of really like Anthony's Coal Fired pizza. It's not traditional but the Cauliflower pizza is addictive.

                                  1. re: gcwebber

                                    Kind of really, eh? It might be a little farther away but it counts. Looks pretty good actually! Next time I'm in Horsham I'll give it a try.

                                    There's a pizza place in Burlington, VT called American Flatbread and this kind of reminds me of their style. Their pizza is wood-fired though and they have a fresh menu every week because they use whatever is in season, sourced from local produce and meat farms. I would love to see something like that here! I have seen their pizzas frozen in some grocery stores but I haven't looked around here yet.

                                    Thanks!

                                    1. re: JunieB

                                      Junie.. the closest we have to what you describe is probably Jules Thin Crust. They change up their menu frequently, though they use a conventional oven, and then "reheat" something akin to a toaster oven.

                                      So it definitely would be missing the wood fired flavor that a great oven can give but they have the same seasonal ingredients that you describe.

                                      1. re: cwdonald

                                        I've had Jules' pizza once and the toppings were great but I wasn't too fond of the crust - too crispy/crackly. I would probably eat there again though.

                                  2. re: JunieB

                                    I still don't understand the real difference between "pizza" and "flatbread," but some of my favorite whatever-you-want-to-call-it from a coal-fired oven is Earth, Bread + Brewery in Mt. Airy. A straight shot from Glenside via Easton/Mt. Airy Avenue (crossing Cheltenham Avenue), they do organic and locally sourced whenever possible. They have an array of delicious regular flatbreads (the traditional has that "fresh-tasting" tomato sauce you mentioned for sure) as well as interesting specials. They brew some really good beer and have a well-curated wine list, as well. Love the place! We live in Jenkintown and usually order Bella's for Friday takeout, but when I really want to enjoy my "pizza," I go to Earth.

                                    1. re: oliviasaru

                                      That sounds yummy! Maybe there is a hidden gem in these parts. Thanks! Can't wait to try it.

                                      1. re: oliviasaru

                                        I just looked at their site and their oven is wood-fired. Another plus!

                                        1. re: JunieB

                                          Ack, yes, I meant wood-fired! Hope you go and enjoy!

                                          1. re: oliviasaru

                                            We plan on it and I'm looking forward to it!

                                3. re: JunieB

                                  JunieB, somehow I'd missed the rest of this entire thread, but now that I'm seeing it, want to mention Creekside Co-op in Elkins Park, right behind the train station. Great for fresh produce. I'm not a rib-eye or stew meat person so can't speak to that, but have gotten very good chicken and fish there. Some of their food is very competitive and some more pricey, but I love supporting a market that's community owned (recognizing that I'm fortunate to be able to). Anyone can shop there, there are no extras fee if you're not a member.

                                  1. re: lauracohenromano

                                    Thanks. Yes, I discovered that the co-op is only about 10 minutes from where I live. I can never do all my shopping there because their selection is limited and somewhat inconsistent, but I do love it. I always support co-ops when I can. I also discovered Alexander's because of it and we go there about once a week. Really nice little restaurant.

                                4. We ate at Harvest in Montgomeryville the other day. Not exactly Glenside, I know, but chowish. It was hardly a perfect meal - a risotto component of my meal was a little crunchy and off tasting - but everything else was very good. I think it's part of a chain (Season 52?) but I will go back.

                                  http://harvestseasonalgrill.com/

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: gcwebber

                                    Harvest is part of the David Magrogan restaurant group, which owns Harvest (three locations, University City in Philly. Glen Mills, and Montgomeryville), Kildares, and Doc Magrogan's Oyster House. The original menu at Harvest was put together by Brian Duffy who you now see on tv reality shows and also pushing his stuffed burger device. Brian was the original chef at the now shuttered Shanachie. The Harvest theme is like Seasons 52, but with less emphasis on the calories and more on the freshness of the ingredients. Glad you had a good meal. I had heard mixed reviews of the one in Glen Mills. What did you eat that liked?

                                    1. re: cwdonald

                                      Let me think, it's been a little while now. I had seared scallops which were perfectly done and a beet salad with goat cheese and candied walnuts. The scallops came with "pumpkin risotto" but the pumpkin was very odd tasting. I didn't eat much of it but that was really my only complaint.

                                      DH had the charcuterie plate which featured house smoked duck and a foie terrine which were both very good. He also had a pasta dish he liked.
                                      Dessert was an adorably (but perfectly) sized little chocolate item with salted caramel (YUM).
                                      I think the best thing on the table were the desserts, followed by the scallops and the salad. I liked the portion sizes (didn't feel too bad having app, entree, dessert) and the price was good. I didn't feel ripped off or anything.

                                      Definitely not competition for anywhere in the city, but a nice alternative out where we live.

                                  2. Someone was asking about the new pub in Keswick Village. I just saw this:

                                    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: gcwebber

                                      I believe that link refers to the one in Jenkintown, not Keswick Village. The one in KV may have already come and gone! At least, when I drove by at 6PM on a recent eve, it was dark and there was a piece of paper taped up in the window. So I'm not sure, it could be they're just waiting for some sort of license or other...

                                      DH went there once since I'd posted asking if anyone had been. He had a beer and burger that night and said it was ok but nothing special. Also said it was very small menu, even for a small pub, it was really all about the brew there.

                                      1. re: lauracohenromano

                                        Actually, there's been a sad dispute with the landlord. Apparently all of the properties in that group have been having some issues. Still hoping to get a chance to try Sir Winston's Pub when the difficulties are resolved. I went to G & G Brewers once (same owner), and enjoyed it!

                                        The brewpub in Jenkintown, with a projected February opening, is Guild Hall Brewing. Hoping it'll be a great pairing with the Hiway!