Playful & Thoughtful at Charcoal

Adam Erace visits Yardley’s Charcoal, the molecular gastronomy BYOB from brothers Eric and Mark Plescha.

The chefs know their way around an immersion circulator, though, their preferred cooking vehicle for everything from octopus and eggs to that hanger steak. A marinade in roasted vegetables, mustard and vinegar tenderizes the beef for two days; two hours at 55 degrees Celsius and a quick trip to the grill finishes the job. Rubbed down with root beer spices (sassafras, juniper and star anise, to name a few), the short ribs go four days — four days! — in a super-low sous vide that maintains a medium-rare interior. Scented with more star anise, roasted fennel purée reinforced the beef’s licorice backdrop, a white raisin-studded, grilled pistachio-dusted ode to a burger and a root beer from the nearby A&W stand, a favorite of Eric’s girlfriend.

Undercover Brothers [City Paper]
Charcoal [Official Site]

Around The Web

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • louis

    Charcoal strives to be something it is not. Overreaching young chef never quite hits that mark at dinner. Better off when dad runs the show for breakfast and lunch. He deserves a purple heart for all his patience with silly adventurous son.

    • April

      Perhaps you want boring food Louis, in that case the yardley inn is right down the street, charcoal is not what it was years ago, accept that, no one says you have to eat there. But bashing on the chefs???? Lame…..

  • louis

    Geez…Charcoal is still, after many years, basically a comfortable “boring” diner for breakfast and lunch. Better than most in the area. Nothing to be ashamed of, April. Still wet-behind-the-ears chefs want to go in a totally different direction @ dinnertime. And good luck with that…For my money next time I have a yen for molecular gastronomy I’d rather go back to wd 50 on the les or try Alinea in Chicago. lol

  • Wow……hahahaha…I personally would go to NOMA lous, and thanks April for digging it, but we never claimed to be “molecular” nor experienced….so what exactly do you mean Louis when we “strive for something we are not”? We in no way are trying to be the next wd-50 or alinea….perhaps we should just let the article speak for itself…..

  • carly

    Sounds like Charcoal has an identity crisis. Read the article and basically I agree with Louis. Sorry April and Eric :/ Btw, a better diner in Yardley is Mil lees on Main St. Good food for lunch and dinner without the bs.

  • carly

    edit: Mil lees open for breakfast and lunch without the bs.

  • No offense taken, I assume all these 1 am posts are from people In the industry anyway,so this is the last time I am going to post a comment,food is subjective, that’s the beautiful thing about it

  • Doug

    I would suspect that Louis and Carly are the same person. Not so difficult to leave a post here with different e-addresses and who doesn’t have more than one account these days. I tend to enjoy Charcoal. Not 100 percent consistent, but always interesting and those looking for the same old same old, there’s always Olive Garden. When the Charcoal boys do it right it’s a great dining experience. When it’s a little off, we chalk it up to experimentation. This has been one of our weekly visits for well over a year now and it’s been a pleasure to watch these young chefs growing into their own. Also, I almost never order a desert at restaurants, but the things Eric does with interesting ice creams always draw me in and rarely disappoint. Cardamom Lime, Ramp Top, Red Miso… These are must not misses!

  • Dave Preston

    Oh, and here’s a second comment from my own second e-mail account. We have yet to venture in for breakfast or lunch, but I’m sure Charcoal does that right too. It always looks packed from what we can see across the river. We like to come in on off nights mid-week when we know we will run into our favorite waitress and hostess (Nicole and Heather). The front of house experience here is also part of the draw for us. Sometimes I miss a basic New York Strip, but the excitement of trying something new on a regular basis more than makes up for missing an old favorite now and then. Hoepfully the Pleasure Brothers are keeping tabs on their recipes and maybe a cook book will show up on the shelves when they grow older and slow down a bit. In the meantime, I love the warp speed…

  • James

    I think the article is right on. Going to charcoal for breakfast or lunch is good. They do a damn good breakfast and lunch. I feel they do an even better dinner. I work in a hotel in the area and send guests from out of town to go there. Not once has anyone ever told me they were unhappy. I feel the charcoal boys do “experiment” with different things but someone has to right? If anything they should be getting applause for their daring food experiments rather than having people talking down to them because they stepped outside the lines a little. Keep up the good work!