Craig LaBan ventures to Ambler for the promise of barbecue and whiskey at the Lucky Well. What he finds is uneven at best. Chef/owner Chad Rosenthal has trouble with consistency.
I don’t doubt Rosenthal’s passion for BBQ. I could taste those good intentions on the St. Louis pork ribs, the bones dusted Memphis-style with spice, the pink-haloed meat clinging just right. The Lucky Well’s chicken wings also wore their smoke well enough. But I should have stopped there.
Food Network notoriety is no guarantee of culinary genius, a fact made abundantly clear by two meals in which virtually everything else fell flat.
One Bell – Hit-or-Miss
Dining Review: The Lucky Well [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Lucky Well [Official]
Lumosity, a website that offers “brain-training” games to keep the mind agile, has published rankings of the smartest cities in America based on whose residents play the widest range of those games and score the highest when doing so. Unsurprisingly, college towns did very well, including State College, Pa., which ranked No. 14 overall, and Princeton, which ranked No. 2.
But the way the Philadelphia Business Journal put it in a headline is much more fun: “Ambler is among the smartest cities in America.” And indeed it is, coming in at No. 38 overall.
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Neighborhood Watch: Moving to Ambler
Located in Montgomery County northwest of Philadelphia, Ambler has experienced a renaissance in recent years, attracting young singles and families looking for the energy of the city in a suburban setting. Anchored by its vibrant Main Street, it offers plenty to do and see no matter the time of year. If you’re curious about living in Ambler, here’s a local snapshot to give you a better background of the borough.
History: Ambler was originally called the Village of Wissahickon after the local rail depot. In 1869, the borough was renamed after Mary Ambler, a resident who cared for and saved many victims of a horrific train collision in the area in 1856.
Education: Ambler’s residents are served by the Wissahickon School District, and in 2008, Newsweek ranked the high school as one of the top 13 in the country. Ambler is also home to a satellite campus for Temple University and offers graduate, undergraduate and non-credit classes.
Dining: Restaurants abound along Ambler’s Main Street. Restaurants range from upscale Dettera to Bridget’s steakhouse to the cozy BYOB Trax Café. If you’re looking for a place to grab a drink, you can also stop by Forest & Main Brewing Company or Finn McCool’s Tavern. The borough celebrates its great restaurants during Ambler Restaurant Week, with local eateries offering affordable prix-fixe menus.
Arts & Culture: One of Main Street’s highlights is the Ambler Theater, a restored 1928 movie house featuring independent, art and limited-distribution films. Residents can also enjoy the theater at the Act II Playhouse, a 130-theater that has been nominated for several Barrymore Awards, and classical music with the Ambler Symphony Orchestra, which offers concerts throughout the year at various area venues.
And of course, there are fabulous homes such as these.
Visit Prudential Fox & roach complete picture of Ambler.
SPOTLIGHT LISTING: Ambler Home with Indoor Pool and Gym
On those extra cold mornings when you’re trudging to the gym to swim laps, do you ever think to yourself, “This would be so much easier if I had my own lap pool.” Well, if you lived in this Ambler Home with an indoor pool and gym, you could simultaneously save on the gym membership and skip those unpleasant treks there. When it warms up, you can take your workout outdoors to the second pool or simply stroll around the 10-acre property, enjoying the spring-fed pond. Either way, after a hard workout, it’s off to the master suite with radiant-heated floors and a steam shower. Hardwood floors, custom millwork and high ceilings are found throughout the home. The motivation to keep working out once you’ve moved in–well, that’s up to you.
795 Lewis Lane Ambler
Bath: 4 full, 3 half
The Ambler Boiler House is arguably the most recognizable piece of architecture in the borough, with its looming smokestack, iconic side view and hulking mass. Abandoned for years, windows broken, the prospect scared developers and investors away with its environmental contamination and complex restoration process.
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The Census Bureau has released Easy Stats, an app that allows users to filter information about fellow residents through the lens of race, income, educational background and whether they drink Yuengling or Belgian. Here’s how it works: Let’s say you live in Ambler borough and you want to know if you’re making more money than your neighbors. Click on one of the subcategories for income, and you’ll learn that the majority of residents make between $75,000 and $99,999 whether white, Asian or Hispanic/Latino. The majority of African Americans in Ambler, however, make between $60,000 and $74,999, while the majority of those in the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander category…oh, sorry. There isn’t anyone in that category in Ambler.
You’ll also learn that there are more homeowners than renters in Ambler, but not by too much, and that the majority of people living in Ambler were not only born in the U.S., but in Pennsylvania. And the Amblerites are staying put, too; there’s plenty of info about tenure in housing and moving in and out of the homes they own or rent. Some of the categories are hopelessly complicated, like “Sex By Age By Nativity And Citizenship Status.” That sounds irreligious and maybe even illegal. Also: “Sex By Work Experience In The Past 12 Months By Earnings In The Past 12 Months (In 2011 Inflation-Adjusted Dollars) For The Population 16 Years And Over.” Well, at least they’re 16.
Have fun with the tool, but don’t use it with congressional districts, which are gerrymandered beyond all sanity. Take the disturbingly shaped 13th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, which includes Horsham and Oxford Circle, Huntingdon Valley and Olney, Fox Chase and Bryn Athyn. There is no such thing as average housing stats for such a district, bless its heart.
Today, Dettera in Ambler will be pouring Tröeg’s Nugget Nectar on draft today along with buck-a-shuck oysters.
Dettera [Official Site]
Trey Popp’s second review in the December issue of Philadelphia magazine is of Forest & Main. Popp finds that the Ambler brew pub might not be perfect but it’s just right. And the beers sound worth the trip as well.
Endicott learned brewing at the University of Sunderland, near Newcastle, and it shows in ales that derive their personality more from bacteria and wild yeasts than high alcohol. My favorites were the Lunaire, a pitch-perfect Belgian sour fermented partly in old chardonnay barrels, and the Zaftig, a dark farmhouse ale with a buxom malt bill and slight barnyard funk. At four and five percent alcohol by volume, respectively, each was a refreshing departure from our high-gravity craft-brewing zeitgeist.
Two Stars – Good
Restaurant Review: Forest & Main [Philadelphia magazine]
Forest & Main [Official Site]
Craig LaBan reviews Forest & Main Brewing Co., the Best of Philly winner for Best Brewpub, and finds the atypical brewpub is a step-up from the norm.
The fish and chips are especially notable, hand-battered in Palomino beer batter that is light and crisp, with fresh chunks of cod inside, and tartar sauce made with capers and cornichons. The rich cup of creamy corn soup touched with coriander and citrus was a hearty evocation of summer.
Two Bells – Very Good
Forest & Main Reviewed [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Forest & Main [Official Site]
Photo via The Brew Lounge
The long awaited Forest & Main Brewing Co. in Ambler officially opens this Friday but the brew pub has been softly opened this week. Located at the corner of Forest and Main, the pub is situated in a 1880s Victorian that has taken more than a year to restore. Downstairs is a bar and some tables. Upstairs features additional seating. And we just think it looks great, adorable even. The large front porch has us dying to sit down in a rocking chair and to enjoy a beer, or three.
Owners Daniel Endicott and Gerard Olson are brewing English session ales and Belgian farmhouse style beers. The menu is beer friendly with items like bacon popcorn, fish and chips and mussels.
If you’re city-bound, sample Forest and Main Kinch IPA at Kennett.
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