Pennsylvania Suburbs Restaurants: The 2009 Philly Mag 50

Alison Two
Fort Washington | International | Entrées: $13-$20
Ranking: 28 • Last Year’s Ranking: New to the List
Good things are happening at Alison Barshak’s second eatery (the first being Alison at Blue Bell)—in particular, good things in seafood. Mussels arrive in a white wine broth, with bits of mint, chorizo and spiced red pepper; fat, fleshy scallops are served with dense little puffs of gnocchi; pho noodles and tender hunks of braised oxtail complete the grilled tuna. If we didn’t already know Barshak’s food from her years at Blue Bell, and Striped Bass before that, we’d have counted this place planted on a tree-lined stretch of Fort Washington merely a pleasant surprise—but given her track record, Alison Two is proof that Barshak is, inarguably, a major player in our food scene. Order: Fish dishes shine; a juicy roast chicken is flawless. 424 South Bethlehem Pike, Fort Washington, 215-591-0200. See User Reviews, Hours, & Other DetailsSee MenuMake a Reservation

Birchrunville Store Cafe
Birchrunville | French-Italian | Entrées: $13-$20
Ranking: 27 • Last Year’s Ranking: 13
To say this Chester County BYO has a loyal following is an understatement. Never before have we seen multiple diners making reservations for their next meals before their entrées even arrive. And it’s not like Birchrunville is convenient: Dinner is only served Wednesday through Saturday, there are only two seatings on weekends, they don’t accept credit cards (good luck finding the nearest ATM), and the restaurant is off the beaten path even for nearby residents. But after eating here, we get that it all adds up to quirky charm and a heartfelt dining experience. The menu options are few, but slight spins on classics—beet-and-goat-cheese salad is enlivened with breasola and mâche; a well-cooked Chilean sea bass gets a cabernet sauvignon sauce—and a few surprises, like boar, are, like the clientele, pleasantly approachable. Order: The moist, warm butterscotch cake. 1403 Hollow Road, Birchrunville, 610-827-9002. See User Reviews, Hours, & Other DetailsSee Menu

Conshohocken | Seafood | Entrée: $21—$30
Ranking: 10 • Last Year’s Ranking: 3
This clean-lined Conshohocken BYO celebrates simplicity—so light and airy, all pale grays and Shaker-style chairs. Amiable servers don’t even play up the complexity of chef Chip Roman’s dishes, though they certainly could wax poetic on the way the cherry jus mingles with the pistachio-crusted ball of foie gras, or how the smoked ­salmon wrapped around a soft deep-fried egg meshes so nicely with the crème fraîche. Happily, the scene, the servers and the chef all let the food speak for itself. And this food doesn’t just speak; it sings—­without ever being heavy or overdone.  Order: The delicate bouillabaisse is a proven crowd-pleaser, but you can’t go wrong with the house specialty—fish. 119 Fayette Street, Conshohocken, 610-397-0888.  See User Reviews, Hours, & Other DetailsSee MenuMake a Reservation

Berwyn | Pan-Asian | Entrées: $21-$30
Ranking: 32 • Last Year’s Ranking: 40
“Wow. You guys really ate a lot of food!” That was our (otherwise adept) waiter, surveying the damage after a long, lovely meal at the cool French-Asian-fusion spot in Berwyn. We did order a lot: Nectar’s menu is gigantic and creative, and it’s hard to know whether you should go with an exotic meat entrée, a lighter noodle dish or the sushi. Our solution: Just get what sounds good. Nectar has earned its place among the top restaurants because so many of chef Patrick Feury’s creations turn out to be worth the order. Note to sushi-lovers: You’ll find some of the area’s best here. Order: Kung pao vegetable and tofu wok, and the chilled no-rice sushi roll with yellowtail, salmon and bass.1091 Lancaster Avenue, Berwyn, 610-725-9000.  See User Reviews, Hours, & Other DetailsSee MenuMake a Reservation

Sang Kee Asian Bistro
Wynnewood/Main Line | Chinese | Entrées: Less than $13
Ranking: 35 • Last Year’s Ranking: New to the List
All the deliciousness of its Chinatown ­sibling—the note-­perfect Peking duck, the salt-baked shrimp (tails on), those amazing egg-on-top Hong Kong noodles—with less of the bustle, more parking, and much, much more comfortably suburban style. But it’s not boring; the loud room has an air of authenticity and a spot-on price point, which is what keeps this place packed and keeps us coming back. Order: Shrimp dumpling soup with pea shoots. 339 East Lancaster Avenue, Wynnewood, 610-658-0618. See User Reviews, Hours, & Other DetailsSee Menu

Sovana Bistro
Kennett Square | Italian | Entrées: $21—$30
Ranking: 18 • Last Year’s Ranking: New to the List
Don’t let the shopping center it’s housed in fool you, because this energetic, Chez Panisse-evoking restaurant in Kennett Square is lovely inside, with dark walls and an airy vibe. Refreshingly, “local” here isn’t so much a theme as a natural complement to the seasonal bistro menu—you’d tell a friend about the creative wood-burning-oven pizzas, well-composed salads and fresh-cut pappardelle before mentioning that the mushrooms were foraged mere steps away. While the service can be flighty, the high-quality ingredients, low price point (pizzas are under $15; entrées are mostly below $30), something-for-everyone menu and suave dining room make for an easy meal and a restaurant with staying power. Order: Something off the locavorist “100-mile” menu. 696 Unionville Road, Kennett Square, 610-444-5600. See User Reviews, Hours, & Other DetailsSee Menu

Talula’s Table
Kennett Square | Gourmet To Go | $90
Ranking: 9 • Last Year’s Ranking: New to the List
Many diners who experienced the magic of Django in its heyday now wait—up to a year—for a reservation at Talula’s Table, where chef Bryan Sikora whips up an eight-course “Farm Table Dinner” for 12 lucky diners nightly in the gourmet market he and wife Aimee Olexy run in Kennett Square. When you arrive at the store, shoppers are still checking out, and it’s hard to imagine the room will become a worthy setting for one of the best food experiences of your life. But once the lights dim and your wine has been poured, you feel cocooned by the quiet of horse country and the onslaught of intricately composed plates. The prix-fixe menu changes monthly, but often includes wild ingredients (like ramps and leeks) harvested by the chef himself. Order: Nothing! Dining here means you eat what Chef has prepared. 102 West State Street, Kennett Square, 610-444-8255. See User Reviews, Hours, & Other DetailsSee Menu

<b>View More Restaurants By Location<br><a href="">Center City East/Old City</a> | <a href="">Center City West/Rittenhouse Square</a> | <a href="">Northern Liberties</a> | <a href="">South Philadelphia/Queen Village</a> | <a href="">West Philadelphia</a> | <a href="">South Jersey</a><br><br>View More Restaurants By Cuisine<br><a href="">American/Contemporary</a> | <a href="">Asian</a> | <a href="">French</a> | <a href="">Indian</a> | <a href="">International</a> | <a href="">Italian</a> | <a href="">Latin</a> | <a href="">Mediterranean</a> | <a href="">Pub Food</a> | <a href="">Seafood</a> | <a href="">Southern</a> | <a href="">Steakhouse</a> | <a href="">Vegan</a><br><br>View More Restaurants By Price<br><a href="">$</a> | <a href="">$$</a> | <a href="">$$$</a> | <a href="">$$$$</a></b>