Suburban Eats

Where to nosh outside the city limits. By Barry Eichner

Courtesy of Nectar

Often times I take a very Homeric approach to life. It’s safer to deal with single truths rather than deal with all of life’s grey areas, right? Homer said, “I like my beer cold, TV loud and my homosexuals flaming.” Homer Simpson, that is. Similarly, I’ve always thought cities are filled with good restaurants and lots of gays – while the burbs are filled with straight people who take their kids to Applebee’s – not that there’s anything wrong with straight people or Applebee’s.

But guess what? The times, they are a-changing. While life is far from perfect, gays can get married and raise their adopted Vietnamese babies in the suburbs. And we can all enjoy amaze-balls suburban culinary options with my two daddies.

One of my favorite joints outside the city limits is Nectar, an Asian fusion restaurant in sleepy Berwyn. Nectar tops my list because it’s straight-up stupid good. This chic eatery looks like it crawled out of Tribeca and not the sometimes sedate Main Line. And as long as I can feel like I’m in a city, I don’t really care where I’m eating. I highly recommend the King Kong Roll – filet and lobster tail in a sushi roll. Yeah, I know, that’s no Applebee’s “two for $20” appetizer, but we’re not in Applebee’s anymore, Dorothy.

Chef Roman (courtesy of Blackfish)

The next suburban jewel is Blackfish in Conshohocken. I was forced into trying Blackfish by a very Karen Walker-ish-type friend for her birthday dinner. And I stomped my feet like a petulant child asking, “The suburbs, really?” But one taste of Chef Chip Roman’s exquisite menu gave me a culinary smack down.

Blackfish blew me away. A must-try is the salmon and egg appetizer, which is a poached egg that’s breaded, deep fried and then wrapped in salmon and topped with a flat potato crisp. It’s a work of modern art.

And, thankfully, Chef Roman doesn’t limit himself to Chonchy. He’s expanding his Roman empire to Chestnut Hill – his newest eatery Mica is slated to open on March 18. And he’s enlisted one of Philly’s hottie, er, hottest chefs Jason Cichonski, a rock-climbing, punk-rock-music-listening local boy who, by the age of 23, was named as executive chef at Lacroix. I’m not sure which is more impressive – Jason’s six-pack abs or his culinary prowess. Either way, I’m going to Mica this month and so should you.

I also recently got schooled on out-of-town eats at Mina Cucina Rustica in Spring House. Don’t judge a restaurant’s food by its mini mall locale, people. I still get warm and fuzzy when I think about the pumpkin-stuffed ravioli in wild mushroom and cognac cream sauce. It was, as they say in Spring House, bellissimo!

Barry Eichner is a food writer in Philly who regularly reviews restaurants on his blog FoodRulez.