Restaurant Review: Chadds Ford Tavern
Location: 1400 Baltimore Pike, at Heyburn Road on Rte. 1, with entrances off both Rte 1 and Heyburn Road, Chadds Ford, PA 19317
Owner: Executive Chef Phil Ferro
Website: www.cftavern.com, but they are also very active on Facebook.
Ambiance: Owner and Executive Chef Phil Ferro worked by himself most days to refurbish and redecorate every aspect of the tavern himself. It was lonely and hard work but his vision carried him. He had the menu planned out long before the renovation was done, and when I looked at it I could hardly wait to experience the food. The booths are now totally refurbished and reupholstered, so those lumpy booth seats are long gone! The bars are new, although the previous bar top on the one was refinished and kept, with the original brass nameplates of former regulars now embedded in 10 gallons of resin. The restaurant is now clean and well decorated, with a warm ambiance. There is a roomy dining room with tables and booths, a Tasting Room for private parties and a “spillover bar,” a real “Cheers” type bar with four sides and plenty of booths and a few tables, a band-stand and small dance floor, and a great craft beer, top-shelf liquors, and a nice wine list. Phil seems to have found a way to meet everyone’s needs and wants!
Service: Friendly from the moment of entry, where we were greeted and asked where we’d like to sit. For lunch that day, we chose a booth in the bar area, where we were taken care of by an excellent bartender. Service was warm and attentive on a Saturday at noon.
Experience: Friend Edie had the roasted beet salad with baby arugula,honey-whipped goat cheese, crushed macadamia nuts and blood orange gastrique, which I would guess is salad dressing. The salad was $10, to which she added grilled chicken for $7. My fellow Cheap Eater Bob had Hearts of Romaine Caesar Salad with garlicky croutons, plenty of shaved parmesan, and a creamy roasted garlic dressing ($8) . I had the Tavern Wedge salad ($8) with heirloom tomatoes, applewood-smoked bacon, herb croutons, crispy onions and gorgonzola cheese . I also ordered their local mushroom bisque (at $13 it was a meal-sized serving), which had lots of jumbo lump crabmeat and a small island of wild mushrooms. My only unhappiness was the soup was too thick and more like a gravy than a smooth soup; and I like my mushrooms incorporated into the soup itself. Friend Rich chose the historically famous Tavern Roast Beef Sandwich for $15, a huge sandwich of shaved ribeye, provolone cheese, crispy onions, horseradish chive sauce (yum, and if you want additional straight horseradish just ask) on a seeded long roll. I usually split this with my dining partner and still find it quite a meal, since it also comes with a huge bunch of hand-cut fries.
On other occasions I’ve tasted the prime rib egg rolls ($13 but also a happy hour half-price selection) with wild mushrooms, smoked cheddar, and that horseradish chive sauce. This dish has the most luscious prime rib you can imagine . For a cheap happy hour treat, we often share a couple drafts of Yard’s I.P.A., with a basket of Pomme Frites with black truffle sea salt and parmesan cheese and a side dip of the Tavern’s cheese fondue—all at half price for happy hour—walk out with a check of less than $15! One more dish I have tried is the Shrimp and Grits for $13, 3 fat applewood-bacon- wrapped shrimp, marscapone cheese polenta, with a honey chipotle drizzle. There was a big pile of arugula on top, with some crispy onions, almost a salad. My only “con” was the drizzle was a little too sweet—wish it were more smoky, less sweet.
I’ve never gotten to desserts yet---too busy groaning after the meal, which is often a very affordable appetizer, soup or salad combo with a nice drink. Speaking of which, I have found a happy selection called the Rosemary’s Mule, which is a Moscow Mule, very big and very well made in the proper copper mug, with a touch of rosemary in the simple syrup they mix it with. It is a drink and a half! Great happy hour choice, since all drinks (no matter what) are half-price during 4 to 6 pm SEVEN DAYS A WEEK
Menu: Go to their website to view the very varied menu. You will find something for everyone, in every price range. Overall, the Tavern qualifies as an excellent addition to TheCheapEater.com list of finds.
Total Bill: I forget. We four had multiple drinks of wine and beer, since we were there to catch up and talk over several hours, and I lost track. But a good value, for sure—and it wasn’t even happy hour!
Additional Comments: The Tavern has been a historic favorite since before the Civil war, and it is once again a place for all people. Some have complained that the music is too loud during happy hour, but there is plenty of seating away from the bar, and happy hour applies all over the restaurant, not just in the bar area.
Best advice: Get to the happy hour! It is a real value all around.
Full disclosure: The Chadds Ford Tavern is a proud sponsor of the Welcome Neighbor Newcomer Visit Program.
TheCheapEater.com, an affiliate of WelcomeNeighborPA.com
Anne & Bob Pounds, the owners of Welcome Neighbor, the new home owner personal visitation, community orientation service and deliverer of special housewarming gifts from sponsoring business owners, enjoy having the best eating out experiences... at the lowest prices, hence thecheapeater.com They love sharing their "finds" here and in their monthly newsletter: the Neighborly News. Enjoy!