Directly across from the Delaware River in Yardley is Charcoal Steaks N’Things, a bright steakhouse that is truly family style in a way chain steakhouses only claim to be.
First thing to know: This is a BYOB place. It’s not big on décor – it feels kind of like a new Perkins, without the kitsch. But what struck us first, once we sat down and examined the menu, were the prices – for a restaurant trumpeting steak, this place is inexpensive. (“Steak” and “inexpensive” are not words I’m used to putting in the same sentence.) A 14-ounce New York strip is $22.95, an 8-ounce Gorgonzola Steak, topped with shallots and gorgonzola is $17.95. Salmon Dijonaise is $12.95.
I had the steak gorgonzola and a grilled romaine salad, which is worth the trip in itself. Lynne ordered the Tumble Weed Steak, a $17.95 8-ounce steak rubbed with spices and topped with “frizzled” (read: fried) onions. Both steaks came exactly as ordered: Lynne’s medium-rare, and mine rare. That seems to be a difficult feat for many places to pull off nowadays, so it’s notable.
The service here is quick, friendly and efficient. The wait staff cheerfully tag teams each other to make sure meals come out at a reasonable pace and that tables are cleaned. In a hurry? No problem. They’ll get you out of there. Want to hang out for a while? No worries.
Because it’s built on a second floor just across the street from the river, we can see where this would be a fine place for dinner during the summer months, especially if you get a window table. There’s nothing to block your view of the water while you eat.
Charcoal Steaks N’ Things is located at 11 South Delaware Avenue (River Road) in Yardley. Phone (215) 493-6394. Hours are 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., seven days a week. A friend tells us they serve great breakfasts. In the name of complete reporting, we’ll try that soon.
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We had a wonderful dinner the other night at the Summer Kitchen in Penn’s Park , taking advantage of its mid-week suppers, which allow you to enjoy chef Mario Korenstein’s creativity without going overboard on your dining budget. This isn’t an overpriced restaurant by any stretch, but the suppers make it a nice mid-week option.
The night we went was cold and blustery, the perfect night for chicken pot pie – so perfect, in fact, Lynne and I both ordered it. Served in a wide dish, topped with a light puff of pastry, the pie’s filling was a blend of fresh vegetables, big slices of chicken, potatoes, balsamic-infused mushrooms and a lightly peppered fontina cheese cream sauce. I’m not a big fan of mushrooms, but these were wonderful.
The Kitchen’s weeknight suppers, their prices ranging from $10 to $14, are served Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. The restaurant call the portions “sensible,” but I thought they were pretty generous. Live guitar music goes along with the meal on Friday nights. The Summer Kitchen is BYOB, and is in the Gathering Shopping Village at the corner of Route 232 and Penn’s Park Road.
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When thinking about our dinner at Basilleaf, a BYOB Vietnamese restaurant at 2808 South Eagle Road in Newtown, I keep coming back to the word “delightful.” First off, it’s a friendly place, with everyone from the wait staff to the kitchen staff showing up at your table to make sure your service is good. Then there’s the food, which is fresh, imaginative, flavorful and subtle all at once. With entree prices ranging from about $9 to $21, you can have a wonderful meal there without spending a lot of money.
Lynne and I visited with Sally and Arnie (I owed Arnie dinner for going beyond the call of friendship when he helped me schlep a desk from my old office in Trenton to home.) For an appetizer, we shared an entree-sized bowl of hu tieu, a pork broth with clear noodles, served family style. Dinner was pan-seared flank steak, spiced colossal shrimp, an outstanding tofu in diced tomato sauce, and grilled lemongrass curry chicken with rice.
Note the guy who considers himself a carnivore first used the word “outstanding” to describe the tofu. But it was. Lightly fried and served in a not-too-spicy tomato, garlic and bacon sauce, the tofu was infused with the sauce’s deep flavor. Like everything else we tried that night, the flavors were a delicate mix of spice and freshness. We clearly tasted vegetables, meats and spices all at once.
We’ll be back. A lot.
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Driving around one weekend, Lynne and I visited two great places a little off the beaten tracks on both sides of the river.
The first was Brig O’Doon at 239 Durham Road in Ottsville, a charming coffee house we stopped in on after our friend Stephanie recommended it. It offers lattes, capuccinos, espresso, plus good plain old coffee, along with sandwiches, soups and cookies that required an act of will to pass up. Big windows overlook Durham Road, letting in lots of light and making it a pleasant place to sit, read the paper and just while away a Sunday afternoon when you’re in the mood. And right behind the coffeehouse, in the same building, is an excellent natural foods store, Kimberton Whole Foods.
The next was the Café at Rosemont, a Hunterdon County institution. It’s the kind of place that has the feel of an old kitchen, furnished with sturdy tables and chairs, its walls lined with books and soda bottles, the air filled with aroma of coffee during breakfast time. The food here is imaginative – brie and pear omelets were on the menu the morning we had breakfast there – and good, as proved by one gentleman we spoke with who said he’s been having breakfast there for 30 years. The Café’s open for lunch and dinner as well, and features a three-course “Eat Global, Drive Local” dinner each Wednesday night for $24 per person. Thursday nights are Tapas nights. The Cafe’s located at the corner of 519 & 604 in Rosemont.
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