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PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT...

People Are Talking About – Beer

Levante Brewing
208 Carter Dr. Ste. 2, West Chester
484-999-8761 / LevanteBrewing.com

For beer with a very local, low-key vibe, try Levante (means rising in Italian, hence “Elevate your craft”). You can request an owner-led brewery tour, bring your dog or your own food (BYOF), or nosh from food trucks parked outside. Started by home brewers whose fans demanded more than 5-gallon batches, Levante delights local hopheads with clean, crisp beers, ranging from solid ales to seasonal specials. Shout outs for the Kolsch and ESA. The industrial park location near West Chester University launched in August and is open Thursday through Saturdays. Or ask for it at SideBar, Saloon 151 or Station Taproom. A Tap Takeover at Teresa’s Next Door says it all.

Stable 12Stable 12
368 Bridge St., Phoenixville
610-715-2665 / Stable12.com

From barn to barrel, beer with a kick.” Part of that kick was the successful Kickstarter campaign that brought Stable 12 Brewery to Phoenixville last July. Three beer-loving friends started brewing together in a horse barn with 12 stables before moving to their open space with rustic details on Bridge Street. Sample flights from about 10 beers—four flagship brews, seasonals, specialties—plus light fare. Munich Helles and porter get thumbs up from the beernocenti.

Chatty Monks
1 Main St., Phoenixville
ChattyMonks.com

The oxymoronically named Chatty Monks Brewing Co.—which opened its brewpub mid-2014 in West Reading, specializing in Belgium-styled ales—plans a second location for this spring in Phoenixville, as if there weren’t enough places to drink there. The 13,000-square-foot, long-vacant Superior Beverage Co. space on Main Street will have 250 seats where folks can “chew, chat and chill,” plus greater brewing capacity. Chatty Monks’ 40-some beer recipes feature in-house yeasts and home-grown hops—hops that even show up sprinkled on the French Friars (a French fry variation). Named a Top 50 Brewpub Nationwide and Top 10 in the Northeast by CraftBeer.com, it’s worth watching.

Beer Garden at Longwood Gardens
1001 Kennett Rd., Kennett Square
610-388-1000 / LongwoodGardens.org

If last summer’s Nightscape multi-sensory exhibit wasn’t enough to delight eyes and ears, adding a taste treat of a beer garden was a reminder of how lucky we are to have this local treasure. Partnering with Victory Brewing Company, the four-month beer garden offered pub fare and a triplet of beers on tap, including a saison beer getting its citrus kick from Longwood lemons and a wheat ale featuring Longwood honey. There are plans for an encore this summer—both the Beer Garden and Nightscape!


People Are Talking About – Pizza

RapiDough Pizza Pies
30 S. High St., West Chester
484-266-0681 / RapiDoughPizzaPies.com

Rapid means iPad ordering, a credit card swipe, and your personal pizza five minutes later. The Farrell brothers (Sovana Bistro, Classic Diner) promise locally sourced, fresh ingredients—no frozen dough here, though there is gluten-free and charred, thin crust. Sample pizzas, calzones, farm-fresh salads and natural drinks from a menu emphasizing customized dishes, like red, white or green pizza and with your choice of house-made cheeses, meats and vegetables to have it your way … so to speak. Try seasonal options like apple and prosciuotto or Brussels sprouts and bacon. Trust the crust!

Pica’s Restaurant
1231-1233 West Chester Pk., West Chester
Picas-Restaurant.com

2014: Upper Darby native Tina Fey declares her undying love for Pica’s pizza on The Tonight Show. Mid-2016: This third-generation, old-school Italian eatery opens a second location in West Chester, bringing its signature square pizza (cheese on bottom, sauce on top) to our neck of the woods. Whether veggie, meat lovers, white or plain, Pica’s pizza consistently elicits love. Its pasta, sandwiches and classic Italian dishes also have transplanted Philadelphians yearning for home. Look for these dishes and many new ones at the West Chester location. We can’t wait! Cent’anni, Pica’s.

Lorenzo’s
27 N. High St., West Chester
LorenzoAndSonsPizza.com

Excitement built as the South Philly-based pizzeria planned a Thanksgiving opening … in 2014. The High and Gay Streets location (formerly Spazzo) was carefully watched by pizza fans for over a year. Here’s hoping plans come through now for the promised stromboli, calzones, cheesestakes, sandwiches and LARGE pizzas—the 28-inch special! Daily Meal named Lorenzo’s in the 2014 Top 101 Best Pizzas in America, so West Chester should cheer.

 

People Are Talking About – Hard Liquor

Manatawny Still Works
320 Circle of Progress Dr., Ste. 104, Pottstown
484-624-8271 / ManatawnyStillWorks.com

From wine to beer to spirits. That got us to craft spirits and the growth of distilleries in Pennsylvania (think Bluecoat, Dad’s Hat). Named after the local creek and Lenape word for “the place we meet to drink,” Manatawny Still Works’ recent awards got our attention. August 2015 saw triple gold medals at the MicroLiquor Spirits Awards (that’s really a thing) for their small batch whiskey, with Odd Fellows Gin No. 241 snagging Best in Show honors. A rustic tasting room across from Sly Fox Brewery provides the scene for sipping cocktails or American whiskey, rum and gin—unaged and aged—plus wheat vodka as you watch the action at adjacent stills. Take a tour or join a bottling workshop and earn a “Will work for whiskey” t-shirt.

Bluebird Distilling
100 Bridge St., Phoenixville
BluebirdDistilling.com

Not the bluebird of happiness but a snowboarder’s perfect day after a snowfall—that’s what inspired the name of Phoenixville’s house of spirits, opened by Jared Adkins in May. Producing small batch whiskey, bourbon, vodka, gin, rye and rum, they’ll sell you bottles, sips and handcrafted, natural cocktails, including the popular Firebird and the summer hit, blackberry smash, in an industrial-chic space. Small batch (5-to-30-gallon barrels instead of 53-gallon) means faster aging and more flavor. Come now for the un-aged spirits, return for aged elixirs. Also available in local restaurants and PA Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores.

Saloon 151Saloon 151 Whiskey Bar & Grill
151 W. Gay St., West Chester
610-701-8489 / Saloon151.com

Slow-cooked meats, hand-cut fries, mix and match craft beers to go, and of course, an extensive whiskey and craft beer list. That’s the spot-on description of this hopping new spot in the heart of West Chester. The wood interior, banks of TVs and happy hour specials on apps (our fave, Saloon Fries with short rib, Monterey Jack, scallions), sandwiches (like roast pork) and beers had the place packed on a Sunday afternoon. Too many choices to list—pages of whiskeys—with options for sipping local: Levante IPA on tap and Manatawny Small Batch whisky. A cocktail menu for those who prefer something that’s more than neat.

The Whip Tavern
1383 N Chatham Rd., West Marlborough
610-383-0600 / TheWhipTavern.com

Our founding fathers’ go-to drink takes hold in our area once again. For Fox Sake (say it out loud) is a fruit-forward, off-dry English-style cider available exclusively at The Whip Tavern. The brainchild of The Whip’s K.C. Kulp and Big Hill Ciderworks, it pairs beautifully with Whip specialties like Welsh rarebit and roasted pork bangers. And drinking up means doing good: a portion of sales goes to the Brandywine Conservancy to preserve open space. 

Blue Marble Beverages
333 Morgan St., Suite B, Phoenixville
484-393-5345 / Cysery.com

Over in Phoenixville, Blue Marble Cysery joins in the cider game with Easy-Eve Cysers and Hillside Ciders. Find them at local restaurants and bars or drop by Blue Marble’s informal tasting room on Friday evenings.

The Barrel Wine Bar
222 Bridge St., Phoenixville
610-933-3399 / Facebook & Twitter

Maybe not hard liquor, but The Barrel does pour from the top shelf … of the barrel room. At this family business—brothers Matt and Mike use wine from their parents’ A’Dello Vineyard and Winery—wine flows from bottles and 10 taps of rotating choices by the glass or in flights. Opened last June, a big draw on Wine Wednesday are the imaginative cocktails, all wine-based with fruits, juices and herbs creating variations on mojitos, margaritas and a seasonal pumpkin pie winetini. The galvanized metal bar’s concrete top is suitable for doodling while enjoying food for pairing—think cheese plates, flatbreads and more. Music and ladies nights up the draw.

 

People Are Talking About – Painting & Drinking

Painting with a TwistResearch shows we speak foreign languages more fluently after drinking a bit. Apparently the same effects of alcohol for lowering inhibitions help novice Picassos. At least that’s one explanation for the surge of new places for pairing painting with sipping. Phoenixville’s BYOB and Paint (BYOBAndPaint.com), Kennett Design with a Splash of Wine (Kennett-Design.com), and West Chester’s Painted Plate (PaintedPlatePottery.com) are a few examples. Painting With a Twist (in Exton, Media, Wayne, West Chester, PaintingWithATwist.com.) sums it up well: A little bit of paint, a little bit of wine, a whole lot of fun. Fun for singles, friends and corporate groups that eschew ropes courses. Most are BYOB, with art supplies, snacks and an instructor provided.

 

People Are Talking About

Yangming Restaurant
1051 Conestoga Rd., Bryn Mawr
610-527-3200 / YangmingRestaurant.com

People have been talking about Yangming since this Main Line institution closed down temporarily last summer. Opened in 1991 in a hundred-year-old building in Bryn Mawr, the restaurant has accumulated armloads of regional and national accolades. After an extensive renovation—reported to total $500,000—Yangming invited the public to a November 1 open house, with a tour of the facilities. Many diners are happy to have an old favorite reopen. Thanksgiving dinner was served for the first time last year and a full calendar of wine tastings, classes and gourmet dinners is posted for 2016.