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Great Bakeries in Chestnut Hill
Is there a place with more bakeries per square mile than Chestnut Hill? In a ten-block stretch along Germantown Avenue there are no less than seven terrific bakeries, -- two recently featured on national television (see story below) -- not to mention several coffee shops and restaurants that sell baked goods and a couple other great bakeries within a short drive.
Baker Street Bread Co.
You can smell the fresh baked bread created daily but you may not know that only natural ingredients are used to create dozens of unique breads and rolls of all kinds voted Best of Philly by Philadelphia Magazine and One of America’s Best Bread Bakeries by Bon Appetit magazine.
French Bakery & Café
The French Bakery sells more than baked goods. The interior has the look and feel of a Paris café and antique baked-goods cases hold raisin scones, coconut macaroons, fresh-made butter pound cake and lemon poppy seed muffins brought in fresh daily
Night Kitchen Bakery
Tarts, pies, brownies, buns and especially cakes increasingly featured in magazines and on television have been created for 10 years for pick up and mail order from this small building which has now expanded to The Night Kitchen Bakery's Double Fudge Chocolate Brownies made a guest appearance on the Rachael Ray show Tuesday April 2
Poppy’s Seed Bakery
Pies are created on site and a selection of donuts, bagels, rolls, breads, cornbread, scones and hamentashen -- and even coffees and gelato -- are brought in from elsewhere to this small stand in the bustling Chestnut Hill Farmers market open Thursdays through Saturdays right behind the Chestnut Hill Hotel.
Earth Bread & Brewery
In Mt. Airy, the scenic mural decorates an unusual place featuring both wholesome, hearth-baked flatbreads and house made craft beer along with a wide selection of wine.
Zake's Cakes & Café
Minutes away in Fort Washington is a café and bakery in a Victorian house featuring a wide selection of cakes, cheesecakes, pies and other treats as well as a full menu for Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch and Dinner.Since I have been writing restaurant columns for 28 years for the Local and Main Line newspapers, people often ask, “What's the best restaurant you've been to this year?” Or “Where do you get the most for your money?” Or “What's the best BYOB in the area? We prefer to take our own wine.”
Diners can be a bit nostalgic. Most people have favorable impressions of them as places where you take the entire family to get lots of comfort food at affordable prices, and they can remind us of the place our grandparents took us out to eat as kids.
At least that is the kind of public perception Ken Weinstein, owner of the Trolley Car Diner and Deli in Mt. Airy, believes has allowed his diner to succeed and remain open long enough to celebrate its 10th birthday anniversary this month.
Time after time, Souderton resident Ron Loux would hear comments from customers at the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market on Germantown Avenue about the need for a bakery.
So he decided to fulfill that need. (Their last name is pronounced “Lowx” (German) rather than “Loo” (French) because the family moved from France to Germany many years ago.)
Despite a leave of absence for Suzanne Leaming-Bagwell of Wyndmoor, her return to the delicatessen business on May 3 of this year, seven years after she leased it to another local resident, was more fate than anything else.
“Everything happened to fall into place,” she said last week.
For Leaming-Bagwell, 47, working in a restaurant is not just a passion; it is a family pastime. All of her nine brothers and sisters have worked in the restaurant business in one form or another over the years.
Philadelphia and Chestnut Hill’s own Amy Edelman and Karen Boyd will be making a national television appearance on TLC.
TLC’s “Fabulous Cakes of Philadelphia,” which will be aired at 10 p.m. Monday, July 26, chose Bredenbeck’s Bakery and Ice Cream Parlor, 8126 Germantown Ave, and the Night Kitchen Bakery, 7725 Germantown Ave., to be featured along with one other bakery in the area.
For some, tradition has its value. To others, the art of tradition seems to be disappearing over the hills, lost among youths, fast food and the internet.
But for those of you seeking the old homey Slavic roots, perhaps sautéed in silky caramelized onions and topped with sour cream, The Pierogie Kitchen, a little shop in Roxborough, might send you home smiling or at least put your mind in the old country through one of mankind’s oldest pleasures — eating.
The Chestnut Hill Farmer’s Market is packed full of small stands and booths with an impressive variety of foods that arouse all of the senses. One can find codfish cakes, organic roasted chicken and carrots, Norwegian salmon, chicken in a lobster cream sauce, channa masala, tubbouleh, blackberry cabaret gelato, Ethiopian longberry harrar coffee and so much more..
Sultan: Indian food near Hill is fit for a king
Finding excellent food at ¡Cuba! at bargain prices is like finding a needle in a needle store. Ever since the economy tanked in September of 2008, many restaurants have lowered prices in an attempt to keep the wheels rolling and the fires burning, but I doubt if any restaurant has come up with a better bargain offer than ¡Cuba! at 8609 Germantown Ave.
According to a recent CNN Money article, “More than 45,000 businesses closed their doors for good in 2009, including some that survived for more than a century.” The article profiled six century-old businesses in various parts of the country that were victimized last year by the economic hard times. One of those businesses placed under the microscope was the Delaware Market House, a gourmet food market and catering operation in Gladwyne.First of two articles
It’s a journalistic convention (as opposed to a political convention) at the end of a year for reviewers to announce their personal lists of “Best Movies of the Year,” “Best TV Shows of the Year,” “Best Novels of the Year,” etc. Therefore, even though I am not, strictly speaking, a reviewer (this column is much more “featurish” than “reviewish”), enough people have twisted my arm about my personal “best” choices that I hereby offer for your consideration my favorite restaurant experiences over the past year.
Columnist’s ‘Best Restaurants’
•Roller’s Flying Fish, 8142 Germantown Ave. (at Hartwell Lane). According to former employees I have spoken to over the years, Paul Roller is probably the most difficult merchant in Chestnut Hill to work for. When I asked him a while back about his reputation as a tyrant, he replied, “This is not a popularity contest. The customers have to get what they’re paying for, and I have to make all employees understand that.”
You don’t need a Ph.D. to know that chef/owner Valerie Erwin, 53, chose the right ‘course’ of action when she relocated her restaurant, Geechee Girl Rice Café, two months ago from 5946 Germantown Ave. in Germantown to 6825 Germantown Ave. in Mt. Airy. You might say the Princeton University graduate is a class act and a textbook case of a self-made businessperson.
Operating a successful neighborhood restaurant for 16 years is as difficult as finding a Japanese man named Biff, but Jan Wilson has been doing just that for 16 years at Cafette, 8136 Ardleigh St. And it’s the only Chestnut Hill restaurant not on a major road; in fact, it’s on a residential street that otherwise has only single-family homes.
“I believe we’ve lasted so long,” said Jan, 50, “because we have center city quality food at neighborhood prices, and we have always been BYOB, so people save lots of money by bringing their own wine. We make our own stocks, have layering of flavors and take no short cuts. I can truly say we do things the right way.
This is the 15th in a series of articles on Chestnut Hill community leaders.
Paul Roller can usually be found wearing a white chef’s apron around Chestnut Hill and at his restaurants, Roller’s at Flying Fish and Roller’s Express-O. Though he owns these restaurants, handles all ordering and financial matters, the most important part of his job requires the apron; he makes sure the food is always fresh, flavorful and well presented.
When Yu Hsiang Garden at 7630 Germantown Ave. became Chestnut Hill’s first Chinese restaurant in September of 1989, it was a case of baptism under fire. Several residents close to the restaurant had done everything in their power short of poisoning the area’s water supply to prevent Yu Hsiang Garden from opening. They had the usual litany of fears — crowds, parking, noise, smells, etc. While the protesters did not ultimately get their way, they did in fact delay the opening for many months.
Almost everyone is looking for ways to beat the recession, which is undoubtedly why there was a long line of customers ahead of us waiting to order last Tuesday evening at Phoebe’s Bar-B-Q, which opened to the public April 19 at 5002 Umbria St. in Roxborough, about 10 minutes from Chestnut Hill.
After Stella Notte in the Chestnut Hill Hotel went out of business a few years ago, Chestnut Hill diners had to go cold turkey — or should I say cold ravioli — without a serious Italian restaurant on the Hill. (Of course we do have Cosimo’s, but that’s more of a pizza/sandwich place.)
There’s an old Chinese saying (are there any new Chinese sayings?) which maintains, “You will never stumble upon anything good while sitting down.”
One Chestnut Hill businessman who appears to have lived his life according to this adage is Michael Wei, owner of Cin Cin in our town (7838 Germantown Ave.) as well as Yangming in Bryn Mawr, Nectar in Berwyn, Szechuan East in Northeast Philly and Mandarin Garden in Willow Grove. Until recently he and several partners also owned Maia in Villanova, but Maia was a casualty of the dismal economy and other factors. Wei, whose restaurant empire might warrant the title “The Chinese Stephen Starr,” somehow made a detour into the kitchen while on the road to a career in journalism.
Everyone who eats out at restaurants has at one time or another witnessed this nightmarish scene: a family whose small child screams like his/her hair is on fire, has a temper tantrum, throws food on the floor or maybe even runs around the restaurant like a cheetah sprinting after a rabbit.