July 11, 2012
This summer, flowers aren’t the only things that are in full bloom. Adding to the many alfresco dining options on offer, Philadelphia brings you plenty of garden-set restaurants to enjoy the warm weather and fresh air, with some beautiful greenery on the side.
Whether it’s tea in a sunny terrace garden or brunch in an antique greenhouse, there’s an abundance of options for taking in the local flora.
Here are our top picks for restaurants that boast flower power:
• The Brick Hotel’s Restaurant: The enclosed veranda at The Brick Hotel’s Restaurant overlooks lush, well-tended flower gardens, which are a visual complement to the New American cuisine like line-caught salmon over saffron and pea risotto.
• 1906: A Certified Green Restaurant, 1906 overlooks Longwood Gardens’ unparalleled conservatory and horticultural displays, and the sustainable contemporary American fare makes the most of locally grown produce.
• Terrain at Styer’s Café: Set in an antique greenhouse, Terrain at Styer’s Café is an exquisitely styled oasis within a garden store. The seasonally inspired, vegetable-forward cooking draws from local produce, meat and dairy products.
• Talula’s Garden: Inside and out, Talula’s Garden takes its inspiration from all things green. The courtyard strung with lanterns and antiques is a perfect respite for urban dwellers. Inside, the terrariums, rustic wood and planters set the stage for upscale organic fare (celery root soup with spiced walnuts, pears and celery salad; roasted Lancaster chicken with buckwheat crepes, pink lady apples and cider sauce).
• The Inn at Phillips Mill: The 18th-century stone barn housing The Inn at Phillips Mill is lovely on its own, but the patio, decorated with colorful flowering pots, is the ideal spot for a romantic French meal on a spring or summer evening.
• Mary Cassatt Tea Room: The Rittenhouse Hotel’s luxurious Mary Cassatt Tea Room opens onto a sunny terrace garden that is as colorful and graceful as its namesake painter’s works. Tea service and cocktails are served indoors and out.
• Avalon: With its burbling fountain, hanging pots and candlelights, the outdoor garden at West Chester’s rustic Italian bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) Avalon lulls diners into leafy bliss.
• The Inn at Bowman’s Hill: This quaint bed and breakfast brings you an unforgettable garden dining experience. Tucked away in New Hope, the Inn at Bowman’s Hill serves up all fresh juices, seasonal fruits and herbs from their own garden and conservatory. The à la carte menu changes daily and offers a great selection, including fresh organic eggs from the inn’s own free-range hens! Totally worth a staycation reservation.
More garden-side dining suggestions, below.
• M Restaurant at the Morris House Hotel: The peaceful ivy-draped terrace at M Restaurant at the Morris House Hotel is a hidden jewel, enclosing shady trees and a well-manicured formal garden—all the better for enjoying the sophisticated cuisine, like the stuffed quail with chestnuts and hedgehog mushrooms, among other great selections.
• Cake: Visitors to Chestnut Hill’s sunny bakery and bistro Cake are seated in the former Robertson’s Flowers’ conservatory, which is framed by an arching glass ceiling and filled with tropical plants and flowers year-round.
• Jamaican Jerk Hut: It was made famous in the film In Her Shoes and with good reason! BYOB Jamaican Jerk Hut serves up authentic, affordable Caribbean cooking that tastes even better when it’s served in the verdant backyard ornamented with bamboo and hibiscus.
• Susanna Foo Gourmet Kitchen: There are two enclosed garden courtyards at Susanna Foo Gourmet Kitchen in Radnor, and the spectacular foliage and native bamboo add another dimension to the modern pan-Asian dining experience.
• Trax Cafe: The award-winning garden at Trax Cafe supplies both ingredients and a scenic overlook for diners. The hyper-local herbs and vegetables find their way into dishes such as free-range chicken with rosemary caper sauce and crab risotto.
• Cake and the Beanstalk: Located adjacent to Sartain Street Community Garden, Cake and the Beanstalk offers an unexpected break from the hustle and bustle of city life. This cozy shop serves homemade desserts and locally roasted coffee with great views of the garden and the Mural Arts mural, completed in 2011.
• Le Virtù: At the end of May, Le Virtù opened up its al fresco dining area called Il Campo, a large garden-like dining space reminiscent of Italy’s Abruzzo region. Enjoy your meal in this unique East Passyunk space, decorated with rustic wooden picnic tables and a lush living wall.
• Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Pop-Up Garden: The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) has transformed a vacant lot at 20th and Market Streets into a pop-up public garden and gathering place. Aside from sponsoring gardening workshops and classes, the garden occasionally hosts dinners, featuring a long communal table that emphasizes the need for healthy food for all, revolving around the garden’s theme of “bringing everyone to the table.” Check out the full schedule of PHS events and dinners online.
Know of other great garden restaurants? Let us know in the comments.
And keep an eye out for our upcoming roundups of more great alfresco dining!