Saturday, September 18, 2010

Simon Pearce

Why haven't I heard of Simon Pearce before? It's a bit tucked out of the way on the Brandywine, but this location only adds to its charm. My photo, taken on the cloudy day I visited, fails to do the setting justice. Simon Pearce does more than deliver on location, however; it also offers outstanding seasonal food and excellent service.

Of course, I do love a good brunch. Eggs Benedict, good pastries and breads, and espresso always manage to set a happy weekend tone. These elements alone can win over my breakfast heart. But being seated at Simon Pearce was the brunch equivalent of a spa. The restaurant is set in two tiers against a floor-to-ceiling window to the Brandywine. This was our view.

The restaurant is wisely decorated in a minimalist white, which serves to highlight the idyllic vista. It also features a glass and pottery store adjacent to it in similarly decorated tones. The store was the genesis of the restaurant; Simon Pearce was originally a glass maker in Ireland. Shopping and brunch is, needless to say, an excellent combination.

So now that we're seated in this lovely spa-restaurant, have been served a cappuccino by a friendly-but-not-overbearing server, we move on to the food. My dining companion opts for the stuffed brioche french toast, which is modestly served but robustly delivers on taste. The current menu on the website offers stuffed french toast with cream cheese, blueberries and orange zest. I fight my perennial struggle against wanting something both savory and sweet for brunch, and find a happy compromise in the pastry basket as an appetizer (enough to take home) and of course, the Eggs Benedict.Simon Pearce's version this week was served with capers, tomatoes and smoked salmon. It was a great, fresh, and slightly lighter combination that still delivered the taste I craved but with an updated twist.

The pastry basket deserves mention, as so many do. Chocolate chip muffins offered almost a solid wall of dark chocolate chips inside, perfectly suspended. Almond turnovers were warm, light and fluffy. Finally, lemon poppy bread struck the right balance of moisture and lightness. All served with honey butter, about which our server confessed sometimes, she eats straight. I can't blame her.

Coming in at around $20/person, this serene restaurant is worthy of discovery, driving, and day trips.

Simon Pearce is located at 1333 Lenape Road, West Chester, Pa,

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