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Restaurant Review: The Silverspoon
With improvements, this BYOB could raise the bar for seasonal dishes

by Brian Freedman

Perhaps unexpectedly, the eat-local movement has resulted in a wider range of foods on area menus than we’ve ever previously enjoyed. It seems so counterintuitive: Without shipping ingredients in from all over the planet, you would assume that chefs would find themselves far more limited in the kinds of dishes they prepare and offer each night.

Three factors, however, have worked to save us from that fate: The high quality of the ingredients means that chefs can take more chances, as the building blocks of whatever they’re crafting are as solid as they come. The ambition and enthusiasm of local chefs has increased significantly. And locavorism, that most overused buzz-word of the past several years, has been extended and liberally re-interpreted to mean not just food that’s local to one specific area necessarily, but any ingredient that is harvested or caught or killed seasonally, processed in an artisanal manner (as opposed to industrially), and is rooted in the actual food tradition of a specific, identifiable place.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that reliance on these products is not always enough to ensure a wholly satisfying dining experience: It may make you feel good from a socio-environmental standpoint, but it still has to be pleasing to the palate to justify itself on a restaurant’s dining room tables.

The Silverspoon, still fairly young in its perch at Eagle Village (it opened this past January), seems to still be finding its way, though it’s exhibiting ample promise. When it’s good and the kitchen hits its intended notes, the results are excellent. A couple of slip-ups, however, suggest that it still has a bit to go before it becomes the destination it can and likely will become.

The bistro plate—house-made charcuterie, local cheeses, pickles—is one of the big winners of the menu, and a perfect example of the technique and intelligence that SIlverspoon and its passionate, talented Executive Chef Ron Silverberg, are capable of.

Arrayed on a wooden cheese board when served for one, delicacies like silky boar prosciutto and simple, addictive saucisson sec are offset brilliantly by pickles that brought a sense of brightness and acid to an otherwise hearty plate. Brilliant, and smart to boot.

The mushroom soup was among the most intense versions I’ve had all year. Ordinarily, mushroom soup falls into one of two categories: The creamy or the monochromatically earthy. This one, however, was both sublimely straightforward and the slightest bit unexpected. The addition of cumin croutons and a drizzle of chili oil lent a hint of the exotic that lifted it to another level of flavor entirely. And because of Silverberg’s judicious use of cream (just enough but not too much), the soup was a textural winner as well.

Even more straightforward preparations were excellent. Avocado mango salad was a standout by virtue of its balance and the freshness of components. Homemade cheesecake kissed with just a hint of lavender (dried in-house!) was unexpected and perfectly delicate—a great end to the meal.

But not everything hit its intended target. Bone-in chicken breast, for all its unimpeachable pedigree (it’s supplied by the wonderful River and Glen), was a touch dry, and required an extra drag through its accompanying sherry-chicken jus for added moistness. (The fregola sarda, though, was excellent.)

And the black and white gnocchi were so dry and heavy as to be rendered almost completely off-putting. No matter how flavorful the accompaniments, dry gnocchi is gluey and unpleasant, regardless of its context.

Service needs to be addressed, too. Although it’s friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, it was far too spotty. We went long stretches without utensils, bread and butter, and food. Leisurely dining is lovely, but I cannot imagine that the vision behind Silverspoon is for its guests to have dinners that stretch into fine-dining length.

Still, for all the apparent growing pains here, Silverspoon shows promise. Make sure to sample the Wednesday-night World Tour menu for a real taste of what the kitchen is capable of. Their respect for local, seasonal ingredients is impossible to overstate, and Silverberg’s vision is clear and laudable. I expect him to become one of the region’s more talked-about talents.

And with just a bit of work in terms of execution and service, this promising restaurant should fulfill its potential.

The Silverspoon
Eagle Village Shops, 503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, 610-688-7646
www.SilverspoonWayne.com

Brian Freedman is a food and wine writer based in Philadelphia. (www.BrianFreedmanPhiladelphia.com)

Suburban Life Magazine