Restaurant Review: Maize Restaurant
Exciting local cuisine in Perkasie
by Brian Freedman

It’s a testament to how far the suburban dining scene has come that a chef like Matthew McPhelin is plying his trade in Perkasie, a full hour’s drive from Center City. He trained at The Restaurant School and has worked at some of the region’s highest-profile restaurants, including Lacroix and Savona. So the fact that he has set up shop on this town’s quaint Walnut Street is indicative of our maturing, exciting dining culture throughout the Delaware Valley.

Maize is part of a new breed of suburban dining destinations that challenge and charm guests. McPhelin has obviously set his sights high, and his menu—thoroughly local and hyper-seasonal—reflects that. Still, this is a relatively young restaurant, and the growth pains and hiccups of youth are still occasionally evident, though not enough to hurt it in the long term.

A recent dinner, for example, took nearly three hours. And while I love long meals, there comes a point at which leisurely bleeds into slow. A follow-up conversation with McPhelin revealed that my ticket had fallen behind the fridge in the kitchen, but someone should have notified us to expect a bit of a delay once it had been discovered.

Thankfully, there was a lovely, welcoming bowl of popcorn kicked up with extra virgin olive oil, chives, parsley, cracked pepper, and salt to tide us over. McPhelin is part Native American, and it’s the tradition of his ancestors to offer popcorn as a sign of welcoming.

Then there were the corn biscuits, fluffy, velvet-textured, and gorgeously evocative of their namesake ingredient. Spread with a bit of butter and a sticky smear of local honey, the savoriness of the corn turned sweet.

The salt-roasted vegetables that came along with the three-course, $30 tasting menu took full advantage of our region’s summertime bounty. Radishes, baby beets, baby green beans, and carrots were tangled up with perfumed fresh herbs, local lettuces and raw cherry tomatoes, all of it dressed in a perfectly emulsified, brightly acidic vinaigrette.

Sliced red and yellow heirloom tomatoes, however, disappointed. The tomatoes themselves were excellent—sourced from both a local farm and McPhelin’s own garden and topped with a crispy brunoise of bacon—but the advertised warm bacon vinaigrette was nowhere to be found.

Lavender pasta was a gutsy, exciting presentation. And while a touch too floral for my tastes, the lavendar flavor was balanced out when a forkful of pasta was speared with cherry tomatoes, shaved baby vegetables and local parmesan and dragged through the excellent lavender-scented broth.

Locally raised pork tenderloin was very well paired with an amazingly fluffy quinoa cooked risotto-style with a pork stock. It was joined by marinated figs and a fig marinade-reinforced pork jus. Its balance allowed the natural sweetness and gently gamey flavor of the meat to define the dish.

Fluke, unglamorous as it sounds, was a highlight; Its shellfish sauce a concentrated, deeply colored slick that could be bottled on its own and sold for a lot of money. Even the local basmati rice maintained a lightness and elegance that evidenced McPhelin’s training pedigree and technical prowess.

Desserts are all baked to order, and both the chocolate hazelnut cake and the blackberry cake with lemon cream, blackberry sauce, and fresh blackberries were little marvels of balance and precision.

So while there are still a few kinks that have to be worked out, this is one restaurant I’m willing to wait for. McPhelin has all the talent in the world, and he and his team (including his brother, Mark McPhelin, who works with him in the kitchen) should makes Maize one of the more interesting restaurants in the suburbs.

Maize Restaurant
519 West Walnut St., Perkasie

Brian Freedman is a food and wine writer based in Philadelphia. (
Douglas Bovitt is a freelance photographer from Philadelphia. (