Since it’s been a while since we’ve published a podcast, Tushar and I have wanted to revitalize Philly Food Guys for some time, so we were excited when we were invited by General Motors to go on the Chevy Food Crawl to New Hope, PA with a bunch of fellow Philadelphia food bloggers. Seeing it as the perfect opportunity to have some fun and explore an area with which I’m totally unfamiliar, we jumped at the chance. In this post I’ll summarize the trip and in several following posts I’ll provide greater detail in some of the restaurants we visited in New Hope.
Ground Zero: Frederick’s Chevy on the Boulevard
Our Food Crawl began at Chevy on the Boulevard in the Great Northeast, where we caught up to a group of fellow Philly food bloggers and some reps from GM. Joined by Marisa & Scott (Food in Jars), Albert (Messy & Picky) and Thad & Preston (Philly Phoodie), Tushar, Patti and I were given the chance to learn more about the new Chevy Cruze Eco and Malibu. Starting with a product demo, I can honestly say that I was impressed by both cars and found that I was excited about getting the chance to drive them. But, more on that later…
On the Road to New Hope
As we pulled out of the dealership I was looking forward to our adventure, but it was raining and I was a little concerned about using the navigation system in the Malibu. Thankfully, I got up to speed quickly and we rolled north into bucolic Bucks County. Typically, Tushar gave the disembodied voice belonging to the navigation system a name (Dorothy) and proceed to argue with her the entire way. Thankfully the one-way argument subsided as we crossed the Delaware River into New Hope.
The Logan Inn: A Modern Standard
Arriving in New Hope, our first stop was at the historic The Logan Inn situated in the center of town. I was immediately attracted to this restaurant which combines the warm, inviting atmosphere that you’d expect from of a tavern with the clean, airy feel of a more modern restaurant. We were ushered to a covered outside patio that featured an open layout complete with a separate bar and a clear view of Main Street. Regardless of whether you’re having lunch or dinner, this is an ideal place for place for some leisurely people watching.
Our hosts were waiting for us as we arrived and as we sat down to chat a tasting menu was prepared. Michelle Greco from the Bucks County Visitors Bureau and Louis Licitra from the New Hope Chamber of Commerce gave us some background on the area and the restaurant and a series of menu items quickly arrived. We all realized that our capacity would be seriously tested when the food arrived:
- Bloomin’ Onion – A Standard Appetizer Done Well. Crispy & Satisfying.
- Greek Salad – Traditional and Refreshing.
- Caesar Salad – A Classic Caesar. Enjoyed by Everyone at the Table.
- Baked Brie Wrapped in Phyllo Pastry – A Solid Take on a Traditional Appetizer
- Cavatelli Broccoli Pasta Salad – A More Substantial Salad with Delicate Flavors
- Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Coolis – Well Prepared & Enjoyable
Everyone seemed to enjoy all of the items we tested, but our favorite by far was the Crab Cakes. It’s easy to talk about a good crab cake, but not always easy to prepare one and The Logan Inn’s crab cakes are the way that they should be. Delicious and with minimal filler, you won’t be disappointed. Tushar pointed out that nothing on the menu departed from the traditional, but I don’t think that’s bad. After all, a menu that pleases the many different types of people that visit New Hope is exactly what a restaurant needs to be successful. Overall, we had a very good experience here and I definitely recommend a visit. We’ll provide some additional commentary and photos in a follow up post.
Marsha Brown: Southern Hospitality
The next stop on the Chevy Food Crawl was just a few steps away at Marsha Brown’s. Located in a 150 year old Methodist church, the building was an impressive structure that felt much more formal than the light and airy patio of The Logan Inn. The décor possessed a Victorian edge and as we were taken to the second floor dining room, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful downstairs bar with a raw bar close by. As we entered the second floor dining room, the best way to describe it is “dramatic;” a large open space that had been formerly used for the church choir, the room was dominated by a large mural and featured stained glass as well as original lighting fixtures. The combination of this impressive space and the formal place settings gave me the impression that this place is built for serious eating.
Taking our seats, we were introduced to Marsha Brown’s Chef Caleb Lentchner, who gave us some history about the restaurant and the namesake Marsha Brown. In short, the real Marsha Brown is a restauranteur who owns several Ruth’s Chris Steakhouses in the region. A native of New Orleans, Ms. Brown has partnered with the Chef to bring her beloved New Orleans cuisine to New Hope. Perhaps best defined as a blend of a refined Creole kitchen and a steakhouse, the restaurant is her labor of love and many of the items we would be tasting are based on family recipes from her home in Louisianna.
In short order, we were delivered a tasting menu that looked impressive and proved to be delicious. Among the items we sampled were:
- Lobster Bisque – A rich bisque of chowder-like consistency. A tasty starter.
- Eggplant Ophelia – A recipe from Marha’s Mom’s kitchen. Truly delicious.
- Jambalaya – A delicious version of a Nawlins standard. I enjoyed the spicy kick.
- Crawfish Etouffe – A southern specialty that didn’t disappoint.
- Chop Salad – A traditional steakhouse standard.
- Crab Cheesecake – Jumbo lump crabmeat in a Gouda tart. Uniquely served in a wedge.
- Prosciutto Salad with Fig Vinaigrette – A baby spinach salad atop prosciutto. Really Nice.
I don’t want to bore you with all the sorted details because this was a Lovefest. We’ll offer some more specifics in a subsequent post, but all of the items we tasted were delicious and very well done. That said, my favorite standout was the Crab Cheesecake while Tushar keyed on the the Eggplant Ophelia. I couldn’t elicit a response from Patti because she was occupied. In short, I would drive from Philadelphia to New Hope to have dinner at Marsha Brown’s – that may not mean much to you, but it does to me.
The Blue Tortilla: Bueno!
It was unfair to leave the Blue Tortilla ‘til the end because I’m a big Mexican food fan, but by the third stop on the Chevy Food Crawl we were all reaching our capacity limit. An attractive BYOB situated just north of Bridge Street, The Blue Tortilla features an outside patio that’s ideal for a leisurely meal while enjoying some people watching. I could definitely see enjoying a few cervezas and dinner with friends here.
During our visit, we had the chance to sample several traditional Mexican favorites. They included:
- Chips & Salsa
- Guacamole – Fresh and delicious, I could eat it by the spoon full
- Quesadillas – Made with handmade corn tortillas, a standard.
- Nachos – A refreshing spin on traditional nachos with black beans & Cotija cheese.
Normally I would have torn into this stuff like a fat kid on a cupcake, but I couldn’t – I was full. Tushar, on the other hand, took a closer look by applying his Mexican restaurant litmus test. Having owned a Mexican-themed restaurant, he always looks at the preparation of the rice and beans as his litmus test. The results? They passed muster – moist and flavorful.
Overall, we felt that the Blue Tortilla is worthy of a visit. The guacamole was very good and with the preparation of the items we sampled we all feel that it’s worthy of a visit.
Road Trip Home: Thanks to GM, Bucks County & New Hope
Clearly, this awesome road trip wouldn’t have been possible without the help of a handful of sponsors, so we need to say thanks for giving us the opportunity to visit New Hope through their Driving the Northeast campaign. If you’re familiar with The Philly Food Guys, you know that we only talk about restaurants and experiences that we like, so you can rest assured that we wouldn’t talk about our Chevy Food Crawl experience or the sponsors just because we received some free food. That said, let me tell you about our experience with the two Chevy’s and New Hope.
The New Chevys: The Malibu and Cruze Eco
I can honestly say that the three of us approached this opportunity with some reluctance, since none of us have ever been that impressed with Chevy’s. Tushar stated that he always considered these cars to be tin cans with sewing machines for engines and although I never thought about it that way, I guess I’d have to agree. Well, after I had the chance to drive both the Malibu and the Cruze Eco I can say that all three of us were impressed. I guess that I shouldn’t be that surprised, because if GM is willing to put it all out there for a group of bloggers to run the cars through their paces, then they must have been pretty confident in the outcome.
The Malibu LTZ was an attractive car that’s presented as a mid-size family sedan. I thought that it was reasonably attractive, but not overly distinctive – it wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. Regardless, it handled well and had a wide selection of features that would be useful to almost anyone. I particularly appreciated the European style handling – I was able to feel the road and the vehicle was responsive. On the downside I felt that the interior was a bit small, but I came to learn that was due to the enhanced safety features that include 9 airbags to keep passengers protected. Overall, it was a good ride and if you’re looking for a mid-size car I’d definitely take a closer look.
Universally, I think that all three of us enjoyed the drive in the Cruze Eco the most. A sporty compact, this car is pretty distinctive without giving off the impression that the circus just came to town. The interior felt more spacious than the Malibu and was also loaded with all sorts of features. I could bore you by rattling them all off, but I won’t. The mileage is a highpoint with the Cruze Eco – up to 42 MPG on the highway. Also like the Malibu, the car was a pleasure to drive and now I have to deal with the fact that Patti wants one – “Thanks a Bunch GM.”
Bucks County Tourism & New Hope
Our visit to Bucks County and New Hope in particular was a lot of fun. In just the few short hours we spent walking down Main Street, it was clear that this small town is worthy of at least a day trip if not more. Surrounded by the beautiful Bucks County countryside, you could spend an awful lot of time exploring New Hope and the surrounding area. If you’re keen on shopping you’ll have your hands full, or if you enjoy the outdoors I’m sure that they have some awesome places to bike & hike; as we know they’ve got some great restaurants too. In closing, our hosts were incredibly gracious and Patti and I (minus Tushar, maybe…) will certainly return soon.