After a few years and a couple
iterations, Simon Pearce finds its
footing by bringing
a touch of
California cool to Chester County.
By Matt Amis Published April 12, 2010 at 10:17 AM
(page 1 of 3)
Simon Pearce on the Brandywine
1333 Lenape Road, West Chester, Pa.
(610) 793-0949, www.simonpearce.com
Main courses $22-$35
The menu changes regularly, but if it’s around, try roasted mushroom soup, braised pork belly, roasted duck breast and any of James Matty’s desserts.
The glass is fantastic.
That much is to be expected from Simon Pearce on the Brandywine, the West Chester restaurant-glassmaking center that, after a few wayward years, has etched a fine dining concept that has finally been bolstered by some world-class talent in the kitchen.
Newly installed chef Karen Nicolas, a Johnson and Wales grad, has the kind of résumé that would make Monster.com servers explode. Her past stops include Gramercy Tavern in New York (the restaurant formerly owned by “Top Chef” magnate Tom Colicchio) and a stint at Thomas Keller’s famous French Laundry in Napa Valley. Most recently she served as head chef at the acclaimed Soul in Chicago.
Call Nicolas the Lady Colicchio. Much like the celebrity chef and her former boss, Nicolas has a knack for pulling much flavor from her ingredients. But unlike the man TV fans call Baldy, Nicolas’ touch is unmistakably feminine.
“Her technique is among the best I’ve ever seen,” says Corey Fair, Simon Pearce’s new general manager and sommelier. “She has deft touch and a penchant for lighter flavors.”
Even sturdy pork belly (de rigueur at fancy restaurants everywhere) comes out refined in Nicolas’ hands. It is sliced into little pockets and wrapped tightly in bacon, then sent wading among Manila clams in a briny broth with gigante beans and ribbons of kale.
Together the chef and the sommelier have retooled this chameleonic restaurant (it was at first an Irish-themed fine dining place, then a hip bistro) into something that could outshine all that pretty glass.