Why you Should Move to West Chester, PA #6: THE FOOD

Imagine NINJA MOUNTAIN, where all the most sage, venerable, and deadliest ninja masters go to practice their craft. Ninja mountain is not in the middle of the capital city, because the bustle and high rent of a capital city are only good for the showiest ninja masters, for the crowd-pleasers, for the ones trying to get their facemask on the cover of Ninja Magazine — not for those that are deeply committed to their art. On Ninja Mountain, the quiet bamboo groves are filled with the quiet whisper of DELICIOUS PASTRIES.

Wait, I got my metaphors tangled up there. My point is that West Chester, PA, is CHOCOLATE MOUNTAIN, because… wait, hang on a second, damn. Let me start over.

Chris Curtin at Eclat
World-class chocolatier Chris Curtin owns Eclát Chocolate on High street. It is a tiny shop with a case up front, a window filled with AMAZING cast chocolate, and a stainless-steel door that leads to the kitchen.

Chris started Eclát after studying in Old World master chocolate ninja kitchens, and makes amazing AMAZING chocolate. That’s an easy phrase to throw around, but check this out: Jeffrey Steingarten said that Chris makes “World’s greatest caramels“, in Vogue magazine. His flavors are INCREDIBLE: “Oh, mint? Yeah, that’s cool, let me just try th- DEAR GOD I UNDERSTAND NOW. UNTIL THIS MOMENT I HAVE NEVER EATEN A MINT CHOCOLATE.”

Eclat Box
Randy took the picture above while I was talking to Chris about molds, and the picture at right because he (Randy) is running a promotion over at Lose It or Lose It where if you sign up and make a commitment to lose weight, Randy will reward you with delicious Eclát chocolates. If you lived in West Chester, this world-class choclatier is, you know, right on the walk home!

But that’s the thing — West Chester is packed with amazing restaurants. For example, down at the end of Gay street, there’s Gilmore’s Restaurant, whose chef Peter Gilmore spent 22 years at Le Bec-Fin (“Why did Georges Perrier ever let this man leave?” wonders Zagat.) You can see lots of them at West Chester Dish, Mary Bigham’s West Chester restaurant website.

Assembling Tarts at the Strawberry Bakery
See, the thing is, there’s SO MUCH amazing food here on NINJA MOUNTAIN, that you can’t run a simple errand without stumbling on really amazing world-class food. This morning, Kate and I picked up a box of croissants at the Strawberry Bakery in Frazer. Lydia needed to use the bathroom, so Kate walked her back, and I spent a few minutes watching them assemble really AMAZING-looking fruit tarts, while owner Jean Pierre Bournazel negotiated with customers over the phone via his assistant, in the most amazing Central Casting French accent I have ever heard: “Tell zem… tell zem I could do a QWAAART-er of zat!”

I asked if I could blog the process: “Say, Jean Pierre, may I take a picture of the tarts?” “Yes! Of course! Zey even smile! SMILE FOR ZE CAMERA!”

Strawberry Bakery pastries
Jean Pierre opened the Strawberry Bakery in 2004, and teaches baking classes in his kitchen, through the Chester County Night School. Here’s a review of the class, in French. I see that there’s a Christmas Cookie class coming up on December 13th — is anyone interested in going?

Anyhow, the point I’m making is that, here in West Chester, PA, there’s a world-class chef, baker, or choclatier in every quiet bamboo grove. And not just Old Guard French, either — as the sizable Mexican population starts to open up their own businesses, there’s a crop of really amazing authentic Mexican restaurants coming along. YOU SHOULD SERIOUSLY LIVE HERE.

Previous reasons why you should move to West Chester:

3 responses to “Why you Should Move to West Chester, PA #6: THE FOOD”

  1. Absolutely. Thank you for nailing it, John. It really is amazing how many GREAT restaurants are packed side by side in West Chester within walking distance. Do you want great sushi? Try Kooma. Do you want awesome Tapas? Go to the Olive Branch. Interested in lighter Mediterranean fare? Go to Mediterranean. Want to throw rocks through the windows of ALL THREE restaurants without moving? Stand right in the middle of Gay Street, because they are within 40 feet of each other. But hey –there’s no need for violence, just walk in to any of those places and have a great meal.


  2. Well said Sir. I LOVE this town!
    I actually look forward to hangovers so I can feast them away on amazing breakfast treats at Market Street Grill.


  3. Thanks for the insider skinny (ha!) about the Strawberry Bakery- I’ve always wondered about that place, now I definitely have to stop by.
    I first tried the Eclat Chocolates when Chris was at the Phoenixville Farmers Market and O-M-G were they To Die For. I was in a chocolate/caramel/sea salt euphoria. In fact thinking of them right now has got me salivating like Pavlov’s pup!
    Thanks for reminding us we should get out of the ‘ville on occasion!


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