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333 Belrose Bar and Grill
333 Belrose Lane
Radnor, Pennsylvania
(610) 293-1000

www.333belrose.com

In actuality, my wife and I had planned to have dinner at another eatery. Settling in at 333 Belrose was something of a last minute decision; but, as it turned out, a fortuitous one. Truth be told, we'd dined at this restaurant on several previous occasions and had always come away less than impressed. Our latest excursion, however, certainly prompted a change of mind, as chef/proprietor Carlo DeMarco succeeded in sending out some exceedingly strong culinary signals.

The cuisine would undoubtedly be characterized as contemporary American fare with international flair. In other words, there's just no telling what may strike Mr. DeMarco's fancy. On one occasion, he may beguile you with stuffed rainbow trout swimming in a zippy Creole mustard shrimp sauce& on another, turn to the East and start you off with ahi tuna sashimi and wakame (seaweed) salad. He also demonstrates a marked proclivity for matters Southwestern, innovatively integrating such ingredients as cilantro, pico de gallo, and a swath of various and sundry capsicums tipping the incendiary scale from lukewarm to lethal.

Appetizers include inordinately tender yet crispy salt and pepper calamari spruced up with an evocative green pumpkinseed aioli ($12.00) and moist and succulent steamed mussels swimming in a broth of chardonnay wine, parsley, butter, garlic, and shallots ($10.00). But the hearty black bean soup ($7.00) embellished with pico de gallo and a spirited chipotle crema should also not be dismissed out of hand& ditto the smoked chicken quesadilla ($10.00).

Salads also make excellent preludes& The rich butter lettuce salad ($12.00), for example, headlines pristinely fresh greenery aided and abetted by Maytag blue cheese, candied walnuts, and shaved Granny Smith apples. And leaves of peppery arugula ($13.00) come wrapped in prosciutto, adorned with Prima Donna Gouda & slow-roasted tomatoes, and finished with an olive oil & citrus vinaigrette.

When it comes to entrées, pork plays a major role. Variations on this theme include the Java pork tenderloin ($27.00) with maple-smashed yams, black bean sauce, and mango-jalapeño salsa and the candied bacon-crusted pork chop ($25.00) buttressed by down-home white cheddar mac and cheese, sautéed spinach, and consummating warm cider beurre blanc.

As moist and succulent as the pork may be, however, I'd undoubtedly opt for the seafood. The diver scallops ($27.00), for instance, are rich and meaty, seared with red chilies, and arranged around an irresistible cheesy black bean relleno. And the char-blackened salmon is in picture-perfect health and blackened just enough to let the fish's own unique flavor make its way to the fore. The stellar supporting cast includes a moist green onion corn cake, superb firm-to-the-bite sautéed broccolini, and roasted yellow pepper coulis.

Desserts ($7.00) feature lemon cheesecake, vanilla bean crème brûlée, bittersweet chocolate torte, and warm chocolate chip pecan pie. In my opinion, though, the leader of the pack is clearly the delightfully decadent dulche de leche chocolate chunk bread pudding. Not to be missed.

The well-chosen wine list has a good deal to recommend it, especially if you dine on Tuesdays or Thursdays. On these particular evening, all bottles under $100.00 are ½ off and all bottles over $100.00 are discounted 20%. If you're a dedicated oenophile, this is an offer almost impossible to resist. In addition, during happy hours, the restaurant offers domestic drafts for $2.00, imported drafts for $3.00, cocktails and house wines priced at $4.00, $3.00 off premium wines, and a ½ price bar menu.

The Artful Diner
April 2009

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