Krazy Kat’s Restaurant
The Inn at Montchanin Village
Route 100 and Kirk Road
>Krazy Kat’s Restaurant isn’t really… uh… crazy. But it is, to say the least, something of an oddity.
Ensconced within the posh precincts of the Inn at Montchanin Village, a lovingly restored 19th century hamlet replete with 28 luxury guestrooms & suites, plus spa and conference facilities, the restaurant’s exterior seems perfectly normal… Cross the threshold, however, and you appear to have entered a galaxy far, far away, as the interior is furbished with a variety of portraits of cats (and dogs) adorned in various shades of sartorial finery. And the cushy upholstered chairs are decked out in faux animal skins Bizarre…? Definitely different.
And yet… the dining area is quite attractive and comfortable. The lighting is romantically subdued, the tables well spaced, and a gas fireplace & majestic wine cabinet (housing the restaurant’s award-winning wine list) add distinctive touches to the ambiance. There is even a bright & airy sun porch that is utilized during breakfast & lunch and overflow crowds at dinner.
The aforementioned decorative eccentricities notwithstanding, it is the first-class eclectic cuisine that continues to make Krazy Kat’s a dining destination. And from the moment the warm rolls and amuse-bouche – a crab & artichoke fritter with a touch of mango-curry salsa – hit the table, you know your palate is in for a rare treat.
Preludes include: Hudson Valley foie gras with spiced plum tart tatin, hazelnut ricotta cheese, and beet frites; potato gnocchi with basil fondue, aged Parmesan, and winter truffle; and a picturesque charred vegetable flan Napoleon with mozzarella brûlée and pickled ratatouille slaw. All are first-rate efforts and worthy of consideration.
However… soups and salads also have a great deal to offer. The smoked duck consommé, for example, offers an intensely flavored broth awash with edamame, Napa cabbage, and duck leg confit dumplings. The salad of choice was arugula, perfectly trimmed peppery leaves companioned by tender slices of port-poached pear, an addictive goat cheese mousse, cranberries, candied walnuts, orange blossom honey, and a tiara of pancetta shortbread. Superlative!
Entrées here cover all the bases – and with a sense of style. From Hudson Valley duck breast with white chocolate celeriac purée to local Pennsylvania New York strip steak to grilled rack of lamb to roasted prime pork Delmonico. There is also a daily vegetarian entrée; and, for the truly adventurous diner, a presentation of game. Most recently, espresso-crusted Broken Arrow Ranch antelope took center stage.
Seafood possibilities are not as plentiful as meaty matters, but they are delivered with a subtle flair and finesse. The crispy local striped bass, for example, is perfectly pan seared and arrives at table on a creamy pillow of braised leeks, sports a tiara of tomato tartar, and is finished with a pool of black garlic butter.
But if Krazy Kat’s has a signature dish, it is undoubtedly their crab cakes. Pan seared to a golden brown, they are crab, crab, and nothing but crab – and extraordinarily delicious. Set on a seabed of panko-crusted tomato, they are accompanied by cauliflower gratin (which turned out to be broccoli gratin), and consummated with a marvelously complementary caper butter sauce.
While appetizers and entrées travel a decidedly innovative path; desserts exhibit a homier bent. Both the blueberry cobbler and the apple tart acquitted themselves with suitable aplomb, the latter garnished with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream.
One of the things I particularly appreciate about Krazy Kat’s is that their entrées may be ordered as either full or as what the establishment designates as appetizer portions… and are priced according. My aforementioned striped bass, for instance, goes for $28.00 as a full portion and only $15.00 as an appetizer portion. This is a positive boon to people (like my wife and I) who have diminutive appetites; and it is a practice that, for a variety of sound ethical and economic reasons, should be adopted by more restaurants.
Don’t be fooled by Krazy Kat’s whimsical feline (and canine) décor, there’s some serious cookery going on here. So if you find yourself anywhere in the vicinity – or just happen to be in the mood for a gastronomic sojourn – it is definitely worth a visit.
And since there are a slew of attractions in the immediate area – Winterthur, the Hagley Museum, Longwood Gardens, the Delaware Art Museum, the Brandywine River Museum, and Chaddsford Winery (and don’t forget Total Wines & More a mere stone’s throw away) – you might consider spending the night at the Inn at Montchanin Village. This will not be an inexpensive proposition, especially during the high season… But since the Inn offers a number of special packages, and provides the perfect venue for a romantic tête-à-tête, it would be well worth considering.
If you do decide to stay over and aren’t in the mood to do the museum bit, I would suggest you drive to Centreville on Kennett Pike (Route 52), located just a few miles from the Inn. This is a tiny hamlet – and I do mean tiny -- but there are several interesting diversions.
For example, don’t miss stopping in for a bite at The Centreville Café, which serves delicious breakfasts all day and majors in innovative soups, salads, and sandwiches at lunch. All meats are roasted & sliced on the premises, all soups made from scratch, and only specialty breads are utilized to build the sumptuous sandwiches. The Café is dog-friendly and you are always welcome to tote along your favorite vintage.
And speaking of wine… just a few doors away you will find Collier’s, a kind of Old Curiosity Shop for oenophiles. This is a place for wine lovers who want to spend some time checking out unique and hard-to-find labels that aren’t available at enological supermarkets like Total Wines. The selection here is similar to what one would encounter at Moore Brothers… though on a more intimate and less formal scale.
After a leisurely browse in Collier’s, you can slip next door to Buckley’s Tavern, a local happy-tappy that majors in pub grub, pizzas, and pastas. As the weather warms, you can enjoy a liquid libation on either the restaurant’s front porch or in their rear garden. I haven’t really sampled the food here… but if you’re just in the mood for munchies, I would highly recommend the delicate homemade potato chips dusted with Parmesan and splash of lemon.
There is a great deal to see and do in this neck-of-the-woods. So… should you be considering a romantic gastronomic getaway… Krazy Kat’s Restaurant and the Inn at Montchanin Village might be just the ticket.
The Artful Diner
Diner is an independent, freelance food writer. His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.
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