We forgot about New Year’s Eve again this year and made last minute reservations through Open Table at The Cedar Hollow Inn in Malvern. I was very glad they had a reservation but my experience has left me with some reservations.
We got there and there was ample parking, and we were actually able to park right in front. That was terrific on a cold night. But the hostess seated us in restaurant Siberia.
Our romantic date night New Year’s Eve dinner was at the last deuce before the kitchen and the bathrooms, and if you went the other direction you headed towards the bar.
For what we paid for dinner, and considering the fact that there were ample tables available in the dining room away from the kitchen door, bathrooms, and pathway to the bar I don’t understand why we were seated there. We were not the last table to be seated for dinner, but we were the last the last reservation for two people.
The photo above was taken just before the last group was seated for dinner. It was not packed, so one would have thought there were a couple more choices for tables where you weren’t marooned in the center of the room or stuck in Siberia like we were.
The waitstaff was very pleasant, and the service was decent. I liked that they did not hover over you.
The inn is known for quite the selection of craft beers, and their wine list wasn’t half bad either. I had a perfectly acceptable Gewurztraminer. I can’t drink red wine, so I am always on the hunt for a decent white by the glass that isn’t Chardonnay. Chardonnays are fine but they’re a little boring when there are so many other varietals available.
My sweet man had the lobster bisque soup as his first course. He enjoyed it very much although he said it was a little heavy on the Cayanne pepper.
I had a spinach salad which was off the charts terrific. I love a good spinach salad and so few places make them anymore. And it wasn’t swimming and dressing which I really was grateful for.
The entrées were served very quickly (almost too quickly) after the first course. He had the salmon, which didn’t look like salmon to me but I didn’t taste it and I had the venison.
My sweet man liked his fish okay, but again somebody in the kitchen had a heavy hand with spice. There was some kind of a quinoa that that the fish sat on and it was too heavy with whatever hot pepper they used.
I must say that I loved the venison. Venison is something a lot of restaurants do not get right, and they did a very respectable job with it. It wasn’t tough it wasn’t undercooked or overcooked, it was just right and it wasn’t too salty.
The venison (two delicate chops) was served on thinly sliced potatoes that were described as frites on the menu but really weren’t, but that was okay. They were also served with roasted brussels sprouts which is one of my most favorite things as far as a winter vegetable.
The desert was a chocolate cake with some kind of a raspberry filling. It was very prettily displayed and served with a tiny dollop of whipped cream, a few fresh raspberries and spun sugar ornament. It was a very decadent dessert and so rich that it wasn’t finished. A smaller slice probably would’ve been better, and they should have let the cake sit out about 15 minutes before serving because it was just too cold. A cake like that should be firm and the chocolate not melting, but it shouldn’t be ice cold.
The Cedar Hollow Inn appears to have a very loyal following for the bar. There were a lot of people in that area of the place and they were setting up for music and New Year’s Eve festivities once dinner service was complete.
Another thing I noticed is they started to clean up from the dinner service and convert the dining room to an extension of the bar area before everyone was even finished dinner.
And again, the menu prices were not inexpensive, and as a diner I really would prefer that a restaurant wait until the diners are finished before they break down and change up a room. If the bar was so packed to overflowing when we were finishing dinner I would’ve understood it, but they weren’t. And given our close proximity of our table to the bathrooms and the kitchen we got to see everyone in the bar as they went past the entire time we were there. I think when I was about 25 I would’ve loved that, but not on my romantic New Year’s Eve dinner as a bit more of a grownup. It was like eating dinner on a subway platform in a way.
I don’t want you to think that I did not enjoy my experience there, there were just aspects of the experience that I found lacking. I enjoyed my dinner tremendously, but I am not sure how much my sweet man enjoyed his. My dinner in as far as the meal was just terrific and his was just okay. If you’re going to get dressed up and go out for New Year’s Eve dinner you want it to be more than just okay for the guy who is treating you to a nice dress up occasion, right?
The Cedar Hollow Inn I am sure has suffered greatly with all the hot mess construction around it and highway construction nonsense over the past few years. But I don’t think they are doing things as well as they could. They have a truly decent kitchen I think, it just needs a little tweaking. They don’t have a large menu which I like, but I think they need to be more consistent all across the board. And if you’re going to make delicate shellfish and seafood flavors pop you have to be careful about how you spice.
The place is very clean and neat on the inside, but the dining room is kind of bland and the tavern/bar part a little dated. I think both the tavern/bar section and the dining room need to meld together decor wise a little more.
Don’t misunderstand me, I think the place should retain its country charm, I just think the charm should be displayed differently and with less beer mirrors. Truthfully, they should go around and study the decor of other country inns in Chester County. I am glad they aren’t all gingham and plaid curtains, however. Or overly heavy Victorian in decor with really cheap scented candles burning outside the bathrooms.
I am still very glad I went this evening. And I really did enjoy my dinner and I did enjoy my date night. And I am glad I finally have the opportunity to dine at the Cedar Hollow Inn. I hope 2015 is their year! I saw potential this evening.
Happy New Year’s Eve!