Broad Table Tavern Showcases a Cozy Chef-Driven Experience
Keith Ahern’s commitment to local farms makes the Swarthmore restaurant a stand-out.
Ahi tuna tartare with smashed avocado, cucumber, soy gel and trout roe//All photos by Steve Legato.
In the culinary vacuum of Route 320 below Baltimore Pike, the locals have been voraciously consuming the welcome offerings of the Broad Table Tavern since May 2016. The comfortable full-service dining operation is tucked within the Inn at Swarthmore, a 40-room boutique hotel right in the heart of the Swarthmore College campus.
Adjacent to the restaurant’s ski-lodge-like dining room, a chalet-style lounge with a handsome black-walnut communal table and a flickering fireplace envelops an intimate 16-seat bar. The atmosphere crackles with convivial energy, as couples and small groups of professionals share tasty plates and beverages.
Butter-poached lobster with leek puree, baby carrots, pickled beets and wasabi tobiko; Executive chef Keith Ahern
Restaurant supervisor Seth Calderhead has taken advantage of the tavern’s full liquor license—the only one in the borough—by crafting a serious selection of cocktails, house-made infusions and simple syrups, along with a well-honed, well-stocked wine list and a bevy of regionally brewed beers. Try his smoky Sazerac, incorporated with white-rye whiskey from Phoenixville’s Bluebird Distilling.
With a commitment to local farms and foragers, chef Keith Ahern offers an ambitious menu of updated American classics. His grilled octopus, colorfully mounded with radicchio and purple potatoes, zings with citrusy brightness. Hanger steak studded with smoked cipollini onions has a flavorful chew, accompanied by pureed potatoes that yield not a lump. A seared crispy-skinned striped bass is creatively creamed with thrice-blanched lemon pith, then drizzled with a stone-crab butter sauce and fried capers.
From Left: House-made carrot cake; the intimate chef’s table.
Ahern gained a lot of experience at the famed Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Va. At Broad Table Tavern, he specializes in scratch pastas, having been raised on his Sicilian mother’s cooking. His raviolis have a whispery consistency, lovingly folded with creamy FireFly Farms goat cheese. And if you have room, desserts like apple-cinnamon crumble and the filling chocolate pot de crème are satisfying finishers.
The staff is friendly, professional and well trained. If there’s one flag to raise, it is over the bar’s glassware, which seems too generic, considering the quality of the spirits going into those drinking vessels.
Serving three squares a day, while paying special attention to its dinner and bar scenes, the Broad Table Tavern fills a hospitality void in Swarthmore that we can all appreciate.
Grilled abalone mushroom with Fontina fuerte, crispy prosciutto, watercress and quail eggs
BROAD TABLE TAVERN
12 S. Chester Road, Swarthmore, (610) 543-7500.
Cuisine: Seasonal farm-to-table fare and sophisticated bar foods.
Cost: Appetizers $7-$14, entrées $10-$28.
Attire: Stylishly casual or after-work professional.
Atmosphere: Intimate and cozy.
Hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Sunday brunch: 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Extras: Monthly chef’s table; half-price draft beers on Wednesdays; private dining area for up to 20.