A Side of Fresh Air

Al fresco dining on the Main Line never loses its luster.

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333 Belrose’s chicken salad, a lunchtime favorite.In case you haven’t noticed, we’re on the other side of summer, with just 30 days or so to go before these dog days—and nights—are long gone and cooler fall temperatures prevail. That means there’s still plenty of time to wine and dine to the soundtrack of crickets, birds and the occasional buzz of traffic without the schlep, prep and cleanup.

Among the area’s al fresco stalwarts, the patio at Coyote Crossing has always earned well-deserved raves for its pretty wrought iron furniture, green market umbrellas and soothing fountain. On the proper Main Line, you could do far worse than Susanna Foo’s lush, Zen-exuding pair of courtyards, Plate’s petite, secluded patio, Gullifty’s beer garden and Azie on Main’s cozy fire pit. And on the western outskirts, one can sample Mas Mexicali Cantina’s festive rooftop and Firecreek’s spacious terrace.

In case you need a Plan B, here are four of my favorites.

One of the best places to park this time of year is the patio at 333 Belrose Bar & Grill in Radnor. Tucked behind the restaurant’s bar and main dining room, this first-come, first-served enclave comes by its considerable charm in the way it balances a casual backyard feel with food that’s upscale enough to impress even the most highfalutin Main Liner—but is reasonably priced and gastronomically straightforward enough to appeal to all ages, tastes and budgets.

On the bar side of things, you’ll find a well-chosen wine list (that changes every few months) and plenty of top-shelf spirits to occupy your time while you’re in the very likely position of waiting for a table. White linens, metal tables and rattan chairs are accented with red glass votives and contemporary tableware, while bright orange-and-red market umbrellas shield the sun.

On cooler fall nights, outdoor heaters allow diners to chill without shivering. Potted plants and tasteful music add to the ambiance. If you’re seeking a bit more privacy, check out the two corner tables in the back.

Wednesday-Saturday, 333 Belrose will happily take your order until 10 p.m. (9 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays). If you don’t mind a late dinner, this is one of the nicest times to take in this first-rate patio’s true magic.

Right about now, chef Carlo deMarco is rolling out his late-summer menu, full of seasonally inspired dishes to wow guests with luscious tomatoes, corn, crab, berries and other regional flavors for months to come. The menu I sampled offered cool, spicy gazpacho topped with thick slices of avocado; tasty grilled zucchini quesadillas with caramelized onions, Jack cheese and fire-roasted corn salsa; and roasted Mediterranean-style salmon with black olive tapenade, melted fennel, arugula and a yellow tomato salad. All were lively dishes just right for a sultry summer night.

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