Guy Clauson Spices Up Collegeville with Chow Bistro

After the renowned culinary master took a break from the food scene to tour with his band, Clauson is back in a big way.



Chow Bistro’s seared duck breast and confit leg//All photos by Steve Legato. 

For many musicians on tour, 50 is the age when one finally considers unslinging the guitar and turning the proverbial page. For Guy Clauson, he was just then tuning up his guitar—and putting away the spatula. But not for long.

Sabayon with  strawberries Guy Clauson

From Left: Sabayon with strawberries and caramel drizzle; chef Guy Clausonin the kitchen.

After 25 years and two Phoenixville success stories—Herb Garden Café and Black Lab Bistro—the renowned local chef left the culinary world and hit the road with the funk-rock band Vibratek. “But after realizing how hard touring is—it’s even tougher than cooking—I snapped out of it and went back to normalcy,” he says. 

Two years ago, Clauson spotted a “For Rent” sign along Collegeville’s Main Street, kicking off his third restaurant venture, the 55-seat Chow Bistro. The homey BYOB’s front porch emanates an offbeat flair, courtesy of Guy and wife Cathie’s collection of wall posters and statuary bric-a-brac. 

Chow Bistro dining room

Guests catch an early dinner in the funky dining room

It’s no surprise that the busy brasserie has become the town’s dining darling. Clauson’s flavor-forward cooking remains unmistakable. I’ve always enjoyed his layering of fresh ingredients, his thoughtful presentations, and his ample portions.

Tuna tartare over sushi rice

Tuna tartare over sushi rice, with seaweed-and-cucumber salad and wasabi aioli

Even better, Clauson’s signature contemporary American style has expanded. The menu travels to Asia via ginger- and chili-tinged duck-confit dumplings; then over to Spain through paprika-spiced grilled octopus and chorizo sausage. There’s a bit of Florida in his thick marlin steak, the meaty Gulf Coast fish served over cheesy shrimp-and-spinach risotto. The plentiful lunch and dinner menus also cover Italy’s abundant pastas, red curry from Thailand, and juicy burgers, steaks and chops from the U.S. heartland. And the addictively soft and warm house-baked bread, paired with whipped herbed butter, is a delightful dinner necessity.  

While Clauson hits the mark most everywhere, his one miss is the dessert menu, which features peach cobbler, tiramisu and bananas Foster crepes, all weighty and far less novel than the rest of the menu.

Filet mignon with Gorgonzola mashed potatoes and asparagus.

The Skinny: Proving that you’re never too old to cook, Clauson’s third restaurant is a charm. Its thoughtfully presented, globally influenced cuisine and proficient service are a tasteful and friendly addition to Collegeville. 

DETAILS

Chow Bistro
454 E. Main St., Collegeville, (484) 902-8495.
Cuisine: American with international influences. 
Cost:
Appetizers $5-$12, entrées $16-$35. 
Attire: Nice casual. 
Atmosphere: Energetic and quirky with busy floral wallpaper and tchotchkes. 
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Sunday. 
Extras: BYOB; gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free options; seasonal outdoor seating; free parking on-site.

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