Ardmore's Saint James Review: Casual American Dining in Suburban Square

Philly golden boys Rob Wasserman and Michael Schulson leave the city glitz behind for a comfortable vibe and solid fare in the suburbs.

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Roasted scallops with butternut squash risotto and a dusting of crushed hazelnuts. (Photo by Steve Legato)
The Saint James

Location: 30 Parking Plaza, Ardmore
Contact: (610) 649-6200. 
Cuisine: American. 
Cost: Appetizers $8-$15. Entrées $19-$42. 
Attire: Business casual. 
Atmosphere: Cozy, fun, and a bit loud. 
Hours: Sunday-Tuesday 4-10 p.m., Wednesday-Thursday 4-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday 4 p.m.-midnight. 
Extras: Seasonal outdoor dining; chef’s table with seating for up to eight.

Shopping malls thrive on trends. Be it the latest color, pattern or look, the allure of the new pulls in those angling to transform themselves into the latest magazine display. But when restaurant-business guru Rob Wasserman (Rittenhouse Square’s Rouge) and chef Michael Schulson opted to part-ner on a new bistro in Ardmore’s Suburban Square, trends were the farthest thing from their minds. “It was always about volume of people,” says Schulson, the name behind such Asian dining destinations as Sampan and Izakaya. “What could we do out here that would get a family out and have an experience, with the kids or without? Something approachable, accessible.”

The resulting Saint James—named for the road that bisects the tony shopping area—doesn’t turn to culinary buzzwords to sell itself. Instead, it conjures the feel of a neighborhood destination, a casual place where you can order food you know (and might’ve even recently cooked). “Low-key dinner party” is an analogy that actually describes the experience quite well.

At the Saint James, a mosaic entry floor, painted brick, gold foil letters on the restroom doors, handmade light fixtures that channel Sputnik, and other retro touches blend smoothly with more modern elements like chevron wall tiles and sleek, blonde wood. The place is divided down the middle by a “foyer” with a Parsons-style bench and coat hooks. Rising two stories, the space is topped with a glass roof. To the right is a brightly lit bar, surrounded by tables and a dining ledge by the window. To the left is the more subdued dining room, with its forest-green walls and more substantial seating arrangements.

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