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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A laid-back vibe and endless friendly banter seem to consume the Saint James. The tiny two-tops in the bar area make for a boisterous—sometimes too loud—atmosphere. (We became quite close with the diners on either side of us.) And just as a dinner party may suddenly run low on supplies, it happened here; two of the dishes we requested were sold out.

What we did sample was outstanding. Schulson conceived the Saint James’ menu based on the classic foods that inspire him daily—nothing too fancy or fussy. Our ultra-thin flatbreads delivered a substantial crunch and were just strong enough to carry a healthy portion of sautéed mushrooms, herbs and arugula. A classic filet tartare was seasoned beautifully and topped with a decadent sunny-side-up egg, resulting in a creamy-tender marriage—though the steak resembled more of a chop than a mince.

The highlight of the eight-item raw bar was a platter of meaty Jonah crab claws, which arrived ready to eat on a bed of chipped ice with three traditional sauces. And a simple but stellar tuna appetizer, served raw with avocado and sliced radish, came with a creamy Tabasco sauce that delivered the ideal amount of heat.

Among the entrées, our caramelized scallops arrived perched atop a scoop of creamy butternut squash risotto; the whole roasted hazelnuts scattered about provided a crunchy counterpoint. And what’s a great neighborhood spot without a signature
burger? This one was made with ground steak, cooked to pink perfection, and served simply with shoestring fries.

Specials included chicken Parmesan and beef short ribs, salads that could pass for entrées, and seasonal desserts like massive chocolate chip cookies and skillet pies. And, yes, there’s a children’s menu.

The skinny: The Saint James’ approachable blend of traditional food, upscale touches, and a cozy, convivial atmosphere is a sure bet for locals and shoppers looking for a relaxing but refined bite.

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