Farmhouse Bistro Review: People's Light & Theatre's Culinary Performance

The Malvern farm-to-table restaurant has yet to strike a balance between concept and execution, but shows potential in a beautiful setting.

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Farmhouse Bistro

Location: 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern.
Contact: (610) 647-8060, 
Cuisine: American. 
Cost: Appetizers $4-$13, entrées, $9-$23. 
Attire: Casual. 
Atmosphere: Minimalist, intimate and pretty. 
Hours: Wednesday-Thursday 4-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 4-11 p.m., Sunday 4-9:30 p.m. 
Extras: Discount for People’s Light subscribers; wedding and events space.

Country pâté with organic chicken and pork, served with French mustard, red-onion marmalade, Major Grey’s chutney and hearty bread. (Photo by Steve Legato)When Places! Bistro at People’s Light & Theatre Company reopened as the Farmhouse Bistro last September, it had everything necessary for a seamless transition to an exciting new place: a beautiful setting, lush gardens with tables lining the terrace, and cuisine that was seasonal and inspired. Three chefs later, the kitchen seems to be struggling with its identity, seemingly unsure of how to juggle its roles as an event space, a casual-yet-classy restaurant and a post-theater martini bar.

A menu that once featured familiar yet interesting fare is now a disjointed mix of French charcuterie, burgers, cheesesteaks and Mexican wraps, plus more expensive classic entrées like crab cakes, shrimp scampi and New York strip steak. Right now, the restaurant caters mostly to locals and the pre- and post-performance crowd, where a quick sandwich is often preferred over an elaborate entrée. But the Farmhouse’s utterly charming environs could make for a desirable destination spot—if only the hiccups in the food and service could be remedied.

The historic farmhouse contains three small dining rooms, each with its own fireplace. Admittedly, the minimalist digs would’ve felt cozier had there been other patrons around, but a server explained that, at 7:30 p.m., the dinner rush was over. Chef Joe Maguire says attracting non-theater diners is a big focus right now.

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