Lynne and I were introduced to Marsha Brown, at 15 South Main Street in New Hope, by our friends David and Cathy, who visit Bucks County regularly from Northern New Jersey. Because I hadn’t planned on writing about the evening’s dinner, I wasn’t talking notes, so this post is going to be about my experience more than the table’s. We went on a pleasant Saturday night, when the weather was fine and New Hope was packed, a combination often sure to flatten dinner along the river. Even though we had a 7 o’clock reservation, we assumed that, given the restaurant’s popularity, we’d be cooling our heels in the bar for a while. In fact, as soon as we met David and Cathy, we were led upstairs to the dining room.
For an appetizer, I had hickory-smoked bacon, a hefty slab of bacon cut into width-wise into three thick chunks and lightly accented with a subtle barbecue sauce. Not quite sure what to expect, tasting it was one of those moments when you realize a dish has potential far beyond its ordinary roots. This bacon was tender moist, and flavorful, a mix of saltiness, smokiness and meatiness. Dinner was a grilled pork chop, 14-ounces with the bone in, cooked just the way I ordered it – medium rare. This meant tender, juicy and with a hint – just a hint – of pink at the center.
Built in an old church, the dining room is high-ceilinged and doesn’t handle a few score voices particularly well. Still, I could follow the three or four conversations we had going at any one time.
For some reason, Marsha Brown gets some diners in a lather. “Expensive,” they say, or “pretentious,” or “for the New Yorkers who come to visit.” I have to say, I don’t understand those reactions. No, Marsha Brown isn’t cheap. But it shouldn’t be. Its menu is creative and, more importantly, good. Its staff is friendly, interested in your evening, happy to discuss your likes and dislikes, and honest in their opinions about entrees and wine. The service is nicely paced, with dishes coming without too long a lag, and a waiter’s never far away. And they don’t mind if you linger. We’ll go back so we can write more, but for now I’m certainly comfortable saying if you go to Marsha Brown for dinner, you’ll have a good meal and a nice night.
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