Contrary to popular belief, we do not eat out every night. Neither my bank account nor my waistline can afford it. That said, when I look back on 2013, we’ve eaten well. Here’s a review of some of the places Bucks County Taste has dined.* Moo truck burgers

Local, local, local. This has been a great year for “local” in Bucks County. By that I mean restaurants that source their ingredients from our local farmers and producers. Early in the year, the MOO Truck (formerly of Carousel Village in Wrightstown) got a permanent home in Ottsville. As owner/chef Evan Asoudegan told me last January, the menu is “classic American food but using all local products. The customer will know exactly where the food is coming from.” You can read more in our post, The MOO Truck grows up.

Last spring I sat down with the new owners of Bowman’s Tavern, James Seward and Michael Livelsberger. In addition to “lightening” up the menu (less fried), they are big supporters of sourcing local, including plans for a garden on site. If you are regulars at the restaurant, you’ll notice the difference. Not only is chef Michael cooking more seasonally, the sophistication of the dishes has stepped up. Recently I had a delightful appetizer of burrata, sweet roasted beets, dabs of basil pesto, little rolled up balls of prosciutto all on a bed of Blue Moon Acres microgreens. To read more about Bowman’s, go to: Bowman’s Tavern: The same yet new.

the PASS - photo by Y. Nimrod

Chef and charcutier Matthew Ridgway opened his restaurant, the Pass, with his long-time colleague Paul Mitchell on May 1, a much anticipated event among local foodies. We were not disappointed (neither was the Inquirer’s food critic, Craig LeBan). A three-course meal of exquisite French-inspired food is just $38.50 per person. The menu changes every week so sometimes a dish may not always hit the mark, but I don’t care. It is always interesting and beautifully prepared. It’s nice to have menu favorites – as we do at other restaurants – but it’s also fun to be pleasantly surprised. To hear about our first meal at the Pass, read our post, The Pass.

Rainbow at HearthWe also had the pleasure this year of checking out all of the vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Bucks County, most of whom source locally as well. Read about the newest vegetarian/vegan/pescatarian restaurant The Hearth, which opened in May in New Hope. Although both the Blue Sage Grille and Sprig & Vine have been around for awhile, it was great sitting down with the chefs and owners to hear their stories. Greenstraw Smoothies also opened their doors in 2013, bringing locally sourced, often organic, and always delicious smoothies to Newtown. Read more about it in our post, A smoothie you can feel good about.

And finally, a big welcome to Doc Baker’s Farmulations in Doylestown, who just re-opened in a larger space on Main Street on December 28. Doc Baker’s serves cold-pressed juices, nutrient-dense smoothies and vegan dishes. Lamb_crop; photo by L. Goldman

And the “local” list goes on. The Golden Pheasant Inn re-opened its doors after a major renovation in the fall of 2012. Local sourcing is also a big part of their culinary philosophy according to co-executive chefs Blake Faure and her partner, Jon Ramsey. We had a lovely dinner there in August on the canal side patio. Read more and see the delicious photos here: A lovely summer evening at the Golden Pheasant.

Max Hansen, local chef and caterer, and a long-time supporter of using local ingredients, took over the Carversville General Store last spring. The store offers delicious prepared foods and sandwiches, baked goods and grocery items. Drew Abbate, former chef/owner of the Vine & Fig Tree Bistro in Doylestown became the chef at the General Store this past November. Our story, Max Hansen comes to the Carversville General Store, gives you the low down.

Of course, Caffe Galleria in Lambertville has been doing the “local thing” for quite some time. In our story, Caffe Galleria, chef/owner Dawn Raia tells Bucks County Taste that over the last 17 years she has developed a network of local farms and purveyors to provide meat, eggs, and vegetables, all from within 50 – 100 miles of the restaurant. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you’ll also be pleased. Raia, who is a vegetarian herself, has filled the menu with veggie dishes.

*Note: At Bucks County Taste, we do restaurant stories, not reviews, i.e., critical articles. We don’t see ourselves as self-appointed food critics (you can go to Yelp for that). Instead, we try to give exposure to the good stuff happening in Bucks County and nearby, and tell the story “behind the kitchen.” Some think we are being goody-two-shoes; not so. If we don’t like a place, we just don’t write about it. If you disagree with something we’ve reported about the restaurant, by all means leave a comment on the website or on our Facebook page. It’s all welcome!

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