July 17, 2012

Terrain at Styer's Garden Cafe

I first learned of Terrain at Styer's through my wedding photographer; she pointed it out as a possible venue.  While I'm not having my wedding there, the beauty of the photos I saw (both on their website, and from her) put it on my "must-see" list.  While Terrain is a garden and home store run by the company that owns Anthropologie, the Garden Cafe is a destination in itself- just of the dining rather than the shopping variety.  Terrain is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, but seems to be the most popular mid-day, perhaps because it corresponds to prime shopping time.

The cafe is located within a greenhouse, complete with beautiful rustic-but-classy decor, furniture, and special little touches.  Even though it was pouring out, it still felt sunny and cozy under the translucent roof.  I honestly would enjoy just sitting in this quiet space independent of eating and drinking opportunities.

Brown paper roll w/ daily specials
Even the tableware had a bit of a country touch- mason jars, stoneware mugs, and finely woven burlap napkins.  We ordered cups of Counter Culture coffee while we perused the menu.  

Every meal starts with a small loaf of bread baked in and served in a flower pot.  A fun and quirky start, but also a delicious one.  Airy and buttery like a soft brioche, countless wisps of the bread were spread with the creamy, salted lavender-spiked butter and eagerly consumed.

Although the bread and butter would have been a great appetizer on its own, we decided to split the Artisanal Cheese Plate amongst the three of us ($18).  A little pricy, but with five tastes of cheese and even more accompaniments, it's well worth the cost.  I particularly appreciated the many slices of toast, as it seems cheese plates often provide far more cheese than bread.

The cafe prides itself on organic, small batch, local offerings, and this plate highlighted that- a Camembert, Sharp Chevre, Smokey Blue Cheese, aged goat cheese, and Cheddar, all from premium, artisanal cheese producers.  They seemed to be chosen for a pickier palate, as nothing was strong in flavor or odor, but the blue cheese was particularly interesting- smoked to have a Gouda-like flavor, with the "blue" as an undernote.  The accompaniments: fresh honey, sweet golden raisins, quince paste, pickled onions, whole-grain mustard, and strawberry- all high-quality items, and fun to mix and match with the different cheeses.

The brunch offerings range from the classics (pancakes and French toast), to some more original options.  J chose the Beetroot Smoked Salmon, thinly shaved and served with a pile of frisee, croissant croutons, and a poached egg ($14).  Crispy fried capers lent the plate a traditional salmon platter flavor combination while adding a unique element.  It almost ate like a deconstructed sandwich, with each bite incorporating many components.  The salmon was bright pink from the blood of the beet, making it particularly beautiful as well.

Our friend (and gracious hostess for our explorations of the Wilmington/Glen Mills area) ordered the lamb dish, which was a bit different than we expected.  Described as a honey-mustard lamb shoulder served with sourdough, roasted peppers, and a mint lebnah, it was the least attractive plating of the meal ($18).  Two large, flat cutlets of lamb were pan-fried in a thin mustard sauce and served over pieces of grilled toast like an open faced sandwich.  However, there was no way to eat the slightly tough meat without fork and knife, thus making the meat and bread pairing a bit awkward.  The roasted peppers and thick yogurt sauce provided some traditional Mediterranean flavors to the dish, and the small arugula salad added a light side to balance the heavier meat.

I opted for a much more traditional brunch dish, the Organic Egg Omelet ($13).  Stuffed with soft sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and goat cheese, the eggs were unbelievably buttery.  As each bite left a pool of butter on my plate, I'm suspicious that it's cooked in a pan full of browned butter- a trick I may have to try.  It was certainly one of the loveliest omelets I've had!  However, a side of small, pan-fried potatoes with bits of red pepper and onion seemed as if they'd been left out a bit too long- the crispness a bit stale, and the insides not quite warm.  An additional pile of mixed lettuce- one of my favorite accompaniments with egg- was composed of soft leaves and a barely-there vinaigrette, giving the plate a freshness that seemed only appropriate while eating in a greenhouse.

The service was great from the start of the meal to the end, with our waitress checking in frequently.  The bill comes tucked into a tiny paperback book of American flowers, giving us the opportunity to learn a few fun facts while we concluded our meal- and again providing a fun, special touch that made the experience unique.

While the food at Terrain Garden Cafe was adventurous and well-prepared, it wasn't something I'd drive back for immediately.  It's also a bit more expensive than our typical brunch.  However, the atmosphere, experience, and a chance to get some great home and garden ideas from Terrain combine to make the trip to Glen Mills well worth it.

Terrain at Styer's Garden Cafe
Glen Mills, PA


  1. Love Terrain! But, since I always manage to bust my budget with retail purchases, I've never made it over to the Cafe. I'm going to have to for that cheese plate, though!

  2. So, I'm way way waaaaaay behind in my blog reading, and was just catching up on all your posts.... thanks for the shout out!! You're too sweet. :) Glad you liked Terrain. Also, thought your review/thoughts were pretty spot-on for as far as the food goes. But such a fun place!