The recently opened Main & Vine probably couldn’t have found a better location, as the proximity to Villanova provides a steady stream of educated palettes that seem to appreciate the Northern California-inspired, farm-to-table bistro fare.
The vibe at this Lower Merion township venue is somewhat upscale, but casual and laidback at the same time, giving the large space a grownup feel. Candlelight provides a warm glow while comfortably padded seating is available at every table.
The seafood dishes are especially intriguing. The tuna tataki ($16) was elegantly presented, resting in a luxuriously potent dashi that complemented the flavor and texture of the dish. The cool silkiness was counter-balanced by the crisp spiciness of the chicken-fried oysters ($12), which were juicy and plump. You’ll definitely want more.
Also, if you are so inclined, your server will bring you a piping hot loaf of the house hearth-baked sourdough bread ($6) to tempt you into gloriously going off the carb rails. Do it. Ask for the butter instead of the olive oil. Live a little.
Main & Vine also has a nice selection of highly recommended Napa-style pizzas and, while we were tempted to try one, being the suckers for surf and turf that we are, the arc of our meal veers towards red meat. The adobo-rubbed flatiron steak ($30) had smoky and complex flavors with crispy chile relleno croquettes, chipotle steak sauce drizzled on top and a delightfully smooth whipped avocado underneath. An insanely good side dish, potato puree with butter-poached king crab ($12), was airier, lighter and tastier than any mashed potatoes we’ve had.
Main & Vine also offers a different family-table menu selection each night of the week, ranging from prime rib ($35) and Sunday gravy ($20) on the weekends to organic fried chicken ($24) and whole bronzino tacos ($28) during the week.
Since it’s the height of summertime, we had to finish things with the sorbet selection, which was a refreshing flight of mango, meyer-lemon and strawberry-champagne scoops.
With an easygoing atmosphere and excellent menu, Main & Vine is worth the trek outside city.
If you go
Main & Vine
789 Lancaster Ave.
Sun.-Thur.: 5-10 p.m.
Fri.-Sat.: 5-11 p.m.