In the everlasting search for the holy trinity of a good restaurant experience – quality food, the right ambience and value – when the elements come together in a way that meets, or even exceeds expectations, a feeling close to true joy comes to the heart of TSDiner.
And that’s the positive vibe we took away from our recent experience at Bellefonte Café, a quirky little eponymous gem in the north Wilmington enclave a few blocks from the Philadelphia Pike.
The restaurant sits in a house of a kind and size reminiscent of a few classic Rehoboth eateries, and the décor is, well, eclectic, kind of French Quarter-meets Betty Draper’s kitchen kind of thing. For starters, the Café’s logo/mascot is a monkey wearing a fez and … well, let’s just leave it at that.
Right off, service was smiling, gracious and smart. Drinks were offered and arrived quickly. Worth particular note in this department was the listing of alcohol content in the offering of bottled beers – if you’ve made a rookie’s mistake in that department by downing a few too many 8-percenters, you know what we’re talking about.
Two of us tucked right into the black bean soup, which we agreed was the best we’d ever had at $5 a cup. The soup was actually soupy, unlike others we’ve had elsewhere that were more of a bean stew, and it had a rich, smoky flavor supported by tender pieces of pork.
The table shared an order of guacamole and chips, and the guac was solid, an A-. Homemade chips would have made the dish a total home run, but the red and blue corn numbers did the trick just fine.
For our mains, our four top ordered hummus-stuffed avocado, black bean burrito with rice and pork, the “Quesalisa” (pulled chicken, scallions, orange lime ginger sauce, chopped bacon, Swiss cheese, grilled), and the “Joe Dugan” – a chicken-apple-sausage sandwich with collard greens and red onions. All were on the money, and by that I mean they were all crowd-pleasers and not one was more than $11. Yup, eleven bucks.
If one was to pick a nit, the sausage might have benefited from a hotter sear on the flat top or grill, but with such a banner evening, who’s complaining?
Our crew wasn’t in much of a dessert frame of mind, but we did test-drive one of the two homemade specials produced nightly, a chocolate chip pound cake enjoying generous portions of whipped cream and giant strawberries. Delicious.
Dinner was complemented by the fantastic live music the Bellefonte Café is famous for, on this night a solo guitarist with a great voice and excellent taste in playlists.
We’re looking forward to our return engagement when we will plan to arrive a bit earlier to enjoy one of the most inviting little bars in town.
The Bellefonte Café and Trading Company, 804 Brandywine Blvd, Wilmington, DE 19809, 302-761-9175