Photos By Steve Legato
Scott Morozin is a busy man. But for diners at his cozy Kennett Square restaurant, it might be hard to tell. “My guests only see me working four hours a day,” the 41-year-old says with a shy smile. “But I actually live this life 24 hours a day, every day.”
Perseverance and experience have helped the journeyman chef establish himself in the suddenly trendy Chester County borough. Morozin has had stints with the legendary Stephen Starr, R2L’s Daniel Stern and Blackfish BYOB’s Chip Roman. He opened Verbena BYOB to stellar accolades in early 2018, and he has yet to slow down.
Right in the center of Kennett Square’s historic district, Morozin’s diminutive 36-seater is rustic, if not minimalistic. The wood tables, credenzas and hutches, and metallic objects d’art affixed to exposed brick walls are atmospheric enough when the food is this visually appealing. Kennett is known for its fungi farms, so it’s only natural that mushroom soup would make an appearance on the menu. Morozin’s creamless version combines earthy cremini mushrooms, orange juice, coffee and red wine. Pureed in vegetable stock, the finished broth imparts a dusky, sweet, tamarind-like undertone. Another first-course standout, the vodka-cured Õra King salmon comes with a buttery-sweet onion sauce, salmon roe and mustard crackers.
Next, we selected three of the five second courses offered on the evening we visited. The plump Bristol Bay scallops came together nicely with baby clams and the late-autumn flavors of acorn squash, carrots, oyster mushrooms and almond velouté. For his take on traditional steak and potatoes, Morozin paired a succulent eight-ounce ribeye with a volcano of whipped spuds leaking a tangy chimichurri-and-truffle vinaigrette. A truffle vinaigrette also found its way into a tasty ravioli dish.
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Capping off the meal: a goji-berry-studded bread pudding with cream cheese ice cream and crème anglaise. It was as rich as it sounds—though perhaps a little less heavy cream would’ve sufficed.
While you can certainly go the route of selecting each bite, Morozin’s $100 tasting menu allows his heightened skills to truly shine. The satisfying six-course selection is supplemented by an amuse-bouche, an intermezzo and sweet bites at the end. Each tasting menu is another chance for Morozin to challenge himself. “I want to find out how good I am,” he says.
Morozin’s serving staff seems to be fully on board, their enthusiasm palpable when describing his dedication to traceable sourcing of ingredients. And if the well-traveled chef can maintain his stamina, Verbena BYOB should remain a destination for discerning diners for years to come.