Upscale French flair debuts at De La Terre BYOB, an elegant space for mouthwatering dining and drinking in Downingtown.
Recently engaged, Andrew Hufnagel and Kassie Fetzer met while working at the former Zola Kitchen & Wine Bar in State College. Now they’ve realized their dream for an upscale French-inspired experience in our area. In the process, Downingtown has scored a big BYOB win with De La Terre. “We’ve enjoyed living in the area for the past two years,” says Fetzer. “The local dining community has embraced us.”
Once home to Pat’s Pizza, the Lancaster Avenue space has been reimagined with sculpted ceiling tiles, padded chairs, white linen tablecloths and work from local artists. Ample spacing between tables allows for private conversation, and Hufnagel’s culinary creations are served on tableware by local craftsman Bob Deane.
Pennsylvania purveyors are well represented in the kitchen. There are cheeses from the Farm at Doe Run, lamb from Elysian Fields Farm and breads courtesy of Le Bus. Diners are greeted with a glass of complimentary champagne or a seasonal spritzer, along with a special amuse-bouche from the chef. The French and modern American menu demonstrates personal flair while utilizing classic cooking techniques. Hufnagel has worked under Stephen Starr and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and his prowess in the kitchen is certainly proof of that.
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We savored every bite of our well-presented oeufs mimosa—three deviled eggs topped with Osetra caviar. Surrounded by winter citrus and layered with red, golden and candy-striped beets, the beetroot salad was extraordinary, thanks to a mini-scoop of goat cheese ice cream on top.
The tuna tartare plates freshly cut ahi atop smashed fava beans and avocado, bringing added heat with pickled jalapeños. And the jar of caviar, supplemented with traditional accouterments, is definitely dressed to impress. Other standouts include the escargot, foie gras mousse, and oysters with apple tarragon vinaigrette, cocktail sauce and fresh horseradish.
Our king salmon was a perfectly seared two-piece presentation. Also impressive were the croque madame (grilled ham, Gruyère and fried egg) and a sliced Moulard duck breast. Hufnagel keeps the menu fresh with weekend specials and a three-month seasonal rotation. Look for multicourse tasting menus to debut later this year.
The dessert menu offers a wickedly decadent, gluten-free La Bete Noire—flourless chocolate cake, toasted hazelnut, raspberry coulis and Chantilly cream. The tableside French-press coffee and Éclat chocolates are a classy touch.
Cost: $10–$50 Atmosphere: Former pizza joint gets a classy makeover. Hours: 11:30 a.m–9:30 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday. Attire: Casual to business casual. Extras: Cocktail mixing, snifters, martini glasses and ice service for bourbon and whiskey drinkers. No corkage fees at press time.