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Social Lounge Spices up Downingtown’s Culinary Scene

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Photos by Ed Williams

A West Chester favorite multiplies in yet another booming borough, bringing with it a contemporary vibe and a New Orleans-inspired menu.

Spring has sprung. And while COVID precautions continue, many eateries have rolled with the punches—day by day, hour by hour. With the Social Lounge, Downingtown is embracing yet another feather in its culinary cap. “We researched the Media and Main Line areas, but several reasons kept pointing us back here,” says owner Don Moore, who also owns and operates the original Social Lounge in West Chester. “The growth of this area is explosive. We wanted to grow with the town.”

Hanger steak with fire-roasted pepper coulis, brabant potatoes and Peruvian chimichurri.

Hanger steak with fire-roasted pepper coulis, brabant potatoes and Peruvian chimichurri.

In gutting the former Frank’s American Pub & Grill, Moore has freed the 2,500-square-foot interior from its dark and musty confines. The lighter, more contemporary vibe offers pecan wood, cerulean-textured walls, and reclaimed brick painted with whimsical food-themed icons by local artist Carrie Kingsbury of Promiseland Murals. A sizable bar serves as the anchor. The restaurant can seat over 100, with plans to expand in the form of an outdoor beer garden out back.

Pear and balsamic salad

Pear and balsamic salad

Executive chef Dan Funk oversees the same tried-and-true New Orleans-inspired menu at the new location. If it’s comfort food you’re looking for, this is the place to find it. Signature starters include pistachio-crusted chicken fingers (with raspberry-cream dipping sauce), pot-roast fries, and New Orleans nachos heaped with Creole tomato sauce, house-made cheeses, pico de gallo, black bean puree and roasted jalapeños. Among the salads is a gluten-free jambalaya standout—shrimp, chicken, andouille sausage, tasso ham and blackened peppers over crisp romaine.

The Social’s generous take on jambalaya

The Social’s generous take on jambalaya

Moving on to the main courses, our “slice” of andouille meatloaf was the size of a small child—plated atop cheesy mashed potatoes and massive wedges of crispy grilled corn bread. The grilled hanger steak was tender and flavorful, with fire-roasted pepper coulis, Peruvian chimichurri and brabant potatoes. The evening’s chef special was a take on lobster Wellington. Chunks of the tender Maine variety were paired with pancetta, wrapped in puff pastry and topped with pistachio pesto. For dessert, it’s tough to top the bread pudding—moist, cinnamon-tinged and piled high with blueberries.

Murals by local artist Carrie Kingsbury

Murals by local artist Carrie Kingsbury

Craft cocktails don’t get much better than the St. Germain, ginger and chocolate martinis. The vanilla vodka Pineapple Upside-Down Cake mixes pineapple juice with grenadine for a layered look. For the signature mojito, watermelon and sangria “Social Shakers,” muddled blends of alcohol, fruit and herbs are delivered in an oversized glass martini shaker ready for pouring. And the gin-laced Cucumber Cooler is a perfect summer libation.

Social Lounge Downingtown
541 W. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown
(484) 593-4113

COST: $9-$25. ATMOSPHERE: Textured walls, light woods and a friendly staff. HOURS: 4-10 p.m. Thursday–Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-9 p.m. Sunday. ATTIRE: Jeans are fine. EXTRAS: Free parking (around back). Canned cocktails to go. Great kids’ menu.

Murals by local artist Carrie Kingsbury

Murals by local artist Carrie Kingsbury

A Sidecar cocktail.

A Sidecar cocktail.

Cinnamon-tinged bread pudding with blueberries

Cinnamon-tinged bread pudding with blueberries

A clams casino chef special

A clams casino chef special

The blueberry mojito Social Shaker.

The blueberry mojito Social Shaker.

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