The Fern & Fable takes its name from the outdoor gardens surrounding the restaurant and the theater productions that take place all year long at People’s Light on the same property. Rebranded last year, the historic 18th-century farmhouse offers an annexed pavilion and a large dining facility for weddings, company functions and other special events. But it’s the dinner-and-a-show hook that continues to make this a worthy destination for theater-going foodies.
A crucial part of the rebranding process was bringing on young Hawaii-born chef Abigail Morris, who studied culinary arts at Northampton Community College and is self-taught in molecular gastronomy and modern progressive cooking. Strongly influenced by traditional French and Japanese cooking methods, she describes her menu as seasonal modern American “with flair.” Her plate presentations illustrate the latter—not to mention her attention to detail. She transformed a simple burrata salad into a work of art with grilled white nectarine slices, mustard greens, Asian puffed rice, pickled shallots and a peppery tarragon vinaigrette. An ahi tuna poke dish offered sublime textures, vibrant color and a plethora of flavors—yuzu, finger lime, chili oil, jalapeño, pickled ramps, furikake spice, fried ginger, fermented purple cabbage and shaved avocado. Bam!
The rustic rabbit pot pie (with gravy, garden herbs and diced vegetable mirepoix) was the very definition of comfort food with a twist. And the tender 14-ounce Tomahawk pork chop was served sliced with a well-placed pour-over of savory brown-bone sauce atop confit pearl onions, mustard spaetzle and roasted carrots. And you’re going to want to save room for the dessert board’s chocolate almond crackers, chocolate ganache (in various textures), white chocolate with strawberry powder, and house-made chocolate liquor.
Striking hand-blown glassware by artist Hank Adams is used for cocktails and shown throughout the restaurant. For whiskey lovers, the Frog & Toad blends bourbon, muddled peach, sparkling lemonade and fresh mint. The salted caramel espresso martini is a decadent combo of house-made chocolate liquor with shaved caramel candies.
In the candle-lit dining rooms, vintage posters lend a theatrical vibe, working fireplaces make things cozy on chilly nights, and pressed glass windows allow light to pass through while keeping things intimate. Service is well-oiled, with the staff achieving that subtle pre-show balance of keeping things moving but never making dinners feel rushed.
Check social media for off-night specials. Wednesdays, Thursdays and some Sundays offer special menus, happy hours and live music. A recent theme featured seven types of tacos and a mezcal-spiked guacamole.
Atmosphere: Rustic yet elegant.
Hours: 4–7:30 p.m. Wednesday, 4–9 p.m. Thursday, 4–8 p.m. Friday–Sunday.
Attire: Theater-goers attire.
Extras: Proceeds from the restaurant benefit People’s Light. Off nights feature menu themes and happy hours.
The Fern & Fable
39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, (610) 647-1900, thefernandfable.com