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Once an orchard and still an all-day café/market/ice cream stop, Northbrook Country Market—a restored 1850s fieldstone barn with a Cracker Barrel-esque façade—has landed in the hands of city defectors Guillermo Tellez and Rob Boone (of Chicago’s Charlie Trotters and Philly’s now-closed Striped Bass fame). Visiting on a Monday afternoon in mid-July might’ve been a bad move: With the exception of some fine-looking baked goods—particularly the homey lemon meringue and Key Lime tarts and the fruit pies—the view was underwhelming. Even the café, which serves three square meals from 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m., fell short on enticing visuals and aromas.

To be fair, the new team had only been at it a few weeks. Northbrook will surely make a transformation as Tellez and Boone evaluate culinary tastes and desires. The bones are there—with inviting nooks and crannies for dining on the second floor and terrace—and ambitions run high. A new smokehouse churns out beef brisket, wet- or dry-rubbed St. Louis-style ribs, Amish roasted chicken, and smoked pork shoulder. There’s a dedicated chef’s tasting room with a 22-person table (crafted from wood that was struck by lightening) similar in concept to what they’re doing at Talula’s Table in Kennett Square. Amping up local sourcing is also high on the priority list.

Some last-minute maneuvering prevented me from sitting down to a tasting, but look for a blog posting before summer’s end. July’s menu included local heirloom tomato soup with fresh mozzarella dumplings, aged balsamic and basil essence; Southern Atlantic sea bass, white sweet potatoes, crispy capers and truffled corn vinaigrette; and roasted beef tenderloin served with blue cheese polenta, caramelized onions and a smoked short rib. Now that’s worth the drive—and a spot in the prepared foods case.

1805 Unionville-Wawaset Road, West Chester; northbrookmarketplace.com,
(610) 793-1210.

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