From the stone fence that marks the driveway along Route 512 and the old-fashioned streetlights that line the curving driveway to the fireplace and its richly hued wooden mantle, Southmoore has a classy edge.
The DetailsSOUTHMOORE RESTAURANT
235 Moorestown Drive
HOURS: 4-10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday
PRICES: appetizers, $4-$10; entrees, $13-$25; desserts, $3.75-$4.50
CREDIT CARDS: Mastercard, Visa
BAR: Full bar
ACCESSIBILITY: Fully accessible
- Dining and Drinking
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A high ceiling gives the restaurant in a stone building that appears almost brand new a light and airy feel that's accented by iron chandeliers, earth-toned striped wallpaper and golden oak trim. Floral patterned festoon valances and window curtain panels, along with beige tablecloths topped by burgundy napkins, add touches of refinement.
The cuisine, served from the kitchen headed up by Chef Thomas Rutherford, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, offers standards such as chicken Marsala, fettuccine Alfredo and jumbo lump crab cakes.
But the menu also tempts with selections inspired by the chef's creativity: Seared Alaskan salmon served with pinot grigio shallot beurre blanc; roasted, a frenched pork chop laced with apple and andouille sausage stuffing, served with sage Burgundy reduction; seared duck breast served on braised shallots with Cointreau ''au Poivre'' sauce; and bay scallop and lobster sachet (an appetizer of scallop and lobster meat in puff pastry with fine herb sauce and crispy leeks).
The breadbasket that started off our meal featured slices of warmed and lightly crisped white bread from the restaurant's kitchen. The densely textured, chewy slices were especially hard to resist with the temptation of the accompanying olive oil flavored with shallots, garlic and herbs.
Roasted acorn squash soup was a winner of an appetizer-delicately seasoned with ginger, sweetened ever-so-gently with honey and enriched with reduced cream. Garnished with a potato gaufrette that added just a hint of counterpoint texture, this potage offered a whisper of flavor that was delectable in its subtlety.
Gaufrettes also garnished the house dinner salads, which were a cut above standard fare with their fresh greens and rich house vinaigrette.
My veal shank ''osso bucco'' was comfort food made to order for the unseasonably cold autumn night. Seared and braised, the large piece of meat was tender enough and rich in color, but the flavor seemed lackluster. Mashed potatoes were the perfect foil creamy and smooth in balance with the meat's texture.
Wild mushroom ravioli turned out to be a true example of culinary inspiration. As described on the menu, the lightly sauteed, small pasta pockets were served with Gorgonzola cream sauce.
Soon after our order was placed, however, sous chef Rob Dalessandro visited our table, expressing regret and apologies that the sauce was no longer available that night. He asked for affirmation that substituting simply olive oil and herbs would be acceptable. Just a few moments later, he was back again, asking for our thoughts about adapting the acorn squash soup as a sauce for the pasta.
The result was excellent with the earthy and complex mushroom flavor combining with the subtle and sweet soup as naturally as Julia Child and French cooking.
For dessert, we sampled apple fritters with caramel sauce and pumpkin whipped cream, tasty enough that we would have enjoyed more, because the portion seemed a bit undersized. A slice of pumpkin pie was standard fare.
Dinner for two including tax, tip and nonalcoholic beverages totaled $70.
Susan Gottshall is a freelance restaurant reviewer for Go Guide. Gottshall, who tells it like it is, attempts to remain anonymous during restaurant visits. All meals are paid for by The Morning Call.
Features Editor Linda O'Connell