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Steak Frey Features sauteéd hanger
steak served with caramelized Belgium
endive, dried cranberries and
blue cheese hollandaise.

 

Photograph by Thom Thompson
www.thomthompson.com

 

Sinfully Delicious
Tempting apples are just the start in the garden of earthly delights that is Gilmore’s. by Pam George

It is the kind of glossy apple that would make Eve’s
mouth water. The leaf is perfectly formed, and the exterior is fire engine red. But this is no ordinary apple. The coating is made of sugar and, when pressed, it snaps inward to reveal silky chocolate mousse.

Who needs Eden when you have Gilmore’s French Cuisine? The West Chester BYO is about as close to a culinary paradise as you’ll find in this area. Every dish we sampled was prepared exquisitely and presented elegantly. After six years, the intimate restaurant shows no signs of losing its chops.

Credit the mastery of chef Peter Gilmore, who, with his wife, Susan, owns the restaurant. Gilmore spent 22 years at Le Bec-Fin in Philadelphia before opening the 11-table Gilmore’s. If you want a broad sample of Gilmore’s talents, go Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, when Gilmore’s offers a five-course tasting menu for $60 or four courses for $35. The 8:30 p.m. seating features a complimentary glass of Champagne.

I adored Gilmore’s escargot, plump morsels nestled in a puff pastry shell that soaks up the garlicky Champagne-butter sauce. A splash of Pernod added a slight licorice taste. Hazelnut flecks added nutty sweetness. The salad featured baby Swiss chard tied with a cucumber ribbon. The main attraction, though, was a flaky tart that cradled house-smoked salmon and asparagus in a velvety custard.

Our entrées were sumptuous, especially the meaty veal loin chop, which was sliced, then bathed with a Madeira cream and dotted with shiitake mushrooms. Sautéed hangar steak was equally succulent. To jazz up the traditional Wellington preparation, Gilmore uses chicken rather than beef. Crisp, golden pastry encased the moist white meat and a satisfying tumble of mushroom duxelle. It was rich without the heaviness of tenderloin, but it was still opulent, owing to a truffle sauce made with real truffles.

Tilapia received a Thai twist, sporting a light Dijon and whole-grain mustard-panko crust, the fish sat in a shallow sauce of soy, ginger, honey, lemon and garlic. It was a tad sweet compared to the heartier dishes we sampled, but no less tasty. Raisin bread pudding with a white chocolate center was a comforting finish.

If I had a quibble with Gilmore’s it would be its seating times on weekdays. For Delawareans, is too early and makes it a late night. On a Thursday, we got back to North Wilmington well after But with 11 tables, the seatings are a must, says Gilmore.

And for food like this, I will happily play by his rules.

 

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