Wow just wow. It was just what I needed to restore my love of eating out and “talking” about it! Everything was simply perfect. The Refectory is located on Villanova’s campus below a student residence hall. But do not let this deter you because you would never know students live in the floors above and quite frankly, everything was so lovely that it really doesn’t matter.
When we first walked into the restaurant, we were pleasantly greeted and taken to our table. We had a reservation and I suggest you make one as this place was hopping. First impression was awesome. I loved the 80’s music playing in the background…not too loud, but just loud enough. The restaurant is quite large. There is a beautiful bar and several booths and tables, large enough to fit all your plates and glasses and tables spaced far apart enough that you aren’t too close to strangers. We were seated close to the open kitchen, so we got to see all of the happenings and it was very cool.
We ordered come drinks, nothing too crazy. A couple of us had wine, an old fashioned was ordered, a Monks sour beer and some chilled club soda. All were happy with their drinks. I did notice they have a nice beer and wine selection, as well as some interesting cocktails. I saw several of them being served throughout our evening and they looked lovely.
We started with some apps to share. We ordered Brussels Sprouts (bacon lardons, apple, balsamic mustard) for $12 and Buffalo Cauliflower (house hot sauce, buttermilk ranch) for $13 and lastly, Nova Fries (brisket, house wiz, pickled onion) for $9.
The cauliflower was lightly breaded and lightly tossed in sauce but still crispy. The brussel sprouts were charred as expected and the bacon consisted of nice chunks…no burnt bits. Also for flavor and added texture, there were delicious golden apple chunks. All were amazing! I personally enjoyed the fries the most, but I’d recommend all of these. You will not be disappointed.
At this point in the meal, we were all laughing about and almost had full tummies because we overordered on the apps (2 cauliflower, 2 brussel sprouts and the fries) but we knew we had another amazing course making its way to our table and I can’t wait to show you.
I had the Bronzino for $32. The fish was so good. The skin was crispy and seasoned heavily with herbs. It was served with chard fennel which is a first for me. It’s a veg I never really considered as a good side but let me tell you it was a nice change for something different.
Side note: while preparing this blog I referenced back to the menu, and I noticed that some of the dishes have changed. The branzino filet is on the menu for $23 with different sides and a different preparation. But if it is anything like the fish I had, you will not be disappointed.
The Hubs enjoyed the Kobe New York Strip for $32. The steak was served with onion soubise, royal trumpet mushrooms, cippolini onions and a bordelaise sauce. Just look at how perfectly cooked this delectable piece of meat was. I had a taste, and it was tender and delicious.
Our other party members enjoyed a Branzino (like mine) and one had a very special dish of the night. In addition to their standard menu, the chef had a special offering of wagyu beef starting at $40 for 2 ounces. Yes, you read that right. It was pricey. Below you can see the final presentation. We all tried a piece. The best way I can describe this is that I’ve never had anything like it before. The texture was soft. It was beyond tender. The meat literally melted in my mouth with minimal chewing involved. It was an unexpected feeling, and the taste was magnificent. Now if you like a steak with some structure to it where there is come chewing involved, this would not be for you.
Dessert was the only disappointment of the evening. We ordered the Zebra Cake which is passion fruit cake, coconut cream and dark chocolate for $8. The only thing I liked about the dessert was the passion fruit syrup served on the plate. The white “icing” encasing the cake was so weird. It literally had the look and texture of drying paint. I do not recommend this at all…although it did look beautiful. I guess that is the upside.
One note for the reader…parking is not the best. We had to park in a parkiing lot, across the street. Be prepared to walk a minimum of one block and cross a busy street. I did not see any closer parking or valet.
In conclusion, the vibe was uplifting and positive, and the food and service were tremendous (minus the disappointing dessert). If you are looking for an exciting and fun night out with your special person or even a girl’s night out, I recommend giving Refectory a try. I give Refectory 4.25 out of 5 forks. Thanks for reading and eat out more often folks!