The name “Alexander’s” in large letters is inscribed above the front entrance; one could suppose this is to link the chic, sleek new Kitchen Bar with its more prosaic, yet successful and popular past.
Alexander’s, an upscale Greek diner with a bar, owned by the Makris family, was a mainstay for many years in restaurant-poor Abington.
The new, completely rebuilt Kitchen Bar restaurant, reopened by the Makris family in May 2006, with its rakish modern exterior, and stylish contemporary interior, is a dramatic departure from Alexander’s. It is filled with eye-catching details, such as a wall of falling water lit with ever-changing colors (There’s one on the outside, too.), a giant metal cook’s utensils on another wall, acres of glass windows, suspended floating straw-colored panels against the black ceiling, and varied attractive lighting everywhere, not to mention the slick, perfectly square large bar and high-tops in the lounge area, and the really cool-looking restrooms.
The whole is chic enough to attract young singles (several celebrating a birthday, sat at a nearby table), and comfy enough with good food and service to hold some of its original middle-age and senior base. Gone are the low-cost early bird three-course dinners, and with them many of the former gray-haired regulars. So, too, is my favorite dish, the superb Athenian flounder, which I used to have every time there.
By 9:30 p.m., with dinner mostly done, it is turned over to the younger, louder crowd, when the DJ cranks up the music in the lively lounge.
I visited Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. The parking lot and the dining room were 90 percent full. Yet, the noise level was very low, except for the occasional boisterous cheering for the Phillies—the game was being shown on several large TVs in the bar.
Two very well-mixed drinks, a bloody Mary and a cosmopolitan, were not at all slight of alcohol, and got my Lovely Dining Companion (LDC) and me started and ready to enjoy the excellent signature appetizer, the ‘Kitchen Bar P.E.I. Mussels” ($11) with the marvelous, made-from-scratch marinara sauce, a piquantly spicy seafood sauce rich with bits of clam, tiny shrimp and tomatoes—just great for dipping the included sliced brown bread. The mussels were quite large, yet sweet.
Entrées come with soup or salad. We both opted for soup. I ordered split pea, a favorite for me. It was rich, good and hot, and had excellent flavor. My LDC ordered French onion soup. It came topped with a slice of French bread and lots of onion, but it had so-so flavor, and it wasn’t hot enough. On a previous visit, the roasted pepper seafood bisque ($4 per cup if added to an entree) was rich, tangy, medium thick and delightful.
My entrée choice, chicken and shrimp with a sundried tomato risotto in a zesty basil-wine sauce ($17), was superb. The shrimp were large and tender. The boneless chicken breasts were less so, but still moist and tasty. The risotto was superb.
My LDC picked the Mediterranean grilled (rare) Ahi tuna salad ($14), with portobello mushrooms, roasted red pepper, extra-creamy goat cheese, cucumber, tomato and mixed greens in a white balsamic dressing. The only hitch was that the candied walnuts were missing, but this was quickly corrected when our server was notified of the omission.
The dessert menu always offers six interesting pastries, plus ice cream and seasonal fruit. Way too full to handle the pastry, we opted for a lovely dish of fresh fruit (mixed berries, melon, pineapple and grapes).
If anything, between my early and more recent dinners at Kitchen Bar, I would say that the food quality has improved, while the cost has remained essentially the same. Noise level can still be high when the bar is filled; voices and laughter ricochet off the hard surfaces and into the dining room.
I have also enjoyed breakfasts at the Kitchen Bar, once sitting with a group of friends outside on the patio under a large umbrella on a beautiful, clear, sunny Sunday morning. My plate of eggs over easy, home fries and crisp (on the outside) scrapple was perfectly prepared. On a prior visit, I ordered and liked the unusual eggs Benedict with lump crab and spinach (instead of bacon). And most recently, I enjoyed a nova lox platter and the three-veggie garden omelet.
To contact Mitch Davis, email him at MdavisMainCourse@aol.com.
Overall rating: mmm 3/4 (out of 5 m’s)
The Main Course at the Kitchen Bar
Location: 1482 Old York Road, Abington
Cuisine: Contemporary American with a few Greek specialties
Hours: Breakfast, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.; lunch, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; dinner, 4 to 11 p.m.
Dinner menu prices: Appetizers and salads, $7 to $14; burgers and sandwiches, $8 to $11; entrées, $12 to $19; pizzas, $10 to $14.
Ambiance: Stylish, contemporary, and comfortable, high-style design concept
Reservations: Recommended for dinner.
Credit cards: All major accepted
Alcoholic beverages: Great, chic full-service bar serving potent mixed drinks
Special features: Free buffet treats during happy hour Tuesday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m.; DJ Thursday through Saturday after 9:30 p.m.