Discreet Diner | Cafe Gallery

Posted: August 19, 2007

The Discreet Diner is always looking for new places to visit. But we must not forget the old faithfuls, restaurants that have stood the test of time.

On a sunny afternoon, we stopped by Cafe Gallery on High Street in Burlington City. Established in 1979, it is owned by Jim and Barbara Fisher and Tom Edgar, and they're almost always on the premises; Jim Fisher is the head chef. Cafe Gallery is still a lovely place, but everything needs a touch up now and again.

We visited for lunch, a meal that I'd not had at Cafe Gallery. I'd been there for brunch and dinner - and even my baby shower years ago - but not for the midday meal.

A coworker and I were seated upstairs by the window, giving us a bird's-eye view of the Delaware. The tables were set with white cloths and napkins.

Of course, this is a gallery. "We have a hundred different artists who exhibit here," Barbara Fisher said. "Everything is for sale." Just ask your server, Barbara or Tom.

I started with crab-stuffed mushrooms with lobster sauce ($6.50). They were four half-dollar size mushrooms filled with a stuffing of crabmeat and chopped vegetables. I would have preferred lumps of crab and minced vegetables, but the mushrooms added good flavor. The sauce - all sauces are homemade here - was delicious.

My companion ordered the soup du jour, a tomato-based crab bisque ($2.75). It was good and tomato-y, and not too sweet as some can be. The crabmeat, though, was in little pieces. We were looking for lumps.

For lunch, my companion ordered crabcakes ($11.75), and was glad of it. It was two cakes of good crabmeat with minced and sauteed vegetables accented by Old Bay seasonings. Though they weren't the ubiquitous fried lumps of crabmeat held together with little filler that are so popular in many local eateries, they were very good cakes like those popular down on the shores of Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas.

I settled on the veal a la Francaise ($9.75), two nice-sized medallions of veal, with an egg coating, sauteed in oil and butter. This is an oldie but goodie, and I enjoyed it. The meat was tender enough to cut with a fork, and the flavors were complementary.

Both entrees were served with a starch and vegetables. The sauteed vegetables that day were truly memorable. The buttery flavor enhanced the sweet carrots, summer squash and zucchini, and we both ate all we were served.

You really cannot visit a restaurant that has a French emphasis without sampling dessert. We decided to try the bread pudding with whiskey sauce ($4.75) and peach cobbler $(4.50). Both were scrumptious, but very different from what two women with Southern roots anticipated.

Bread pudding was pieces of bread soaked in a mixture of butter, cinnamon, milk and egg, baked to a crisp and smothered with a sweet whiskey sauce. It was very good, but not what I expected.

The peach cobbler was a hard biscuit with peaches in their own sauce and topped with whipped cream. It wasn't very sweet, but it was good. The biscuit softened as it soaked up the peach sauce.

We savored our meals, took in the view, and decided that Cafe Gallery is a wonderful place to sit back, relax and enjoy.

Discreet Diner | Cafe Gallery

219 High St., Burlington.

Phone: 609-386-6150.

Hours: Lunch is 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mon-Sat; dinner is 5 p.m. to closing Mon-Sun; Sunday brunch is 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Reservations: Recommended.

Handicapped accessible: Yes.

Parking: Lot.

Children's menu: Available.

Cocktails: Yes.

On the Web: www.cafegalleryburlington.com.

The Discreet Diner is a member of the Inquirer staff and welcomes your comments. E-mail discreetdiner@phillynews.com.

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