On a brief trip to Auckland, New Zealand, my husband and I dined at some of the city’s best restaurants, from casual to upscale. Not surprisingly, we discovered that dining in Auckland New Zealand can rival that of any major international city. I named two of the restaurants below, The Grove and The Sugar Club, as two of the best restaurants I visited in 2019.
If a friend had not told me about Cascade The Restaurant at Durham Springs, I would have never tried it. Without this recommendation, I would have missed out on the finest dining available in upper Bucks County, PA. Located in the country amid rolling hills, this restaurant offers innovative dishes that change weekly, perhaps even nightly.
Recommended dishes: Everything. No kidding.
Most surprising: The location, seemingly in the middle of nowhere
Cuisine: Innovative American
Dress: Business casual to dressy
Décor: Modern rustic
Price: Expensive for the area
Under New Ownership, in rural Bucks County
I’m shocked that such a fabulous restaurant exists only a few minutes from my home, in the country no less. I’ve had comparable meals in major cities such as San Francisco, Auckland, and New York at higher prices. Of course, the rent/property costs are much more expensive in those areas. That’s not to say that Cascade the Restaurant is cheap.
Many local residents know the building as the Cascade Lodge; however, new ownership has transformed it and stepped it up to a new level. Its new name, Cascade the Restaurant at Durham Springs, evokes the past while signaling the change. Owners Dan and Ian are hands-on management. Chances are, one of them will stop by your table to inquire about your experience. Kudos to them for hiring chef de cuisine Jon McCain, who has a palate for interesting flavors and an artistic eye. After all, when you’re paying for an upscale meal, you want the food to look as beautiful as it tastes.
Service is unpretentious, attentive, but sometimes awkward. I attribute that the newness of the restaurant. Still, the wait staff could use some better instruction on the menu items.
Seasonal Ingredients, With Artistic Flare
We’ve been to Cascade the Restaurant several times now, and each time the menu has been different. Chef Jon McCain uses seasonal ingredients to highlight the freshest flavors available. For instance, at one visit, I had a blow-me-away sweet corn risotto with crabmeat and shrimp, topped with fiddlehead ferns. At another visit, my husband ordered seasonal wild-caught sockeye salmon with late spring’s rhubarb underneath. My beef filet was adorned with a pansy flower for an edible pop of color.
Although I’d recommend ordering anything on a given menu, some dishes don’t rise to the level of others. For example, on a Wednesday night pris fixe menu, my scallops were slightly overdone. The rosemary sugar under a full burrata didn’t add as much interest as I had hoped. Despite those disappointments, everything else over four visits has been delicious and perfect.
The Events Center
Owners Dan and Ian have preserved and updated the events center for weddings and parties. Just outside the doors and next to the brook, they have graded a two-tier lawn area that extends to the duck pond.
Although I have not been in the events center itself, I’ve looked into it via the windows in the dining room. It carries over the same décor theme from the restaurant in a larger, open area.
Cascade the Restaurant at Durham Springs offers free valet parking in a gravel lot just across the road. Recently, they’ve announced the upcoming opening of a roof top café with lighter fare and more casual atmosphere.
The restaurant has a full bar. Although the cocktails are excellent, the wine list is limited, particularly in the by-the-glass offerings. Given the caliber of the restaurant, I wish they’d employ a Coravin to offer better wines by the glass. A Coravin allows restaurants to serve wines at per-bottle prices (that is, bottle price divided by five) without risk of a wine going bad over time. Even without a Coravin, however, the bottle list should be larger.
Make a reservation. Although the dining room hasn’t been completely sold out on our visits, accolades and word-of-mouth might change that. You don’t want to drive into the country, only to find out that you cannot get a table. Most of all, though, prepare yourself for an elegant and unpretentious dining experience.
— Debbie Lee Wesselmann