What’s New in Town
When Sam Elings came to the United States from her native England a couple of years ago, she noticed something every expatriate notices: You can find “English style fish’n’chips” everywhere, but it’s never like the food back home. Fish and chips in the old country start out as huge steaks of fresh cod, dipped in batter, deep fried, and served wrapped in newsprint. Sam also realized she couldn’t get proper sausages or individual-sized handwarmer pies in her new home country either. So she did something about it.
Just before Christmas, Sam and her husband Charlie opened English Offerings at the little wedge-shaped lot at 433 Manchester Avenue, a few blocks south of Baltimore Pike in Media. Sam manages the register, Charlie mans the kitchen, and they both work solidly from noon till 8pm, from Tuesday to Saturday. The place has been jammed with customers since it first opened. Sam and Charlie arrive to find lines, and they work constantly throughout the shift, often selling out of the more popular menu items before closing time.
In a town with all the food options of Media, how can this little take-out venue generate such a buzz? It’s down to the quality of the food. Make all the jokes you like about English food, Sam and her husband will prove you wrong. They prepare everything daily from scratch, using fresh ingredients and some fantastic recipes. Nothing is ever frozen, and that’s a point of pride to the couple. Sam grew up in the seaside town of Bournemouth, so she knows how fish should be prepared, and her grandfather’s cod batter mix is the real deal. Her steak handwarmer pies are a delight from the short crust to the gravy. The couple makes the sausages for the bangers and mash and flaky sausage rolls themselves too—and they’re not giving away the secret blend of seasonings they use.
And then there’s the chips. At first glance, Sam and Charlie’s chips look like French fries, but your taste buds tell you otherwise. They’re not seasoned to death, they are double-fried to make them crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and with an optional sprinkling of malt vinegar, they are a simple treat made sublime. “We have one customer who only buys the chips. He’ll come in for five orders, maybe one cheesy Welsh cheddar order, and that’s all,” Sam said.
While you’re waiting, there’s a delightful selection of old English advertising posters on the walls to distract you, and a treat basket of packaged English fare too. It contains the more obvious treats like Bournville chocolate, Crunchie bars, and Cadbury chocolate buttons, to more obscure specialty items like Jammie Dodgers, Garibaldi biscuits, and prawn cocktail crisps. To slake your thirst, there are chilled Limey libations like Lucozade, R.White’s Lemonade (it’s not what you think), elderflower soda, and cartons of the blackberry vitamin C drink Ribena.
As a sign on the counters declares, it’s more than 3500 miles from Media to London, but this wedge-shaped slice of England narrows the distance considerably. Just be sure to order a sticky toffee pudding to round off your meal, and you’ll be humming God Save the Queen before your last mouthful.
The author of this article, Media’s resident author Matt Lake, has been on a quest for proper fish and chips since he emigrated from Britain 32 years ago. He is now pondering what his new quest will be.
CEDAR CREEK CATERING
CJ can bring the party to your home or office too, with special events like an Office Rib Rub Grilled Wing Party or Taco Bar, Pretzel Station or a Mashtini Bar with fluffy mashed potatoes served in a martini glass with all the fixings.
When you hire Cedar Creek Catering you can feel good about the food AND feel good about the environment. Contact CJ for more information at the links below:
KENNY’S FLOWER SHOPPE
Over the summer, something revolutionary happened in Kenny’s Flower Shoppe, and people barely noticed it happening. After 40 years, the State Street fixture has changed management. Former owners the Rehoric Famlly, have phased themselves out of the daily running of the famous florist, and handed the laurels over to new owner, Joyce Walker. And it’s not a transition anybody took lightly. Monica Rehoric is planning her new business, a Monroe Street bed-and-breakfast, and didn’t want to leave her loyal customers in the lurch, so she took a long time waiting for the right person to come along.
Enter Joyce Walker. An outdoors-loving, lifelong flower arranger, calligrapher, photographer, and special-ed teacher, Joyce is a powerhouse with the enthusiasm and skill to maintain the legacy of Kenny’s Flower Shoppe and take it to new levels. She was looking to start a new chapter in her life as she retired from teaching, and her dream was to own a flower shop.
“It’s all about family,” she said, “That’s why I love this business. It centers around important family events–retirements, birthdays, people in the hospital, weddings, births, funerals–and to design the perfect arrangement for each of these events is a privilege. They share their stories and I turn that into an arrangement.”
The transition has been gradual. Though Joyce took over the business on April 15th, she was completing her last school year as a teacher and taking intensive florist training in New York, so the Rehorics stayed on and ran the business till Joyce could step in. The old guard is still finishing out some weddings for the brides they consulted with, so the old and new management have been dedicated to making sure the transition was smooth
“It’s been nonstop, said Joyce “I have five bridal consultations coming up. We just won the contract for Wawa’s world headquarters. And we are being featured more and more at Tyler Arboretum.”
You may have seen Joyce this summer giving out flowers to couples at Dining Under the Stars. You’ve undoubtedly seen her arrangements lining State Street, as she puts splashes of color outside many of your favorite State Street businesses. But you’d never guess how busy she really is if you enter Kenny’s for a consultation. She has created a comfortable salon atmosphere between the chilled cabinets of flowers, with a nice dining room table laid out with her grandmother’s fine china and one of the many teapots that grateful students and clients have given her over the years. With embroidered napkins, tea, and crumpets, a consultation feels more like a nice afternoon chat than a business transaction, but make no mistake: Joyce is getting the job done. And her core team, lead designer Lisa Curran and customer care/delivery person Kerrie Diamond is helping her on that mission. And her mission is simple, be a one stop shop for all things wedding. Joyce can arrange the flowers, take the photos, adorn the invitations with calligraphy, hand sew beads onto dresses, and even restore antique veils or other family heirlooms. Her daughter Kara even has her own wedding cake business, Cakes by Kara. All a bride needs is a groom and a dress, and Joyce will take care of the rest.
The store will be having a grand opening ceremony sponsored by the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce on Sunday, September 15th, between 1pm and 5pm (leaving plenty of time for you to get back home for the game!), with ribbon-cutting, live music by the Jim Sweeney Band, and lots of great food courtesy of 320 Market Cafe Media, Ariano, Fellini’s, Pompei’s State Street Sandwiches and the cake made by Joyce’s own daughter, Custom Creation’s By Kara.
Kenny’s Flower Shoppe. 110 W State St, Media, PA 19063, (610)-566-6162. Website: kennysflowers-media-pa.com Facebook: KennysFlowersMediaPA, Instagram: @kennys_flowers_of_media
POMPEI’S STATE STREET SANDWICHES
It’s a new business on State Street, but Pompei’s State Street Sandwiches has a long tradition in the Media area. One bite of their roast beef sandwich is all it takes to bring back memories—because it’s exactly the same sandwich that we enjoyed for so many years at the Riddle Ale House. When the near-legendary Ale House closed its Granite Run Mall operation, its manager Nick Pompei moved his kitchen a few miles up the road to 301 W State St in Media, and he and his family-based staff continue to make the same delicious sandwiches.
Nick and his chef, Walt Ent are true foodies who challenge each other to experiment with tastes and flavor palettes. This adventurous can be seen in their pork shoulders roasted for 15 hours in oranges, garlic and a Cuban marinade. A fan favorite! Other crowd-pleasers include the Turkey Bravo Panini (with bacon, avocado, red onion, provolone and garlic aioli) and a great light option for the summer that matches fresh mozz, Jersey tomato, bacon, and spinach between thin slices of marbled rye. More traditional stick-to-your-ribs options include traditional cheesesteaks, homemade meatballs and pastrami on rye with sauerkraut and pickles.. And there’s a full range of salads, starters, burgers, and sides, too!
Find State Street Sandwiches Mon-Sun and for Dining Under the Stars each Wednesday night, May through September. With a friendly, interactive Facebook page, a website with an Uber Eats option and easy ordering for take-out, it’s super easy to be fans of this restaurant family that have been a fixture in Media for over 57 years.
Pompei’s State Street Sandwiches, 301 W State St, Media, PA 19063. Open Mon-Thu 10:30AM–7PM, Fri-Sat 10:30AM-8PM, Sun 11AM–4PM
KUNG FU TEA
This weekend, the hip teashop chain Kung Fu Tea makes a grand splash on State Street. Having quietly opened its doors earlier this week, the store that people call “the Starbucks of bubble tea” is offering a two-for-the-price-of-one deal on its most popular drinks, including its fragrant iced milk tea, lemonades, and the tapioca-laden bubble tea. From its beginnings in Flushing, Queens in New York, Kung Fu Tea has expanded across the United States, Canada, Australia, and Vietnam. Their latest store on State Street features a huge seating area with sturdy tables and a selection of table games like Jenga for people who want to hunker down over a nice cool drink and make a night of it.
Kung Fu Tea, 8 E. State St, Media, PA 19063. Open 11am-11pm every day; Friday and Saturday hours extend to midnight.
Nick Jensen doesn’t look like a man with a newborn and a toddler at home. He’s revving around his new business, Gangster Vegan Organics on Media’s State Street, like a man with boundless stores of energy and enthusiasm. And he puts it down to walking the walk, not just selling the goods. Nick’s secret? “Gym, eating vegan, and intermittent fasting,” he told us.And there’s no shortage of good vegan eats in his new place. Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free organic smoothies, bowls, burgers, and salads pack the new menu—which you need to snap with your cellphone camera because the company is dedicated to sustainability, so they don’t hand out paper menus or receipts. If the torrent of positive reviews is anything to go by, this colorful and vibrant new food experience is going to make a big impact.
Nick’s business is the third Gangster Vegan Organics restaurant in the Philly suburbs—the ones in Norristown and Phoenixville are run by his friends Miguel and Vinnie, who gave Nick their blessing to bring the brand to Media. The three businessmen aim to make people think twice about the words “gangster” and “vegan,” two words that don’t seem to belong together at first glance. The dining room has custom-painted tables featuring pictures of well-know rappers and colorful graffiti. With his second child on the way, Delco resident Nick had planned to strike out as a vegan coach, but he heard that the storefront at 14 West State Street might be available, so he cold-called the owner of the building, and his plans took a sharp turn.
Now he and his general manager Justin cold-press all the juices and prepare all the dishes in-store every day. For now, Media’s Gangster Vegan Organics serves the same organic vegan fare as the sister restaurants, but Nick is already has plans to widen the menu (quinoa sushi, anyone?). If the new menu items taste anywhere near as good as the walnut based vegan taco meat, we are in for a great taste experience.
Gangster Vegan Organics, open 9-7 daily (Sunday 11-7). 14 W E State St, Media, PA 19063. (484) 445-2978
OCEAN CITY COFFEE
Most people come back from the shore with a suntan, a fridge magnet, and happy memories. Lauri Watkins isn’t most people. She came back from Ocean City, NJ, with the plan for Media’s newest coffee shop, Ocean City Coffee. And she had the drive and know-how to make it happen. She is the managing partner of the State Street location that opened its doors last month. Since then, the store has been catering to so many coffee connoisseurs that they have to take three deliveries of freshly roasted blends every week.
It took a lot of work to make the storefront on State Street into the elegant and bustling venue it is today. Lauri and her husband and in-laws gutted the premises down to the studs, plumbed it to provide commercial kitchen service, and rebuilt the interior with a view to providing a clean and welcoming facility to cater to consumers of coffee, pastries, and freshly cooked breakfast food.
The shelves in the store are packed with more than 80 freshly roasted blends of coffee, including a signature Media Blend for the new location. There are also more than 30 blends of tea, and floor-to-ceiling shelves of Ocean City merchandise, including apparel and stylish hand-thrown American-made ceramic mugs.
Lauri and her family did their research before opening on State Street. They spent summers at the Jersey shore soaking up the more than the sun: They got to know the three Ocean City Coffee shops, learned what made their business tick, and most importantly, won the trust of the owners, Joan Williamson and Cal Carvaia.
So when Lauri and her family pitched the idea of bringing Ocean City Coffee to Media, Joan and Cal embraced the idea. “They just liked us,” Lauri said, “They had a good feeling about it.” More than that, the home office knew that Delaware County wanted their goods—a fifth of Ocean City Coffee’s mail order business comes from Delco.
So on those nice sunny days when you can’t get to the shore, you can still perk up you palate with a fresh coffee—and you can even enjoy it in the fresh air, on the patio seating at the store’s rear entrance on Baker Street. Don’t forget your sunblock!
Ocean City Coffee, 34 W State St, Media, PA 19063. Open 6:30-7 every day, serving breakfast and lunch with extended hours till 9pm Friday and Saturday.. Look for them at Dining Under the Stars every Wednesday May thru September