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Park Place Cafe & Restaurant – Merchantville, NJ

Park Place Cafe & Restaurant – Merchantville, NJ

I am sad to admit I have failed. My foodie license and privileges should be revoked. Small Bites Radio should fire me as host and no longer associate with me at all. How could this happen? Park Place Cafe & Restaurant is the reason behind my epic blunder.

The whispers were out there that this place was good and that I should go there. Brunch is great and best place around is what everyone would say. Well I’m not a brunch fan so I passed. The hype seemed to be a bit much for a Jersey restaurant with no booming downtown or any notable particular attractions near it for me to go out of my way. Other places would call my name and I found my way to them instead.

Shame on me!!! I have let everyone down including myself.

You can stop reading if you’d like and skip anymore scrolling. Please just follow these 5 simple words. GO TO PARK PLACE NOW

This place is an absolute gem. From beginning to end you couldn’t find a finer dinner dining experience in the South Jersey area. The menu may seem intimidating and prices a tad higher than usual for the average eater, but trust me you won’t be disappointed. It’s all top notch ingredients sourced as ethically as possible and many items foraged locally. Top it all off with service that was impeccable, efficient, and personable throughout the entire meal. You are handed a sheet of paper when seated called “What’s Wild this Week” listing all of the foraged items. I can’t think of another restaurant in the Philadelphia area with a list as long and intensive as Park Place’s wild items. They have truly created a Noma experience in this sleepy little town. Yes you heard right. I dared to say to a Noma experience. Google the name if you’re not familiar with Noma, but with enough time and resources I don’t see a reason why they couldn’t pull it off and become a National or Global phenomenon and powerhouse. I can only hope more places start to focus on every wild item out there and make it edible to cut down on mass corporate farm production and monocultures that have been formed. What Park Place is pulling off isn’t just a philosophy, it’s a lifestyle and Chef Philip Manganaro is living and breathing it into every inch of the restaurant experience there.

Keep an open mind. Try something different. You may just like it. If you do, the future of agriculture could look vastly different. For my meal I had the appetizer lightly seared sea scallop, small plate venison Bolognese, and entrée pan seared sturgeon with a side of Himalayan Morels. I finished the meal with an out of this world hand churned vanilla maple bourbon ice cream. Every bite of every course was divine, and I look forward to my next visit. Don’t be a schlub like me and think the hype isn’t warranted. Everything about them is true provided you’ve heard nothing but good things 😉 Hurry go there now before it takes years to get a reservation like Noma. (The ice cream is not pictured as I just dug right into it and also don’t judge the meal by the photos as this is a place where a picture doesn’t do it justice)

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