Tastebuds Restaurant in New Hope is a true hidden gem that even locals need to be reminded of periodically. It’s located just across the street from The Raven, next to the gas station. You’ve probably driven by without noticing, so here’s what you’ll see as you come up the street.
Tastebuds is low key on the outside, but once you’ve dined there, you’ll wonder how you’ve missed it all these years because the food is perfectly prepared and truly delicious.
Owner John Barbacane has a simple philosophy, as stated on Tastebuds’ menu:
“Our goal is to serve the highest quality food. We are devoted to finding the finest ingredients. The menu focuses on seasonal produce, humanely raised meats, and wild seafood. We support sustainable agriculture and local farmers. Because we select only the freshest ingredients, our menu changes with the season”
While this may sound like the typical brag of most restaurants these days, Tastebuds has been true to this philosophy long before it became ‘hip.’ He crafts dishes that let individual flavors shine through while combining ingredients in often unexpected ways. The result is delightful food that leaves you wanting to try everything on the seasonally changing menu.
The unique style of Tastebuds comes from Barbacane, who still greets diners and waits tables. This is his baby that he’s lovingly shaped to reflect his stylish and edgy personality.
A perfect example of this is the Champagne mango with goat cheese and chili oil (recipe here). This mix of sweet, savory and spicy sounds odd but works perfectly, stimulating the palate in a way that you’ll remember long after the dining experience is over. I’m still salivating just writing about it. It’s not on the current menu (summer 2015), but it’s sure to return. In its place, you might try the Peekytoe crab cake with gingered grapefruit, avocado and cilantro…
The atmosphere of Tastebuds is different than most in the area. Barbacane has merged the country style in this several hundred year old building with ultra-chic, minimalism in a way that works. It’s great for special occasions – birthdays, dates, anniversaries but casual enough that you’ll want to go whenever you’re looking for their style of great food.
Looking over the current menu, I see that the chili rubbed beef tenderloin is still on the menu. If you’re a carnivore, this is a dish you have to try. The tenderloin is buttery tender, as they should be but often are not. But unlike most, it is paired with bold flavors, including an espresso sauce. The result is not to be missed. Simply amazing. As one reviewer stated, “OMFG!”
If your tastes run more towards the ocean, you’ll be delighted with the seafood. Tastebuds typically offers a few fish entrees. Always fresh and paired with a flavorful sauce, they’ll leave you spoiled for the typical bland or fishy seafood you’ll often find elsewhere.
Finally, leave room for dessert. My personal favorite is the fruit cake. Fruit Cake you ask? Erase those negative memories of fruit cake, this is a different beast and it’s totally delicious.
Tastebuds is truly a Hidden Gem in New Hope. Be sure to call ahead for reservations, especially on weekends.
Address: 352 West Bridge Street, New Hope, PA 18938