Berks County Eats crosses the county line to bring you some of the best dining both near and far. This edition takes us an hour southeast of Reading to Media, PA.
As much as I love exploring (and tasting) Berks County, sometimes life takes me to faraway places.
That was the case last week as Julie and I ventured to Media, Delaware County, where her brother now calls home, and where we met her family for dinner on the town.
Media is one of Philadelphia’s most happening suburbs with a bustling downtown and a big city feel. There’s a lot to do, but more importantly, there’s a lot of places to eat.
A restaurant they always mentioned among the popular spots in Media was Stephen’s on State. On a recent visit, they suggested it for a nice dinner. They’re the experts so we just followed along.
State Street is essentially a row of restaurants packed one next to the other, and if you look at the review sites, Stephen’s has received mixed reviews.
One of the common complaints I see about Stephen’s on State is that the service is slow, but our waitress, who introduced herself as Julie (easy enough to remember), was very attentive all evening, constantly returning to refill our water and check on us throughout our stay.
We were seated at a round table tucked in a small alcove between the bar room and the more formal dining area. It was a tight squeeze for a table of six, but it never felt uncomfortable.
Stephen’s dinner menu is not very big. There are 10 entrees to go with six choices of steak. Being at a steakhouse with a manly appetite, I chose one of Stephen’s “signature steak” options, a spice crusted steak with garlic shallot butter.
The big, beautiful cut of meat was served atop a bed of mashed potatoes and French cut green beans in a red wine sauce. And it was delicious.
The steak had a beautiful crust from the spices which helped seal in the juicy flavor. The spice combination reminded me a little of a Memphis rub—a little sweet, a little salty with the slightest kick at the end.
With every bite-sized piece that I cut, I soaked up as much of the red wine sauce as I could, especially as the steak began to shed its spicy coat.
As flavorful as the steak was, the mashed potatoes were a tad bland, but they did soak up the au jus which greatly helped.
Having few entrees to choose from and a much smaller appetite, Julie decided to create her own meal with a pair of appetizers.
She started her meal with a cup of French onion soup. The presentation was beautiful with the bubbly cheese on top melting over the sides of the crock. It tasted just as good as it looked with a flavorful broth and plenty of onions and bread pieces throughout.
Part two of her meal was very different, but just as cheesy: a smoked chicken quesadilla. The cheesy pocket was topped with salsa, guacamole and chipotle sauce. It was good, but we both agreed that the French onion was better.
Along with our meals, Stephen’s also gave us complimentary loaves of sesame seed-topped bread with olive oil dipping sauce, a delicious pairing that helped hold us over until our dinners arrived.
The other common complaint on review sites is related to price. Stephen’s is not inexpensive—my steak cost more than $30 and Julie’s pairing came to $15—but it didn’t feel unfair, especially for the amount of food and the quality of it. At the time, I did wish I had a starter salad, but I still left on a full stomach.
Stephen’s on State may not be a darling on Internet review sites, but the menu proudly proclaims 13 years in business in downtown Media. Our experience was great, and the busy bar area showed that it certainly has a loyal following among the locals.
Media is not a destination that many Berks Countians are likely to find themselves in. But those who go will surely not go home hungry. If Stephen’s on State is any indication, you’ll be going home happy too.
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