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Wild Tuna
500 Chesterbrook Boulevard
Wayne, Pennsylvania
(610) 695-8862
www.wildtunarestaurant.com

Note: 09/2004 - Restaurant now closed. New restaurant in the same location: Dylan's Pub & Grill

Numerous restaurateurs have tried their luck at this location. . . only to suffer ignominious defeat. Sequestered away in the Chesterbrook Shopping Center, previous eateries proved entirely too pricey to attract local residents and/or corporate types for a casual, spur-of-the-moment weekday lunch or dinner chow-down and not sufficiently challenging enough gastronomically to draw in knowledgeable foodies from the hinterlands on weekends.

The venue itself, though, is primo: comfortable bar/lounge, attractive multi-tiered dining area, and ready-made clientele (residents of Chesterbrook's numerous residential enclaves) waiting in the wings to be wooed and wowed. . . but it needed just the right combo of cost, cuisine, and savvy management to pull in the potential patrons. And, from all appearances, proprietor Richard Robinson, former owner of Philadelphia's Rock Lobster, has turned the trick with style. The Wild Tuna serves up "Center City fare with neighborhood flair." Indeed, you may dress up or dress down - whatever your particular inclination - and enjoy a host of sophisticated piscatorial pleasures at significantly less than Philadelphia's often wallet-busting tariffs.

The power behind the stove is executive chef Anthony Bonett, an alumnus of the Restaurant School, as well as such illustrious kitchens as Striped Bass, the Four Seasons Hotel, and Philadelphia Fish & Co. And his offerings succeed in making a palpable hit on both the eye and the palate without being offensively ostentatious.

You may wish to begin with Mr. Bonett's plump steamed mussels ($8.00) swimming in a sea of white wine broth dotted with morsels of chicken chorizo, leeks, garlic, and crowed with a tiara of crispy frites. . . or, perhaps, his marvelously crunchy popcorn shrimp ($8.00) accented with toasted cumin and spruced up with a mellifluous mound of guacamole and sour cream. And a special pumpkinseed-encrusted skate wing reaps the not insignificant benefits of a lively black bean and pumpkin salsa and bell pepper vinaigrette.

The chopped salad ($7.00)—avocado, corn, bacon, tomato, and Lancaster County aged cheddar with a zippy buttermilk ranch dressing—is also worthy of consideration. You may opt for an embellishment of grilled shrimp ($9.00), should you so desire, or take the salad on the entrée route ($16.00). . . But if you really want to see what this kitchen can do, tie into the "Wild Tuna Trio" ($11.00), a tasty triptych that includes Mediterranean-style tuna (with roasted peppers), seared rare sesame tuna, and tuna tartar with diced melon and cucumber.

Entrées, like the appetizers, are aided and abetted by a number of intriguing accoutrements. The pan-seared farm-raised salmon ($16.00), for example, is accompanied by a luscious mound of mashed potatoes studded with capers and finished with a splash of lobster sauce. The grilled swordfish ($17.00) is paired with a provocative Thai basil panzanella salad (Italian bread salad) and chaperoned by a tart and tumultuous tomato vinaigrette. And the broiled halibut filet ($19.00) arrives at table in the company of truffle gnocchi and a delicate scallop-vermouth sauce.

Desserts, courtesy of the chef's wife, Barbara, display a decidedly homey touch: rustic apple tart paired with vanilla ice cream ($8.00); warm berry crumble ($7.00); and a elegantly creamy lemon cheesecake adorning an addictive shortbread crust ($7.00). An excellent cheese plate ($9.00) also makes a most suitable closure to your evening at table.

The restaurant sports a compact wine list and some very nice selections by the glass, including a forward and chewy Rosemount Cabernet ($12.00), Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir ($6.00), and bold and buttery Wolf Blass Chardonnay ($10.00).

If you have a fondness for the bountiful treasures of the sea, be sure to make the Wild Tuna your next port-of-call. You will also find some delicious concessions to landlubbers—including a marvelously flavorful grilled New York strip steak ($28.00)—as well as various offerings for the kiddies and an appetizing bar menu.

March 2004

The Artful Diner

The Artful Diner is an independent, freelance food writer.  His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.

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