Is The Saint James 'Disappointing?'

The Inquirer weighs in on the new Suburban Square restaurant. Share your own thoughts on the Ardmore bistro.

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently weighed in on Suburban Square's newest restaurant, The Saint James, giving it a less than favorable review.

A clumsy waitstaff, overcooked meat and forgettable cocktails were among the complaints of Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan, who visited the restaurant on more than one occasion before penning his review.

The Main Line rejoiced when it was announced that Sampan's Michael Schulson and Rouge's Rob Wasserman would be opening an American bistro-style restaurant in Ardmore, but since the restaurant's opening in October, many have commented on the restaurant's poorly trained waitstaff and less than memorable food.

Despite "having debuted with such obvious promise," LaBan writes of The Saint James, "I can only hope this proven team of competent restaurant veterans figures out a fix, and fast."

According to LaBan, Schulson said finding skilled restaurant workers in the suburbs has been "painful," and the restaurant experienced an 85 percent turnover in the first three months.

Schulson also notes the low wages for a line-cook as a contributing factor, to which LaBan adds, "the culinary passion that drives many young chefs through that rite of passage is especially scarce outside the city."

Read LaBan's full review at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Read more coverage of The Saint James on Ardmore Patch:

  • (Dec. 4, 2012)
  • (Oct. 5, 2012)
  • New Suburban Square Restaurant Opening Early Fall (Sept. 4, 2012)

What do you think?

What's been your experience at The Saint James? Do you agree with the Inquirer's review? Is skilled waitstaff hard to find on the Main Line? Tell us in the comments.

Josh January 28, 2013 at 12:23 AM
Horrible does not begin to describe St. James. My wife ordered the most expensive lunch item, a lobster meat of sorts served on a roll is what it turned out to be. I had a SALTY burger- realize what that means? Of course you do- a kitchen covers up poor meats with salts, very common 'insider' BS. We both puked, plenty. Two other friends we know who went for dinner had the same bottom line, horrible experiences and one ill. Not a surprise to any of us, however, as lifers we knew what to expect. All will be shocked if this place stays open much longer. Why did Iron Hill pick a strip mall vs the square? Bring back the panties.
Martha January 28, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Great dining - more options the better in Ardmore, especially since Plate has gone down hill in the past few years. Hopefully the compeititon will make both better!
Gwen Olitsky January 28, 2013 at 09:42 PM
Ours is just one experience, and we loved every morsel of food. St James was newly opened, so we were not surprised that the waitstaff wasn't great, but we figured they were still disorganized. Drinks came out "wrong" and that should never happen. They quickly corrected the mistakes. Four of us had dinner, and tried different items, I'd have to say, again, that every plate was wonderful, from the ultra fresh oysters, to the tuna tartare, roasted veggie platter and beet salad for appetizers to the entrees, including chicken pot pie, roasted salmon and flat iron steak (two orders, rare and medium, each done perfectly). The "brussels bacon" was one of the best side dishes ever, huge serving, and we all loved it. Desserts were delicious, and more than ample for sharing: the pecan pie and the sweet potato pie. I hope the Inquirer review serves to bring the food "back on track" to where it was when we ate there, and to inspire the owners to do some intensive waitstaff recruiting and training. We can't wait to go back, and hope it will be as wonderful as our first visit.
Janice January 30, 2013 at 10:44 AM
The Crossbar in Havertown has awesome burgers.
Raji Mohan February 12, 2013 at 12:12 PM
I ate at St James last night. It was my second time there. I had an Old Fashioned, the first two sips of which were great, but then the excess of crushed ice watered it down quickly. I expected better. The mushroom soup and grilled scallop entree were nicely done. The wait staff was friendly and attentive, but I agree that they need to be trained to interpret what is going on at the table. An empty soup plate clearly means that the patron is done with it. The question, "Are you done?" is redundant. On the other hand, if my fork and knife are positioned in a way that indicates that I am taking a break from eating, if my plate is half full, and if only about 15 minutes have passed since I was served, the same question sounds as if the staff is urging you to hurry up.....


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