For those of us who love to travel, 2020 has forced some significant adjustments. Fortunately, Greater Philadelphia offers many lovely day trips, and for those of us with a wanderlust, these locations have provided a safe, welcome change of scenery.
New Hope, Bucks County is one such destination. It has been called “one of the most charming towns in America,” and is now home to the Ghost Light Inn, a boutique hotel on the banks of the Delaware River. The inn, in turn, is home to Stella by Jose Garces, a dazzling addition to the New Hope dining scene.
Named for Stella, the rescued one-eared pitbull belonging to Ghost Light Inn owners Sherri and Kevin Daugherty, the restaurant has become a dining destination. Executive Chef Michael O’Halloran, who helmed the renowned Bistro 7 in Old City for 14 years, focuses on the bounty of Bucks County, and incorporates ingredients from the region’s best farmers and artisans. Although the farm-to-table restaurant is not kosher, there are plenty of dishes that would please kosher-style diners. The kitchen is flexible and willing to accommodate various dietary preferences.
“Our team here is so on point. They are creative, professional, and just great people. I love working with them,” O’Halloran said. “Our guests are like a tapestry of New Hope — we get families, cyclists, couples who are looking to get out of the city for a day, seniors, locals, people staying at the inn, it’s really diverse.”
The restaurant has a spacious, loft-like feel with greys, dark tones and wrought iron accents, but it is all softened with the backdrop of the Delaware River. Stella offers both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as private dining spaces, all with expansive views of the riverfront. COVID-19 protocols are strictly followed. The patio, a second-floor outside space, overlooks the riverfront, and is equipped with a wood-burning stove as well as several heaters. The first floor has been adapted to adhere to pandemic guidelines.
Formerly designed as a small indoor dining room with large areas reserved for private events, the hotel has repurposed the event spaces to accommodate socially distanced indoor tables. The area also features large, floor-to-ceiling windows that can be opened to maximize ventilation.
The menu is uniquely American and driven by local, seasonal ingredients. O’Halloran is transitioning from summer to fall menus as the autumn harvest arrives.
First courses range from a farmers market salad — a fresh blend of chopped seasonal vegetables with a choice of lemon vinaigrette or buttermilk for $12 — to a spaghetti pie with spinach and basil cream, black truffle and mushroom for $15.
Main dish highlights for fall include pan-roasted chicken and braised short ribs. Entrée prices range from $22 for manicotti pasta to $32 for Berks County Peking duck.
The brunch menu offers a variety of sweet and savory dishes ranging from housemade granola with yogurt to lemon ricotta pancakes to eggs benedict, frittatas and burgers. Brunch dish prices start at $11 and top out at $16.
Stella’s wine list offers a carefully curated collection of bottles, and the creative cocktail menu highlights seasonal ingredients, and incorporates local produce where possible. The new fall cocktail menu has just been unveiled.
In addition to on-site dining, food and beverages are available for carry-out curbside pickup.
If you go:
Stella by Jose Garces (located at the Ghost Light Inn)
50 S. Main St.
New Hope, Pa., 19839
Open for dinner Wed.-Sun. 4-10 p.m.
Open for brunch Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.-2 p.m.