By Kate Brennan
There’s a fairly new restaurant in Downingtown, and I’m not talking about the much-hyped Firecreek. Just down the street, in the spot formerly occupied by Fioravanti’s, a little BYO gem called Amani’s has quietly joined the ranks of the town’s nascent food scene. Amani’s, run by husband and wife team Jonathan and Jeanine Amann, may not have seen as much publicity as its steakhouse neighbor, but it’s certainly just as worthy of a visit. Amani’s romantic, cheerful farmhouse décor, reminiscent of a scene from Oklahoma!, echoes its philosophy when it comes to food. The concept isn’t a new one, but it’s still rare – Amani’s uses only local, “farm fresh” ingredients, mostly from the Milky Way Farm in Chester Springs.
“We’ve been wanting to do this for ten years,” said owner/general manager Jeanine Amann, whose buoyant personality matches the atmosphere. Jeanine and owner/chef Jonathan Amann met years ago while working at America Bar and Grill in Chester Springs. The pair gained decades of restaurant experience between them, including opening restaurants in St. John’s and Maine, before finally settling down again in Pennsylvania. Aren’t we glad they did!
Amani’s is clearly a labor of love, and the food reflects this passion. The inspiring menu includes a variety of soups, salads and appetizers, along with dishes from both the sea and land. My meal began with rolls dipped in tomato infused olive oil, followed by a creamy Maryland Blue Crab Bisque with lump crab meat.
For an appetizer, I followed the waitress’s recommendation of savory Stuffed Button Mushrooms with baby spinach, Danish bleu cheese, blanched walnuts and chives. I typically don’t even like mushrooms and I ate the whole dish. For dinner, I enjoyed a tender Espresso-Rubbed Kansas City Steak with an Ancho cherry port reduction, crispy sweet potato wedges and delicious sautéed green beans.
Despite feeling ready to burst, I ordered the Lemon Marscarpone Cream with fresh raspberry puree in tuille cookie bowl, accompanied by complimentary limoncello made on the premises (after my meal, Jonathan pointed out another batch brewing in a container nearby). Since Amani’s is a BYOB, they don’t serve drinks with dinner, but they do have a list of tasty cocktails they’ll mix with your own bottle of vodka, rum or tequila.
While I certainly applaud Amani’s farm fresh philosophy, in the end, I don’t care where their ingredients come from – the food is just darn good.
Amani’s BYOB, 105 E. Lancaster Avenue in Downingtown, 484-237-8179