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“Good Service, Good Food, Close to Home”

The Broad Axe Tavern
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Ranked #23 of 54 Restaurants in Blue Bell
Price range: $6 - $31
Cuisines: American
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Dinner, Breakfast, Late Night, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Rt. 73 (Skippack Pike)
Description: Dating back to 1681, The Broad Axe Tavern is one of America's oldest taverns. Reopened in May of 2009 after undergone a multi-million dollar renovation. We welcome you to come in to see and enjoy this historic land mark. The pointed stone, hardwood and slate tiled floors give the restaurant its old world charm. Its leather booths, wood tables and iron fixtures also give it a casual elegance. The menu is a eclectic mix of small plates for grazing, grilled pizzas, large plates and tavern sandwiches. Guest favorites include Steamed Mussels, Seafood Chowder and Crab Cakes, NY Strip Steak and our Award-Winning BBQ Ribs. A great place to meet and greet with sixteen craft and imported beers on tap, over 175 bottled beers from around the world for your enjoyment. Or try a bottle of wine from our 21 Club, 38 Special list. We also have high end Premium wines or one of our great wines by the glass. Daily drink specials include happy hour 5-7pm.
Reviewed January 2, 2014

My wife and I were looking for a restaurant close to home on New Year's Eve and after checking with several other establishments that would not take a reservation for 2 after 4 PM, I came upon The Broad Axe Tavern on the Trip Advisor site. They were happy to give us a time slot at 6 PM. We arrived about 15 minutes before our reservation time, but no problem, we were promptly seated. The bar area was quite busy and folks were starting to fill the main dining rooms shortly after we arrived. Good idea to get that reservation : ). Our waitress was a pleasant lady that knew the menu well and on her advise my wife ordered the Pulled Pork sliders and me the Crab Cake sandwich. The menu is extensive with lots of great choices, but on this night we were just in the mood for sandwiches. We both enjoyed our meals and were happy to give this restaurant a shot on this busy New Year's Eve. Funny how a place like this is so close to home and this was our first visit. It was a good choice and a place that we will again return.

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Thank surfer02_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (89)
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55 - 59 of 89 reviews

Reviewed November 29, 2013

We live within walking distance of this place and became regulars during our kitchen renovation this summer. My husband and I always sit at the bar to eat and we enjoy the jaw-droppingly-extensive beer selection. The food will not disappoint if you have proper expectations and understand you're eating bar food, it's fairly solid. The bar service is usually good too, and our favorite bartender is Joseph. He's always pleasant, very responsive, helpful and he makes us feel like we're in the company of friends. During our last visit, we were disappointed to spot him across the dining room waiting tables rather than tending bar, but we bellied up anyway. While we got everything we needed during our dinner, it just wasn't the same. Service was perfunctory but there wasn't that extra touch and it certainly lacked the charisma we had grown used to - neither of the bartenders provided helpful tips about any of the featured beers (let alone an offer to taste) and we had a difficult time getting their attention when we needed a refill or our check. It was kind of a let down. The strength of this type of place lies mostly in their service - it should be warm and fun. I hope they get our fave bartender back where he belongs...bringing us beer and food! :)

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1  Thank MrsP737
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 14, 2013

I believe the food at the Broad Axe is frozen & then nuked. 2 couples out for dinner. Shared 3 app's - Loaded fries (ok), cheese tray (ok - how can you ruin that?) & pumpkin ravioli. The pumpkin ravioli (on their specialty menu) was very disappointing. The 3 ravioli's ($8.95, I think) were flat, not plump. The bottoms of them each had a penny-sized hole in them. Were they once plump & all the filling fell out? The sauce was warm in spots, cold in others. Ravioli itself -cold. Husband ordered prime rib. It wasn't the tastiest & cut quite thin (not what you expect with prime rib). His mashed potatoes were sent back before the waitress left the table. They were ice cold. I know & love grouper so I ordered that. It was awful. Grouper is a thick, bland (cod-like fish). What I got, was paper-thin and tasted fishy. Grouper takes its flavor from the sauce or spices put with it. It is NOT fishy tasting-ever!! I know grouper & another fish was definitely substituted. I felt ripped off on my "grouper" dinner. The other couple said their food was okay, edible - but not memorable. Also it was not hot - just warm & cold in spots. We haven't been to the Broad Axe in yrs, but all of us decided it's not worth returning. We expected fresh cooked, tasty food, not puny cuts, unevenly nuked and substituted entrees.

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2  Thank Keira K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 20, 2013

Wife and I had dinner at the Broad Axe last night -comedy event going on at the bar. We have eaten at the tavern before withe meals being average do better. Last night our food and service were horrible. ordered diet sodas - neither of us felt like drinking last night. This seemed to PO our server to start. Had salads as a starter - my Caesar salad was prepared from room temperature romaine that had started to wilt, wife's salad ok. Wife had a fillet, only item of the night to brag about - perfectly cooked. Her mashed potatoes were a pasty mess accompanied with overlooked vegetables. I had the BBQ sampler entree - some of the worst BBQ I have ever encountered. Rib (1 only) was dried out & tough, brisket like rubber, sausage an unexplained item with the chicken being the only palatable item (although just a small piece of boneless skinless breast that had a little sauce smeared on it). House fries were over cooked to the point of being boarder line burned with the cole slaw being the saving grace of this plate.

Service was poor. We were seated in the corner near the entrance/host stand. We were promptly seated and and had our order taken. As I said earlier the establishment and our server seemed to have no interest in servicing us non alcoholic beverages - over a 10 minute wait to have our drinks served. when I had my salad cleared I requested a refill which required another long wait. When our entrees were served by a runner rather than our server the service was followed up within 1 minute by our server checking to see how our meals were. Nice but a limitless early. Did not know then that that was basically the last we would see of her for the night. A few minutes later both my wife & I were looking for beverage refills - signaled to our server and other staff passing our table, it appeared that we were invisible with no one even looking our way. Finally had to take my empty glass to the host's stand (which is in plain sight of our table) to request a refill.

All in all a poor dining experience, I certainly would not recommend the Broad Axe Tavern to anyone and have my doubts as if I will return.

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1  Thank Bernie1847
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 8, 2013

The Broad Axe holds the distinction of being one of America’s oldest taverns, dating from the year 1681. The original building was constructed on an old Indian path that farmers traveled to take their grain to one of several mills in the area. Apparently the Tavern’s name is derived from the type of axe favored by early settlers.

Because the area surrounding the Broad Axe was often shrouded in dense fog and circumscribed by heavy forest, the location soon acquired a reputation for supernatural sightings. The most famous spectral tale concerns Rachel, daughter of the Tavern’s proprietor. As the story goes, she was pursued into the building by drunken hoodlums, never to be heard from again. Legend has it that her ghost still haunts the first floor bathroom… and has also been observed peering out a third floor window by passers-by at the corner of Skippack and Butler Pikes.

But the Broad Axe Tavern has infinitely more to offer than a somewhat obscure & mysterious verifiable history and juicy apparitional asides. The multi-million dollar renovations of 2009 carefully preserved the building’s historic character while adding more modern amenities and sprucing up the menu, thus making the restaurant an even more attractive stopover for those in search of a casual chow down.

There are dining areas to both the left and the right of the hostess desk as you enter… but there are some restaurants where, all things being equal, the bar/lounge is to be preferred over the regular dining rooms; and the Broad Axe Tavern, I believe, is one of them. Awash with comfortable high-top tables & chairs, this is a particularly pleasant, welcoming space – especially if you happen to be contemplating a quiet weekend luncheon à deux. By settling in here, you usually avoid the large, noisy, rambunctious parties – and their equally noisy, rambunctious progeny – that occasionally inhabit the dining rooms. During “happy hour” (Monday – Friday, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.), of course, things do get a bit more lively.

One thing is certain… if you’re into brewskies in a big way, you’ve come to the right place, as the beer list is nothing short of phenomenal. According to the most recent count, the Broad Axe serves up 17 brews on tap, 149 different brands in bottles, and 11 different brands in cans… But oenophiles aren’t short-changed either. The wine list isn’t as spectacular as the catalog of brews, but it is still well chosen and holds some interesting possibilities, including a Louis Latour Macon Viré-Clessé, a first-rate French white Burgundy that’s perfect for warm weather quaffing.

Surveying the starters, you find all the usual suspects present and accounted for… There’s bruschetta, nachos, cheese steak spring rolls, duck pot stickers, calamari, loaded fries, chicken wings, hummus with grilled pita bread… Well, you get the idea. But if you’re in the mood for something just a tad different, you might give the deep fried green beans a try. A bit heavy on the breading but still quite good… and the wasabi (Japanese horseradish) ranch dipping sauce definitely propels this appetizer out of the realm of the ordinary.

In addition to the appetizers, the soup/salad route also has a great deal to offer. The chipotle black bean soup, for example, is a rich, hearty concoction that serves up just enough subtle heat to keep the palate standing at attention. A dollop of sour cream provides a cooling counterpunch, while crunchy tortilla strips contribute a nice textural contrast.

In the greenery department, there are a number of options, including Caesar, Cobb, Mandarin and grilled tuna, several of which would most certainly double as entrées. Of particular interest was the roasted beet – Gorgonzola combo. Diced marinated beets and crumbled Gorgonzola blue cheese adorned a bed of peppery arugula & romaine lettuce tossed with a roasted garlic vinaigrette. From the menu description, this certainly sounded like an excellent starter… but the execution proved to be somewhat lacking. In point of fact, it was definitely on the bland side. The Gorgonzola, which, in reality, tasted nothing like Gorgonzola, lacked its characteristic pungent earthy punch; and the roasted garlic vinaigrette, which should have spiked things up considerably, was surprisingly lackluster, as well as stingily applied.

The above-mentioned salad, I believe, provides an important clue as to the dishes that are likely to fly here and those that may be prone to crash & burn… Stick with the so-called “Pub Grub” – sandwiches, burgers, flatbreads, tacos, etc. – and you’re on pretty solid ground. The entrées proper, however – “Large Plates” and “Inspired Dishes” in the restaurant’s parlance – tend to be more hit-or-miss. The skewered grilled shrimp with Cajun spices presented on a rice pilaf with a fresh vegetable medley was far from extraordinary but still quite satisfying. The Aegean Salmon topped with sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives, on the other hand, fell far short of the mark. Both the accompanying island of spinach orzo and the sea of lemon wine sauce were certainly acceptable… but the salmon filet itself was pan seared to a crisp – which resulted in a tough outer shell and an utterly tasteless interior.

The kitchen has good intentions; unfortunately, when it comes to more complex presentations, its reach seems to exceed its grasp. That being said, however, the Broad Axe’s casual fare still provides numerous first-rate options to assuage your hunger…

And the Prime Sirloin Burger, which may be prepared with a variety of embellishments, is a good place to begin. Grilled to a perfect medium, precisely as ordered, it arrived adorned with Swiss cheese, bacon, sautéed onions & mushrooms, and house-cut French fries. Even better, though, is the house specialty: the Axe Burger. This variation on the theme is dressed up with bacon, onion, cilantro, diced jalepeños (which treats the palate to a healthy amount of heat) & tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, and fresh slices of avocado. A winner on all counts.

Another menu highlight is the restaurant’s take on pizza, which substitutes flatbread for typical pizza crust. If you’re a thin crust pizza fan, this is something of a must. There are several incarnations, all of which headline a luscious homemade tomato sauce: margarita (mozzarella & Asiago cheeses, fresh basil, garlic); mushroom & mozzarella; and bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onion, and balsamic reduction. The absolute favorite, though, is the pepperoni & cheese; and it is cheesy… cheesy… cheesy… and incredibly delicious.

Other possibilities include a classic turkey club sandwich, excellent grilled Reuben, and another personal fave, the fish tacos. The beer-battered cod is perfectly crisp on the outside, moist & flaky at the core, and splashed with a dynamite chipotle crème fraiche.

The Broad Axe isn’t terribly adept at desserts, sporting the likes of the omnipresent Key lime pie and a disappointing house-made strawberry Napoleon that proved a feast for the eye but famine for the palate. The one exception, however, is the decadent and artfully presented banana caramel cheesecake Xango. This is one sweet ending that is guaranteed to knock you off the Weight Watchers’ wagon… but worth every last calorie – and most suitable for sharing.

Just one or two concluding notes… The most pleasant dining experience at the Broad Axe is Saturday lunch in the bar/lounge. The restaurant is relatively quiet and the service, which is always good, is particularly attentive.

On the other hand, a weekday dinner (and especially a free-for-all Saturday night) can be a bit on the zooey side. Once again, go for the bar area as your first choice. If this is filled, choose the dining room to the right as you enter, rather than the one to the left. The lefty is located next to the kitchen and sports an open window where food runners gather to pick up orders for delivery to tables and engage in idle banter and inane chatter. In other words, not only will you experience an elevated noise level, but also the constant comings and goings of seething humanity – which, I might add, is hardly conducive to peristaltic equanimity.

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2  Thank ArtfulDiner43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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