Wayne's renaissance, or better yet, its appearance as a viable dining locale since the turn of the century, could not be better signified than by White Dog. This suburban reimagining of its venerable Center City parent has keeps flashes of the fresh quirkiness of the original, but presents it in a fresh and upscale space.
The menu is nicely balanced with an emphasis on local vendors. Chester County's mushrooms are well represented across the board, for example, whether taking center stage in a signature bisque, or accompanying a number of entrees. While it is possible to eat "light" at White Dog, you might throw caution to the wind and really explore a menu that offers some thoughtful and fun takes on French-American themes, which means hearty portions and bright sauces. Here and there are some "mold breakers" which added some fun to our evening. We loved a creamy celery root "fettucine" (including mushrooms, of course) as a novel side.
Service was attentive and effective. Our server was a bit new to the operation, but never tried to fake it and was able to get the right answer if she didn't know it, like making recommendations from a smart mostly California wine list -- which offered plenty for us to be interested in, whether by bottle or glass.
We love the different character of each of White Dog's spaces, but be warned, some of the seating on offer is quirky to the point of weird. We were on time for our early Sunday dinner reservation for two and were shown first to a small table between two over stuffed wing chairs. A neat set up for a chatty lunch perhaps, but not how I like to sit for dinner. We had no problem getting a more conventional table, but if that first arrangement was all they had for us, I am not sure I would have stayed. That said, the formality of the various spaces and the table settings make it unsuitable for children under 12. There are plenty of other spots in Wayne if they are in your party.
My meals at White Dog have been very good, but their inconsistency keeps them from the top tier. At dinner I went from a terrific take on steak tartare, to a mediocre "grilled" caesar which was only a warm wilted offering, to a dry aged bone in rib eye that, while tasty, was a shade undercooked (rare, not medium rare) and more than the usual fatty. As I have gotten older, I am less inclined to send a steak back and disrupt my wife's meal if I can work with it, but had I been alone, this one was enough of a miss on an expensive cut that it would have gotten the boot. My wife loved her burger.
In the final analysis, White Dog hits much more than it misses, and offers a very civilized dining experience.