In Coplay, the restaurant formerly known as Yesterday's today is known as Victoria's Inn. If the new sign doesn't tell the tale of change loudly enough, the neon robin's-egg-blue door and trim which appear freshly painted certainly do.
This restaurant, which opened in March, has a utilitarian air. A dark wood chair rail divides the walls into pale pink below and even paler pink above. Just a few floral prints and silk flower arrangements add simple decoration. Lace cafe curtains, burgundy tablecloths, and frosted glass windows and interior panels are the sort of comfortable, everyday details likely found at Great Aunt Edna's house.
The food, however, goes a step beyond the often predictable and functional cuisine of a great aunt. The inn's fare is not haute cuisine, but the menu is interesting, the dishes are well executed, for the most part, and what's perhaps even more notable the prices make dinner here a real value.
Developed by chef Chris Armitage, who has cooked at Glasbern and the Apollo Grill, Victoria's ''contemporary cuisine'' features dishes that offer a variety of today's trendy tastes. Two appetizers, in particular, come to mind: teriyaki grilled chicken skewers with oranges, red peppers and wasabi, and coconut fried shrimp with pineapple pepper jelly.
Entrees keep similar pace with current food styles: grilled fresh salmon filet over sliced tomatoes, topped with basil walnut pesto; spice-rubbed, grilled chicken breast with apricot glaze; white beans with red onion, tomato, peppers and asparagus in a balsamic vinegar-based sauce over angel hair pasta; and beef tenderloin tips sauteed with mushrooms, red peppers and spinach, served over bowtie pasta with blue-cheese cream.
Standards such as shrimp scampi, fish & chips, chicken Marsala, veal francaise and veal rib chop au poivre (crusted with black pepper, served with brandy cream sauce) are also available.
We settled on sausage-and- crab-stuffed mushrooms to share as a starter. The firm, small mushroom caps were heavy with filling, because they were overflowing, but also because the sausage overpowered the crab. Drizzles of lemon tarragon mayonnaise were just what the doctor ordered to brighten up this dish.
Spinach salad, though inspired in ingredients, was not as inspired in execution. A rolled slice of prosciutto was appropriate textural contrast to the greens, but its potential as counterpoint for the fruit fell short because of the cantaloupe's lackluster flavor. I appreciated that balsamic vinaigrette was served on the side, since I forgot to request the salad that way.
The bread basket's offering slices of limp, French-style, white bread was standard fare.
It was the entrees at Victoria's Inn that showed the kitchen's mettle. Baked chicken Boursin was lightly breaded, just as described on the menu, with no trace of oiliness. The creamy herbed cheese stuffing, with sun-dried tomatoes punctuating the taste, added shades of flavor to the tender fowl, and a mild veloute-style sauce tied the elements of this dish together successfully.
One of the specials, sea scallops with artichokes and roasted peppers in a black olive butter sauce, was also successful. The sweet scallops, so tender their texture was almost buttery, were enhanced by the red peppers, which added depth to the flavor.
Roasted red potatoes crisped outside and tender inside were so good we never mentioned we had ordered seasoned rice instead to accompany the scallops. A medley of vegetables was excellent: thin and tender asparagus, carrot coins and zucchini slices cooked appropriately al dente with their individual characters intact.
Desserts at Victoria's Inn are not made on the premises. From among ultimate chocolate cake, cheesecake with strawberries, peanut butter pie and yellow cake with coconut frosting, we selected the first two.
The chocolate cake deep, rich and dark in flavor was a study of textures with its chocolate cookie crumb crust, chewy center, smooth ganache-style topping and tiny chocolate chips dotting the side.
The Cheesecake offered exceptional flavor, but the three slices of strawberries that accompanied it seemed more like a garnish than a working part of the dessert.
Dinner for two, including tax, tip and nonalcoholic beverages, totaled $67.35.
Susan Gottshall is a freelance restaurant reviewer for Go Guide. Gottshall, who tells it like it is, attempts to remain anonymous during restaurant visits. All meals are paid for by The Morning Call.
Features Editor Linda O'Connell