I caught up with Chef Terence Feury for a phone interview as he was driving to rendezvous with a local farmer. Local and sustainable foods make up a good deal of the menu at the recently opened Tavro Thirteen in Swedesboro, N.J. My husband Brian and I dined as guests of the restaurant last week and enjoyed a memorable meal.
Swedesboro is a small community in Southern, N.J., and it’s not the first location someone might think of for an upscale restaurant run by a local, celebrated chef. However, Feury, a James Beard Award nominee and a Philadelphia Magazine Best Chef winner, fell in love with the 250-year-old building and the space that Tavro 13 now occupies, and he’s looking to make Swedesboro a dining destination.
It’s a beautiful, large space that’s been divided into three separate rooms. The fine dining room has cushiony, upholstered red seats and a beautiful, large working fireplace. A separate room with a bar serves up signature cocktails, several East Coast brews, and its own menu of bar fare. The lounge area off the bar has a stage where live music plays on weekends. There’s also an outside patio with a working fireplace for patrons to enjoy on warmer evenings than the one when we dined at Tavro Thirteen a few days after New Year’s.
The food at the restaurant comes from large and small local producers - from Lancaster, P.A. co-ops to backyard gardeners who grow produce specifically for Tavro Thirteen. In the fall, Chef Feury bought eggplant from a local farm stand and jarred and preserved it for use throughout the winter. From his chef’s point of view, he wants to use the best ingredients possible. Fresh, local and seasonal just tastes best.
There are several seafood items on the menu, and Chef Feury is committed to purchasing 100 percent sustainable seafood. The majority of the fish the chef purchases comes from the Mid-Atlantic and is hook and line caught using safe harvesting practices.
So, does this commitment to quality ingredients and local and sustainable foods translate into a meal worth eating? Absolutely.
The seasonally changing main dining room menu is small with less than a dozen starters and about 8 entrees. I chose Spinach Cavatelli with broccoli florets and garlic chips to start. It was a garlic-lovers dream. The sauce was buttery and rich. Brian chose Fire River Oysters accompanied by what could best be described as a shallot sorbet. The “Wow!” that came from his mouth when he tasted the oysters said it all.
For our entrees we had the lamb and the strip steak. Brian’s lamb was moist and pulled from the bone – very flavorful. Small Brussels sprouts surrounded the mound of lamb. My steak was also very flavorful and accompanied by potato/celery root puree and roasted root vegetables.
Swedesboro is about half an hour drive from Philadelphia, P.A., and about the same the same drive time from my own home a little further north in South Jersey. It’s well worth the short drive for the excellent food and service. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give kudos to our server Heather who was knowledgeable about the food and the right amount of attentive. That’s always important for a good experience. Both Brian and I are looking forward to returning to give some of the bar menu items a try.
Tavro Thirteen is located at 1301 Kings Highway, Swedesboro, N.J., and is open Monday – Friday for lunch, every night for dinner, and Sunday brunch.
Disclosure: I was invited to bring a guest to Tavro Thirteen by a representative of the restaurant. As guests of the restaurant, we did not pay for the dinner. I was not, however, paid by Tavro Thirteen or its representatives for this post nor was a favorable post promised in return for the meal.