Tim and Kristin Smith have transformed an old Sovereign Bank in the center of West Grove into a splendid modern cafe and BYOB that features exquisite dishes made with locally raised beef and meat, fresh fish and more.
The restaurant, Twelves Grille & Cafe, is located in the center square of the the dry borough of West Grove. Inside the main dining area, the space has high ceilings, recessed lighting, and tan walls that offset the dark wood tables. Diners can hear the noon train whistle as it passes through town. The bank’s vault still stands in the center of the building, where a few devout customers have stored their wines. Though Twelves Grill sits in the center of this small rural town, the space has a metropolitan feel.
To the right of the entrance, a coffee bar awaits morning commuters who stop in for a latte and muffins. High tables invite the morning crowd to linger.
I stopped in for lunch, and was given a seat where I could watch the action. The restaurant was busy on a Wednesday, a mix of business lunches and dining couples. The tables were set with cloth napkins and heavy gauge silverware.
To start, I decided on the Cream of Local Mushroom Soup. My cup contained slices of mushrooms, chunks of crabmeat and was topped with truffle oil. The soup was creamy, with the aroma of the truffle oil and a pleasant buttery aftertaste.
I ordered the Twelves Burger, which is eight ounces of grilled Birch Run Hills‘-raised, grass-fed beef that’s topped with Lancaster cheddar cheese and local bacon. The burger was served on a brioche roll and came with red onion, lettuce and tomato and a generous portion of house cut bistro fries–the fries salted just right.
The burger, ordered medium, was almost three quarters of an inch thick and was juicy and slightly red in the center. Two strips of bacon, from Green Meadow Farm in Gap, were crisp. The brioche roll had been grilled, so the outside was crisp but the center of the roll was light. Very nice. The fries were hot and crisp. The plate was garnished with a slice of strawberry and cantaloupe. The burger was an excellent choice to sit back and savor.
Other interesting lunch menu items include the Birch Run Lamb Burger Sliders, the Buffalo Run Ranch Bison Meatloaf Sandwich and the Local Mushroom Quesadilla.
Executive Chef and Owner Tim Smith sat with me to discuss his restaurant which has been open for three years now. Because West Grove is a dry town, he knew this would be a BYOB from the beginning. “We have a lot of regulars from Delaware, where there are no BYOBs,” he said. “People bring beer and mixers too.” Twelves Grill does charge a $5 corkage fee.
Before opening his restaurant, Tim was the chef at The Farmhouse Restaurant at Loch Nairn Golf Course. He’s been working in restaurants since he was fourteen and it’s been his dream to open up his own place.
“We cook everything to order,” he says. “All the beef and meat has been Pennsylvania raised and fed. We have our own private herder up the road, our own herded Galloway Cattle in Birch Run.” Tim also purchases his seafood from local sources, as much as possible. “I’m a fish person at heart.”
Tim gave me a tour of the restaurant. He showed me the bank vault and explained how narrow the space was until they removed the safe deposit boxes. The space is still quite tight. The polished bank vault door now sits open, like a piece of art. He also showed me the second dining area, which is done in blue walls and features work from local artists. This room can be reserved on weekdays for parties of up to thirty-two.
“Everything on the menu is also available for takeout,” Tim added. He and Kristin have really worked to make their restaurant diverse while keeping it’s character intact. Inside the front door, the coffee bar is a reminder they serve breakfast. So customers can get breakfast, lunch and dinner, and can eat in for a fine dining experience or take out.
The Twelves Grill is named such because of the significance the 12th day of the month has played in the lives of the owners. Tim and Kristin had their first date on the 12th, both have birthdays on the 12th, and were married on the 12th.
To celebrate the twelves, each month they create a special prix fix lunch menu – three courses served for $12 – that is only available on the twelfth day of the month. On October 12th, there was a choice soups or a salad for the first course. The second course was a choice of House Roasted Pennsylvania Pulled Pork BBQ Wrap or Tuna salad Sandwich. The third course was a choice of White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake or Fresh Strawberries topped with organic brown sugar whipped cream. The prix fixe menu changes each month as Tim continually changes the menu based on the seasons.
Twelves Grille and Cafe BYOB has the following hours: The coffee shop is open Tuesday through Saturday starting at 9 am; restaurant hours are Tuesday through Saturday, with lunch from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and dinner from 5 to 9pm. They are located at 10 Exchange Place in West Grove, PA. Reservations or not required, but are strongly recommended. Call 610-869-4025. Visit Twelves online too, at twelvesgrill.com.