We just paid our first visit to the newly-rechristened Copper Leaf Grill in Buckingham. This space has been, for many years, Just Eat by Brown Gold, a favorite of many Bucks County diners. Marc and Theresa BrownGold recently sold the restaurant to a young man who is, at 25, a veteran of several Bucks County restaurants. The BrownGolds spent about a month transitioning Dominic, the new owner, teaching him some of the secrets of their success.
Some comparisons of Copper Leaf to Just Eat are necessary and will be dispensed of quickly, as the new restaurant deserves to be judged on its own merits.
I think most JustEat regulars would agree that much of the flavor of that space was a direct result of the personality and energy of its owners. Theresa was always in the front of the room to welcome guests, to circulate among the tables and to jump in and assist the wait staff. It was Theresa's art that graced the walls of JustEat. In front of the grill, Marc was a commanding presence, insuring the quality of everything that came off the grill or out of the kitchen. His comfort in that positions insured that, even on the busiest nights, he could greet regulars and talk a bit about the specials.
When we visited, the room was about half full and the wait staff was busy, but we were seated immediately. The menu (inspect the entire menu at http://thecopperleafgrill.com/) consists of starters, salads, mains and a "bistro" menu of economically priced entrees. The Copper Leaf has continued JustEat's tradition of offering a $30 prix-fixe three-course meal. The grill was manned by a chef who also took care of plating dishes coming from the kitchen and veggies/sides coming from the stove in the rear of the dining room. Although not overwhelmed, he took on a great deal of responsibility, meaning he was moving non-stop all evening. Our only apprehension is that the grill chef will need to learn to determine doneness without touching food on the grill. We also noted that the wait staff and several kitchen staff needed to be available to serve and bus tables, perhaps because they were a bit short-handed.
We shared a generous appetizer of smoked trout over arugula ($9), which was served with a dollop of horseradish cream and a handful of haricots vert. The trout was nicely smoked, but not overwhelming.
We each went the fish route, with one of us ordering Opa ($25), which had been grilled and then served with mashed potatoes and asparagus. We had not seen Opa on a menu since a visit to Maui, so it was refreshing to see a Pacific fish being offered instead of the usual tuna or salmon. The portion was generous...perhaps 3/4 lb. of fish.
I had the cod served over soba noodles in a soy-based sauce ($20). Enjoyed this, but found the portion a bit small.
Service was attentive and Dominic seemed eager to have his guests well taken care of.
Copper Leaf continues JustEat's policy of BYO (we enjoyed a 2003 Syrah from the Novy Family Vineyards in Sonoma).
Our first impression of The Copper Leaf Grill is a very positive one. Once all the pieces fall into place, a personality will emerge. JustEat regulars will miss Marc and Theresa's influence, but Dominic obviously sources his ingredients from quality suppliers (I was pleased to see servings of fish individually wrapped when removed from the refrigerator to be prepped for the grill) and offers a varied menu at prices that are entirely reasonable for the present economic environment.