Restaurant Review – Bowman’s Tavern
By Adam Berkowitz
A Tavern – Casual Dining & Entertainment
A Dinner & Show
Several months ago on a her monthly “Girls Night Out,” my wife and friends tried Bowman’s Tavern in New Hope. My wife is, shall we say, ‘highly discriminating’ when it comes to restaurants, so when she shared the tale of high quality food and entertainment, it became a must to check out for our readers.
We have now been to dinner twice and had very different experiences which I will explain as we go. This review will focus on the later visit which ended up being an unexpectedly warm, friendly and fun evening out.
With nary a table available during our desired eating window, we took a chance and decided that worst case, we’d grab seats at the Piano or Bar area. Bowman’s Tavern has a legit Piano Bar (one of two separate and distinct bar areas). We were slightly concerned when we pulled into the lot and we were asked if had reservation by the valet. Upon replying that we did not, the attendant gave us a chagrined look and said that it was standing room only. We said we’d take our chances and he parked our car (complimentary valet – nice touch).
Upon entering we passed several folks standing outside (and this was a quite chilly evening) and we gave our name and asked if there was room at the Piano bar area. The hostess was very sweet and after checking, there was one open seat at the piano. Usually, eating at any Piano bar is not something the wife is on board with, but we knew going in that this was our best shot to get a seat and enjoy Bowman’s Tavern on a crowded weekend night. How fortunate and wonderful for us that it worked out this way! One seat soon became two as a classy older gentlemen offered to grab another chair so the wife and I could sit together.
There was little awkwardness as we sat among a few strangers. Almost immediately we were welcomed into this little ‘world’ as it became clear we were among many regulars. Not only regulars, but several of our eating companions took turns at the piano microphone! There was a dizzying array of singers who took the microphone and belted out various tunes from all genres. The quality of the playing and singers was quite amazing. We proceeded to order 2 appetizers and 2 sandwiches. The Crispy Fried Calamari ($11) was a good value and indeed crispy (just how we like it) and quite tasty. Next up was the Roasted Garlic & Lemon Hummus platter ($10), which came with generous portions of pita chips and sliced cucumbers. Cucumbers are one of my favorite snacks so this was a right up my alley.
As time went on, we chatted up the gent who initially gave up his seat for us. Paul, an ex-cop from Philadelphia was not only a true gentlemen, but a terrific crooner! He makes the trip from the Northeast once or twice per month to Bowman’s Tavern to take his turn at the piano microphone. This seemed to be the case for many at the piano bar area. Special kudos to local piano artists Bennett Lee and Bob Egan for their charm and quality playing. There were several standout singers throughout the night including Louisa, Marie, Frank and Arnie. There was non-stop singing through the evening which stretched our ‘Dinner and Show’ into 2.5+ hours. We did not want to night to end!
We shared a Crab Cake Sandwich and Fries (several other options for sides) ($15), which was the real deal and then I attempted to follow that up with a Burger Burger ($14), an 8 oz all white meat burger with chipotle mayo, pepper jack cheese, caramelized onion, lettuce & tomato. I took 90% of it to go and had a it for lunch the next day where was still able to appreciate the layers and textures. When we were told about the Peanut Butter & Banana Bread Pudding ($8) dessert, we had no choice but to jump all over it. The wife is mad for any dessert with peanut butter while I am partial to anything banana. What a perfect dessert to share! Alas, we could not finish and are currently munching on it as a sinful mid-afternoon snack!
Bowman’s Tavern has two separate bars and 3 eating areas, with a fabulous beer, wine and spirits selection. For maximum enjoyment, I highly recommend the Piano Bar area. For those who want a quieter experience, there is a spacious dinner room. The music and singing can still be heard, but it is not loud enough to disturb dinner conversation. There are several Gluten Free and Vegetarian options for those with dietary needs.
Normally, service at a crowded bar seating is not optimal, but our experience was top-notch. While manning a packed area, our server Jonny was attentive and on top of things. I enjoyed their house Cabernet Sauvignon and the price per glass was not obnoxious as it often seems to be these days.
The dinner and show we experienced at Bowman’s Tavern made our night truly memorable. It was a fabulous value when you factor in the entertainment. The communal eating experience at the piano bar was delightful and we made new friends with charming people that we otherwise would never have met.
It is definitely worth a trip to Bowman’s Tavern for a night of excellent food, drink, entertainment and camaraderie. If you can sing, take your turn at the mike and show off!
1600 River Road, New Hope, PA 18938