The historic small town of New Hope, Pennsylvania, known for its art galleries, hippies, motorcyclists, and LGBTQ events, plus a famed theater that dates back to the 1930s, just added a Jose Garces restaurant to the mix. The chef’s long-in-the-works Stella opened over the weekend in the newly renovated Ghost Light Inn (formerly the Playhouse Inn), next to the Bucks County Playhouse on the Delaware River.
Garces already had a strong connection to Bucks County: He owns a 40-acre farm in the area that partially supplies produce for his restaurants.
At Stella, expect a locally sourced, farm-to-table ethos with a menu of spruced-up American fare, like Barnegat Light scallops with toasted Caroline Gold rice cream, pork ribs with watermelon and tomato salad, and rainbow trout with country ham. For dessert, look for ricotta fritters with honeycomb and orange blossom honey and a dark chocolate cake with coffee mousseline and raspberry sorbet.
The restaurant serves alcohol too, with cocktails named for the theater, like the Break a Leg with bourbon, lemon, honey, and raspberry.
Much of the restaurant is designed to be used for private events, like weddings that spill out onto the outdoor patio overlooking the water.
A lot has changed for Garces since news of Stella first got out in 2016. The Iron Chef behind Amada, Tinto, Village Whiskey, and other popular Philly spots declared bankruptcy, sold his restaurant group to Louisiana-based Ballard Brands, and saw a few of his restaurants close in the process. Garces, now chief culinary officer for the newly formed company that runs the restaurants, has shifted his focus away from the business side to concentrate on the kitchen, introducing new menus at several of his eateries.
In the meantime, new restaurants bearing Garces’ name opened in Ocean Casino Resort at the Jersey Shore, with the casino-hotel owning the restaurants and Garces/Ballard Brands operating them. It’s the same set-up at Stella (which means the New Hope restaurant was not involved in the bankruptcy).
Take a look at Stella’s dining room, bar, patio, and building exterior: