State Street in Media is lined with restaurants of all types. You can't go hungry. Whether you want Italian, Asian, Mexican, Irish or good old American cuisine, Media Borough can fill your belly.
But perhaps you're craving the flavors of the Mediterranean, looking for a falafel or some authentic hummus. Well, you no longer have to go hungry because Desert Rose will soon fill, possibly the only niche still missing on State Street.
Chef and Owner Jason McHugh, of Brookhaven, says he hopes to open Desert Rose, located at the former Selene Whole Foods location at 305 W. State Street, in just a few weeks, sometime in early March.
"It's really unique and there's nothing in Media or West Chester like it," he says.
McHugh, a 1992 graduate of Penncrest and father of a 10-month-old boy, has more than 15 years of chef experience and along with cooking at places across the country, he has also cooked in Italy, Ireland and the Virgin Islands, to name a few countries. But Desert Rose will be the first restaurant he has owned and operated.
"I'm taking a big risk," McHugh says. "But I really think the town is going to enjoy it. I've always had a soft spot for Media and when a location became available, I went for it."
He also has spent a great deal of time in Israel, where his wife Natali is from, researching the country's food and restaurants and he's bringing some unique ideas to Media.
"I've cooked a lot of different types of food in my career, French, Italian, but Mediterranean food is just beautiful," McHugh says. "It looks great. There's a lot of freshness. There's vegatables and olive oils and olives. There's a wonderful array of flavors. It's not scary food. It's not spicy or too ethnic. It just tastes good."
McHugh says Desert Rose will be a small market, offering homemade and unique retail items like specialty olive oils, salts and dressing, but will also offer made-to-order lunch and dinner items or "Mediterranean street food."
Some of the menu items will include; falafel, of course, along with hummus dishes, a Mediterranean meatball sandwich, vegetable sandwiches, a short-rib sandwich and a sandwich item called a shawarma, which will have marinated shredded chicken, hummus and other goodies wrapped inside a pita.
There will be small tables and a counter inside for diners to enjoy. But Desert Rose won't be a traditional sit-down restaurant.
McHugh says a few months after opening he hopes to also include a Chef's Table at the restaurant.
He'll have one, 10 or 12 person table available for reservation and offer diners an Israeli dining experience with a five or six course meal. The kitchen is exposed and diners will eat family-style and taste a prefixed menu prepared by McHugh.
But for right now, McHugh is a one-man show.
He hopes once Desert Rose is open and there's a buzz (and presumably an income) he'll be able to hire more staff and launch his complete Chef's Table vision for the restaurant.
Speaking with McHugh, it's clear he is excited about his new venture. So with that type of passion, the food has to be good.
Look for Desert Rose to open in early March.