A LA MAISON – BYOB
After a weekend with 23 inches of snow one would find little blame in cancelling a scheduled wine dinner. When the oenophiles are my friends, Gerry, John and myself, it’s no surprise at all that dinner goes on as scheduled. A la Maison is located on Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore, PA. It’s a busy area any time of the year but with just days till Christmas it’s bustling with activity. None of us were aware that the restaurant had free parking out back and finding parking in the area is not an easy task. By the time I had arrived, John and Gerry were just about finished with their pre-dinner cigars; Opus X, Petit Lanceros, whatever that means. We moved inside out of the bone-chilling cold and our waiter Fabien opened our three bottles of wine. We all took it as a good sign when Fabien provided us with three glasses each for our different wines. So many BYOB’s are lacking in proper stemware that it is always a pleasure when you find one that understands the relationship between wine and food.
As usual we had all brought nice wines to the dinner. I had the 2004 Idus, Vall llach from the Priorat region of Spain. Lots of flavor and a nice mouth coating texture helped this wine earn Wine of the Night (WOTN) honors. The 2005 Pahlmeyer was good with lots of red and black berries both on the nose and the palate. We all just seemed to feel that for the money, this should have been a better wine. The 2005 Behrens and Hitchcock, Cabernet “13” was one I was not familiar with and in checking later I now see why. Only 250 cases of this very limited Cab were produced. It showed some nice red berry fruit with hints of oak and floral scents. It had a smooth finish and was a nice wine that matched well with our meal.
We started with appetizers all around and although I had had my eye on the Onion Soup Gratinee all along, I switched at the last-minute to the Cocotte of Lump Crab Fondue. This creamy, delicious creation came with plenty of crisp croutons for dipping and was almost a meal in itself. John had the Escargots de Bourgogne and loved the texture; nice and chewy without being rubbery. Gerry delighted in the Country Pate and felt that each bite complimented the wine and all of us agreed that we were having a fine start to our meal. All of the time Fabien lingered nearby checking on us to make sure everything was to our liking, which it definitely was.
Choosing an entree was no easy task. The menu is enticing from top to bottom. John chose the Steak Poivre but asked that his filet be devoid of seasoning. The green beans that came with his filet were perfectly done but the real star of the plate were the au gratin mashed potatoes, a creamy taste sensation that I was glad I got to sample and would recommend to anyone.
My own choice, which Fabien suggested, was the Short Rib Boeuf Bourguignon accompanied by carrots and wonderful mashed potatoes. As I am adding the picture of this meal to the post I am wishing that I had this right now. The beef was just exquisite and fell off the bone. The veggies and potatoes created a perfect marriage of taste and texture. Regular readers of this blog have probably seen me excited about several meals during the past six months. This one may just be at the very top of my list. The food at A la Maison is WONDERFUL!
Once again, everything was superbly done and the potato looked great. Gerry raved about the quality of the lamb.
Owner Darlene Boline-Moseng stopped by and we had an opportunity to chat with her while contemplating dessert. We told her how much we enjoyed our meal and wished her much success with her restaurant. Her Chef de Cuisine, Maurice deRamos had spent some time at Le Bec Fin and it certainly showed in his offerings.
None of us were surprised to find that our three desserts were every bit as good as our entrees and provided the perfect ending to three truly great meals. John had the Creme Brulee, my Pot de Creme was a chocolate version of John’s dish topped off with whipped cream and Gerry possibly made the best choice of all with his gooey chocolate over ice cream with eclair puffs. This dish actually has a name but I can’t think of it at the moment. Anyway, we all sampled each others treats and thanked Fabien for his excellent service. I headed back home while Gerry and John lingered over an after dinner Ashton cigar. A La Maison was an undisputed winner and a place where we will definitely make a return visit.