Archive for the Dream Cuisine Cafe Category

THE FIVE BEST RESTAURANT EXPERIENCES OF THE PAST YEAR

Posted in A La Maison, BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Dream Cuisine Cafe, Food and Wine Lists, Gilmores Restaurant, Modo Mio Restaurant, Sonata Restaurant with tags on July 15, 2010 by ballymote

It was my original intention that this list would be titled “My FIVE Best Restaurants for the Past Year”. The problem with that was that two of my selections would have only fit that title on the first visit with the second visit falling somewhat short of the first. I decided on the current title because I really did want to include those two eateries because the original visit was outstanding. Keep in mind, therefore, this isn’t a ringing endorsement of any of these restaurants but simply a reflection on MY experience while dining there. The five are in no particular order as it is tough enough to select five from a group of 60 without listing them in order. Here they are then, my TOP FIVE DINING EXPERIENCES IN THE PAST YEAR:

 A LA MAISON    53 W. Lancaster Ave. Ardmore, PA 19003

 The food and service on our visit here were outstanding. It was just a few days before Christmas with plenty of snow on the ground but the mood inside was warm and inviting. Our server, Fabien, was a guy who knew his job and did it well. Great stemware for our wines, a first class menu and great conversations including a nice chat with owner Darlene Boline-Moseng made dinner at A La Maison an easy choice for my Top Five.

GILMORE’S            133 E. Gay Street      West Chester, PA 19380

Gilmore’s is a BYOB that makes just about every “foodie’s” Top 5 List in the Delaware Valley. That’s the kind of high expectations that I had prior to our visit and fully expected it might be a letdown. It was NOT. We had the second of the two nightly servings at 8:30 on a Saturday night in March and words just don’t adequately describe the outstanding food and service. Visit my review on this website and just look at how tempting the food photos are. I don’t think any restaurant I visited in the past year did as good a job as Gilmore’s at food presentation. This one was an easy choice for my TOP FIVE.

MODO MIO        161 W. Lehigh Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19123

Located in the shadow of the Piazza at Schmidt’s in Brewerytown, Modo Mio is one of the two BYOB’s that did not perform as well on the second visit as it did on the first. In the case of both, the first was so enjoyable that they qualified for the list despite a less than stellar encore performance. Tha first visit last March, following a day at the Franklin Institute, was absolutely terrific. Our server, Maher was top-notch and Chef Peter McAndrews was on the top of his home-style Italian food game. Obviously, another visit to this popular Philly BYOB is required to clarify the culinary confusion. Still, it was so nice it qualified for my TOP FIVE.

DREAM CUISINE CAFE    1900 Marlton Pike (Rt. 70) Cherry Hill, NJ 08003

It was a dark and stormy night last October when we ducked into the somewhat difficult to find Dream Cuisine Cafe tucked into the shadows of the Tuscany Marketplace on Rt. 70 in Cherry Hill. The brightly lit room broke the gloom of the weather and Chris, our enthusiastic server helped make the setting just right. We had some great wines to go with Chef/Owner Vincent Fanari’s creative dishes  and all in all it was just a perfect evening. It was so good that we were anxious to bring other friends to share what we had found. Unfortunately, the second visit was not quite up to par but, that October meal still qualified as a bona fide entry for my TOP FIVE.

SONATA           1030 N. American St.    Philadelphia, PA  19123

This Northern Liberties gem was unknown to me until I found some reviews on it while looking for a BYOB located equidistant from 3 different areas. I am so glad I found it because although parking wasn’t easy, the food and ambiance were first class. Chef Mark Tropea does a fantastic job of creating flavorful dishes that sound good on the menu and taste even better on the plate. This is another BYOB that didn’t take a lot of thought in making my TOP FIVE for the year.

DREAM CUISINE CAFE – BYOB

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Dream Cuisine Cafe, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2009 by ballymote

IMG_3422It’s hard to get reservations at the better BYOB’s in Philly or South Jersey on a Saturday night. They either don’t take them to start with, or all of the best times are taken quickly. With a week to plan a spot for a birthday dinner for our friends Gerry and Joanne, I spent hours trying to locate a proper setting. It would not be an exaggeration to say I stumbled across the Dream Cuisine Cafe by accident. Once I found it, I remembered that I had recently read of it receiving an ED Hitzel Excellence Award. Hitzel publishes an extremely comprehensive, and informative, guide to dining out in South Jersey, that is available free at many restaurants in the area. I had come across a copy last weekend while staying with friends in Brigantine, NJ.

With an all day Nor’Easter in progress my wife Kathy and I drove to Cherry Hill for our 8:15 reservations at the Dream Cuisine Cafe. Even the name seemed a bit ostentatious, as it would seem a difficult task to have diners agree that your cuisine was, indeed, a dream. It’s not an easy place to find, as it is located in the Tuscany Marketplace (formerly The Village Walk) on E. Marlton Pike. The journey was even more difficult for our dining companions who were coming through the wind and rain from Oaks, PA.

Once seated at our table, a good spot in the back corner of the brightly lit restaurant, we broke out our wines for the evening. Tonight the wines were definitely from our “A” list.IMG_3425 We started with the 2007 Lewis Vineyards “Alec’s Blend”, 70% Syrah, 20% Cabernet and 10% Merlot. The nose was intoxicating with deep, dark fruits, soft chocolate, and a hint of that cotton candy bouquet that I enjoy. From the first sip it was clear this was a wine of quality and distinction. The fruit and the tannins were well balanced and the soft, full finish lasted for much longer than usual. We also had the 2006 Paul Autard, Chateauneuf du Pape, another excellent wine, but as distinctly different from the Lewis as you could find. This one was much more subtle with the ever-present (much to my wife’s dismay) French terroir scent that Kathy refers to as “barnyard funk”. She did mention that this particular one seemed to have less of that presence, but she still did not consume much of this bottle. The third wine was a highly rated, 2004 Atlas Peak, Howell Mountain Cabernet. It was very good but fell short of the Lewis, and for all it’s points should have been more impressive. As good as our wines were I am happy to report that the food was better.

Our server, Chris, was on top of his game and after becoming the third person to tell us “we are out of the monkfish”, he spent some time telling us the specials and giving his personal recommendations. Dream Cuisine Cafe offers all of their menu either ala carte or as a prix fixe meal. Most of the prix fixe  item range from $38.00 to $46.00 but they include a salad, soup or small bites (think great appetizers), entree and dessert. The prix fixe offers great value and 3 of the 4 of us opted to go that route. Gerry went ala carte only because he didn’t want a salad and doesn’t eat dessert. Following the almost pre-requisite bread with olive oil, we enjoyed our house salads. Kathy raved about it saying it was “one of the best she ever had”. It was fresh and slightly unusual for a house salad (mixed greens, almonds, apples, dried cranberries and goat cheese). There were lots of small bite items that we were tempted to try but three of us chose the French Onion soup and Joanne had the shrimp plate.IMG_3426 IMG_3427

Joanne loved her shrimp and found them to be done perfectly and packed with flavor as they sat on a bed of rataouille. Everyone agreed that the French Onion soup was virtually perfect. It had tons of flavor without being overpowering. It prepared the palate for the entree.  It seems we had a table of copycats because 3 of us all chose the Chicken Gruyere, chicken breast topped with procuitto and gruyere cheese in a white wine, tomato herb sauce, served over homemade fettucini.IMG_3430

The chicken was perfectly done, tender, flavorful and juicy and the ham and cheese created a perfect match for the light homemade fettucini. We drank our wine and raved about our dish and it wasn’t long before everyone’s plate looked like this.IMG_3431 

Gerry was the only one of the four who opted for something other than the chicken. He chose the Shrimp Scampi which was served over homemade fettucini in a lemon, basil, olive Nicoise, tomato caper sauce. The shrimp were large and delicious and he was equally pleased with his entree.IMG_3428

Since three of us had ordered from the prix fixe menu we had 3 desserts to share. Two of us chose the apple pie ala mode and one of us ordered the multi-chocolate strip. Both of these were good and topped off the meal without being something that drew rave reviews. However, the entire dinner did indeed deserve rave reviews.

vince fanari, chef, dream cuisine

After dessert, Chef/Owner Vincent Fanari, who was born in Nice, France and has cooked in London, New England and Philadelphia before opening the Dream Cuisine Cafe, stopped by to chat with us for a few minutes. Vincent is happy to be in NJ and his restaurant is starting to get the acclaim it deserves. We all decided that we would definitely be returning to the Dream Cuisine again. The food and service are both first rate.

Finally, I would mention that today is the start of SOUTH JERSEY RESTAURANT WEEK and the Dream Cuisine Cafe is one of the participating restaurants. This means that for the next six days (October 18th through the 23rd) you can have the same four course prix fixe meal we enjoyed at a considerable savings. Don’t wait. Make your reservations today. You will be glad you did!!

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