Archive for 2006 Luigi Bosca Single Vineyard Malbec

FAYETTE STREET GRILL – BYOB

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Fayette Street Grill, Philly BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , on March 22, 2010 by ballymote

A spur of the moment, last-minute decision, and a little luck in obtaining a table on a Saturday night, landed six of us at the Fayette Street Grill in Conshohocken for an 8:30 reservation. My wife, Kathy, and I, along with Joe B. and his wife, Carol joined our friends JoAnn and Gerry who drove from their home in Oaks, PA, at this bustling BYOB in Philly’s western suburbs. We all arrived early and, since we had been blessed with another 72 degree day of warmth and sunshine on the first day of Spring,  strolled through the town which is home to several good BYOB’s including Blackfish. Once inside the tiny bistro we quickly acclimated ourselves to the noise level which approached that of last night’s Bonefish Grill.

Our charming waitress, Kim,  recited the evening’s specials and reminded us this was another of those “3 courses for a certain price” places. At Fayette Street Grill those three courses are a starter, and entree and a dessert, priced at $34.00.

As our wines were opened I was anxious to try my very first bottle of a Stefania wine. F Scott and Zelda, over on the NJ Foodies blog, are huge fans of these wines and I had just purchased from an online seller, six bottles of the 2006 Stefania, Eaglepoint Ranch, Syrah. I am also awaiting a case of other Stefania wines which I am splitting with Gerry B. and John G.

In addition to the Stefania Syrah we also had the 2005 Shirvington Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia, the 2006 Luigi Bosca, Single Vineyard, Malbec, Argentina, and the always reliable, regardless of the vintage, 2004 Whitehall Lane, Cabernet Sauvignon. Our server delivered some additional wine glasses and we studied the menu as we taste tested all of our wines. I really liked the Stefania as it revealed itself with time in the glass. Nice, subtle flavors as the winemaker seems intent on letting the beauty of the grapes shine through without a lot of interference. Kathy thought it was too simple, Gerry and Joe thought it had a lot of complexity. The Shirvington was at the other end of the spectrum, big, bold, in your face, blackberries and dark mocha with that intensity found in Aussie wines. We all agreed it was a great wine for drinking on its own but no match for most foods. The Louigi Bosca Malbec was reviewed in-depth on the Blackbird post when Val brought it that night. Joe really likes Malbec and I had suggested he might like this one. He agreed, as we all did, that this was an excellent example of what good Malbec can be. Everyone enjoyed the reliable Whitehall Lane Cab. I think it was Kathy’s favorite.

As nine o’clock approached the restaurant began to empty a little and conversation became easier. We all ordered our starters and Joe and I chose the Crab Chowder. It was OUTSTANDING. The creamy broth was nothing short of perfect and filled with lots of crab and some potato and other good stuff that made this an incredible offering. Joe was in total agreement; this was something special.

Joann had the Baked Crab Dip with spinach, peppers and old bay served with crisp rusks. Carol had the Phyllo wrapped Baked Brie over field greens with raspberry sauce and toasted almonds. Kathy had the Mixed Field Greens with dried cranberries, blue cheese, toasted sunflower seeds and balsamic dijon vinaigrette.

Gerry had the clams which were one of the evening specials. I am not a fan of clams or mussels but I thought his choice looked great and the sauce looked inviting . It appeared that he thoroughly enjoyed them.

There were several items on the entree portion of the menu that drew my eye but, in the end, I chose the chicken. Several of the fish items sounded great but, after a night of fish on the day prior, I was craving meat.

Kathy, Carol and I all had the Grilled Supreme of Chicken with a Thai Peanut Glaze, Grilled Scallions, Roasted Asparagus and Steamed Basmati Rice. I thought the chicken was tasty and loved the Thai glaze as it mixed with the rice. Personally, there is something about the bone-in chicken that disturbs me and takes away from the total enjoyment. Carol felt the same way.

Joe selected my second choice, the Root Beer Glazed Center Cut Pork Chop, with Sauteed Green Beans and Warm Potato Salad. I had a little piece and found the pork very good but was slightly disappointed in the sauce as perhaps I was expecting a mouthful of Hires Root Beer while this was just the most subtle of hints of root beer. Good thing I am not a chef, I’d kill the taste of anything I cooked with my sauces.

 Jerry has never met a shrimp dish he hasn’t liked so it was easy for him to make his selection. He chose the Sauteed Gulf Shrimp with Julienne Bell Peppers, Caper Berries and Lemon Butter Sauce with Basmati Rice. He seemed to totally enjoy the dish and it certainly looked appealing.

Joann chose the Pan Seared Filet Mignon served over Garlic Roasted Mashed Potato, with Red Onion Jam and Bordelaise Sauce. She gave Jerry a small portion of her filet, I guess because she believes that man can not live on shrimp alone, but she really liked the larger portion that she saved for herself. The wines were all tasting good, the conversation providing lots of laughter, and we topped off our meal with some outstanding desserts.

Although each of the items above probably deserves its own picture but what you see  pictured above, going clockwise, is the Vanilla Infused Creme Brulee Bread Pudding, the Peach Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream and Raspberry Sauce, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream with Chocolate Drizzle and The Dark Side of the Moon Chocolate Cake. I didn’t hear anyone at the table complaining about their choice and I know my Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream was the perfect ending to a very good meal.

Fayette Street Grill only seats about 40 diners so reservations on a weekend are a must. It’s an excellent BYOB in an area with quite a few good BYOB’s and you should give it a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

BLACKBIRD RESTAURANT – BYOB

Posted in Blackbird Restaurant, BYOB Restaurant Reviews, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , on March 7, 2010 by ballymote

Blackbird Restaurant in Collingswood, New Jersey is one of the highest rated restaurants in South Jersey. It’s hard to believe I had never been there but prior to tonight, I had never been there. That is no longer true. My wife, Kathy and myself along with boyhood friends, Ange C. and Val S. and their lovely wives, Arlene and Patty descended on this gourmet establishment prepared to be as critical as possible while still keeping an open mind. First of all, it was nice to see everyone.  It’s always a great time to get together with these four and listen to Val’s stories from both the distant and the recent past. As usual, the Crown Prince of DooWap did not disappoint.

The six of us had some nice wines and we were all hoping our choices would compliment the food we were about to enjoy.

I had brought the 2007 Auteur, Sonoma, Pinot Noir. Everything I had heard about Auteur wines said they needed lots of time open to reflect their true flavors. I uncorked this bottle on Friday morning and left it in the fridge until it was time to go to dinner. The wine was a dark ruby color, much darker than most Pinots and actually drank more like a cabernet. Great, intense flavors that gave a rich mouthfeel and a lingering finish. It’s the kind of wine that you wish you had a case of in reserve. Val had brought the 2006 Luigi Bosca, Single Vineyard, Malbec. This was an excellent wine with a soft bouquet of ripe black fruits. One taste and you knew this was a special Malbec with smooth texture and huge flavors of fruit, leather and even some caramel notes;just a very nice wine from Mendoza, Argentina. Ange brought another outstanding wine, the 2005 Collazzi, Toscana. This Super Tuscan was rich and alluring with deep berry flavors mingled with tobacco and cedar and a nice compliment to our meal. As we drank we listened to our waitress, Noel describe the “specials” of the evening.  I started with a Frissee Salad, with baby tomatoes and topped with goat cheese and it was delicious although I found the greens somewhat difficult to swallow due to their texture. It had great flavor, though and it might have my throat’s fault so let’s say that was my problem. Patty had the Thai Chicken Spring Roll, spicy mustard and chili sauce. They looked scrumptious and had it not been a Lenten Friday I think this would have been my choice to start the meal.

When you are the Crown Prince of Doo Wop you expect someone to hand feed you your food and thru the years of their marriage Val has carefully trained Patty to provide this service for him. In the picture you can see how this training has paid off. Now if he could just find someone to hold the napkin for him he could totally concentrate on the eating portion of the act. By the way, Val DOES chew his own food without assistance, yet.

Although I don’t have a picture, two people in our party had the Prince Edward Island Mussels and described the juice as “phenomenal” and requested extra bread for dipping. Regrettably, I never acquired a taste for mussels.

When the “specials” were being recited I had focused on the “Diver Scallops”. When it came time to order it was announced that the “diver scallops” were gone, finished, outta here, consumed by hungry diners whose only claim to fame was that they had arrived at Blackbird prior to us. You would think that would be bad news as this was going to be my entree. As it turned out, this was fantastic news because this forced me to change my choice of entree.

I will admit that the Handmade Potato Gnocchi, fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil sauce topped with lump crabmeat pictured here does not look like the finest meal you have ever seen. Don’t be fooled though, it was absolutely FANTASTIC and one of the best tasting entrees I have had since I started this blog. The flavors are incredible, the sauce, sheer perfection and the crab meat sweet and tender. I am so grateful to the diners who chose the Diver Scallops before we arrived!

 Pictured above are some of the other entrees enjoyed by our party. The Sauteed Gulf Shrimp, olive and mascarpone, fregola sarda and saffron sauce. The Pan Roasted Atlantic Salmon, French green lentils with smoked bacon and Provencal sauce,  and the Coriander and Rice Encrusted Tilapia, avocado salad, sweet and sour sauce with seafood wontons. The only real comment I remember is that my wife, Kathy felt the salmon was very good but not on a par with the salmon she had last week at LoBianco’s which she had described as “the best salmon she had ever had”. It’s tough to improve on that! Val ordered what I would have probably ordered had this not been Lent.

The Wagyu Beef Burger, applewood smoked bacon, carmelized shallots, morel mushrooms, veal sauce with truffled pom frittes. It looked delicious and I did manage to steal a fry while Val was deep into another one of his stories. It’s probably Patty’s fault that she was busy with her own dinner and didn’t find the time to feed Val a bite or two when he paused from one of his tall tales. I am sure Patty paid a heavy price when she got home for her performance.

Owner/Chef Alex Capasso, pictured here with Blackbird’s Manager (apologies, her name I did not get), and our waitress for the evening, Noel (bubbly, knowledgeable and attentive all evening), is a Collingswood resident and he can be rightly proud of the acclaim that his restaurant has garnered throughout the state. The six of us enjoyed a wonderful evening and will certainly return in the near future.

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