Archive for PA

A LA MAISON – BYOB

Posted in A La Maison, BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Philly BYOB Reviews, Uncategorized, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2009 by ballymote

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!

Gerry was no less appreciative of his Lamb Shank Provencale with Pommes Puree.

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.

TERESA’S – BYOB

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Philly BYOB Reviews, Teresa's Restaurant, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2009 by ballymote

It had been awhile since I had gotten together with my wine-loving friends, Gerry and John for our Thursday night dinners at Teresa’s, one of our favorite wine-friendly BYOB’s located on Philly’s Main Line in the charming town of Wayne, PA. IMG_2441

We have been there so often that we don’t really need to see a menu and the waiters immediately provide multiple wine glasses for each of us. The way this outing usually works is that we spend the days prior to the dinner insulting each other about what cheesy wines the other will probably bring. The deal is that we are each supposed to bring two bottles from our “premium” collection. The first few visits we actually finished all the wine we brought with us but after I somehow ended up in the Jersey Pine Barrons on a less than memorable trip home we have cut back somewhat and usually have the good part of our second bottle to take back home with us. For instance, last night’s line up included a 97 Kendall-Jackson “Stature” which is one of my favorite cabs; a 98 Heitz Cellars “Bella’s Vineyard” Cabernet; a 2006 Ramey “Larkmead Vineyard” Cabernet; a 2000 Freemark Abbey “Bosche” Cab; a 99 Chappallet Cabernet; and a 2004 Capa Blanco Cab from Paso Robles. The Chappallet and the Freemark Abbey did not get opened and are again resting comfortably in their familiar surroundings. Everything we did open was excellent with perhaps the Heitz Cab edging out the K-J Stature for “wine of the night”.IMG_2442

The food was excellent as it always is but I think I may have made a less than stellar selection of 

Penne Arrabbiata

Crushed Plum Tomatoes, Jalapeños, Garlic, Basil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil   14.Add to your pasta Chicken for 3

The jalapenos simply overpowered my wines and although the taste was intriguing I found it necessary to keep my water glass within easy reach. It just wasn’t the right choice for a night of good wines. Other than the burning sensation on my tongue the evening was most enjoyable as the three of us are never at a loss for words.

Teresa’s is an excellent BYOB and for those of you who prefer beer as your beverage of choice Teresa’s has another location with a massive selection of beers from all over the world. This second location is very close to the first and is aptly named Teresa’s Next Door.  If they ever let us bring our own wine there I will be able to report on the food there. Until then we will stay at our window table at Teresa’s Not Next Door.

THE ULTIMATE BYOB – A FEAST OF FOOD AND WINE – TALULA’S TABLE, KENNETT SQUARE, PA

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Philly BYOB Reviews, Talula's Table, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2009 by ballymote

Conde Nast Magazine called Talula’s Table “the toughest restaurant reservation in America”. It is ranked #3 in difficulty by GRUB Magazine; ahead of the prestigious French Laundry in Napa, CA. It is without question the toughest BYOB to reserve and more importantly, it is worth the effort. Talula’s Table is a  world-class dining experience.blog pics 020

It’s been 8 months now since our November 7th, 2008 dinner but the memory lingers on and I wanted to get my thoughts on paper before age began to color them. Before I tell you how I managed to get a reservation let me give you some background on Talula’s Table.

First of all, it is just what it’s name says it is, a table, a single table that seats 12 people. It is located in the back of  a store selling gourmet specialty foods such as cheeses, sausages, fresh pastries, home-made salads, breads and olive oils. They can make you a quick lunch or you can order entire meals to go. At 7PM the store closes and attention is focused on the lone dining table in the rear. Chef/owners/friends/lovers/spouses Brian Sikura and Aimee Olexy who previously owned the super- popular Philly hot spot, Django are responsible for this culinary wonderland.  The food and presentation are top notch. The menu is seasonal and changes about every 6 weeks.IMG_0876

When we dined there on November 7th of last year my wife Kathy and I were joined by five other couples, some from PA and some from NJ. For us Jersey residents it was almost a 90 minute trek out to Kennett Square.  I did not make notes on either the food or the wine but I have recently noticed that a gentleman named David McDuff who publishes a blog titled “McDuff’s Food and Wine Trail” dined at Talula’s a few days after we did and posted an excellent review of the meal, which featured the exact same menu as ours. It makes for an interesting read. I do remember we had some nice German Rieslings (Spatlese), A few Pinot Noirs from Oregon, O’Reilly’s was one of them and the Chateau Souverain Cabernet. All of them complimented the meal nicely.IMG_0873 We spent a good four hours enjoying the 8 course menu, each dish enthusiastically explained by the knowledgeable server. The total bill, with tax and gratuity was $125.00 per person. It was well worth the cost and all of us look forward to one day duplicating what was a thoroughly wonderful dining experience.

Here is how our reservation came about. I had called Talula’s in the summer of 2007 and was told they were booked for the rest of the year but would resume taking reservations on the first working day of January of 2008. On January 3rd, 2008 I came home from work at 5:30 AM and stayed up until the 7AM stated time when they would accept calls. I began dialing, and dialing and hitting re-dial while almost falling asleep, saved only by the irritating sound of the busy signal as I competed against other insane “foodies”. I was about to give up when an actual female voice said “Thank you for calling Talula’s”. My first response to her was “I have to be nuts to be doing this.”. She laughed and said “Nooooo..you will really enjoy the dinner, trust me.” I then received the next earliest opening which was over 10 months away. It was worth the wait. Hmmmmmm..it’s almost 7AM, I wonder if I called today…..that meal was really good….IMG_0875

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