Archive for St. Maarten

FOND – BYOB

Posted in Fond, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2012 by ballymote

 

 

With our “Hall Pass” securely tucked into our wallets and our wives sipping frozen cocktails in St. Maarten, Gerry, John and I were about to finish off  our day with a visit to Fond, a highly regarded BYOB at 1617 E. Passyunk Ave. in the heart of South Philly. We had just finished watching the Phillies lose another game at Citizens Bank Park. Gerry and John were staying over for the evening at the Bella Vista B & B and we had just showered and changed clothes in preparation for our much-anticipated reservation at Fond. During their pre-dinner cigar John asked if mediocre service would put a damper on a meal where the food and ambience were both first-rate. We finally agreed that it might not have too much affect as long as the service was adequate while other factors were top-notch. Ironically, we were only about an hour from changing our opinions, not because we ran into poor service at Fond but rather the opposite; we were shown emphatically just how much GREAT service can add to the overall dining experience.

 

 This would be Steve, our server at Fond. I had read somewhere that he was recently named the Top Server in Philadelphia. He reluctantly confirmed that he had indeed been singled out for that high praise. After two hours of watching him perform great feats of customer service, the three of us concurred with whomever made that selection. Steve was professional, extremely knowledgable and exuded a sense of pride in himself and his restaurant. Later, I will mention one more trait that sets Steve apart from his compatriots in the industry.

 

 

 

 As usual, we had some very nice wines with us to serve as appropriate beverages for our meal. Gerry provided the 2005 Los Astrales Astrales Christina, Ribera del Duero, Spain. This was a big, bold Spanish red rated 97 by the Wine Advocate and not often seen as there were only 150 cases produced. Intense flavors of leather, licorice and blackberry fill the palate and linger long after the swallow. Made from 100% Tempranillo, this was my favorite wine of the evening. John chipped in with a 2003 Arrowood, Sonoma County, Cabernet Sauvignon. Lots of dark fruit, well-balanced with soft tannins and a medium finish. Perhaps just a nuance of mint. Went well with several of our dishes. My contribution was the 2007 Phillips Hill, Oppenlander Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Mendocino County, CA. Lots of black cherry fruit and earthiness in this smooth Pinot Noir. Nice lingering finish; a nice wine.

 

 

 Narrowing your choices from the menu at Fond is no easy task. Chef Lee Styer (just back from his marriage and honeymoon to Pastry Chef Jessie Prawlucki) puts forth more than a few exotic offerings  that will tempt your palate. Steve explained that their was one small course of octopus remaining so we shared this between the three of us. The perfectly grilled octopus was served with Spanish rice, chorizo and mussels and the presentation was beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 John was delighted to find the Escargot on the menu. The delicate snails were served with hearts of palm and fennel in a mint pesto sauce. His silence while devouring his appetizer was proof enough that he was quite happy with his choice.

 

 

 

 

 Gerry wasted little time in choosing the Foie Gras Pate served with toasted croutons and a mustard sauce.

 I, too, could not resist the Foie Gras but I had mine seared with rhubarb, lemon-ricotta and almonds. This tender French delicacy was cooked to perfection and an excellent start to the meal. Two different ways to serve this dish and both Gerry and I were pleased with our choices. 

 

 

 

 For our entrees, Gerry left the menu and went with one of the evening specials. He settled on the Roast Quail stuffed with, what else, foie gras. The quail was cooked nicely and the sauce was a perfect marriage with the delicate bird.

 John thought long and hard before making his choice. He went with the Harpoon Caught Swordfish, served with gold beets, radish salad and lemon grass sauce. I can’t vouch for the harpoon as the weapon that captured this fish but I can vouch for the fact that it was cooked to perfection and that John was absolutely thrilled with the rich flavors of the entree.

 

 

  I had thought about the swordfish. I had not considered the quail. My eyes kept returning to the Pork Loin and that’s what I finally decided on. It was a fine choice as the meat was tender and juicy. It was served with roasted red peppers and arugula and the dish was plentiful. All three of us were content and happy with both the great food and superior service.

 

      I had mentioned earlier that our server, Steve possessed one other quality that made him stand out from others. He has an uncanny knack of knowing each customer quickly. By that I mean, he is able to almost instantly know who he can joke with, who he must be serious with and just exactly how far he can go. This may seem like not much of a big deal but to me, it makes all the difference in the world. It was obvious he felt comfortable enough with us to offer his personal opinions of each dish and even trade barbs with us. It was like being waited on by a good friend rather than a stranger and I think I speak for both Gerry and John when I say he played a big role in making our dining experience at Fond a memorable one.

 

 I had read so much before we got to Fond about the dessert “brownie” that I was quite disappointed to find there were none on this Thursday evening. John went with the Triple Sorbet of tropical ices with a couple of waffle cookies and he found it a nice ending to his meal.

 

 

 

 

 Gerry’s dessert was picture perfect but I can’t remember what it was except that it had a fruit filling with a tart and some creme fraiche. I also remember that he liked it a lot.

 

 

 

 

 

  With the much-anticipated brownie not available I went with the Malted Milk Chocolate Ice Cream, peanut brittle, chocolate crumble and peanut butter ganache. It was almost good enough to make me forgive the absence of the brownie.

 Our dinner at Fond was absolutely wonderful. Chef Styer is a marvelous chef and the atmosphere is warm and friendly. Seating is limited to 34 hungry foodies on any given night so make sure you make reservations early.

 

 

 Steve had suggested that there was an outside chance we might find one of those elusive brownies up the street at Belle Cakery, if they were still open. We lucked out and they were open and although they had no brownies, John and I were able to pool our remaining cash and pay the women there to have their picture taken with Gerry so that in years to come he can look back and pretend he actually did something with his “hall pass”. Thank you, ladies, our money was well spent and we appreciate your sacrifice.

DADDY MIM’S CREOLE CAFE – (2ND REVIEW)

Posted in Daddy Mim's (2nd review) with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2012 by ballymote

 

 In less than a month removed from our first visit, Gerry and I were so impressed with our previous experience at this Phoenixville BYOB that we couldn’t wait to have our friend, John, discover for himself what we had raved about. So, with our wives off on a week-long jaunt to St. Maarten the three of us had a Tuesday night reservation at this Creole restaurant. On our previous visit we had Heather as our server, we were slightly disappointed upon arrival to find that Heather was no longer there, but Melanie proved to be a capable replacement. The picture I took of Melanie turned out blurry and in fairness to her I shall leave it out of the review. She did prove to be both charming and attentive and was truly concerned that the three of us enjoy our meal.

 

 

 

 We can never know for sure that our food will be first-rate but we can usually be fairly certain that we will have, at least, three good wines to share. I usually bring a second bottle to make sure we don’t run dry and I am doing my best to have Gerry and John subscribe to that same generous way of thinking. Unfortunately, it’s a slow process and I haven’t yet won them over to the “second bottle” program. By the way, one of the great joys of having your own blog is being able to shade the truth without any dispute. Anyway, we had some nice wines with us. Left to right in the photo is my 1994 Far Niente, Napa Valley,  Cabernet Sauvignon. I had traded for this with a co-worker several years ago giving him some Eagles tickets in return for this 18-year-old classic cabernet. We had some trouble opening the bottle as the cork fell apart but Chef/Owner John Mims took the bottle back to the kitchen and worked his magic and in just a short time had cleanly removed the broken cork without even noticeable pieces dropping into the wine. We let this sit in our glasses for about an hour and watched the color change to a darker red and the funk burn off to reveal some nice notes of cedar and chocolate on the nose. The tannins were virtually non-existent and the soft berry flavors were well-balanced and smooth as silk. The finish was medium but we were all glad to see that the life had stayed in this one for almost 2 decades. Gerry had the 2007, Paul Autard, Chateauneuf du Pape, Cuvee Juline. This one has many years of life remaining. Nose of cedar and oak with dark cherries then smooth on the palate, mild tannins, hints of leather and cinnamon mixed with the blackberries. A very nice wine. John had brought with him the 2005 Fattoria Galardi, Terra di Lavoro, Roccamonfino. This dark Italian beauty is produced in an area about 40 miles north of Naples using some unusual grape varietals. It’s composed of 80% Aglianico and 20% Piedirosso and shows dark red with hints of leather and tobacco mixing with the dark berry fruits. It has solid structure and the wine went well with lots of the spicy Creole dishes we had.

 

 Gerry was determined long before we arrived that he was going to order the Lobster Tasting Special Menu that he had enjoyed immensely on a prior visit. He spent little time looking at anything else on the regular menu. John, however, is more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy and he was examining the menu until he found out that the main course on the Lobster Tasting Menu included a small filet and that was all he needed to make his decision., So both of them had made the same choice and the parade of food was on for them.

 

 Both Gerry and John raved about their soup, the Lobster Bisque. They thought is was absolutely perfect with one of them declaring it was in the running for the best soup they had ever tasted.

 

 

 

 

 The Crab, Lobster and Crawfish Cake was another hit. A nice blend of Creole flavors drew more praise from both of my dining companions. It looked like Daddy Mims was headed toward another culinary crowd pleaser.

 

 

 

 

 When the main course arrived it looked initially like a home run. Unfortunately, it ended up as just a long “foul ball”. John and Gerry were very disappointed with both the lobster and the filet. The lobster was described as “nothing special” and lacking in any flavor. The steak was so poor it made the lobster seem delicious. As both of them shared a small portion of their “filet” with me, I would have to agree. This was not a good piece of meat. As I mentioned earlier, Gerry had ordered this same item on a previous visit and loved it. I guess any place can have an off night or a disappointing course. Remember, the both loved their soup and crabcake course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had opted for the four course, Chef’s Tasting.

 

 My first course was the New Orleans Style Red Bean Soup with Smoked Sausage. Although the soup was good ( really like cajun spices in my soup) and the beans were plentiful, I was unable to find any semblance whatsoever of “smoked sausage”. I actually blew the photo up to 10x on my computer thinking the sausage had to be in there somewhere but not a piece was to be found. Perhaps they had simply waved the sausage over the soup. Anyway, a tad disappointing but tasty nonetheless.

 

 

 

 My next course, the blackened Louisiana Redfish topped with lemon aioli and served over gingered string beans was excellent. The fish was perfectly cooked and the sauce blended well with the spicy string beans. I was mucho pleased with this one.

 

 

 

 My main course, the Braised Short Ribs topped with salsa and served over a jalapeno jack cheese quesadilla was pretty good. The beef was nice and the sauce was perfect but the quesadilla added nothing and I would have preferred it resting on some nice mashed potatoes bathed in the same sauce. Overall though, I was pleased with my meal. If you had to please one guy and disappoint two, at least they chose the right one to please.

 

 

 

  Their menu ended with Banana’s Foster and mine with Strawberry Mango Butter Cream Cake with fresh berries. Both desserts were satisfactory.

 Overall, we went into Daddy Mim’s with great expectations. As I mentioned before, our visit last month had been top-notch. This one didn’t live up to our own built-up hype. Daddy Mims certainly deserves another chance based on our first visit.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers