A LITTLE CAFE – BYOB
Last night we had five couples drive up to Voorhees to a popular BYOB that I have wanted to try for some time. Chef-Owner Marianne Powell is justifiably proud of her award-winning Zagat rated EXCELLENT restaurant and I was anxious to see why it was so well acclaimed. A Little Cafe is located in the Echo Plaza, at 118 White Horse Rd in Voorhees.
The first thing you notice upon entering A Little Cafe is that it is a little cafe. Our table for ten in the center of the floor dominated the room dwarfing the smaller tables. It has an interesting eclectic decor and on this particular evening, which Chef Powell described as “insane”, she was also serving as a very competent “wait person”. As she scurried from one table to the next she never lost her composure and maintained her smile.
The menu and pricing at A Little Cafe is a bit unusual but perhaps something other places might try. You get to order 3 items for a fixed price of $30. For instance, you might choose, the soup, salad and an entree, or salad, appetizer and entree, or appetizer, entree and dessert; well, you get the idea. Whatever combination you settle on the choices are enticing. More than that, the bread, butter, garlic spread and fried tomatoes with pesto sauce that come to the table gratuitously prior to ordering are enough to insure that no one goes away hungry.
With ten diners it was impossible to keep track of everyone’s order. I love a menu where there are so many appealing entrees that you have trouble deciding on your choice. The menu here is one of those. I opted for the french onion soup, an appetizer of crab cigarettes and the peach habanero chicken. Tom T., who was sitting next to me, also ordered the french onion soup and we were in agreement that although there was plenty of gooey mozzarella cheese the actual soup was a bit bland; passable but hardly exceptionable.
The crab cigarettes got much higher marks from me. Two tender crepes filled with succulent jumbo crabmeat accompanied by a red chilli pepper dipping sauce proved to be an excellent starter to my main dish. There was even a pickled mango on the side. When is the last time YOU had a pickled mango?
I was torn between the peach habanero chicken and Marianne’s Meatloaf (I’m a self-confessed meatloaf freak and this one sounded yummy) All veal meatloaf stuffed with roasted red peppers, spinach and Provolone cheese topped with a wild mushroom Marsala demiglace. When Joe B. announced he would let me try his meatloaf entree I chose the chicken. Both choices turned out to be delicious. The sweetness of the peaches offset by the spicy tang of the habanero sauce was a mouth-watering treat. The meatloaf was every bit as good as the chicken and should assure that another visit is needed to sample other inviting entrees. Joe and Carol B. were at A Little Cafe for the 3rd time this month which is probably equal to the number of meals I have had at home during that time span. Suffice to say they are big fans of this little place.
Although I am not going into what others had for their meal I will say that Sue C. had the duck. Let me repeat that, Sue C. had the duck. If we are lucky she will do her own review of her duck in the “comments” section at the end of this post. Sue was nice enough to post a comment on our last BYOB review (The Station House) pointing out that hers was the ONLY meal I failed to review. It won’t happen again, Sue.
As usual we all got two or three desserts and passed them around. The two standouts were Marianne’s special white chocolate bread budding and a pumpkin cheesecake with a caramel drizzle.
Both of these tempting dishes drew raves. I was especially drawn to the pumpkin cheesecake which was absolutely delicious.
My wine for the evening was a 2000 Freemark Abbey “BOSCHE”a cabernet blend that went well with my spicy chicken dish.
Overall, A Little Cafe turned out to be a wonderful dining experience. Only the french onion soup failed to meet expectations. Jerry C, undaunted by the absence of bruschetta on the menu, had a mushroom soup that was outstanding; so they DO turn out some fine soups. It’s nice when a chef-owner makes herself a part of the dining experience and Marianne does that well. A Little Cafe is on our list for a return visit in the not too distant future. It should be on yours, too!