Archive for the Gilmores Restaurant Category


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.


Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Gilmores Restaurant, Philly BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2010 by ballymote

Ask the people who search out BYOB’s in the Delaware Valley to name their three favorite and there is an excellent chance Gilmores, in West Chester, PA will me mentioned. Prior to last night I had never been there. My wife, Kathy and I joined our friends Gerry and JoAnn B. for an 8:30 reservation at this highly regarded French bistro on Gay Street in West Chester. Gilmores has two seatings each evening at 6:00P.M. and 8:30P.M. and when we arrived the early diners were leaving and we joined about 20 other hungry folks in a very crowded entryway where the walls were decorated with a mix of Philadelphia Magazine Best of Philly Articles and some interesting modern art.

After 10 minutes or so the tables were bussed and re-set and we gained admittance to the intimate dining room. Gilmores seats about 40, and although the room is small, it doesn’t feel crowded. Our waitress, Stephanie, was knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and as she opened our wine she told us about the evening specials.

Earlier in the afternoon, we had enjoyed a bottle of the 2006 Mollydooker Velvet Glove. The wines for our meal were only slightly less formidable. Gerry had brought two excellent choices, the 2000 Phelps Insignia and the 2005 Pahlmeyer Red Blend. The  Insignia seemed to me to be underrated by the experts (94 WS, 91 Parker). It displayed class and strength and loads of smooth plum and blackberry flavors that could stand up to any steak or lamb dish. I’d compare this to any other Cabernet blend in the $100 price range. The Pahlmeyer, too was singing beautifully and certainly deserved it’s 96 Parker rating.  I brought with me the 2007 Hug Cellars, Cedar Lane Vineyard, Arroyo Seco, Pinot Noir. The bright black cherry and raspberry fruit with hints of cedar and spices was perfect with my scallop appetizer.

Then there was the food. So many taste-tempting items on the menu that it was hard to make a single selection. I finally settled on the Coquilles St. Jacques a la Proven, scallops, gratin with wine, garlic and herbs. This dish was simply heaven on a plate. The scallops were sliced thin, cooked perfectly and topped with a wonderful cheese layer and the sauce was just fantastic. Kathy ordered the same thing while Gerry, predictable as ever when he spots fois gras on the menu, ordered the Fois Gras Sautu Navers (from humanely raised ducks), seared fois gras with port braised turnip and celeri mousse. On its arrival he turned silent for the next few minutes and slowly devoured the liver of those poor ducks who gave their life and liver so that he could enjoy this culinary treat. JoAnn was a little adventurous in her selection as she chose the Cappaccino de Homard.

Lobster Soup flavored with Scotch and topped with Anisette foam. It looked like a cup of light-colored coffee and tasted like liquid lobster. She was very pleased with her appetizer.

Each of our entries came with a house salad which consisted of fresh field greens with walnuts in a very tasty dressing that I could not identify. It was really very nice and helped lead into our entrees.

This was the hard part. Some of the evening specials sounded terrific and Gerry was quick to jump on a particular one when Stephanie informed him there were only 5 of these left as the 6:30 crowd had made a run on them. That Item was described as a one and a quarter pound Maine Lobster, removed from the shell and poached in lobster butter served over an ink squid dyed cous cous in a lobster butter sauce. It looked and tasted wonderful and had everyone else not been totally ecstatic over their own choices we might all have opted for the lobster.

I ordered from the menu and had “The Butcher’s Tenderlon”, pan-seared hangar steak with Bernaise Sauce and truffled french fries. The steak was done perfectly, tender, flavorful, the Bernaise Sauce served on the side in an egg cup and the french fries were amazing. I honestly would not have thought you could do french fries in such a way that would make them so uniquely different from so many others. The texture and taste were amazing. Kathy also ordered one of the evening specials.

She chose the Roast Pork in a slivered Truffle Sauce served with fresh green beans and a potato puree. As with all of the entrees, this one was perfectly prepared, the pork bursting with rich flavor and the sauce providing a perfect basting for the meat. This was JoAnn’s third visit to Gilmores and she had the same entree on her first two visits.

She decided to make it three in a row and ordered what she felt was the best item on the entire menu. Poulet Wellington, breast of chicken with truffled mushroom duxelle (think of a mushroom pate) wrapped in puff pastry and served with a Perigourdine sauce. She gave me a taste of it and although I am an avowed mushroom abstainer, I think I could have eaten and thoroughly enjoyed this dish. Maybe they just have to not look like mushrooms!

The wine, the food, the company, it was a great setting and a great meal and it deserved appropriate desserts to top off the evening. Jerry and I chose something cold and creamy.

He chose the Raspberry Sorbet while I selected two different ice creams, the Tahitian Vanilla and the Orange Davilla. As far as I was concerned this was the perfect ending to a wonderful meal. Kathy and Joann split the 2000 calorie Pofiteroles bathed in gooey chocolate, dusted with powdered sugar and surrounding a lone strawberry. There were five Profiteroles and I think the one who only got two was therefore entitled to the strawberry. Somehow, they worked out the division peacefully. On the way out I looked again at the Best of Philly framed articles on the wall and now I understood why they won so many of them. Chef/Owner Peter Gilmore knows how to create great food in a great setting.