It had been a few months since my friends Gerry, John and myself had met for one of our wine dinners. Since the two of them like to smoke a good cigar before dinner at The Tinderbox on Lancaster Ave. in Ardmore, it made sense that A la Maison would be the right choice for our meal. We had been there a couple of times already and always enjoyed the experience.
As usual, I arrived before the smoke fiends and was seated and having my wine opened when they walked in. The cork broke during the process and the wine had to be decanted, not a bad thing considering it was 15 years old. Our wines for the evening were the aforementioned, decanted, 1996 Steltzner, Stag Leap, Merlot, a 2007 Black Coyote, Reserve, Napa Cabernet and a 2003, Arrowwood, Sonoma County, Cabernet. All of them were wonderful and the owner stopped by our table for a lively discussion of primarily French wines. Ted Miller is a very interesting guy. He owns several restaurants and has partial interest in a couple of Napa wineries. He extolled the virtues of several little known appellations in France and was kind enough to open for us a bottle of the 2003 Chateau Hourtin Ducasse, Haut-Medoc. We enjoyed both his wine and his company and it seems we always have interesting encounters with folks when we dine at A La Maison.
I will interject here that I started this review in late November and it is now January 21st and I am attempting to complete it and several others where time has further warped an already fading memory. Thus, the next few reviews will be a bit brief as I once again struggle to catch up and KEEP up with this blog. A sincere thank you to the many loyal readers who still sneak back here to see if I have added anything new.
John had the Beef Short Rib Bourguignon with braised aromatic vegetables and pommes puree. I have had this dish before and John thoroughly enjoyed it as had I on other occasions.
Gerry’s Lamb Chop looked delicious and he confirms that it was every bit as good as it looked.
I was not quite as happy with my choice. The problem started earlier when the server took my order for the Steak Frites, filet mignon. pommes frites, sauce maison. As she walked away from the table I asked her if she was going to ask me how I wanted my filet cooked. She replied. “the chef always cooks the filets medium rare.” I politely informed her I would prefer mine medium and if it went a little further toward medium-well, that would be OK, too. I will have to give her points for her honesty. The chef must ALWAYS cook the filets medium-rare, even when requested NOT to do so. I struggled thru most of it and despite the under-cooking which I could have lived with, it wasn’t the finest piece of meat I had ever seen. Additionally, I thought the frites were bordering on inedible. This may just be a personal objection as I much prefer the thick steak fries to the skinny one with little potato inside.
Other than not being happy with my own choice, my companions were happy with theirs and it’s always a good time when we share wine and have great conversation.