Archive for 2008 Susana Balbo “Crios” Malbec


Posted in Creed's Seafood and Steaks, Philly BYOB Reviews, Uncategorized, Wine Dinners with tags , , , on March 9, 2010 by ballymote

  We had a group of young interns from all over the country visiting our company for two weeks of training and I joined them for dinner this evening at Creed’s in King of Prussia. When you spend as much time as I do dining at the myriad of great BYOB’s in the Delaware Valley it seems strange to be sitting at a table perusing a wine list and trying to select something from the triple mark-up bottles on hand. The wine list at Creed’s is no better than passable; many of the offerings replaced by a piece of white tape to indicate “sold out”. Not the classiest of ways to accomplish that goal

The 2008 Susana Balbo “Crios” Malbec appeared to be a safe choice and something that might go well with a steak. The wine has a full bouquet of cherries and spices and a lush mouthfeel that I could tell would go well with a nice filet. On this particular evening you could be factually correct in calling it a $15.00 wine that drinks like a $50.00 wine because that’s how much it was on the wine list (can you sense I am missing my BYOB’s?).

There were a few different appetizers brought to the table, some nice shrimp cocktail, fried calamari and some tuna.

                                                        I decided to try the lobster bisque. It came nice and hot to the table, had good color and pleasant taste. It was not one of those bisque that featured large pieces of lobster. There were a few, but it lived up to its bisque name. Most of the others at the table thought it was fine. I also had the Creed’s Classic Wedge Salad, applewood smoked bacon, fresh roma tomatoes, hard-boiled egg and blue cheese dressing. In my opinion, there are few salads better than the wedge of iceburg lettuce with tangy blue cheese dressing. This one was no exception; fresh and delicious.

Most of the group chose steak as their entree.

I selected the Center Cut Filet Mignon with Brandy Peppercorn Sauce ($38). It came with green beans and the meat nestled nicely on a bed of potatoes. The steak was ok, nothing special and I’d rate the entire entree a C. I’m not sure what I was expecting at Creed’s but whatever my expectations were, they were not exceeded. It’s hard to explain, they seem to do all the right things, refilling your water glass, replacing silverware, scooping up crumbs. Maybe it was the fact that we had nine people and it just seemed to have “wedding meal” feel to the entire evening.

One of the group ventured from the carnivore trail and ordered one of the evening “specials”, the Tile Fish, a firm, mild flavored white fish. The dish looked inviting and he was pleased with his choice.

The others all seemed to choose the other “special” of the evening., “Surf and Turf”, a decent size helping of filet accompanied by a crab cake. Again, most of our party thought the steak was average at best although some found the crab cake very good. Overall, it was an enjoyable evening and I can’t say it was a bad meal, it just wasn’t anything memorable. If you go to Creed’s, visit their website prior to going and print out the online coupon offering $15.00 OFF the purchase of two entrees prior to 6:00 P.M.


Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, LoBianco's Restaurant, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , on January 16, 2010 by ballymote

Apologies for the poor photo. Hey, it’s ANOTHER Collingswood, NJ BYOB. This one is just a couple of doors off of Haddon Ave. on Powell Lane which appears, with the prescence of lots of new ritzy condos, to be the new “gentrified” section of town. It’s getting tougher and tougher to find a place to park on a weekend night in this culinary capital of South Jersey.

LoBianco’s New American Cuisine offers their winter menu as a THREE or FOUR Course Tasting Menu. Three courses for thirty dollars and four courses for thirty-five dollars. Is it worth it? We were about to find out. I skipped the appetizers as there was nothing that made my mouth water. Jerry C. had “The Soup”, roasted tomato soup with pesto drizzle and Carol B. and some others chose the Roasted Portabella, layered with sonoma valley chevre, port scented carmelized vidalia onions, baby spinach and lemon beurre. That’s a lot going on inside of a mushroom! Carol thought it was great. Not being a mushroom guy myself, I am probably missing out on some fine dishes. I did choose the simple Market Salad, consisting of fresh field greens, roquefort bleu, vine ripened tomatoes, red onions, orange segments and honey-roasted shallot emulsion. It’s not my modus operandi do make a big deal over a little salad but I’m not sure if it was the orange segments, the roquefort or maybe even that emulsion thingie but DAMN, that was a good salad!! My wife, Kathy, ordered the Grilled Romaine, warm salad consisting of hearts of romaine dressed with olive oil, crisp pancetta, balsamic, chevre, and cilantro-mist pesto. I could be wrong but it’s been my observation that if they add pancetta to ANYTHING it’s tough to screw up the dish. Kathy loved her salad.

OK, LoBianco was off to a good start with our tough-to-please-crowd. My 2008 Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec was delivering lots of cherry and spice flavors and a nice gripping texture that was crying for some red meat to bring it to its full potential. I actually need to remind myself to get some more of this wine because I think it packs a lot of great flavors for a very reasonable price ($13.99).

I considered my usual chicken entree, I thought long and hard about the Braised Beef Short Ribs, but I opted for the Ribeye (the only item on the menu that adds a $5.00 supplement to the Tasting Courses).

It was delivered to the table looking much as it was described on the menu, coriander dusted and rosemary scented 16 oz. angus ribeye, truffled whipped potatoes and nutmeg scented creamed spinach (the spinach was on a plate by itself and didn’t make my photo). The meat was done perfectly, had  great flavor, the potatoes were excellent and the creamed spinach was so good that it led to my only complaint of the evening. There should have been MORE creamed spinach! I had to nurse it gently, taking the tiniest of portions to insure it lasted throughout the life of my ribeye. The rest of my dinner companions had either the ribeye or the braised short ribs.

Carol B. debated between the Roast Pork and Braised Beef and the waitress recommended the short ribs. Naturally, the meat fell off the bone and was tender and flavorful. I heard Carol’s husband,  Joe, utter the words “absolutely scrumptious”. That’s what he said, and trust me, Joe B. does not use the words “absolutely scrumptious” very often.

Jerry C., traveling to the beat of a different, and more seafood worldly, drummer, chose the Bouillabaise (probably because he knew I’d have trouble spelling it in my review). this was described as a delicate seafood stew consisting of steamed shrimp, fresh fish of the day, mussels, littleneck clams in a tomato-saffron fumet, braised fennel and leaks, croute with rouille. Every time I glanced over he was dipping more bread into the broth and smiling. I think that meant he liked his B-O-U-I-L-L-B-A-I-S-E.

We all had dessert of some type and the table was equally divided between the Belgian Waffle with Ice Cream and the French Vanilla Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Shavings and Berries.  My ice cream was the perfect topping to a truly excellent meal. Sue C. was the lone Chocolate Tort person and her dessert was immediately boxed for later consumption. I am thinking there would have been a good chance I may have been invited back to Jerry and Sue’s to share her tort until I made the mistake of telling her to get in the back of her own car as she attempted to assume the “shotgun” position. Oh well, we all make mistakes! LoBianco’s will most likely see us all again!!