Archive for BYOB


Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Sorella Rose, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , on August 26, 2009 by ballymote

The first of three nice dinners we had during our week in Avalon was at Sorella Rose on 8th Street, within walking distance of where we stayed.

IMG_2582This was our second visit to this restaurant as we had a very nice dinner with a group of friends back in early January of this year.  Not many of the better shore restaurants remain open during the winter months so it is a blessing that Sorella Rose serves dinner on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the cold months.

Our guests for the week were our friends JoAnn, who has been my wife’s best friend since childhood, and her husband Gerry who has been my friend for almost as long. After being seated and opening a white wine for starters (2005 St Urban-Hof Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Spatlese) we perused the extensive and inviting menu. On our January visit they were serving a lobster bisque which was absolutely delicious but it wasn’t on the menu this evening so I chose the Spicy Crab SoupIMG_2585. There were ample chunks of crab and the soup was good but it still finished a distant second to the lobster bisque. The Spatlese having been depleted we now opened two bottles of Shirvington Shiraz, an Australian fruit bomb. We had both the 2004 and 2005 and it was interesting that they could have easily been two completely unrelated wines as the taste of each were much different. JoAnn and I both preferred the 2004 which was more complex and sort of hit you in the face with it’s bold flavors. The 2005 had more subtlety and was probably a beter companion to my entree which was the Crab Sorella.

Crab Sorella

Crab Sorella

Veal Napolean

Veal Napolean

Jersey Kettle

Jersey Kettle

Shrimp Sorella

Shrimp Sorella

JoAnn opted for the Shrimp Sorella, Gerry went with the Jersey Kettle (shrimp, scallops, little neck clams and Brazilian lobster meat in an aromatic fennel tomato broth served over linguini) and Kathy chose the Veal Napolean (pan seared veal medallions layered with eggplant, prosciutta, spinach and fresh mozzarella). Kathy usually loves anything with the word eggplant in it but found her dish to be a bit bland with both the veal and eggplant lacking real flavor.

Everyone else was pleased with their choice and the wines and good conversation made for an enjoyable meal.
JoAnn, Jared and Kathy

JoAnn, Jared and Kathy

In addition, the women were captivated by our waiter, Jared who they felt was not only attentive to their needs but was quite a good looking guy, too.
We had finished our wine and were about to decline dessert when a diner at another table practically insisted that we try the gelato, not wanting to be rude,  I opted for the Tahitian Vanilla, Gerry had the Malted Milk and JoAnn chose for the Chocolate Mint. Kathy was the only one showing restraint. Suffice to say the desserts were wonnnnnnnderful and topped off the meal nicelyIMG_2591. Each glass was coated with a delicious chocolate ganache. Sorella Rose needs to step up their marketing program because they do a nice job and I really believe if more people knew this place was here the tables would be full more nights than they are. It was a nice choice for the first of our three dinners.


Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2009 by ballymote

blog pics 013Our Friday night dining group ventured to Mullica Hill, NJ last week to dine at one of my favorite South Jersey BYOB’s, Toscana Grill. It’s a place we have been to often and it never disappoints. This week was no exception. Toscana does have a liquor license but permits patrons to bring their own bottles without a corkage charge. They feature wines from the local Heritage Vineyard. My wine for the evening was the Kaiken Ultra Malbec. I picked up several bottle of this surprisingly tasty wine at a “blowout” sale at Canal’s on the Black Horse Pike across from the Hamilton Mall for $9.09. BLOG PICS 016The wine usually sells for anywhere from 15 to 20 dollars depending on where you find it. I had purchased previous bottles for $15.99. It has a wonderful nose and the dark fruit flavors are well balanced with a long finish for a wine of so little pretensions. Do not confuse this wine with the regular Kaiken Malbec as there is a world of difference in the “ultra”.

One of my favorite items on the Toscana menu is a simple wedge salad. It’s always fresh and loaded with blue cheese, tomatoes and bacon. It’s the perfect start to a meal. I had the crab cake encrusted tilapia and it was tender and flavorful. It was accompanied by asparagus and a risotto cake.

Joe had brought with him a home made wine that some guy he works with makes every year. Normally, I decline offers to even taste these home creations but he had coaxed me into trying it on a previous occasion and I have to admit that this guy does a nice job. It’s the third time I have had this wine and although the first time stands out as the best effort, they are always interesting.

The bill for each couple came to $52.00 so you can see that Toscana Grill is not a place that will kill the family budget.


Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Casona Restaurant, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , on July 11, 2009 by ballymote

Armed with a nice bottle of  2007 Tres Picos Garnache, my wife, Kathy, and our friends Carol and Joe set off for one my favorite South Jersey BYOB’s, Casona located on Haddon Ave. in Collingswood, NJ. The temperature last night was in the high 70’s and the outdoor seating on the porch provided the perfect summer location for good food, friends and wine. blog pics 011Casona is a Cuban/Latin restaurant so it seemed appropriate to start with a

Cuban Pizza
Chicken, Creole tomato sauce,
chorizo & cheese on a flour tortilla 6.95
as an appetizer. We also chose

a Pico de Gallo

Mango – Celery, red onion, cilantro, roasted jalapeno, tomato, lime juice & olive oil 5.95

Both were very good but we quickly ran out of the tortilla chips provided and when we requested additional chips were told there would be a $1.00 charge. Despite the fact that it was only $1.00 we felt that charging for additional chips did not reflect the type of customer service we would have expected and declined the offer.

The menu is interesting and offers a wide array of Cuban type dishes in both beef, chicken, pork and seafood. I chose the

New! Chicken Moluteno  *
Grilled chicken breast marinated in
mole sauce with chilaquiles queso fresco topping with cilantro, cherry tomato
& red onion sauce 19.95

The portions were huge and the dish was flavorful.

Carol had the

Lechon Asado *
Citrus-marinated pork, slow
roasted Cuban-style with white rice
& maduros 15.95

while Kathy and Joe opted for the evening’s special, a steak dish served with Latin sides. All of us enjoyed our dishes and the evening flew by with good conversation and warm breezes on the relaxing porch. The bill per couple, without dessert came to $61.00 per couple with gratuity.

The Tres Picos was as good as ever. It’s a great representation of how good Spanish wines can be for well under $20 BLOG PICS 015

Casona is just one of many excellent BYOB’s in Collingswood, NJ.