Archive for Cherry Hill BYOB


Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Christopher, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2010 by ballymote

Open only three weeks, Christopher, on Kresson Rd (just off Brace) in Cherry Hill, had already drawn some nice reviews. Our little group of six hungry diners were anxious to see for ourselves what it was all about and that is what brought us there last evening. Nicely designed on the inside, Christopher features an alcove in the center that is unique and provides a more roomy feel to the room. With Sinatra-type music playing softly in the background, our server, Michaelangelo, painted us a picture of the evening’s lone “special” (sorry, couldn’t resist). It was a stuffed flounder with a three cheese sauce. It sounded pretty good. As our wines were opened, Michaelangelo suggested some appetizers and you could tell he took pride in being a part of this new culinary adventure. In fact, the entire staff seemed to work as a team in re-filling water glasses, removing dishes, stopping by to see if everything was OK.

As usual we had a few bottles of wine to go with our food. I had the 2007 Cameron Hughes, Lot 125, Pinot Noir, Carneros. I found this at Monster Beverage in Glassboro a few months back and I was pleasantly surprise how well this showed for a $20.00 Pinot Noir. Excellent notes of cherry and strawberries with a soft, smoky nuance. Joe B. has a very interesting wine, the 2007 O. Fournier, Centauri, Maule Valley, Chile. I have to confess, I have never been a big fan of Chilean wines but this one could convert me. It had loads of red and black berries with hints of tobacco and chocolate. It was exceptionally smooth and had a nice lingering finish. Jerry and Sue B.’s daughter, Katie, had just returned from a summer holiday in Greece and they had a .375 bottle she had brought home with her. The only word I could read on the label was Kastelli. The rest of the words were all Greek to me (I know…I know…I’ll stop). Anyway, it was from Santorini, on the island of Crete and it was light and, as stated on the label, dry and red.

One of the signature dishes at Christopher is the appropriately named, Christopher’s Signature New England Clam Chowder (cup 4.95…bowl 5.95). Five of the six of us opted for this as our appetizer. I was glad to see Carol B. show some individuality and order what would have been my choice had I not felt like I had to choose the soup. Carol ordered the Pot Stickers. Wontons filled with pork, garlic and ginger, served with a honey-soy dipping sauce. She shared one with me and they were very tasty and a good value for $6.95. The soup was excellent. It was served at the perfect temperature and was chock full of nice pieces of clam, potato and veggies in a yummy broth with a couple of secret ingredients that Michaelangelo made me take a blood oath not to reveal, so I won’t. I have had some really good soups and chowders during the past year and although Christopher’s was not the absolute best it certainly does not have to make any apologies.

Joe B. and Jerry C. both ordered the Christopher Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with Portabello, a portabello musroom, basted and grilled then topped with a jumbo lump crab cake (actually TWO), melted provolone and served over spring mix and drizzled with a vinaigrette dressing. Carol had the Crab Cakes without the Portabello and it was like a Tale of Two Cities. Jerry and Joe enjoyed theirs very much. Carol found her crab cake to be mushy with a distinct absence of crab and a preponderance of filler. It could have been she just had a bad batch. I actually tasted both and the addition of the portabello definitely was an added plus for the dish (and this from an avowed mushroom hater). Bottom line recommendation, for three more bucks get the Portabello!

I was totally pleased with my choice, the Spicy Crab. Linguine with jumbo lump crab meat in a homemade spicy marinara sauce. The sauce was good and the amount of crab meat was generous. I was able to take half home for another meal and I am looking forward to it.

My wife, Kathy, chose the Scallops & Shrimp, served over a bed of linguine with mushrooms, scallions, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. She enjoyed the shrimp and scallops but felt the linguine was over-cooked. I might add that most entrees are served with either a baked potato or a serving of summer veggies. They had run out of baked potatoes and so we settled for the vegetables.

Sue C. can’t eat a lot of seafood so she searched the menu and found an 8 ounce Angus beef filet which is normally served with shrimp or crab meat (add $1.00). Sue passed on both of the seafood items and thought the steak was good.

Michaelangelo came by to tempt us with his dessert tray and although we tried to be strong we were simply unable to utter the words “No Thanks” and consequently sampled the Chocolate Cake (light and luscious) the Carrott Cake  (sweet and creamy goodness) and his personal favorite, the Key Lime Pie (excellent thanks to the addition of Meyer Lemon). We did pass on the Double Chocolate Strawberries so it’s not like we had NO willpower.

Overall, I’d have to say that Christopher is off to a good start and that it shows lots of potential. Certainly, it merits another visit in the future.

SIRI’S – Thai/French Restaurant (BYOB)

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Siri's Thai French Restaurant, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , on March 13, 2010 by ballymote

With our Friday night dining group cut in half by previous commitments, Carol and Joe B. and my wife, Kathy and myself, dined at Siri’s Thai/French Restaurant on Route 70 in Cherry Hill. We have been here a few time prior and always enjoyed our meal and tonight was no exception. The weather outside was wet and dismal but the atmosphere inside Siri’s was warm and inviting. As I have mentioned in previous posts, the challenge of Friday night dining during Lent requires finding seafood items that are both tasty and appealing. Fortunately, Siri’s offers a menu with a multitude of choices in that category.

While looking over our menus and listening to a presentation of the evening’s “specials”, Cookie, our server, opened our wines. Joe had brought the 2008 Cambri “Julia’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, I had two bottles, the 2003 Sierra Cantabria, Cuvee Especial, Rioja from Spain and all the way from Winslow, NJ, the 2008 Sharrott Winery, Cabernet Franc. I am going to tell you about this wine in a separate posting to follow this review. The Pinot Noir was a bit of a surprise as Joe B. has locked into a Malbec phase for the past few months. He enjoyed the Pinot but I kinda suspect we will see a Malbec the next time. The Santa Cantabria took some time to open up in the glass but had some nice Tempranillo flavors that went well with the meal. We sent two glasses of wine over to a table where two women were dining because I had overheard them bemoaning the fact that Siri’s did not serve alcohol or offer wine for purchase. I had hoped that they would reciprocate by picking up the tab for our entire meal. It didn’t happen.  (I’m joking!!!)

We all had appetizers and we all chose a different appetizer from the tempting offerings on the menu.

Carol had the Fresh corn and shrimp fritters with cucumber relish while Kathy ordered the Prince Edward Island mussels from the “specials” list. Carol really enjoyed her fritters while Kathy thought the mussels were ok, but not as good as her last two mussel offerings at Blackbird and ModoMio.

Joe ordered the Vegetable Spring Roll with a sweet chili sauce and I had the Siri Golden Bags, stuffed with crab and shrimp mousse and tied with a Pandan leaf. The dish was colorful and crispy and flavorful and I ate the bags and the tie and enjoyed the entire package. It’s really nice to break away from the usual cuisines we get locked into for the unique flavors and spices of another culture, especially Thai.

There were so many enticing fish and seafood entrees on the menu, including a “fresh fish” choice of sea bass, grouper or salmon, pan seared and served over baby spinach in a truffled, beurre blanc sauce. Joe selected the Grouper from that list.  He thought the preparation and presentation was first class and had no complaints about his choise.

Kathy ordered the Siri’s Seafood Boullibasse, simmered in a mildy spicy lemongrass broth and served with saffron rice and fresh veggies. The plate looked beautiful with lots of jumbo shrimp, some lobster meat and pieces of salmon. Again, Kathy enjoyed her entree and offered no criticism of her choice.

Carol B. snuck away from the “fish” portion of the menu to choose one of the chicken items. In looking back over the menu, I don’t see anything that exactly describes her dish so I can only tell you that there were cashews present and that it looked yummy and I think she thought it tasted very good. I would suggest waiting for her comment that will certainly follow this post for more information on what was in her dish.

Meanwhile, back at my end of the table, I was pre-occupied in devouring one of the best pieces of salmon I have had in recent memory. Last week, at Blackbird, Kathy declared her salmon there as “the best I have ever had”. I didn’t have salmon at Blackbird so I can not make a fair comparison; however, I would put this dish up against hers and feel it was a close contest. Siri’s menu describes this dish as Atlantic Salmon pan seared and served in a brandy mustard cream sauce (someone steal the recipe for this sauce) with a tomato concasses. There was also a very nice potato cake that was the perfect accompaniment to both the fish and the sauce. Excellent dish!

You would certainly think there would be no room for dessert but we had Cookie bring out the Dessert Tray just to have a peek. The peek turned into four separate and distinct dessert orders. Thankfully, the photographic world has moved past the use of film as our selections tonight required me to keep my camera close by all evening.

Joe had the berries. I’m not a berry guy. I wasn’t even going to take a picture of it but I had taken the others and Joe looked offended. Here are his berries. Joe liked his berries, a lot. He even said so, a few times. No one else ordered berries.

I hate when restaurant menu’s don’t carry the dessert descriptions because it gives me nowhere to look back and find what we were eating. This was a Mango Mousse that I thought was a creme brulee. I was wrong. It looked delicious and Kathy offered me none so it probably was delicious.

Carol had the Key Lime Pie. I don’t need a menu to describe Key Lime Pie. It’s Lemon Meringue Pie with a different filling in the middle. I only have it if I am in Key West, Florida. Cherry Hill is not Key West so even though Carol thought it was good I was sticking with my own choice.

I carefully studied the entire dessert tray that Cookie presented and went with the Tiramisu. It was good. Not great, not the best Tiramisu I have ever experienced but good. We usually get one or two desserts and share them but our fascinating conversations on the joy and pain of Reality TV shows must have made us exceptionally hungry. Overall, it was an excellent experience and I have no qualms about recommending anyone to Siri’s Thai French Cuisine.