Archive for Main Line BYOB


Posted in Teresa's Cafe (2nd review) with tags , , , , , , on November 24, 2012 by ballymote

It’s hard to believe that it had been over three years since the three of us had been together at Teresa’s in Wayne, PA for one of our frequent wine dinners. It’s a place we have frequented quite often and was one of the very first reviews I ever did on this blog. How time flies. Anyway, it was nice to return and we were given what we almost think of as “our seats” right by the front window. The food and service are always good at this Main Line eatery and tonight was no exception.

You would have thought that as many times as we had dined together that Gerry, John and I would have used up every conceivable insult known to man but, not surprisingly, all came prepared with a host of new derogatory comments which leave no room for tender feelings. You can interpret that last sentence as meaning we totally enjoyed each others company.

 As usual we had some very nice wines with us, all of which did their duty in enhancing our dining experience. Gerry brought a 2008 Apex, Columbia Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a Washington State wine from the that I used to see often at Total Wines in Cherry Hill but I’m quite sure he purchased it at a PA State Store. It had a nice nose of red berries and chocolate and was well-balanced on the palate. John had a 2007 Padeletti, Brunello di Montalcino which was another of his purchases from Wines Till Sold Out (WTSO). I’m not sure I would have trusted this site for a Brunello purchase but this one did not disappoint. It had a beautiful nose with lots of typical bright cherry flavors in the mouth. Deep, dark and intense it was a nice companion to our food and proof that the 97 Brunello vintage was one of the best in Italy. My wine for the night was a 2009, Black Kite, Anderson Valley, Stoney Terrace Vineyard, Pinot Noir. This is a strong, intense Pinot with lots of plum and raspberry notes, very smooth in the mouth with a soft, lingering finish. Everyone commented on this one. It’s tough to pick a winner from this group. They were all nice wines.

Each of us started our meal with an appetizer of one sort or another. John had the Margherita Pizza, I had the meatballs and Gerry had a bowl of soup. All of them were excellent as usual.

 John selected the Four Cheese ravioli as his main course and had them add some spicy sausage to the dish. It was excellently prepared, full of great flavor and the meat helped him experience one more food group on his plate.


 It’s hard to get Gerry to choose anything at Teresa’s that isn’t the Penne Al Forno so we have given up trying. We also don’t blame him as I consider it a truly wonderful dish which I have had more than a few times. Baked penne, hot sausage, marinara, ricotta and mozzarella all married in one spicy dish. There was nothing about his meal that will having him changing his entree on his next visit.

              I ordered the Chicken Rosemarino, roasted chicken breast, a risotto cake, haricut verts and sun-dried tomatoes. Nicely done chicken breast with fresh green beans in a tasty sauce. No complaints about this one.

  We did have just the tiniest room for dessert and John finished off his dinner with a scoop of ice cream small enough to be described as minute. My Tiramisu was a healthy portion and it was an excellent representation of the popular meal ender.

 Teresa’s Cafe has been a Main Line institution for some time and their consistency of food and service has made them a great choice for dinner, any day of the week.


Posted in The Silverspoon with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2012 by ballymote

 Along with my wine-drinking buddies, Gerry and John, we have scoured Philly’s Main Line for interesting BYOB’s for our monthly wine dinners. We are not quite sure how we missed the Silverspoon all this time but we are certainly glad we found it last Thursday night. It’s not like The Silverspoon is hiding, or that it’s location requires guide dogs and a new GPS. It’s located in the Eagle Village Shoppes on Lancaster Avenue in Wayne, PA.

 On Thursday last, we were among several tables for our 6:00 P.M. seating. The restaurant has a pleasant, homey feel and our waitress, Caroline, welcomed us and provided us each with three wine glasses prior to opening our wines for the evening.

 As usual, we had some nice wines to enjoy with our meal. The very dark bottle on the left belonged to John. He has a tendency to bring very heavy, dark bottles because, apparently, someone told him that they LOOK expensive. This particular dark, heavy bottle was the 2006, Ehlers, “1886” , Napa Valley, Cabernet. This one scores well on Cellar-Tracker (almost a 93 average) and was the heaviest wine of the evening showing great color and dark flavors that mellowed a bit as dinner progressed. Gerry brought the 2005, E. Guigal, Chateauneuf du Pape with its classic Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre combo that was drinking quite well with our meal. My contribution was the 2009, EnRoute, “Les Pommiers”, Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir. Nice flavors on this one with evidence of tart cherries and baking spices with a nicely balanced smooth finish. The EnRoute Pinot Noir is made by the folks who make the excellent Far Niente wines. This one went especially well with each of my dishes.

 I almost feel a bit silly in raving over a $4.00 “starter” that was simply Sweet Potato Chips with a smoky blue cheese dip. These little tempting morsels of goodness were absolutely perfection on a plate. The chips looked so delicate and yet they held together well enough to absorb the “dip” which was out of this world. I seriously considered ordering a repeat and I have thought about this treat every day since we have been there. What a pleasant way to begin a meal!

    Gerry began with a Mushroom Bisque, seasoned croutons and an orange-fennel oil. He thought the soup was great. John had a dish of the marinated mixed olives. I have a picture of it but, seriously, it’s just a dish of mixed olives so use your imagination.

 If you thought I went slightly ga ga over the sweet potato chips (and maybe I did), you will find it hard to believe that my salad was, quite possibly, the most delicious salad I have ever eaten. That is an amazing compliment coming from me who was totally convinced that there were few things better on this earth than a fresh chunk of iceberg lettuce, with just the right amount of Maytag Blue Cheese dressing and smothered with tangy bacon bits and ripe tomatoes.

 This one at The Silverspoon was baby arugula, honey roasted pears, goat cheese and herb vinaigrette. Wow, I savored each fantastic bite of this salad. My entree had not even made an appearance and I knew I could go home happy from this dining experience.

 My entree was good. I know that sounds like faint praise after my starter and my salad but it would have been nearly impossible to surpass those two items. Had they not been so superlative, this sentence might have started  “my entree was really good.” I ordered the Hazelnut-crusted trout, red bliss potatoes, haricot verts, sherry pommery mustard sauce. The fish was tender and flaky, the mustard sauce a great enhancer of the fish and the potatoes and green beans good. If I might throw in a very minor complaint, I would have preferred a few more red bliss potatoes on the dish. I ran out of what was there long before my trout disappeared. John gave me some of his garlic fries which was a help.

 This would be where his garlic fries that he shared with me came from. It’s the Tender Baby Filet of Beef with port wine shallot and smoked blue cheese butter with exotic mushrooms and house-cut garlic fries. For some reason, John didn’t use the port wine shallot sauce or the smoked blue cheese butter through the first half of his meal. I think he was trying to “eat healthy”. When he gave in to temptation and added those items to his filet, I think he really enjoyed the second half of his meal. I know the fries were delicious.

 Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Gerry was devouring his entree, the Lamb Crepenette (I heard Caroline describing what this was but it was lost on me), with green onion pureed potatoes and haricot verts. Gerry thoroughly enjoyed his dinner choice.

                Although none of us needed it, we ended our meal with a dessert, an espresso flavored Pot de Creme. It was rich and flavorful and left us with little room to breathe. All three of us were absolutely thrilled with our discovery of The Silverspoon. The menu is interesting and diverse and Chef Tim Courtney, a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, should be rightfully proud of what he creates each evening at this excellent Main Line BYOB.

SOLA – (2nd Review)

Posted in Sola (2nd Review), Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , on February 13, 2011 by ballymote

 Dinner for four on a Saturday evening at a very classy BYOB on the Main Line. My friends Gerry and John and I had just visited Sola a few weeks ago and we were impressed enough that Gerry and I were returning with our wives for a 5:30 P.M. reservation. It wasn’t very crowded when we arrived but the tiny dining room quickly filled as the evening progressed.

Our server from our previous visit ( Marie) remembered us but on this evening we had Tom taking care of us. Tom proved to be equally capable and he did a nice job all evening being attentive to our needs, which almost always requires additional wine glasses. Sola, by the way, features nice stems and charges a $2.00 corkage fee per bottle, which is certainly reasonable and I thought I read somewhere that the money is donated to a local charity.

 Speaking of wines, we had some good ones with us. Gerry had brought two of our recent Napa trip favorites. The 2007 Del Dotto, Vineyard 887, Cabernet Sauvignon. This was the special blend that Del Dotto had created for a Las Vegas party hosted by Donald Trump. We liked it when we sampled it at the Del Dotto caves in Napa and it was just as good with dinner at Sola. Gerry also had another bottle of the monster  wine in the monster bottle, the 2008 Alpha-Omega Era. This ia A-O’s top of the line offering and even though we could easily be accused of infanticide for popping these so early it’s actually hard to believe they will actually be better in years to come. I went lighter just in case we had some dishes that cried out for something slightly less hearty and went with an excellent 2006 Antill Farms, Demuth Vineyard, Pinot Noir. The light strawberry and floral notes were perfect with several of our items.

 One of the highlights of Sola is their food presentation and it was evident in virtually all of our dishes. Gerry began his meal with the Pan Seared Foie Gras, medjool date wrapped in cured duck prosciutto, apple butter, toasted pistachio and port reduction. He loved it.

His wife, Joann, chose the Carmelized Onion & Gruyere Cheese Tart, baby frizee, pancetta lardons, aged Jerz-hazelnut vinaigrette. She really enjoyed this appetizer and raved about the flavors. Nobody can make something sound better than Joann does when she gives compliments.

 My wife, Kathy, went the simple route and selected the Sola Chop Salad, cucumber, avocado, tomato, blue cheese, bacon and Fuji apple with petite mixed greens in a honey Dijon vinaigrette. Even this not-so-simple salad was beautifully presented and Kathy was quite pleased with the start to her meal.

Only I was slightly disappointed with my appetizer and it was certainly not Sola’s fault. For some silly reason, I decided that I wanted one of the “specials” as  my opening treat. I chose the Quail with sausage and field greens. I should have thought it out more but obviously, I am not a quail guy. I don’t care for several foods that, in my estimation, require too much work for too little food. We can now add quail to that list. I might add that the sausage was good and what little meat I inefficiently pulled from the bone wasn’t bad. Just not the right choice for me.

 I fared much better with my entree, the Seared Diver Sea Scallops, carmelized salsify golden raisins, Meyer lemon, Israeli cous-cous, with a smoked tomato butter, pine nuts and shaved botarga. Beautifully presented, the sauce was wonderful, and the scallops perfectly done. Just a real first-class dish that shows off the obvious skills of the chef.

 Gerry, showing no imagination at all, except for a passionate love of good lamb, selected the same entree he had when we first visited Sola a few weeks ago, the Australian Lamb Two Wats. braised shoulder, hand-made gnocchi, English peas, ricotta, grilled loin-ratatouille and maple chutney. Gerry was raving about the dish before it even arrived at the table and continued with each bite. No doubt this is one of his favorite dining spots.

 The ladies both chose an entree that I was giving serious consideration before I settled on the scallops. They ordered the Hawaiian Butterfish, Jerusalem artichoke puree, fingerling potatoes, lobster fritter in a lobster reduction sauce. Kathy gave me some of hers and I agreed with both of them that the fish was delicious and everything on the plate worked well with each other. Each of us was thrilled with their entrees and the wines were just an extra plus to this great meal.

We each finished off our meal with a different dessert, Gerry chose the Individual Key Lime Tart, graham cracker crust, meringue and gingered blueberries.

 I had the Chocolate Gelato with strawberries and a caramel dipping sauce. Perfect ending, in my opinion.

 Joann finished with the Warm Chocolate Gateau, malted milk ice cream and raspberry coulis. What’s not to like about that?? Another nice presentation.

 Last, but not least, Kathy ended her meal with the Frozen White Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse, dark chocolate cake, Valrhona chocolate ganache.

Another great meal with great friends and great wine in a great atmosphere.