Archive for Marianne Powell


Posted in A Little Cafe (2nd review), South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , on December 11, 2010 by ballymote

 This is probably the longest I have ever gone between the actual date of our meal and my report. We revisited A Little Cafe in Voorhees, NJ on Saturday evening, November 27th. Joe and Carol B. and my wife, Kathy and I returned to this cozy little BYOB after a 14 month hiatus. The picture to the left is fittingly dark because the surrounding area WAS very dark on this late fall weekend.

 I may not remember everything we ate but I do know what wines we had with us. Joe and carol shared a 2004 Sasso al Poggo, Toscana. This “super Tuscan” offered ripe red fruit, hints of earth and licorice with smooth tannins and an overall softness on the palate. I had the bolder 2005 Green Lion, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. This one is another creation from Aussie winemaker, Chris Ringland except this time he brings his skills to California. This one is a really nice value that delivers REAL cab quality with fruit sourced from prime Napa growing sites (Pritchard Hill and Diamond Mountain) at an extremely affordable price.

 Along with the standard bread and oil for dipping we were presented with an attractive dish of fried green tomatoes in a tasty pesto sauce. There were two for each of us and we asked for, and received a second dish and I think we all agreed we could have made a complete meal out of this beautifully done starter. The breading was perfect and the tomatoes were first-class.

We each chose the Three Course Prix Fixe dinner and Joe and I started with the soup of the day which, in this instance, was a Potato Soup. Joe remembers it as having something spicy added to it. I, on the other hand, with senility setting in quickly, remember nothing but the potatoes. I am pretty sure we both enjoyed it, though. The ladies both had salads and I didn’t take a picture of them.

 For my appetizer I went with the Crab Cigarettes, a Little Cafe Signature Dish – Jumbo lump crabmeat rolled in paper-thin crepes and served with a spicy red chili dipping sauce. I’d say that even the non-smokers of the world would enjoy these “cigarettes” so feel free to “light up” your meal with this appetizer.

Joe went with the Spicy Calamari, lightly breaded and fried calamari topped with a hot and spicy red pepper relish and served atop a bed of crisp lettuce, Carol had a mushroom dish that I couldn’t find mentioned on the menu. Both of them liked their choices.

 For his entree Joe opted for one of the evening “specials”. A baked pork chop topped with King Oyster Mushrooms and a plum wine sauce served with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and Julienne-style vegetables.

 Kathy and Carol both seemed to be in a non-adventurous mood as they selected the Chicken Parmesan. Carol traded the traditional pasta accompaniment for mashed potatoes and veggies while Kathy stayed with the linguine.

I debated between the Marianne’s Meatloaf and the Chicken and Crab with the latter winning out in the end and I was not disappointed in my choice. Sauteed boneless chicken breast layered with jumbo lump crabmeat, sauteed spinach, roasted red peppers, provolone cheese and topped with a pesto sauce. This tasty dish came with mashed potatoes and the Julienne veggies. I’m not a big fan of the Julienne veggies but the overall dish was very good and the portion large enough to provide lunch for the next day.

A Little Cafe is one of those places you can always count on for a good meal at reasonable prices and even though Chef/Owner Marianne Powell was not present on this Saturday evening, it was obvious she had left the place in good hands.


Posted in A Little Cafe, BYOB Restaurant Reviews, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , on September 20, 2009 by ballymote

IMG_2801Last night we had five couples drive up to Voorhees to a popular BYOB that I have wanted to try for some time. Chef-Owner Marianne Powell is justifiably proud of her award-winning Zagat rated EXCELLENT restaurant and I was anxious to see why it was so well acclaimed. A Little Cafe is located in the Echo Plaza, at 118 White Horse Rd in Voorhees.

The first thing you notice upon entering A Little Cafe is that it is a little cafe. Our table for ten in the center of the floor dominated the room dwarfing the smaller tables. It has an interesting eclectic decor and on this particular evening, which Chef Powell described as “insane”, she was also serving as a very competent “wait person”. As she scurried from one table to the next she never lost her composure and maintained her smile.

The menu and pricing at A Little Cafe is a bit unusual but perhaps something other places might try. You get to order 3 items for a fixed price of $30. For instance, you might choose, the soup, salad and an entree, or salad, appetizer and entree, or appetizer, entree and dessert; well, you get the idea. Whatever combination you settle on the choices are enticing. More than that, the bread, butter, garlic spread and fried tomatoes with pesto sauce that come to the table gratuitously prior to ordering are enough to insure that no one goes away hungry.

With ten diners it was impossible to keep track of everyone’s order. I love a menu where there are so many appealing entrees that you have trouble deciding on your choice. The menu here is one of those. I opted for the french onion soup, an appetizer of crab cigarettes and the peach habanero chicken. Tom T., who was sitting next to me, also ordered the french onion soup and we were in agreement that although there was plenty of gooey mozzarella cheese the actual soup was a bit bland; passable but hardly exceptionable.IMG_2800

 The crab cigarettes got much higher marks from me. Two tender crepes filled with succulent jumbo crabmeat accompanied by a red chilli pepper dipping sauce proved to be an excellent starter to my main dish. There was even a pickled mango on the side. When is the last time YOU had a pickled mango?


I was torn between the peach habanero chicken and Marianne’s Meatloaf (I’m a self-confessed meatloaf freak and this one sounded yummy) All veal meatloaf stuffed with roasted red peppers, spinach and Provolone cheese topped with a wild mushroom Marsala demiglace. When Joe B. announced he would let me try his meatloaf entree I chose the chicken. Both choices turned out to be delicious. The sweetness of the peaches offset by the spicy tang of the habanero sauce was a mouth-watering treat.IMG_2804 The meatloaf was every bit as good as the chicken and should assure that another visit is needed to sample other inviting entrees. Joe and Carol B. were at A Little Cafe for the 3rd time this month which is probably equal to the number of meals I have had at home during that time span. Suffice to say they are big fans of this little place.

Although I am not going into what others had for their meal I will say that Sue C. had the duck. Let me repeat that, Sue C. had the duck. If we are lucky she will do her own review of her duck in the “comments” section at the end of this post. Sue was nice enough to post a comment on our last BYOB review (The Station House) pointing out that hers was the ONLY meal I failed to review. It won’t happen again, Sue.

As usual we all got two or three desserts and passed them around. The two standouts were Marianne’s special white chocolate bread budding and a pumpkin cheesecake with a caramel drizzle.IMG_2805IMG_2806

Both of these tempting dishes drew raves. I was especially drawn to the pumpkin cheesecake which was absolutely delicious.

My wine for the evening was a 2000 Freemark Abbey “BOSCHE”a cabernet blend that went well with my spicy chicken dish.IMG_2793

Overall, A Little Cafe turned out to be a wonderful dining experience. Only the french onion soup failed to meet expectations. Jerry C, undaunted by the absence of bruschetta on the menu, had a mushroom soup that was outstanding; so they DO turn out some fine soups. It’s nice when a chef-owner makes herself a part of the dining experience and Marianne does that well. A Little Cafe is on our list for a return visit in the not too distant future. It should be on yours, too!