Valentiine's Day DiningDomaine Jean-Luc Colombo 2016 Le Pavillon des Courtisanes Cairanne: Jean-Luc Colombo is one of France’s most talented and creative winemakers. Since the early 1980s, he has been crafting first-class wines from the northern Rhône Valley and southern France. His wines are very different from those of old school winemakers. His philosophy has been to produce fruit forward and elegant wines that are both pure in flavor and expressive of their terroir. His approach has ruffled some feathers; and he often jokes that he’s a bit of a Rhône outcast since he relies on modern techniques in one of France’s most traditional wine regions.

On the other hand, it’s difficult to imagine where the Rhône would be without his commanding presence, as he was among the first group of winemakers to travel outside the area, not only to aggressively market his own wines, but also to tell the story of the entire region.

Colombo, Jean-LucA native of Marseille, Mr. Colombo grew up in a kitchen environment – both his mother and grandmother were chefs – where he developed his passion for food and wine. In the mid-1970s, while studying to become a pharmacist, which proved to be a short-lived career, he developed an interest in oenology and turned his interest and energies entirely to winemaking. In 1986, he purchased 247-acres of vineyards in the Cornas region. From that humble beginning, he now makes his small-production cuvées, as well as a range of other wines reaching down to the Côtes du Rhône.

Mr. Colombo’s 2016 Le Pavillon des Courtisanes Cairanne, which received 91 points (100-point scale) from the Wine Spectator, is a red Rhône blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. It’s loaded with ripe black fruit and beguiles the palate with its soft, silky tannins. This is a wine that’s not too heavy… not too light… and that goes down smooth and easy. It’s marvelous au naturel; but it also pairs well with a wide variety of foods… so it’s the perfect match for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. Priced at $19.99, this excellent vintage is also available through Pennsylvania State Stores.


Rotie Cellars Southern Blend 2013Rôtie Cellars 2013 Southern Blend: The wine label strikes one as definitively French… but this distinctive Rhône blend – 75% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre – surprise, surprise, was produced in Walla, Walla region of Washington State.

Since 2007, winemaker and owner Sean Boyd’s goal has been to produce traditional Rhône blends in Washington State. His winemaking philosophy is simple – combine old world winemaking techniques with the highest quality Rhône varietals that Washington State has to offer. Mr. Boyd sources from some of the best and oldest vineyards in the state in an effort to showcase the most elegant blend possible, while ensuring the typicity of the fruit is expressed.

Originally from Tacoma, like many winemakers, Mr. Boyd took a rather intriguing path to Rôtie Cellars… Previously working as a geologist for ten years in oil and gas exploration, he participated in his first harvest at Waters Winery in 2004. He began his own winery in 2007, focusing solely on Rhône varietals. And his non-traditional background proved to be a great asset, as this is one winemaker who really knows his soils.

Rotie Cellars - Sean Boyd, Owner, WinemakerMr. Boyd is convinced that there is no right or wrong way to create or consume wine… He just makes what he loves to drink – French style Rhône blends. His philosophical approach is basically Old World and natural. He believes that great wine happens mostly in the vineyard, and that his main job is to stay out of nature’s way.

The Rôtie Cellars 2013 Southern Blend, which recently received 92 and 91 points, respectively, from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and the Wine Enthusiast, is certainly delightfully delicious corroboration of Mr. Boyd’s prowess as a winemaker. The Wine Advocate described the 2013 vintage as “savory, medium to full-bodied, supple and beautifully made.” Like its French cousin noted above, this is a wine that’s as smooth as silk on the palate and easily paired with a variety of culinary combinations. Another great choice for your Valentine’s Day table.

That being said… its most pleasing attribute may well be its incredible price point. This wine normally retails around the $45.00 mark. However, as a “Chairman’s Selection,” it is currently on sale through various PA State Stores for a paltry $19.99.




Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar - Glen MillsVarious locations of Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar will be celebrating their special Restaurant Week” from Sunday, January 20 – Friday, January 25, 2019. The special restaurant week menu will feature a three-course $20.00 lunch and four-course $35.00 dinner (plus tax & gratuity).

Lunch Menu…

First Course (Choice of): Local Butternut Squash Soup… Three Bean Turkey Chili… Small Modern Greek Salad… Small Winter Salad

Second Course (Choice of): Grilled Chicken Sandwich… Salmon BLT… Portobello “Cheesesteak”… Winter Ramen Noodle Bowl

Third Course (Choice of): Any Seasonally-Inspired Dessert


Dinner Menu…

First Course (Choice of): Short Rib & Mushroom Flatbread… Seasonal Organic Hummus… Korean BBA Chicken Lettuce Wraps… Everything-Spiced Edamame

Second Course (Choice of): Local Butternut Squash Soup… Small Modern Greek Salad… Small Winter Salad

Third Course (Choice of): Cedar Roasted Salmon… Sesame Chicken… Braised Short Ribs… Sesame Seared Tuna… Impossible Vegetarian Meatloaf

Fourth Course (Choice of): Any Seasonally-Inspired Dessert

Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar locations include Glen Mills, North Wales, Radnor, Newtown, Lancaster, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Moorestown, New Jersey; and Delray Beach, Florida.

 Bon Appétit!



Esty Street - InteriorOn Thursday, February 14, 2019, Esty Street in Park Ridge, New Jersey, will be serving a special three-course prix fixe dinner menu…

Appetizers – Beet Carpaccio: Marinated Beets, Avocado Purée, Dukkah, Affila Cress, Extra Virgin Olive Oil… Citrus Cured Salmon: Citrus Frisée, Watermelon Radish, Pickled Yellow Beets… Three Cheese Lobster Profiteroles: Lobster Medallions, Truffled Manchego, Havarti & Cheddar Cheeses, Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce… Escargot: White Wine Butter Garlic, Parsley, Panko, Crostini… Spiced Lamb Tenderloin: Crostini, Mint Pesto, Roasted Tomatoes, Lamb Jus

Entrées – Mushroom Risotto: Winter Black Truffles, Beech & Chanterelle Mushroom, Asparagus Tips, Parmigiana Cheese… Sautéed Scallops: Jumbo Lump Crabmeat, Manilla Clams, Spinach, Diced Tomatoes, Saffron Tomato Broth… Sautéed Bronzini: Risotto Cakes, Scallions, Oven Roasted Tomato Wedges, Frisée Salad… Grilled Filet Mignon “Wellington”: Mushrooms, Leeks, Spinach, Foie Gras in a Puff, Pastry Tart, Foie Gras Sauce… Pan Roasted Duck L’Orange: Wheat Berries, Roasted Tomatoes, Grilled Kohlrabi, Parsnip Purée, Burnt Orange Supremes… Slow Braised Veal Osso Bucco: Cheese Scented Polenta, Veal Jus

Desserts – Poached Pear with Chocolate Center: Spiced Port Wine Reduction, Chantilly Cream, Fresh Raspberries… ValenTufo: Heart Shaped Version of Cocotufo in a Pomegranate Confection Shell… Montrachet Brule Cheesecake: Crisp Phyllo Basket, Berry compote, Balsamic Vinegar Reduction… Chocolate Truffle Torte: Chocolate Ganache, Chantilly Cream, Fresh Raspberries, House-Made Vanilla Ice Cream… French Apple Cake: Pink Lady Apples, Vanilla Custard, House-Made Caramel Sauce

The price of the Valentine’s Day prix fixe menu is $125.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (201) 307-1515.

Bon Appétit!



Valentiine's Day DiningFor Valentine’s Weekend – February 14, 15, 16, 2019 – Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will be serving a special three-course menu, with each couple receiving a complimentary bag of chocolates and the restaurant’s freshly made banana bread.

Valentine’s Weekend Menu…

Amuse – Wild Mushroom Dashi: Fermented Black Bean, Roasted Scallion Oil

First Course – Pickled Heirloom Beets: Mascarpone, Salted Pistachio, Local Honey… Baby Field Greens: Caramelized Hazelnuts, Beaufort Cheese… Cavatelli Pasta: Pickled Enoki Mushrooms, Fontina Cheese… Filet Mignon Tartare: Caramelized Onion Brodo, Crispy Shallot… Pan Seared Scallops: Blood Orange Margarita, Winter Citrus… Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras: Winter Squash Mole, Dark Chocolate, Masa Tuile

Second Course – Butter Poached Lobster: Smoked Potato Mousseline, Crispy Leek… Pan Roasted Filet Mignon: Piquillo Pepper Romesco, Bone Marrow Crumbs… Bourbon Braised Suckling Pig: Parisienne Apples, Toasted Pecans, Maple JusBraised Buffalo Short Rib: Heirloom Broccoli, Burnt Onion Purée… Yellowfin tuna: Crispy Bamboo Rice, Golden Pineapple, Kumquat Marmalade, Ponzu… Pan Seared Black Bass: Sunchoke Purée, Bacon, Grilled Radicchio

Dessert Amuse – Olive Oil Dried Cherry Ice Cream

Dessert – Sweethearts Dessert Tasting

The price of the Valentine’s Weekend three-course menu is $135.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 345-9977.

Bon Appétit!



Jansen, Philadelphia, PA – A Review

by artfuldiner on January 14, 2019

in Uncategorized


7402 Germantown Avenue

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

(267) 335-5041

For over a decade, David Jansen was the chef de cuisine at the legendary Fountain Restaurant at Philadelphia’s Four Seasons Hotel… But then he simply dropped out of sight (an extended vacation of sorts) to spend time with his family. He’s back now, however, with his eponymous Mt. Airy restaurant making significant blips on the culinary radar screen.

Jansen - InteriorHis current domicile will never match the overwrought glitz and glitter of what was the Four Seasons. On the other hand, the three hundred-year-old handsome stone structure is infinitely less intimidating. The 72-seat interior has been tastefully renovated with whitewashed walls, crisp white napery and strikingly contrasting blue draperies supplemented by a lovely walled outdoor garden. It absolutely looks the part of a casually laid-back fine dining establishment; and, for the most part, Mr. Jansen – and Francesco Martorella, his former compatriot at the Four Seasons – deliver on the restaurant’s promises.

Jansen - Cauliflower Mousse AmuseThe food, while not cutting-edge, could best be described as thoroughly approachable upscale comfort cuisine, which appears to be a perfect fit for the slightly conservative gastronomic inclinations of the Mt. Airy & Chestnut Hill dining sets. And the amuse-bouche sets the tone – on one occasion, salmon mousse on brioche; on another, cauliflower mousse on toast (pictured) – just exotic enough to tickle the taste buds without overwhelming the eye.

The appetizer course is comprised exclusively of seafood, Jumbo Lump Crab, Shrimp and Lobster Cocktails, respectively, as well as Half Dozen Oysters with mignonette and house-made cocktail sauce, and a luscious Tuna Poke companioned by soy wasabi glaze and ginger-scented pineapple.

Jansen - Boston Lettuce SaladIf you’re prefer not to go the seafood route, however, the first course is where you’ll find select salads, soups, and “baked” Oysters. Of particular note is the presentation of Heirloom Tomatoes garnished with arugula and homemade focaccia. Even better, though, is the Boston Lettuce and Lola Rosa (red leaf lettuce) garnished with a variety of pickled vegetables, morsels of creamy goat cheese, and splash of irresistible green goddess dressing (pictured).

Jansen - Foie Gras on Brioche w Date Jam… But the real winner among the starters is the daily presentation of Foie Gras. You never know what Mr. Jansen is going to come up with, but it is inevitably decadently delicious and beautifully presented. On one occasion, for example, the silky-smooth liver is presented on a bed of lentils and gnocchi; on another, it arrives on brioche companioned by a rich date jam (pictured). And one of the best ways to enjoy this luxury starter is as my dining partner and I did… by ordering a salad along with the Foie Gras, sharing a bit of each, and allowing the acidity of the salad dressing to balance the richness of the liver.

There are a select number of entrées noted on the printed menu – seven to be precise. These include various incarnations of lamb and pork, free-range chicken breast, Vietnamese hot pot and, during my several visits, three seafood selections. The kitchen also throws in a few daily specials just to spice things up.

Jansen - Lemon SoleFrom what I’ve observed, seafood does appear to be the restaurant’s strong suit. Typical is the stellar presentation of Lemon Sole. The filets are perfectly pan-seared to a golden brown, beautifully textured, set on a seabed of creamy risotto awash with crunchy rock shrimp, and finished with tangy lime emulsion. There’s just enough going on to complement rather than overwhelm the sole’s delicate disposition.

Jansen - Alaskan HalibutAnd the Alaskan Halibut is yet another example of Mr. Jansen’s piscatorial prowess. The filets are gently sautéed, leaving the interior pristinely white, moist and flaky. Members of the supporting cast include a colorful tiara of tomato compote, pillow of sweet garlic risotto, and pool of aromatic saffron fumet (concentrated stock). Once again, the accoutrements are judiciously applied, gently caressing rather than smothering the object of their affections.

Jansen - Roasted Pork RouladeThe Roasted Pork Roulade, on the other hand, was something of a mixed bag… The accompanying Alsatian sauerkraut was utterly delicious and packed with an incredible depth of flavor. The pork shank pierogi and natural pork jus were also right on the mark. The pork itself, however, was dry and inordinately fatty…

But what next transpired illustrates how a first-class restaurant handles complaints. Mr. Jansen happened to be circulating through the dining room at the time, stopping at our table to inquire about the problem. When I explained, he immediately apologized, asked if I would like to order another entrée – which I did, the special sole on a bed of garden vegetables – and then whisked away the pork.

The sole appeared in a very short period of time and was perfectly prepared. My dining partner had ordered sautéed scallops that evening. And, shortly after my sole arrived at table, so did our server with two additional scallops for her plate. A very nice touch, indeed.

Jansen - Choc Pound CakeDesserts, courtesy of pastry chef Angela Irwin, were right back on track. Her Bread Pudding garnished with maple ice cream was excellent; her Chocolate Pound Cake with vanilla ice cream even better (pictured). And if you’d prefer something on the lighter side, the Ice Cream/Sorbet Trio – poached pear sorbet, cranberry sorbet & caramel ice cream comprised the most recently sampled triptych – is always worth a look-see.

Managers Kevin Keys, of the late Le Bec Fin, and Simon Dean, have put together a short but select & moderately priced wine list that presents diners with a number of interesting possibilities. By the glass, for example, the 2016 Franciscan Chardonnay is an excellent value at $12.00… ditto the 2016 Chad Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley at $16.00.

Jansen - Interior 2Bottle-wise, the 2015 Heddesdorff Riesling “Trocken” (Dry) from Germany’s Mosel Valley is a steal at $54.00, while 2016 Domaine Bonhomme Viré Clessé “Vielle Vignes” is a first-class white Burgundy priced at $86.00. The wine list tops out at $325.00 for 2013 Caymus Vineyards “Special Selection” Cabernet Sauvignon and $400.00 for the 2010 Château Lynch Bages from the Pauillac region of Bordeaux. Given the monetary and oenological excesses of some pretentiously showy restaurant wine lists, these prices are modest, indeed.

The service is commensurate with the ambiance – casually sophisticated. It’s professional without being stuffy… friendly without being uncomfortably familiar… and always at the ready without hovering over your shoulder. Like all the other aspects of this charming restaurant, it seems to function effortlessly without self-consciously trying to do so.

An occasional faux pas notwithstanding, Jansen is love at first bite.

Bon Appétit!



Alba - Interior 2On Sunday, January 27, 2019, Restaurant Alba, 7 West King Street, Malvern, Pennsylvania, will host a special five-course European tasting menu paired with wines from Italy, Austria, Spain and Portugal.

First Course: Fresh Tuna Stuffed Deviled Egg… Fried Boquerone, Salsa Verde… Prosciutto Americano, Fried Dough; Wine Pairing: Champagne Method Rosé, Rotari, Brut, 13, Trentino

Second Course: Farro Salad, Tuscan Kale, Wood Roasted Apple, Toasted Pecan… House-Cured Salmon Gravlox, Chimichurri, Charred Red Onion; Wine Pairing: Gruner Veltliner, Wingut Stadt Krems, “Kremstal,” 16, Austria

Third Course: Rigatoni with Braised Duck, Dried Fig, Spinach… Risotto of Hen of the Woods Mushroom, Parmigiano Reggiano; Wine Pairing: Dolcetto d’Alba, Roberto Voerzio, “Priavino,” 16, Piemonte

Fourth Course: Red Wine Braised lamb Shank, Pen Nuts, Currants… Anson Mills Polenta… Buttermilk Fried Cauliflower, Romesco Sauce; Wine Pairing: Rioja, Aldonia, 15, Rioja, Spain

Fifth Course: Sampling of Dark Chocolate, Nuts, Dried Fruit, Birchrun Hills Blue Cheese; Wine Pairing: Feuerheerds’s 20-Year Tawny Port, Oporto, Portugal

The price of the European tasting menu and wine pairing is $90.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). Doors open at 4:30 p.m.; dinner service begins at 5:00 p.m. For more information, or to make reservations, please call Restaurant Alba (610) 644-4009.

Bon Appétit!



Restaurant Nicholas Serves Black Truffle Menu

by artfuldiner on January 11, 2019

in Uncategorized

Nicholas - Black Truffle Menu 2017From Tuesday, January 22 – Thursday, January 31, 2019, in the dining room only, Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will be serving a special black truffle menu…

Amuse: Wild Mushroom Velouté, Black Truffle

First Course: Crispy Black Truffle Arancini, Local Honey

Second Course: Black Truffle Tagliatelle, Parmigiana Reggiano, Black Truffle

Third Course: “Pork & Clams” Crispy Pork Belly, Braised Leek, Clam Chowder, Black Truffle

Fourth Course: Provençal Braised Beef Short Rib, Black Truffle Mousseline

Dessert Amuse: Concord Grape Sorbet, Truffle Honey

Dessert Tasting: Milk Chocolate Mousse, Strawberry Vanilla Sauce, Truffle Shortbread, Chocolate Ice Cream

The price of the special black truffle menu is $145.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity).

For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 345-9977.

Bon Appétit!



Philly Restaurant Week 2018From January 13 – 25, 2019, restaurants across Philadelphia’s Center City will be celebrating “Restaurant Week.” Participating restaurants will offer three-course dinner for only $35.00 per person. Many will also offer a three-course lunch for $20.00.

Restaurant Week patrons can park for $9.00 or less at participating Philadelphia Parking Association and Philadelphia Parking Authority facilities from 4:45 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. by presenting a voucher from participating restaurants.

For more information, and a list of participating Center City restaurants, please click on

Bon Appétit!



Stage Left - Paul Hobbs Wine DinnerOn Thursday, January 31, 2019, Stage Left in New Brunswick, New Jersey, will host their annual Paul Hobbs wine dinner and tasting. Mr. Hobbs, one of the most sought-after winemakers on three continents, has noted that Stage Left’s annual tasting is the greatest single tasting opportunity of his wines each year.

Paul Hobbs: The Menu

Hors d’Oeuvres: A Comprehensive Tasting of Paul Hobbs Wines: California, Argentina, Europe

Lobster and Black Truffle Manicotti: Chardonnay “Arbalitos” 2017; Bramare

Seared Rare Tuna: Pinot Noir “Sonoma Coast” 2016; Paul Hobbs

Wild Boar & Foie Gras Ravioli: Malbec “Zingaretti Vineyard” 2014; Bramare

50-Day Dry-Aged Angus Steak Tasting, Bone Marrow: Carmenere 2015; Napa… Cabernet Sauvignon 2014; Napa

Carrot Cake, Cream Cheese Ice Cream


Paul Hobbs: The Tasting

 Paul Hobbs California: Chardonnay 2016, Russian River… Chardonnay “Edward James Estate 2016… Chardonnay “Ross Station” 2016… Chardonnay “Ellen Lane Estate” 2016… Chardonnay “Cuvée Agustina” 2016… Pinot Noir “Hyde Vineyard” 2014… Pinot Noir “Katerine Lindsay Estate” 2016… Pinot Noir “Cuvée Agustina” 2016… Syrah “Kick Range Vineyard” 2014… Cabernet Sauvignon “Nathan Coombs Estate” 2013… Cabernet Sauvignon “Beckstoffer – Dr. Crane Vineyard” 2015… Cabernet Sauvignon “Beckstoffer – Las Piedras Vineyard” 2015… Cabernet Sauvignon “Beckstoffer – To Kalon Vineyard” 2015

France: Malbec de Cahors “Le Calcifere” 2014; Crocus… Malbec de Cahors “La Roche Mere” 2014; Crocus

Argentina: Chardonnay 2017; El Felino… Chardonnay “Marchiori Vineyard” 2017; Bramare… Chardonnay “Los Arbolitos” 2017; Bramare… Cabernet Sauvignon 2017; El Felino… Cabernet Franc “Chanares Vineyard” 2015; Bramare… Cocodrilo “Corte” 2016; Vina Cobos… Cabernet Sauvignon 2016; Bramare; Lujan de Cuyo… Cabernet Sauvignon “Marchiori Vineyard” 2015; Bramare… Malbec 2017; El Felino… Malbec 2016; Bramare; Valle de Uco… Malbec “Chanares Vineyard” 2015; Bramare… Malbec “Rebon” 2014; Bramare; Lujan de Cuyo… Malbec “Marchiori Vineyard” 2015; Bramare; Lujan de Cuyo… Malbec “Marchiori Vineyard”; Cobbs… Volturno “Marchiori Vyd” 2013; Cobos… Malbec “Chanares Vineyard” 2015; Cobos

*Subject to change or substitution

The cost of the dinner and tasting is $349.00 (plus tax & gratuity); tasting only, $249.00. Tasting: 5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.; Dinner, 7:00 p.m.

Please reserve you place, as this event will sell out. The restaurant has already received 80 reservations before the event was announced. To make reservations, please go to or call (732) 828-4444.

Bon Appétit!



undici1On Wednesday, January 30th, 6:30 p.m., Undici Taverna Rustica, 11 West River Road, Rumson, New Jersey, will host its first wine dinner of 2019. Guests are invited to dine and enjoy the premier producer of Brunello di Montalcino with Undici proprietor Victor Rallo and winery owner Riccardo Talenti.

Wines to be Tasted: Talenti Trefolo 2015… Talenti Rosso di Montalcino 2016… Talenti Brunello Normale 2013… Talenti Brunello Riserva 2012

Antipasto: Roasted Peppers, Finochiona, Salami, Prosciutto, Pecorino

Papa al Pomodoro: Italian Tomato & Bread Soup

Lasagne al Ragu di Cinghiale: House-Made Lasagna with Wild Boar Ragu & Besciamella

Guanciale di Manzo: Oven Roasted Prime Beef Cheeks with Celery Root Purée

Torta di Cioccolato: House-Made Chocolate Torte with Amarena Cherries

The Price of the Talenti wine dinner is $89.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity) and is limited to 35 persons. For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 842-3880.

Bon Appétit!