Alba - Interior 2On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, 2018, Restaurant Alba, 7 West King Street, Malvern, Pennsylvania, will be accepting reservations for dinner from 2:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Antipasti e Insalate – Trio of Bruschette: Wood Grilled Pancetta, Cipollini Onion Butter; Crushed Fava Beans, Pecorino Cheese; Sheep’s Milk Ricotta, Local Honey & Sea Salt, $12.00… Local Asparagus: Ramp Butter, Country Ham, Grilled White Corn Polenta, $15.00… Roasted Beets: Local Chevre, Grapefruit, Fennel, Arugula, $11.00… Poached & Chilled Shrimp: Avocado Crema, Classic Cocktail Sauce, $14.00… Arancini of Burrata & Spring Pea: San Marzano Tomato Sauce, $12.00… Cold Smoked Salmon: Toasted Brioche, Pistachio Salsa Verde, $12.00… Leafy Green Salad: Birchrun Hills Blue, Hazelnuts, Burnt Orange Vinaigrette, $12.00… Creamy Spring Leek & Potato Soup: Almonds & Salumi, $10.00

Pasta – Guinea Hen Agnolotti Dal Plin: Brodo, Parmigiano Reggiano, $16.00/$26.00… Garganelli: Spring Peas, Braised Bacon, Hen of Woods Mushroom, Parmesan, $14.00/$24.00… Beet Ravioli: Smoked Ricotta, Poppy Seed Butter, $14.00/$24.00… Lumache: Milk Braised Pork, Rosemary, Nebrodini Mushrooms, $17.00/$27.00… Spaghetti: Shrimp, Broccoli Rabe, Tomato Butter, $18.00/$28.00

Secondi – Prime Burger: Wood Roasted Onions, House-Made Ketchup, Hand-Cut Fries, $15.00 (Add Fried Egg, Bacon Jam, Aged Cheddar or Gorgonzola Cheese, $2.00 each)… Warm Salad of Sicilian Tuna: Olive, Potato, Mixed Lettuce, Creamy Balsamic Dressing, $12.00… Alaskan Cod “Fish & Chips”: Malt Vinegar, Caper Aioli, $18.00… Old School” Chicken Parm: Fresh Mozzarella, San Marzano Tomato, Leafy Green Salad, $17.00… Halibut: Minted Pea Crème Fraiche, Spring Onion, Curried Carrot Broth, $33.00… Wood Grilled Trout: Hazelnut Brown Butter, Escarole, Apple, $21.00… Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs: Anson Mills Polenta, Salad of Pea, Radish, Crispy Onion, $29.00… Chorizo Stuffed Leg of Lamb: Spring Vegetables, Gold Potatoes, $28.00.

Contorni – Garlicky Broccoli Rabe, Parmesan… Anson Mills Polenta, Parmesan… Buttered Peas, Ramps, Pecorino… Hand-Cut Fries, Spicy Ketchup ($6.00 each)

For more information, or to make Mother’s Day reservations, please call Restaurant Alba, (610) 644-4009.

Bon Appétit!



Louette's - InteriorOn Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, 2018, Louette’s BYO, 106 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, will be serving a three-course prix fixe menu from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

First Course (Choice of) – Carrot Soup: Buttermilk… Greens Salad: Selection of Seasonal Local Vegetables, Walnut Vinaigrette… Charred Asparagus: Romesco, Peeky Toe Crabmeat

Second Course (Choice of) – Caramelized Scallops: Country Ham, English Peas, Beech Mushroom, Bomba Rice… Pan Roasted Salmon: Green Cabbage, Red Lentils, Frisée, Grain Mustard, Beurre BlancSlow Roasted Filet: Chive Potato Purée, Spring Onion, Shitake Mushroom Relish

Third Course (Choice of) – Brown Butter Vanilla Cake: Blueberries, Boston Cream… Cheesecake Mousse: Local Strawberries, Graham Cracker Crumble, Lemon Curd… Chocolate Ganache: Macadamia Brittle, Tart Cherry

The price of the Mother’s Day prix fixe menu is $45.00 per person (plus beverages tax & gratuity). Reservations may be made on or by calling (484) 924-9906.

Bon Appétit!



gladstone8From Friday, May 4, through Thursday, May 10, 2018, the Gladstone Tavern, 273 Main Street, Gladstone, New Jersey, will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a special menu, special Margaritas, and special music.

Special Margaritas – Classico: Don Julio Blanco, Cointreau, Lime Agave, Salt Rim… Cactus: Milagro Blanco, Triple Sec, Prickly Pear, Lime… Mango Picante: Tanteo Jalapeño, Cointreau, Mango, Lime, Agave… Watermelon: Milagro Blanco, Triple Sec, Watermelon, Lime, Agave… José Fuego: Tanteo Habeñero, Nuestra Soledad Mezcal, Lemon, Honey, Rosemary

Platos para La Mesa – Chips & Tres Salsa: Rojo Verde, Pico de Gallo… Mexican Street Corn: Chipotle Butter, Cotija Cheese, Lime

Platos Pequeños – Black Bean Soup: Lime Crema, Pico de Gallo, Tortilla… Ensalada: Fire Roasted Corn, Black Bean, Avocado, Tomato, Mesclun, Tortilla, Cilantro… Taquitos: Salsa Roja, Avocado, Pico de Gallo, Lime Crema… Chili Lime Shrimp & Avocado: Sautéed Sweet Gulf Shrimp, Avocado, Half, Mesclun Greens, Chili Lime Butter

Platos Grande – Ensalada con Pollo: Chili Rubbed Chicken Breast, Charred Corn, Black Bean, Avocado, Tomato, Mesclun, Tortilla, Cilantro… Carnitas: Slow Roasted Pork, Salsa Verde, Frijoles Borrachos, Spanish Rice… Coffee & Chili Rubbed Charro Skirt Steak: Black Bean Quesadilla, Onions & Peppers, Charred Corn, Frijoles Borrachos, Spanish Rice… Baja Fish Tacos: Crispy Fried Cod, Cabbage Slaw, Crema, Pea Guacamole, Frijoles Borrachos, Spanish Rice…

Postres – Tres Leches Cake: Tropical Fruit Salsa, Mango Sorbet, Cacada… Churros: Cinnamon Sugar, Rumchatta Ice Cream, Smoked Chocolate Sauce, Dulche de Leche (Cooked to Order)

On Friday, May 4th, special live music by Los Traficantes del Amor.

For more information, or to make reservations, please call (908) 234-9055.

Bon Appétit!



Iron Hill Brewery - PhoenixvilleBeginning on Tuesday, May 1st – at all 12 of their locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey – Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant will celebrate Burger Month with 31 different burgers, one for each day in May. In addition, every Sunday in May is “Slider Sunday,” with the featured burger served as three sliders. Throughout Burger Month, the featured burger of the day is always $14.50 (Slider Sundays are $12.00); and guests may add an 8-ounce seasonal or signature beer to their meal for just $2.00.

Burger Month 2018 will include…

  • Tue 5/1: Frickle Burger with fried bread and butter pickles, bacon, cheddar cheese, 1000 island dressing, lettuce and tomato (suggested beer pairing: White Iron Wit)
  • Wed 5/2: Sweet Caroline Burger with Vienna Red Lager-braised pulled pork, gold mustard sauce, griddled sweet onions and cole slaw (suggested beer pairing: Vienna Red Lager)
  • Thu 5/3: The Asian Elvis Burger with spicy peanut sauce, applewood-smoked bacon, pickled vegetables, cucumber and sriracha mayo (suggested beer pairing: Light Lager)
  • Fri 5/4: The Big Hass with mashed avocado, Monterey Jack cheese, sriracha aioli, grilled red onions and ale-pickled peppers (suggested beer pairing: White Iron Wit)
  • Sat 5/5: Mexican Derby Burger, in honor of Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby, with roasted poblano cheese, chipotle candied bacon, pepper jack cheese, crispy tortilla strips and watercress (suggested beer pairing: Ore House IPA)
  • Slider Sunday 5/6: El Caballero Sliders with pickled jalapeños, bacon, red onion jam, chipotle 1000 island dressing and smoked gouda cheese (suggested beer pairing: Ore House IPA)
  • Mon 5/7: Hangover Burger with sunny-side up egg, bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, sriracha mayo and crispy onion rings (suggested beer pairing: Vienna Red Lager)
  • Tue 5/8: Heart and Seoul Burger with Korean BBQ glaze, romaine hearts, orange-scented slaw and daikon radish (suggested beer pairing: Ore House IPA)
  • Wed 5/9: Rhythm and Blues Burger with blue cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, 1000 island dressing and arugula (suggested beer pairing: Vienna Red Lager)
  • Thu 5/10: Cemita Burger with refried beans, chipotle aioli, tomato, mashed avocado, chihuahua cheese, chipotles in adobo and lettuce (suggested beer pairing: Hopicana IPA, making its 2018 debut on draft)
  • Fri 5/11: We Jammin’ Burger, a jerk-spiced patty with pineapple salsa, rum-glazed plantains, applewood-smoked bacon and pepper jack cheese (suggested beer pairing: Hopicana IPA)
  • Sat 5/12: The Philly Special Burger with garlicky spinach, sharp provolone cheese, hot pepper spread and pepperoncini mayo (suggested beer pairing: Vienna Red Lager)
  • Slider Sunday 5/13: Three Little Pigs Sliders with tomato-bacon jam, applewood-smoked bacon, bacon aioli and smoked gouda cheese (suggested beer pairing: Pig Iron Porter)
  • Mon 5/14: Rosemary’s Bacon Burger with rosemary bacon, garlic-truffle mayo, Wee Heavy cippolini onion relish, provolone cheese, lettuce and tomato (suggested beer pairing: Pig Iron Porter)
  • Tue 5/15: Ode to Jerry Garcia Burger with mushrooms, Monterey jack cheese, caramelized onions and roasted garlic aioli (suggested beer pairing: Pig Iron Porter)
  • Wed 5/16: Louisiana Voodoo Burger with grilled andouille sausage, tri-colored peppers and onions, smoked gouda cheese and spicy voodoo BBQ sauce (suggested beer pairing: Vienna Red Lager)
  • Thu 5/17: Truffle Shuffle Burger with herb-roasted exotic mushrooms, rosemary-truffle aioli, horseradish cheddar cheese and sunny-side up egg (suggested beer pairing: Pig Iron Porter)
  • Fri 5/18: The Brewery Crunch Burger with potato chips on top, ale-and-onion-dip spread, bacon and sharp cheddar cheese (suggested beer pairing: Ore House IPA)
  • Sat 5/19: The Armed Forces Tribute Burger with bacon, American cheese, crispy onion rings, bread and butter pickles and BBQ sauce (suggested beer pairing: Light Lager)
  • Slider Sunday 5/20: My Big Fat Greek Sliders with whipped feta cheese, pickled red onions, cucumbers, tomato, arugula and tzatziki sauce (suggested beer pairing: White Iron Wit)
  • Mon 5/21: The Waui Maui Burger with griddled Spam, charred pineapple, sriracha mayo, sweet onion marmalade and swiss cheese (suggested beer pairing: Light Lager)
  • Tue 5/22: Magic Goat Burger with roasted exotic mushrooms, goat cheese, pancetta and basil-pesto mayo (suggested beer pairing: White Iron Wit)
  • Wed 5/23: Tombstone Burger with fried onion stack, smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce (suggested beer pairing: Vienna Red Lager)
  • Thu 5/24: Big Bold Blue Burger with Danish blue cheese, applewood-smoked bacon and crispy onion rings (suggested beer pairing: Pig Iron Porter)
  • Fri 5/25: The Big Barn Burger with Vienna Red Lager-braised pulled pork, sunny-side up egg, applewood-smoked bacon, shallot aioli, BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese (suggested beer pairing: Vienna Red Lager)
  • Sat 5/26: The Southern Charm Burger with sweet-and-spicy pickled green tomatoes, pimento cheese, bacon, Vidalia onion and lettuce (suggested beer pairing: Light Lager)
  • Slider Sunday 5/27: Brasserie Sliders with gruyere cheese, red onion jam, applewood-smoked bacon and dijonnaise (suggested beer pairing: Vienna Red Lager)
  • Mon 5/28: Yogi’s Pic-a-nic Burger with bacon, American cheese, bread and butter pickles, lettuce, tomato, special sauce and a side of potato salad (suggested beer pairing: White Iron Wit)
  • Tue 5/29: Fire on the Mountain Burger with chili con carne, fried habanero rings, chipotle aioli, pepper jack cheese, lettuce and tomato (suggested beer pairing: Ore House IPA)
  • Wed 5/30: Brewmaster’s Burger with beer-braised onions, bacon, swiss and cheddar cheeses and roasted garlic aioli (suggested beer pairing: Pig Iron Porter)
  • Thu 5/31: Tot-to-Trot Burger with smoked gouda cheese, bacon, tater tots and horseradish sauce (suggested beer pairing: Pig Iron Porter) This special burger was created by King of the Hill member Rusty R., first-ever winner of Iron Hill’s KOTH burger-creation contest

Bon Appétit!



Pluckemin Inn - InteriorOn Tuesday, May 1, 2018, 7:00 p.m., the Pluckemin Inn, Bedminster, New Jersey, will host a special Amarone wine dinner featuring the wines of Masi Agricola of Veneto, Italy.

Tony Apostolakos, Masi’s Director of Marketing and Sales will share his passion and knowledge of these exceptional vintages. Executive Chef Kevin LaFemina, recently returned from a trip to northeastern Italy will prepare a menu inspired by the region’s cuisine.

Masi Wine Dinner Menu…

Amuse: Frito Misto; Wine Pairing: Masi Rosé

First Course: Fennel Salad, Baccala, Mussels, Clams, Sardines, Raisins, Pine Nuts; Wine Pairing: Masianco Venezie 2016

Second Course: Bigoli, Sausage Ragu, Rosemary, Taleggio, Crispy Garlic; Wine Pairing: Masi Brolo Campofiorin 2013

Third Course: Beef Cheeks, Polenta, Grilled Endive, Cipollini, Baby Carrot; Wine Pairings: Masi Costasera Amarone 2011… Masi Amazon della Valpolicella Classico Alighieri Vaio Amarone 2011

Cheese: Gorgonzola Dolce, Crostini, Walnuts, Currants; Wine Pairing: Masi Mazzano Amarone 2009

The price of the Amarone wine dinner is $125.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). Seating is limited. For more information, or to make reservations, please call (908) 568-9292.

Bon Appétit!



One 53

153 Washington Street

Rocky Hill, New Jersey

(609) 921-1053

Returning after a long absence to a restaurant upon which a food writer has previously bestowed a glowing review is always an interesting and, occasionally, a disappointing experience… One never quite knows what to expect. A recent revisitation to One 53 after a nearly eleven-year hiatus, however, proved both delightfully pleasant and gastronomically rewarding.

One 53 - InteriorThe restaurant’s interior, accented with modern lighting and bare tables adorned with crisp white napkins, remains quintessential bistro. And, in true bistro fashion, accommodations along the side wall banquette are in particularly close proximity, adding to the feeling of esprit de corps.

The menu, created by proprietors Caron Wendell & Joseph McLaughlin and supplemented and beautifully executed by executive chef Juan Mercado, begins with an assortment of breads and a garlicky white bean hummus that is every bit as irresistible as it was over a decade ago.

One 53 - Chicken Liver PateApril special starters include Lentil & Garlic Sausage Soup, Beet Salad with Goat Cheese, Truffle Deviled Eggs and Cod Fritters; as well menu staples such as Mussels in Tomato or White Wine Broth, Escargots en Croute and Seared Foie Gras. My nod for table favorite, however, clearly goes to the decadently rich and silky-smooth Chicken Liver Pate with Bacon-Onion Jam. Slathered extravagantly on rustic toasts, these enticing little gems prove to be the perfect prelude for the good things to come.

One 53 - Spinach LasagnaEntrées are neatly divided into Pasta, Grill, and Cooktop categories. All the pastas, it should be noted, are made fresh daily at Lucy’s Kitchen & Market in Princeton. Recently sampled, for example, was the eye-catching Spinach Lasagna, a luscious combo incorporating spinach, mozzarella, and a fabulous tomato sauce. Unfortunately, this item does not appear on the April menu; but, hopefully, it will put in another guest appearance in the very near future. In the meantime, diners may revel in dishes like Mint Ravioli with Spicy Lamb Sausage Ragù and Tortellini with Peas & House-Made Sausage in Parmesan Cream Sauce.

One 53 - FlounderIn the Cooktop category, the Sautéed Flounder is a first-class effort. The golden-brown filet arrives pillowed on an island of perfectly sautéed spinach surrounded by a sumptuous sea of lemon-butter sauce. This is classic bistro fare at its very best… simple but not simplistic; as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate.

One 53 - Brussels Sprouts w BaconThe kitchen also turns out some nifty side dishes. Headlining the possibilities are the addictive Hand-Cut French Fries with House Truffle Mayo and rich and creamy Mac and Cheese. When they are seasonally available, however, nothing quite tops the extraordinarily tasty Brussels Sprouts with Bacon.

One 53 - Choc Chip Cookie w Vanilla Ice CreamAnd speaking of extraordinary… while dessert choices vary, the Chocolate Chip Cookie with Vanilla Ice Cream, which is more than suitable for sharing, is something of a must… ditto a look-see at the interesting wine list. There are a number of excellent – and somewhat pricy – vintages to be had here. The recently sampled 2013 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, for example, is absolutely spectacular. And if you happen to dine on Tuesday or Wednesday evening, the restaurant will deduct a hefty 25% from the price tag.

One 53 remains one of my all-time favorite bistros… the perfect restaurant for every occasion. And, even after a decade-long absence, I felt at home the moment I crossed the threshold. If you should find yourself anywhere in the Princeton area, be sure to pay a call. Highly recommended on all counts.

Bon Appétit!



Crystal Springs - Mother's Day Dessert DisplayOn Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, 2018, Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, New Jersey, will be offering a selection of brunches as well as free golf for Moms.

Crystal Tavern 3-Course Brunch: Executive Chef Aishling Stevens will be preparing an elegant 3-course meal on Mother’s Day. Luxurious options include Citrus Cured Salmon with rhubarb and radish; Cauliflower Velouté with caviar; Asparagus Risotto or Scallops with hazelnuts, cauliflower and black sausage. Grand Cascades Lodge, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; $43.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity).

Emerald Ballroom Brunch Buffet: Featuring fresh Seafood Bar, omelet and meat carving stations with Prime Rib, Ham and Steak. There will also be a decadent Dessert Display (see image above) with eclairs, cupcakes, fruit tarts, cakes and cookies. Grand Cascades Lodge, 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.; $62.00 for guests 12 and over; $25.00 for children 4-11; children under 4 free (plus tax & gratuity).

Diamond Ballroom Brunch Buffet: The family friendly brunch buffet will be serving both hot and cold brunches, including an omelet and carving station, Roasted Pork Loin with pearl onions, peas and red wine beurre and Orecchiette with Rock Shrimp and plum tomato sauce. Minerals Hotel, 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.; $42.95 for guests 12 and over; $19.95 for ages 4-11; free for children under 4 (plus tax & gratuity).

Black Bear Brunch Buffet: Featuring scrumptious offering such as Charcuterie and an endless Shrimp station. Black Bear Golf Club, 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.; $39.95 for ages 12 and over; $17.95 for ages 4-11; free for children under 4 (plus tax & gratuity).

Free Golf and May 13th: After 11:00 a.m., Cascades, Crystal Springs, Minerals and Black Bear will be offering fee golf for all moms. Or play at Wild Turkey or Ballyowen for just $50.00.

Grand Cascades Lodge: 3 Wild Turkey Way, Hamburg, NJ, (844) 281-0548

Minerals Resort: 2 Chamonix Drive, Vernon Township, NJ, (844) 237-1115

Black Bear Golf Club: 138 Route 23, Franklin, NJ, (973) 209-2511

For more information, or to make reservations, please call the phone numbers listed above.

Bon Appétit!



The Wines of Spring

by artfuldiner on April 23, 2018

in Artful Diner Mini Review, Opinion, Wine

Nicholas - Spring Wine TastingWith apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson… In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of – among other things – wine. Usually white wines. To be more precise, at least wines that are more suited to warm weather quaffing and lighter cuisine.

With the onslaught of spring and summer, we do begin to rethink our approach to wine. As the weather heats up, those big, bold and brazen Cabernets, Zinfandels and Bordeaux just don’t make it. Lightness and refreshing simplicity are the most important considerations in selecting spring/summer wines.

Listed below in ascending order – from least to most expensive and from light to fuller bodied –  are a number of recommendations that are well suited to warm weather quaffing…

Petit Chenin Blanc2017 Ken Forrester “Petit” Chenin Blanc (South Africa), $12.99: Chenin Blanc undoubtedly originated in the Anjou region of France before migrating to its better-known Loire and Rhone Valley locations. As of this writing, it is still the most widely planted varietal in South Africa, where it is also called “Steen.” Chenin Blanc is one of the most versatile of all wine grape varieties. Despite this marvelous versatility, however, it was better known for its blatant overproduction and bland, uninteresting vintages. Fortunately, this trend has recently started to reverse. The 2017 Ken Forrester “Petit” is one of the best – and reasonably priced – examples of what Chenin Blanc is capable of.  The wine is absolutely exhilarating, exhibiting refreshing hints of melon & grapefruit that continue to hold sway though to the lively finish. And don’t worry if you can’t find the 2017… the 2016 “Petit” is even bit its equal with a slightly crisper countenance.

2016 Acrobat Pinot Gris (Oregon), $14.00: In 2009 King Estate launched its Acrobat label, which was specifically designed to offer wine lovers quality wines at reasonable prices. And one sip of the 2016 Acrobat Pinot Gris will be enough to demonstrate why these wines have been such a huge success and so highly regarded. Recently garnering 89 points from the Wine Spectator, the 2016 is crisp, well-balanced, and marvelously refreshing… but, at the same time, downright luscious on the palate with a remarkable depth of flavor. As Wine & Spirits noted, this wine is surely “a steal at the price.” The 2016 Acrobat Pinot Gris is perfect for summertime quaffing and/or dining.

Elena Walch & Daughters2016 Elena Walch Chardonnay (Italy), $14.99: Elena Walch is a leading wine estate in the lto Adige region and is also considered one of the finest in Italy. The philosophy of her wine estate is dedicated to terroir – the idea that wines must be the individual expression of their soil, climate, and cultivation in the vineyard – and that this must be maintained according to principles of sustainability and passed on to the next generation. And the responsibility for the family business is now in the hands of her daughters, Julia and Karoline Walch, already the fifth generation. The 2016 Elena Walch Chardonnay demonstrates character, elegance, and great personality. The wine is delightfully fruity and light upon the palate with just a touch of oak. A remarkably delicious wine at an equally remarkable price point.

2015 Ridge Vineyards Estate Chardonnay (California), $55.00: As noted in my wine review of July 2017, if I were asked to name my favorite California wineries, Ridge Vineyards would most certainly be in the top five. Founded in the early 1960s, Ridge specializes in premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay. Although more famous for its red wines, the 2015 Ridge Estate Chardonnay has quite a following of its own. The 2014 was highly rated; and the recently sampled 2015 is equally impressive. The wine is complex, intense, beautifully textured, and reminiscent of a fine white Burgundy. There’s a touch of oak here, but that quickly gives way to more interesting elements of fruit and spice. As one critic succinctly put: “As for the wine itself, well, it is fabulous.” I second the motion… And would add that it is worth every penny of its $55.00 price tag.

Meursault-Charmes 20112011 Thierry et Pascale Matrot Meursault-Charmes 1er Cru (France), $59.99: Domaine Matrot, owned by Thierry Matrot and his wife, Pascale, is one of the oldest estate bottlers in Burgundy and one of the largest and most important properties in the district of Meursault. The domaine’s vintages are widely represented on the wine lists of France’s greatest restaurants and have been distributed in the United States for over thirty years. The domaine farms about three-quarters of its 45 acres, which represent some of the finest vineyards in the heart of Burgundy. The 2011 Meursalt-Charmes is a rich, round and powerful wine with a delightfully creamy texture. Antonio Galloni’s Vinous Media bestowed a whopping 94 points and noted: “This is a drop-dead gorgeous Meursault from Matrot, not to mention a wine of immense pleasure.” Available online from various sources.


Of course, there is no reason to give up red wine entirely in warmer weather. Just skip the heavy-handed Cabernets and Syrahs and look for lighter-bodied reds… especially if you chill them to around 60 degrees. One French wine that responds quite well to chilling is Beaujolais. Forget the highly-hyped Beaujolais Nouveau, which is little more than aggressively marketed grape juice. However, the region’s more serious wines, labeled by the village in which they are produced (Brouilly, Morgon and Moulin-a-Vent), are light enough for fish dishes on a warm day, yet still interesting and complex.

Bourgone Rouge Pinot Noir 2015Another wine I recently discovered and highly recommend for warm weather quaffing is the 2015 Moissenet Bonnard Bourgogne Rouge, Cuvée de l’Oncle Paul, Pinot Noir (France), $24.99: This is a light-bodied red wine that is smooth and velvety on the palate… and it doesn’t require chilling to be at its best. This is an immensely food-friendly wine that goes with variety of spring-summer dishes or is perfectly enjoyable on its own. Readily available through Pennsylvania State Stores.




Louette’s BYO

106 Bridge Street

Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

(484) 924-9906

Louette's - InteriorLouette’s BYO, which made its debut on January 18th of this year (2018), inhabits the Bridge Street space formerly occupied by the long-running Marly’s. A creation of chef/proprietor Steve Howells, Louette’s is a portmanteau (a word blending the sounds and combining the meaning of two others) of Howells’ children’s names: Louis and Charlotte.

Chef Howells, whose culinary training is classic French, serves up a variety of imaginative eclectic fare in his cozy bistro, his small plates menu awash with Asian, Middle Eastern, Italian and American influences. And the chef is adamant: He serves small plates, not tapas. To him, tapas connotes small, appetizer type food; whereas his presentations are complete dishes in smaller forms… And he does not serve entrées; he serves smaller portions of what a typical entrée would be, priced significantly less than a standard main course.

His tasting menu categories – Simple; Noodles; Conversation Starters; and More Like Mains –  invite diners to put aside the conventional appetizer-entrée scenario for an evening and do a bit of spirited gastronomic grazing… And the best (and most economical) way to experience the chef’s handiwork is to build your own four-course tasting menu with one selection from each category, priced at $45.00 per person (you also have the option of substituting a dessert as one of your selections).

Louette's - Greens SaladThe Simple category includes several items that might be considered typical starters – soup and salad – as well as a number of more intriguing offerings (like the House Fermented Pickle Jar). The Greens Salad, for example, features mixed greenery backed by slices of radish, cucumber, and red onion – all rather pedestrian. What’s needed, of course, is a dynamite dressing to propel this dish out of the realm of the ordinary. The buttermilk dill dressing sounds good; unfortunately, it can’t quite pull it off. It’s on the weak & watery side and leaves the palate begging for more punch. Acceptable but far from exciting.

Louette's - BroccoliniThe Charred Broccolini spruced up with romesco sauce, on the other hand, is a standout. For starters, the broccolini is just the proper texture and color… firm to the bite while maintaining its verdant vibrancy. And the romesco – a rich nut and red pepper-based sauce that originated in Tarragona, Catalonia – adds a decidedly zesty note. The nuts in this instance are flavorful chunks of Marcona almonds, with dollops of goat cheese providing a soothing counterpoint to the slightly spicy romesco.

As you move on to the Noodles, matters pick up considerably. The Durum Wheat Cavatelli, for instance, is a first-rate presentation. Garnished with an intriguing shiitake mushroom Bolognese and wild green onions, this is a downright luscious vegetarian option… But it pales in comparison to the Sweet Potato Ravioli companioned by baby kale. The pièce de résistance, a zippy chorizo emulsion, succeeds in taking the taste buds by storm.

Louette's - Caramelized CauliflowerThe Conversation Starters offer diners a number of intriguing possibilities… my favorite being the Caramelized Cauliflower Steak, which reaps the benefits of a rather eclectic assortment of ingredients. First and most prominently is a fairly spicy Madras curry sauce, which, though said to originate in the city of Madras in the south of India, was actually invented by restaurants in Britain. Then there’s a smattering of golden raisins; and, finally, a tiara of gremolata, a garnish made of minced parsley, lemon peel and garlic, which adds a fresh sprightly flavor to the dish. A rather odd combo, granted… but one that works remarkably well.

Louette's - Foie Gras TorchonNot so the Foie Gras Torchon. This is a method for preparing foie gras in which it is formed into a disc, wrapped in a dishtowel (torchon in French) and poached in a flavored liquid usually containing sweet white wine. It is then cooled and left to steep in the liquid for several days. The result is an extraordinarily rich flavor and silky-smooth texture. Unfortunately, in this case, that marvelous flavor is all but eclipsed by an overly assertive amalgam of gingerbread crumbs and granola. A fabulous foie gras… “lost in the sauce.”

Louette's - SalmonThe More Like Mains category presents diners with a choice of beef, pork, chicken, and two inviting seafood selections. The rendition of Scottish Salmon is particularly pleasant, incorporating a diminutive parsnip cake, spring onion, mushroom confit, and artistic smattering of an enticingly flavorful black garlic sauce. The salmon filet itself is beautifully pan seared, proffering a golden crust that yields to a sumptuous, slightly translucent interior. A delicious new wrinkle on an all-too-common restaurant staple.

Louette's - ScallopsChef Howells’ take on the Hand Torn Scallops is even more avant-garde. The bivalves are teamed with cauliflower, quinoa, and a beguiling bacon jam. This latter ingredient is most often utilized in conjunction with hamburgers, scrambled eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches and the like. Here, however, it fits in quite well with the meaty texture of the scallops, while adding a touch of pizzazz to the dish as a whole. Once again, like the aforementioned Caramelized Cauliflower Steak, this is another rather offbeat combination of ingredients that – seemingly against all odds – succeeds in hitting all the right notes.

Dessert-wise, the Flourless Chocolate Cake should be more than enough to assuage the cravings of any confirmed chocoholic… For something a bit different, however, you might want to give the Peanut Butter and Jelly a try. The peanut butter is whipped and as light as a feather, alive with that addictive peanut butter taste. The bottom layer is an irresistible take on strawberry jam. If you’re a PB&J fan, this is not to be missed.

Louette's - Chef Steve HowellsThere is absolutely no question in my mind that Louette’s is a most welcome addition to the every-growing Phoenixville dining scene. Notwithstanding one or two minor faux pas, Chef Howells’ innovative small plates menu is a wellspring of quality ingredients that are carefully prepared and artistically presented. The restaurant’s service is both friendly & knowledgeable and the price is right. In addition, while most restaurants are closed on Sundays and/or Mondays, the chef has elected to remain open on those days (closing on Tuesdays & Wednesdays) in order to give diners a solid dining option early in the week.

Chef Howells’ creative cuisine is obviously a big draw to the adventurous of palate. My only concern, however, is that it could very well prove to be a bit too creative to pull in sufficient numbers of gastronomically conservative diners. At the present moment, the Slow Cooked Hanger Steak is the only menu item that would appear to be even remotely appealing to the diehard grab and growl, meat and potatoes crowd.

Hopefully, my fears are misplaced… as Louette’s is a delightfully innovative and exciting dining experience.

Bon Appétit!



Nicholas - Krug Wine DinnerOn Thursday, May 3, 2018, 7:00 p.m., Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will host a special dinner featuring four different cuvées from Krug Champagne. Jessica Julmy, Krug’s Head Ambassador will be flying in for this one-night-only event.

For Champagne, Krug is like Domaine Romanée-Conti in Burgundy, virtually without peer. Everything with the Krug label is a prestige cuvée, sourced from old-vine, Grand-Cru vineyard sites and masterfully blended by 6th generation winemaker and proprietor, Olivier Krug.

Krug Winemaker Dinner Menu…

First Course: Cape May Salt Oyster, Honeydew Melon Water, Lime Caviar; Pairing: Krug, Grand Cuvée, 164 Edition

Second Course: Yukon Potato “Cappuccino,” Toasted Hazelnut; Pairing: Krug, 2004 Vintage

Third Course: Lemon Mascarpone Tortellini, House-Made Ricotta, Fava Bean; Pairing: Krug, Rosé

Four Course: Duck Breast, Almond Pain Perdu, Cherry Jus; Pairing: Krug Grand Cuvée, 163 Edition

Dessert: Angel Food Cake, Berry Compote, Meyer Lemon

The price of the Krug Winemaker Dinner is $175.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). Seating is extremely limited. For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 345-9977.

If you’re a Champagne lover, this is one dinner you will not want to miss.

Bon Appétit!


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