Dining Out in Bryn Mawr – Restaurant Cerise
One of my favorite restaurants in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia is Restaurant Cerise. It took over from a burger joint that just so happened was called Burger Joint and did a complete makeover of the look and cuisine. Chef Ben Thomas, a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine just outside Washington D.C. was trained in classic French cuisine and is now serving Prix Fix Contemporary European cuisine.
What Does That Mean?
Well, it’s not burgers, that’s for sure. Instead Chef Ben is creating dishes that “highlight the lighter more modern side of European cuisine” and serving them as a complete four course meal. Called a “table d’hôte” menu or prix fixe menu (fixed price), it offers the diner four to five choices per course with three, four or more courses. Everyone pays one fixed price for their individual choices.
My daughter and I enjoyed dinner at Restaurant Cerise on Saturday night. For the record, Bryn Mawr is located right next to the college town of Villanova where the university is situated and on Saturday night lost their game in the NCAA basketball playoffs. Bryn Mawr’s streets were streaming with disappointed Villanova students wandering around trying to figure out what went so terribly wrong.
What’s On a “Contemporary European Cuisine Menu?
If you are wondering what you might find on a contemporary European menu, let me share with you what we were offered this Saturday night. Of course the menu changes all the time but how often, I’m not sure and will have to ask Chef Ben. I marked my daughter and my choices with an * and yes I did request the Local Raw Milk with Perfect Chocolate Cake and it was delicious.
My daughters favorite course was the Second Course Campanelle pasta dish. I see all the ingredients listed but I’m hoping Chef Ben will share his technique with me so I can teach Nell how to make it herself. For the record, Guanciale is an Italian cured meat product made from pork cheeks.
First Course – Salads & Appetizers
Kale Salad, Feta, Raisin Vinaigrette, Almonds*
Cauliflower Soup, Cashews, Pancetta, Dates, Fenugreek
Foie Gras Mousse, Mulled Red Wine, Pickled Red Onion, Sourdough
Pan-Fried Octopus, Chickpeas, Fennel, Saffron Tomato Sauce*
Second Course – House-Made Pastas
- Rigatoni, Pork Shoulder, Broccoli Rabe, Sharp Provolone
- Cannelloni, Beef & Pork, Ricotta, Pecorino, Romano, Nutmeg
- Campanelle, Brussels Sprouts, Guanciale, Truffle Oil, Dried Cherry*
- Ravioli, Beef Cheeks, Orange Zest, Spiced Butter, Cocoa*
Third Course – Meat, Fish & Vegetables
- Veal Schnitzel, Herb Spaetzle, Green Peas, Lemon Aioli*
- Belgian Tart, Leeks, Goat Cheese, Sunflower Seeds, Cherry Vinaigrette
- Pan-Seared Barramundi, Butternut Squash, Arugula, Country Ham, Balsamic Vinegar
- Roast Quail, Red Cabbage*
- 12oz New York Strip au Poivre, Grass-Fed Beef, Herb Frites, Cognac Demi
Fourth Course – Desserts
Spaghetti Eis, Vanilla, White Chocolate, Strawberry Sauce
P’tit Basque Cheese, Cherries, Thyme, Sesame Crackers
Warm Rice Pudding, Clove, Quince Jam, Pistachio*
Perfect Chocolate Cake, Glass of Local Raw Milk Upon Request*
More On Chef Ben Thomas
For those of you who are familiar with the Philadelphia restaurant scene, Chef Thomas worked at Rittenhouse Hotel’s Restaurant, LaCroix, and Sycamore in Lansdowne, PA before he joined his wife Elena in France in 2010 to work at a bistro in Paris. He and Elena traveled throughout Europe “exploring outdoor food markets and regional cuisine.”
From there they moved to Mexico City where Chef Thomas experimented with new ingredients and techniques that became his inspiration for Restaurant Cerise. I know there is a lot more I can learn about Ben and hope to interview him soon to ask him about some of these experiences.
I learned about Restaurant Cerise from my primary care doctor whose niece is Elena, Ben’s wife. He knew how much I enjoyed food and he told me about Ben and Elena while they were in Europe and then Mexico. When the restaurant opened, he insisted I give it a try. It took a few months before I finally managed to get there but was thrilled after my first experience.
I’ve been back a few times now and decided to take my daughter there on Saturday night and while sitting there enjoying our meal, who do think walks in? My primary care doctor with his wife and family. Small world!
Restaurant Cerise is a BYOB restaurant and is located at 1011 W. Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA. Their phone number is (610) 527-4400 and there website is at Restaurant Cerise. They are open from Wednesday thru Sunday for dinner only.
Chef Ben hosts Special Events from time to time and if you go to their website you can learn more about these events. Ben told me about an upcoming Game of Thrones tasting dinner on April 12 for all those fans of the show.
If you live in the area or are in Philadelphia for a visit and looking for some very good food, a visit to Ben’s Restaurant Cerise is a great choice.