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Carmine's Creole in Narberth - chef's tasting menu?

I called to find out that they are open on Sundays and feature a chef's tasting menu for $30. They're BYOB, which is a plus.

I'd like to celebrate my birthday there next week and I hear that they have (bar?) seats with views of the kitchen.

Has anyone been lately? Their regular menu online looks promising, but I'm wondering if it's worth the trek from Center City.

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  1. As I recall there are only 4 bar seats, but they do take reservations for the tasting menu, so maybe you could request those (depending on the size of your party). I've only been on Saturday nights (it's priced a bit more) but fabulous- probably one less course on Sundays. Chef John is amazing with what he comes up with. Usually you can find out the tasing menu if you call prior. Happy Birthday- if you enjoy NOLA style food you won't be disappointed!

    1. I had the tasting menu on Sat night. It was wonderful ($40 per person). The restaurant takes reservations for the tasting menu. It is BYOB.

      1. My husband and I love Carmine's and have been eating at Chef John's restaurant on a regular basis for many years. His tasting menu is fantastic (so is his regular menu and nightly specials). Definitely worth the trip from Center City. When you call to make a reservation you can ask if the menu has been set.

        We had the tasting menu on Saturday night as well and it was wonderful. We brought both a red and a white wine so we'd be covered for all of the courses (on Saturdays at least the courses are: soup, appetizer, fish, meat, and dessert). Whatever you don't drink, you can just take back home with you.

        It's fun to watch the kitchen from the bar seats but you may be more comfortable at a table.

        1. Worth a trip. Was there just a couple of weeks ago.
          Keep an eye out for the duck of the day special and if by chancce they are offering the watermelow and crab soup...get it...it is exellent.

          this is a small restaurant so definitely call....the 'bar' seating area does only have 4 seats.

          1. We had dinner there the first week after he opened in Narberth. Service wasn't good (as you might expect in a brand-new operation) and the noise was intolerable.

            Has the noise been controlled?

            1. ha! i have nothing to contribute as of yet, but actually i'll be there tomorrow eve for the S.O.'s birthday thanks to the recs of the kind people on this board. i'll post a review shortly!

              1. I've heard their is nothing vegetarian rabidog - call in advance and ask!

                2 Replies
                1. re: saturninus

                  ^ thanks for the tip! i just called the restaurant, and they are going to work something out for us. i will make occasional exceptions for fish and shrimp if a place gets really high marks for these things... so, after talking to the owner for a bit it looks like we will be doing a specialized tasting menu tonight! heading out to the wine store now - review forthcoming!

                  P.S. the online menu is here: http://www.carminescreole.com/dine_in...
                  says they have a vegetarian special of the day at "market price" but doesn't go into specifics.

                  1. re: rabidog

                    I was going to point to the online menu, but you beat me to it. It sounds as though they are really accomodating to your vegetarian needs -- a good sign! I think everything Creole is typically prepared with a pork product in there somewhere, even if it's just waived across the pot :)

                2. all right! croutonpiggy, i can officially report back that you will most likely be ABSOLUTELY delighted with your upcoming tasting menu at carmine's creole cafe.

                  looking back on my dinner last night, i can't find a single criticism! every single aspect of our meal was dead-on perfect. i called up the morning of to reserve the tasting menu for two (other than the tasting menu, reservations are not needed). the owner answered, and was extremely accommodating! he gave us directions and promised to accommodate me, being a vegetarian willing to overstep my bounds for seafood.

                  we arrived at 7, and were seated promptly at a corner table in the warm dining room. our wine was promptly opened and poured. our server was most accommodating and explained all the courses to us, including my special substitutions. we were given a baguette with warm garlic olive oil - delicious. hard not to fill up on this bread alone!

                  our first course was a cold butternut squash soup with saffron and a creole-seasoned warm sea scallop. it was absolutely perfect. second course was a chilean sea bass atop sticky rice with spicy peanut sauce and another sweeter sauce that i couldn't identify. again, fabulous. even better than the first course! next up, i received a salmon with another unidentifyable orange-colored cream sauce, served with potato wedges. very, very filling and extremely delicious! i was seriously full by this point - but i couldn't stop snacking on those potato wedges! my company received a sort of beef stuffed with crab in a darker sauce. finally, dessert and coffee. we got two desserts, a white chocolate mousse with praline cookies, and strawberries & marscapone cheese soaked in 12-year-old balsamic vinegar. i cannot recommend strongly enough; GET THIS DESSERT!!! the strawberries were quite possibly one of the best things i've ever eaten in my life. so, so, SO good!

                  i left that restaurant the most satisfied i've ever been with a meal in my life. the bill for two, with tip came to $80. can't beat it. be prepared for a LOT of food, and really intense, bold flavors - and you will not be disappointed. i cannot say enough good things about this restaurant. i will certainly be back very soon.

                  1. Carmine's IS a great place. I guess I'm slightly put off by the reservation policy. The way things have worked out, the only way to get a table there now is to book for the tasting menu. If you want to order a la carte from the menu, you have to wait, which would be fine, except that all the tables are invariably (well, at least the last couple times I've gone) booked for the tasting menu, which has translated to 90-minute waits.

                    I'd be curious to know how much a la carte business they actually do these days. Why not just get rid of the regular menu and only offer the tasting menu? As it is, treating the a la carte customer differently leaves a, well, bad taste.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: chopinpa

                      We often go during the week, early in the evening on weekends, or on Sunday nights and order from the a la carte menu. I'd say that 9o percent of the time we order from the regular menu. Also, when we were there last Saturday night (for the tasting menu) a couple walked in and were seated at the bar with no reservation – this was around 8:00 or so. They were certainly lucky as the restaurant was otherwise full. It's worth trying – the a la carte menu is excellent!

                    2. i can hardly fault them for having a full dining room. maybe their success will one day warrant them a bigger location?

                      1. Carmine's is actually recently relocated from a bigger place. They were previously in Havertown (Brookline). I gather chef prefers closer to his clientele / smaller more intimate space.

                        1. Day after thanksgiving birthday celebration. 5 people dining. Only take reservations if ordering tasting menu. We ordered 2 tasting menus and asked to share one. Chef/Owner came to us not knowing how to do that. We said just serve it, not divided. He did give us little dipping bowls of soup, very tasty. All dishes were exceptional flavor and texture. Regular orders are very generous. I had the duck of the day, fantastic. The coconut shrimp are dense and meaty. The fillet of beef, perfectly broiled. Do not miss the strawberry in 12 year balsamic(sweetened?) with mascapone. I asked where they good strawbeeries were from and was told Chile. Place is byob and I am allergic to most wine, however, a large bottle of white rum became flavoring for the water and colas. Make your own daquiri.Rum (Meyer's Platinum)and water is a very good combo with creole food. Did not feel like a dry triscuit the next morning from taking too much salt. This is a Jewel in an otherwise non descript neighborhood. A true pearl in the mud oyster. A bone to be sought after, and dug up for my fellow hounds.

                          1. One of my favorites! I love the strawberries- glad to know he's still serving them this time of year. I mentioned earlier on another thread that I heard they are moving to Bryn Mawr- was there any mention of when?

                            1. those strawberries are to die for! i just borrowed a recipe from the internet and served them for thanksgiving, and they were a HUGE hit! the super-expensive balsamic more than makes up for the lack of decent strawberries this time of year. i'm also happy to know he's still serving them - methinks this might be the site of my department's annual holiday dinner?

                              1. The only thing I know is that they have been desperately advertising for a chef on Craigslist.com - not sure if that is a bad or good sign.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: epicurian770

                                  Not "desperately advertising"... simply advertising. Carmine's is moving to Maint Street in Mannayunk. It takes time to find the right staffing from front to back of house. It can especially take time to find a decent chef.
                                  I'll miss the spot Carmine's inhabits in Narberth and look forward to checking them out in their new digs. John's food always rocks!

                                2. oh, no! not main st manayunk! :( one thing i love about it is its out of the way location. an intimate, quiet dining room? forget that in manayunk! oh well, i'll still go.