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Dec 23, 2008 02:06 PM

A La Maison - BYOB - Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore

I just drive through Ardmore today and noticed this new bistro. Anyone been? There's a yellow overhang and it says "Steak Frites" "Bouillabaisse" "Coq au Vin" and "Pot-au-Feu" on the windows. I hope it's good!

53 W. Lancaster Avenue
(484) 412-8009

A La Maison
Ardmore, PA, Ardmore, PA

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  1. They're not opening until next weekend. I have a reservation for Saturday night (first Sat in January).

    Hope they're good, too! I expect there will be some problems (food, service, possibly) going this soon, but I'm going very early. I love that space.

      1. re: rocknroll52

        I don't think so. I did find a link to Opentable (that's how I made my reservation).

        1. re: Carole

          I hope it is good. We could use a good new restaurant in Ardmore.

          1. re: rocknroll52

            Carole: I hope you'll post your 'review' after you eat there tonight. I am so curious about the place; it has a fantastic look from the street. Is this (Saturday 1/3) the first night serving?

            1. re: the dog ate my homework


              (Wow, sorry this is so long!)

              Just finished dinner there. Actually Friday night was their first opening and they told me they were just slammed. But from all accounts, the kitchen handled it. Overall the waitstaff was attentive and I felt comfortable but not rushed.

              My husband had dinner fairly early (5:45 pm) to avoid the worst of the crowds. They have done just the right amount of redecorating - painted the wall a nice French mustard yellow, hung chandeliers in the main dining room, removed the buffet tables, moved the front door to allow more seating, and added a coffee/espresso bar. It is quite nice. I like the color and the large sideboard where bread is cut for bread baskets. They have copper pans, etc., hanging on the walls and it still has the high ceilings but it is warm feeling and doesn't seem so cold.

              We each had an appetizer. My husband had the house salad. The dressing was nice and it was a decent portion. I had the Goat cheese with caramelized onion tart. It also had a salad on the side which I'm sure was the same as my husband's, only smaller. They had run out of my first choice, a chicken liver mousse with bread and chutney. But the tart was very good. If it had been clear that the tart came with a small salad on the side, my husband would have ordered that.

              My entree was the Boeuf Short Rib Bourgiugnon and it was moist and had a very rich sauce on just the beef. It was accompanied by mashed potatoes (very potato-y, not overly fluffed), green beans (haircot verts), and carrots. No mushrooms (not that they were missed). The short ribs were wonderful, very juicy, not too fatty but just enough, and fell apart. I would order them again, no problem.

              My husband had Roasted Salmon with a Champagne leek sauce (very mild) served on spinach. The sauce was pretty well overwelmed by the greens (spinach) but you could taste it on the salmon. The salmon was served to order as medium and was perfectly done. They said they normally cook it to Medium-rare, but my husband likes it done a little more than that. They cooked it just right for him.

              We ordered dessert (not too normal for us) and they have a "Crepe of the Day" and contained had caramelized pears with ice cream on the side. Again, very good. We also had espresso with dinner. It was served in a coffee cup but was a single, so it was a little odd.

              We brought our own wine, a Pinot Noir from California, and it went well with the dinner for both of us. In total the bill came to $80. The highest priced dish was my Beef Bourguignon at $28. Most of the entrees are from $22 to $28. This high in my mind for a Bistro where you might just stop in at the spur of the moment. But the food and the service was good. So I probably won't be going there every week, but it's certainly on my list for good place in walking distance. (And there aren't that many!)

              Last Friday night we ate at Teresa's Next Door, and both had oyster shooters, we each had an entree (I had a very good cassoulet, husband had a pulled pork sandwich), 3 beers in total for less than $50, so that is their competition in my mind. 'Course, the fact that I can walk to "A la Maison" is a huge plus.

              Bottom line: This was there second night open, we ate very early (5:45), had excellent service, and really liked the food. We'll definitely try them again soon.

              BTW, they are on a limited menu until January 14th when they bring out the full menu. I think this was very smart. As it was they ran out of some food items the first night. They apparently had over 100 covers Friday night and had reservations for 100 more tonight!

              1. re: Carole

                Thanks for the review! I can't wait to try it... it's local for me, too (not walkable, but I'm in the nabe often) & of course we're really curious.

                1. re: Mawrter

                  Carole: we decided to go ahead and get a reservation Saturday night, too, and must have been right behind you. We loved the place, even on just its second night of being opened! It was so much like a warm, friendly bistro around the corner. I agree with you on the goat cheese tart/salad. It was tremendous: pastry crust topped with carmelized onions and spread with soft goat cheese with a generous side of salad. Our waitress told us the delicious dressing had a touch of Karo syrup. For main: husband had the chicken with pureed potatoes which was fabulous. I ordered steak frites. I give the frites high marks: they were very thin, hot and plentiful. The steak, however, was blue (I ordered medium rare) and mostly unchewable because of gristle. The server was accomodating and sent it back for further cooking, but it returned to me STILL undercooked (and it takes a lot for me to consider anything too rare). They called it a strip, but was much too thick and fatty. Since it's such a signature dish, perhaps the chef should consider choosing a different cut of meat? On to better things: For dessert, I had the pot de creme which was phenomenal. There was much more whipped creme than an authentic one would have...but the chocolate was perfection. We will most definitely return. And, with friends. The servers and bussers were very attentive and the hostesses and manager on duty were welcoming and concerned. The owner chatted with us and she was a delight. She said she was responsible for cooking my two faves: the goat cheese tart and the pot de creme. We adored the skinny, chewy bread she has chosen. And, it was served with soft butter in a tiny wooden pot. The atmosphere is warm, though the fabulous French cow poster needs to be moved from back by the bathrooms to a place of importance in the main room! A few more trips to some flea markets to add to the decor, and A La Maison will have it down. Do give it a try. Yes, there was a boo-boo on one of the menu items but overall, the food is spot on authentic and good.

                  1. re: the dog ate my homework

                    I cant wait to try it,I love french bistro eating !

                    1. re: michyphilly

                      is the menu for this place online anywhere?

                      1. re: rocknroll52

                        I haven't found a website or menu yet. I think A La is still fine tuning its menu. There were five or six choices for main courses this weekend: steak frites, salmon, chicken, ribs, and I can't remember the others. I don't believe coq au vin, pot au feu or bouillabaisse (as painted on the front window) are available yet. There was a notation on the menu that nightly specials will start later next week.

      2. Staff is inexperienced and needs further training.Server barely came by to see how we were doing.Manager seems inexperienced and not customer service oriented. Our table of 4 asked for bread 3x before it came and were disappointed in small basket of tiny pieces of bread. The appetizer-vegetable napolean and berry crepe dessert were good with nice presentation. However, the main courses were very disappointing with no plate presentation at all. Boeuf Short Rib Bourgiugnon was greasy, steak was just OK,roasted Salmon,although fresh, was bland and ordinary.The restaurant was very noisy and it was difficult to hear and have a conversation. If you want to have dinner at a good BYOB in the neighborhood-go to Sola or Theresa's.

        1. One advice, keep driving through. We just had dinner last night and it was a horrible experience. We had a dinner reservation at 8:30 pm, we sat down at 9:15pm, we did not receive one apology for the wait . After being sat, we waited another 20 minutes to get our wine open. ( Tips : with your wine, come with your wine opener as well....) Half of the menu items were already sold out. The server was nice, I think it was his first time working in a restaurant. The food was below average, my wife ordered the goat cheese and caramelized onion tart. When the tart came, it was no onion. I got the vegetable napoleon with goat cheese, the cheese was out of a can. Entrees were as bad as our appetizer. Desserts, we did not need to adventure anymore. I can go on and on about our experience, bottom line keep driving through. There is so many other restaurants on main line that are much better.

          1. Went again last night for dinner. Had an early 6:00 reservation to avoid the crowds. It's only been a couple of weeks since they opened and the staff is still learning. By the time we left, it was full.

            As before the food was very good. I had the chicken mousse with chutney for my appetizer. We was very buttery and the chutney was a nice contrast in texture and flavor. They need to put more of the toasted bread slices on the dish, but when asked quickly brought more from the kitchen. My husband had the onion soup. He said it was perfectly made. It had the right amount of cheese on top - not overloaded. The man next to our table also had it and when we were leaving he remarked to us that it one of the best he had ever had.

            For our entrees, I had the herb roasted chicken with potato puree. It also had asparagus on top of the potatoes. I was surprised to see that the kitchen had taken the time to peel the ends of the asparagus - just as I like it. There was a half of a small roaster chicken with crispy skin and you could definitely tell by it's taste that it was a flavorful free range chicken. After all that, we were too full to eat dessert!

            We had two small complaints about the service. One, the tables for two at the front where we were seated had been allowed to spread out and as we were the last table to be seated, they had to ask everyone who was already there to move down slightly. A more experienced wait-staff would have kept track of it and stopped it from happening in the first place. The second complaint was that when the wait-staff person saw that our wine bottle had a screw top she didn't bother to open it. Again, their inexperience is showing. Our wait-staff person checked on us periodically, not making a pest of herself but being available when we needed something.

            So, we're very happy that this restaurant has opened in Ardmore and will definitely be back soon. They are now offering their complete menu selection and there are many more items I'd like to try. Next time I know I'll be getting the onion soup!