Avril in Bala
I just tried out a new local rest. on the Mail Line with three others. It was a Saturday night so they should have been at the top of their game. The menu is French with some Italian thrown in for good measure. I had one of the worst meals I have ever had ,and its too bad because I wanted to like the place. The house salad was just O.K, when one of my dinning companions asked for more dressing because it was underdressed for her taste,the snippy hostess had the nerve to tell her it was done the " French way ". Does she think we just crawled out from under a rock?I found this to be so rude considering she probably has eaten more terrific French meals than anyone Ive known. I ordered rack of lamb,the most expensive dish on the menu. When it came to the table it reeked with a fowl odor. I couldnt believe my nose, I have never had such old piece of meat served to me before . My dinner companions noticed it too and we sent it back,yuck!!! O.K. things were not working out to say the least. We also ordered pasta that was just O.K ,they had forgotten to salt it ,it had no flavor . We were comped desert , it was very average ,considering they bake in house. I will say that the chef did the right thing and came out before we left and gave his apology and comped us a meal in the future. Not sure if Ill go back even with the comp... If I were you I would wait on this place and see if they get their act together. In a nut shell the service was poor and the food was bad,what else can I say?
Had a very different experience -- 3 meals here so far, since the summer -- we are giving the kitchen a chance to find its footing. Overall, the reviews seem so polarized that I'm guessing there are two different sets of expectations in play here. If you enjoy following a restaurant develop and are looking for interesting bistro fare, this is a good bet.
Latest visit (last night) it was bustling, warm, and lively. Maybe we've just been lucky with our choices, but we've found the food better with every visit. I like that nearly every component is prepared there (if it calls for pickled onions, the chef pickles his own). And the purchasing is excellent: we had a very fine piece of Black Ruff (South African -- coming a long way so needs to be handled correctly) on nutty, savory faro with herbs and tomatoes.
Our foodie teens loved it -- posted on that before on a different thread. I'm sure that the positive cross-generational dining experience colored our sense of it all.
134 Bala Ave, Belmont Hills, PA 19004
Does adding coq au vin (made with a young? chicken) to the menu make this a bistro ? Especially taking off the steak-frites ?
I'm willing to give it a third shot, but unless it has developed SIGNIFICANT footing since the summer, it will be 86ed from our list for good. If they truly stuck to classic preparations of standard bistro fare I think I'd be more inclined to like them. As it stands, I think they over-reach and fail. They set the expectations, NOT the diners....
Now a days, any chef worth his or her salt pickles their own onions, makes mostly their own components for their menu and purchases seasonal ingredients... that still doesn't mean it's good. I remember the radio ads for the old John Harvards Brew House... they would boast about making their own mayo from scratch... it doesn't mean I want to eat there. After my one awful meal there (which I wrote about on the other thread), they are off my list for good.
There is a whole thread on Avril elsewhere on this board. Some people liked it, and others did not. My experiences were certainly not as bad as yours, but I found the food bland, waitstaff barely competent, and the owners very nice.
I would really like to see this place succeed, but fundamentally, if you have sub-par service and food that is less-tan-tasty, chances of survival are slim.