Manon - Lambertville, NJ
Since I didn't see a Manon specific thread, I figured I'd give it a thread of it's own. From our BLOG dated 22 JAN 2010:
Manon is yet another restaurant that we have been meaning to visit in Lambertville, and once again, I was much impressed.
I called and made a reservation yesterday (Thursday) for 7:30PM tonight, and on the phone I was reminded that they are cash or check only, and BYOB. This is a nice reminder for someone who is unaware. Had the gentleman not said anything to me, chances are I would not have gotten cash, and would have had to take a quick walk to the ATM. Thankfully that was not the case.
We actually arrived in Lambertville a half hour early, and they were able to seat us before out 7:30 reservation. At the time, there were just two other tables seated, and this was a bit surprising based on all the positive reviews I have seen and heard. But we'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
We were greeted and seated by our server who's name I don't think we were ever told, but she was very pleasant. I immediately moved their stemware aside, and pulled two Riedel glasses out of our carrying bag, along with a 2003 Fiddlehead pinot noir 728. Talk about a great, mature pinot noir at it's peak, but with many years left. Be sure to read my review on this wine in the posting below this on our BLOG
After a few minutes looking at the menu, we decided to start with an appetizer, and have the Prince Edward Island mussels in a lobster sauce, with cellar root and a nice broth. Meanwhile, Zelda enjoyed a few olives and we both enjoyed the fresh, warm bread they brought out. The mussels came out, and for $13, this was a heck of a deal. They came out in a large bowl, and if I had to guess, there were 3 dozen there, maybe even 4 dozen. They came out steaming hot, and had a great fresh nose. You could see the celery root garnished all over the mussels, and the translucent broth. I will say that the broth itself was not super flavorful, and didn’t add a very dynamic element to the mussels. It was a bit bland, and could have used something to give it a little flavor. I will however say that these were some of the plumpest, most sweet and succulent mussels we have had in the area, and were a real treat. The quality of these mussels definitely made up for the lack of complexity in the broth, but I would order them again just based on the quality and freshness displayed. The portion size made this a bargain as well, and this would make for a great lunch.
Some time (10-15 minutes at most) passed in between finishing our appetizer and our dinner, and we just enjoyed some great conversation and talked about the ambiance. By this point, all but 2 tables in the restaurant were full, and it was amazing to overhear and observe how many people were speaking French in the restaurant. For a French-esq restaurant, I think that it speaks for itself that they are coming here and enjoying their cuisine.
We also enjoyed the nice warm colors on the walls, along with the nice décor. From the giant candle hurricanes on the tables, to the huge vase with lilies sitting on a table behind Zelda, to the Picasso “Starry Night” theme inspired ceiling. The lighting was dark, the feeling was warm and cozy, and this is just a romantic place to take your sweetie out on a date. I know that I really enjoyed it, and I would go back again just for the warm feeling I got from the dining room, and the mussles!
On to dinner, Zelda’s scallops came out, topped with a perfectly cooked piece of puffed pastry. I will try to get her comments on her thought, but my thoughts were that the scallops were perfectly cleaned and cooked. There was no grittiness to them, the rubber like texture, and they were just perfect. One comment that she made was that she wishes they had a bit of caramelization on them from the pan, and as usual she was spot on. The sauce added a nice element, and it was very pleasurable. The size of beans, carrots, and au gratin potatoes were nice as well.
My rack of lamb came out steaming hot, and looked gorgeous. There are not many places that I will go for the first time and order rack of lamb. Oliver-A Bistro in Bordentown is usually my go to place for rack of lamb, but the mustard and thyme crust sounded really nice, and I was really in the mood for lamb tonight. Had I known that originally, I would have brought along a Maybach cabernet sauvignon, but live and learn.
They came out perfectly medium rare, with a nice redness to them that almost looked as though it were painted (I mean this is a good way). The outside had a very nice sear on them, but the inside was hot, pink, and juicy! Man were these heaven, and I couldn’t have cooked them better myself. The mustard and thyme added a very nice crusty quality to them, with a little tang, and a little spice, and the crust was not burnt in the least, with some nice color. This paired nicely with the red sauce, which I am assuming was wine based, however I might be incorrect. Regardless, the 6 “lollipops” were the perfect portion, and I could not have been any happier. The quality of the meat was very nice, and they took the time to trim them nicely, so there was next to no fat. Like Zelda’s dish, mine was paired with a nice, cheesy potato gratin, long cut green beans, and carrots with a nice sweet caramelization to them.
Needless to say, neither of us saved room for dessert, so we finished the last of the Fiddlehead pinot noir, before heading out. In short, this was a great, romantic evening, filled with pleasurable ambiance, good service, and great cuisine. Total bill came in just under $80 (tip excluded), and it was worth every penny. I look forward to our next visit, and I am sure we will be back sometime in the Spring when the weather gets nice.
After dinner we ended up spending some time with Arounkone, who is the owner of Pure Energy Cycling and Java House for a great cup of coffee while browsing the “Ferrari of Bicycles” in his shop! Like a kid in a candy store! Cheers!
I love Manon and have loved it since I first went almost twenty years ago. Thanks for giving it its own thread.
I know from a previous thread that you are a fan of Pure Energy Cycling and Java House, but the next time you're at Manon try their coffee, which is from Rojo's Roastery down past Bell's Tavern.
Oh, and one final thing. Starry Night is by Van Gogh, not Picasso (you may still have time to correct this! :-)) ). Some consider it Van Gogh's most famous painting. It is almost certainly the most reproduced.
Oh snap! Thanks ambrose! Corrected. Why did I think that? I even asked Zelda about it while we were sitting there and she said Van Gogh. Damn there is nothing hotter than a smart blonde!
Will definitely check out their coffee the next go around, and hopefully save room for dessert. But I really wanted to browse the bike stuff, and he said he'd stay open for us, so we didn't want to keep him waiting. -mJ
Oh, that review had me drooling. Will be in Lambertville for the weekend this weekend, and thinking of Manon for dinner. I know, getting late for to make reservations. It all depends on if it is just my husband and I or if my sister joins us. If just he and I, will be either Manon or Tastebuds in New Hope. Have been to Manon twice and Tastebuds only once, that is why leaning towards Tastebuds. But with that review, hmmmmm, has me thinking.
If my sister joins us, probably will be DeAnnas. She is fussy and doesn't have a ton of money. Plus we've never been to DeAnnas.
KathyH, I have not been to DeAnna's since the restaurant moved several years ago. I really liked the old place but something apparently went wrong after the move. Check out the following link, which I hasten to mention is two to three years old. Most comments at that time were negative, and one of the positive comments came from someone who never again posted on Chowhound.
I don't think you can go wrong with Manon or Tastebuds but for selfish reasons I'm hoping you will "take one for the team", go to DeAnna's and let us know what it was like! :-))
Ambrose, I am a team player, but not playing for the team this weekend, sorry.
Turns out it will only be my husband and I on Saturday so was deciding between Manon and Tastebuds. But all I could think about was the Manon review above and that clinched it. Made reservations for Manon.
We are staying in Lambertville and I like that with Manon we can go to The Boathouse for a pre dinner drink, have dinner at Manon and then the Left Bank for an apres dinner drink. Can do the same with Tastebuds but easier with Manon. Plus french cuisine is my favorite!
Heatherb, we only went to Tastebuds once and it was three or four years ago. Not sure why we haven't been back, I guess because it is sort of off the radar. It was very good from what I remember. The place is very small, but quaint. Service and food were good. We will make it a stop on one of our next trips to the area.
You can check out their menu here -
Thanks for the link, KathyH. I peer in the window of Tastebuds from time to time and wish I would remember it was there when I'm actually in New Hope for dinner!
Ahhhh, the Boathouse. Only bar I've ever been thrown out of:D Not because of anything I did, but one of my companions was a bit rowdy, and his wife was asked to escort him elsewhere. Oy vey.
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!