A La Maison in Ardmore
First experience at A La Maison on a Saturday night, and I was not impressed. The highlight was the moules-frites appetizer which at $12 are a bargain on the otherwise pricey menu (entrees $22-28). Together with a green salad, it was more than enough for a meal. I ordered it on the recommendation of some friends that I ran into there who had just finished their meal. They said that the duck was just "OK" and that the fish of the day was not very good, but the mussels were. I'm happy that I took their advice.
The sauce was unlike any mussels preparations I have ever had. it was based ond blue cheese and some kind of spicy ham or bacon. Very good, if a bit heavy tasting. I would have liked something better to dip into the sauce than the dry and tasteless French bread that was served.
On a Saturday night I was surpirsed to find the place half empty. Especially since I had called for reservations earlier in the week and been told that they were all booked up after 6:30 pm until 7:45pm. We were party of 2, and except for the tables in the front entry room, all the 2-tops are claustrophobically placed against the inside wall of the restaurant that backs up into the kitchen. I asked for a seat at one of the 5 empty tables for 4 that were in the open area of the main room and was told that these were all reserved--however, these tables remained empty for our entire meal. I can only suppose that the restaurant was holding these tables open for possible walk ins, which did not appear.
The maitre-d's attitude towards my table request I found to be very condescending as he assured me that the table tucked into the corner next to the kitchen door was one of the most requested tables in the restaurant. He staunchly refused to offer any of the larger tables.
On the plus side, this restaurant has a very pleasing "french" ambiance and several of the servers were native French. There was also a large party of French speakers at one of the back tables. So if you want to feel a little like you are in France, its worth checkiing out. The service at A La Maison reminded me of the service I experienced in most French cafes, which is to say not very attentive, and somewhat brusque.
A La Maison is a BYOB. I noted that our waitress did not offer to open the wine. After I asked, she opened it, then set it on the table rather than pouring it into the glasses. There was no offer to keep our white wine chilled.
In comparison, if you are looking for a more elegant BYOB experience on the Main Line, I'd have to say that Avril BYOB in Bala Cynwyd has much better service, and a more interesting well executed menu.