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Mica Chestnut Hill

any news on when it will open?

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  1. March, I think. Not soon enough for me. Chestnut Hill needs a good restaurant.

    1. About three weeks from today.
      I always expect some slippage with these dates, however.

      1. They're open (at least as of Mar 25). But I'm amazed... already an attitude. When calling for a reservation a French guy sighed when I asked for a reservation for 6. "Aaah, I can not accommodate zeh tabel for zix... you're choizes ah fif or tehn." Really? Gimme a break. We've waited so long for a top spot in the area and we got it, but it comes wif ze noze up in zeh aih.

        2 Replies
        1. re: tapesonic

          not all that uncommon to not be able to seat a large table during prime hours and this place is very anticipated....

          1. re: Bigley9

            Isn't tehn an even bigger number than fif? Sounds like Inspector Clouseau may be moonlighting :)

        2. Went to Mica last night. Tir_ did such a great job reviewing so I won't be redundant. Loved the way the place looks & everyone was super nice. The serving pieces and presentation were amazing. They sat us on time. Yes, the salmon app was amazing- better than the fluke crudo. Had the scallops 2nd which were also wonderful. 2 people had the chicken which they liked but didn't love, the bass was very good and the lamb seemed to be the winner at our table. We were waiting a very long time after our 1st course when Michael came by to say your entrees will be here very soon. We told him we never received our 2nd course. Whoops! We were prepared to write it off as what can happen when you eat in a restaurant the 2nd night it opens. Within moments Jason C was standing at our table to apologize and give each of us a beautiful portion of foe gras! He was super sweet ( and young) (and cute) and it as a very nice gesture. The sign of a well run restaurant. ( See my review of Vine & Fig for the opposite experience!) We were there for 3 hours which was a bit long for 4 courses but all in all, a wonderful evening.

          2 Replies
          1. re: css

            We were there last night too. I agree, the place looks terrific. Same for serving and presentation. I wish my husband had stuck with his original choice of the salmon because css and Tir_na_nOg rated it so highly. He wasn't crazy about his fluke. Very nice gesture with the foie gras. We didn't experience any delays but we weren't rushed either. Perfect pacing. More here:

            www.legoutfriand.com

            1. re: JanR

              We visited Mica on Tuesday night. FABULOUS. I realize it just opened and that can be a risk sometimes, but I highly reccomend checking it out while it's still BYO, and you can get an amazing meal, lovely dining experience, and not outragously expensive ($50 or $60, depending on preferred number of courses on your tasting menu). Two of us had the full 4 courses, which took about 2 hours at a leisurely pace, and brought a nice mid-prize vouvrey and were out of there for $130 (approx). Echo thoughts on Chef Jason C...adorable. Service was excellent, and we were pleased with everything that came out of the kitchen. I loved the presentation of the smoked salmon init's terrarium bowl and the diver scallops were wonderful. I enjoyed the fluke, but my companion preferred the octopus, and the striped bass had a wonderful crisp skin and silky but firm texture that I cannever duplicate at home. We're definitely going back before the menu changes to try the other offerings!

          2. Scallops, salmon, octopus and lamb were the highlights of our meal there tonight....although this will probably be an unpopular statement....I like Blackfish better.

            17 Replies
            1. re: yummykimmy

              Don't know if I agree right now but I will definitely like Blackfish better once Mica gets its liquor license. I guess I do like the white tableclothes and the beautiful way they do the napkins at Blackfish better.

              1. re: JanR

                When I was at Mica, our 5-top table definitely had a white tablecloth. Also, when one of my companions dropped their napkin, they were give a new folded one from a basket using a pair of serving forks!

                1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                  You know, maybe it did have a white tablecloth. (I may be remembering a photo of Mica). Strange. I definitely remember (after I dropped my napkin when I got up to go the rest room)being given a new folded napkin using a pair of serving forks when I returned.

                  1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                    After our next near term visit I will report back on the colour of the tablecloth and the approach to delivery of replacement folded napkins. Also if in my judgement Mickeal has been "unfarily made fun of". To quote George W " I have opinions, strong opinions but often I don't agree with them".

                    1. re: Bacchus101

                      Good luck with that reservation if you make fun of Mickael!

                        1. re: Bacchus101

                          If you need some people to fill out your party of 5 or 10 let me know, I hear a table for 6 is hard to come by.

                          1. re: Buckethead

                            I certainly will let you know, thanks. Armed with good luck and sage advise regarding fun with Mickael we will obtain that table again.

                        2. re: Tir_na_nOg

                          How easily I doubt myself! Not that it's a big deal but I just looked at a photo I took last Saturday night while at Mica. No tablecloths! Just the beautiful (walnut?) tables. They probably decided to show them off since they are so attractive.

                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                              Hmmm. Maybe they were experimenting the first weekend. So, how was your experience?

                                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                  Wow. I am starting rethink going to Mica at this point.

                                  1. re: barryg

                                    Would really appreciate knowing if this restaurant is "birthday worthy". Have a reservation for next weekend.

                                      1. re: JanR

                                        Lovely! Dishes reminded us of Lacroix. Excellent service. Wish it wasn't so loud...but that seems to be my comment about every restaurant I go to. We had 4 courses, particuarly enjoyed the smoked salmon, diver scallops, and chicken. Finally a restaurant that we will go back to in the burbs. Hope people in the area support them. Looking forward to dining outside when the weather is warmer.

                                        1. re: JanR

                                          Also want to add that we have been to Blackfish and thought the food at Mica was better. And someone made a comment about the manager. He came over to our table and introduced himself. It was very nice. No complaints about anything except the noise that comes with hardwood floors, large windows, and bare tables....but that's how it is these days.

                      1. Does anyone know when the liquor license is coming? I am debating on whether to wait for that or try it as a BYOB.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Betharu

                          I would definitely get there before they get their liquor license, afterwards it will be small fortune! The meal was fabulous, the best lamb I've ever had and as a rule I NEVER order lamb because that's my specialty. The smoked salmon was also exquisite and surprisingly I really enjoyed the eggplant ravioli. I went for four courses and didn't bother with dessert, there are too many other worthwhile choices in my opinion.
                          To respond to earlier comments, there were no table cloths, Mickael was extremely pleasant and welcoming and yes, it is loud but they are planning to rectify that asap.
                          I look forward to returning, but to me this is a special occasion type of restaurant so I'll have to wait for a good reason (and a raise if they have their liquor license:)).

                          1. re: TheAmblerRambler

                            I hope they have dining outdoors in the summer. That would be very nice. I'm really happy that there is finally a great restaurant close to my home.

                            1. re: TheAmblerRambler

                              Seems like the table cloth issues is on again/off again! Pun intended. Thanks for adding your experience to the mix. With friends in Chestnut Hill this will be a week night visit to best mollify the crowds, maybe. Chestnut Hill has had a dearth of good dining in recent years, good news!

                          2. I've been invited to an upcoming meeting of a local group of IWFS members but was told the corkage fee would be $25. If this means per bottle, I wish them well. However, it is a great way to pay for a liquor license.
                            CP

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Chefpaulo

                              We had two bottles and were not charged any corkage fee (this past Sat night).

                              1. re: TheAmblerRambler

                                We were there also on Saturday night and there was no corkage fee. And even if there were it wouldn't deter us. How much money do we spend on parking and gas when we go to the city on a Saturday night? Not having to drive on Lincoln Drive or the Schuykill is worth $25 to me.

                                1. re: TheAmblerRambler

                                  We were charged corkage on each of two bottles. We opened them ourselves, with no decanting offered. This was at end of March.

                              2. Any word on when they will receive liquor license? Also, I am a non-meat eater. Are there choices for me (no poultry, either)?

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: lisasharyn

                                  They have great seafood options if that works.

                                  1. re: lisasharyn

                                    Maybe it's just me but I can't understand why people are waiting for the liquor license. I think it's expensive enough now.

                                    1. re: ftarazu

                                      Just made reservations for Sat night for 2 people. Would anyone care to recommend wine? Red or white? Without seeing a menu, it is hard to guess which to bring. We're fans of Sauvignon blanc (no Chardonnay!), Verdehlo, Viognier, Malbec, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo.

                                      1. re: traceofbasil

                                        I had the same question so we brought a red and a white to be safe. We ended up opening both because there are menu items that go well with both. A Sauvignon Blanc and a Syrah served us well but a Pinot Noir would be great as well. Enjoy!

                                  2. The pluses: lovely atmosphere, attentive service, reasonable prices for the quality of the food.

                                    We wanted to get there before they got their liquor license. We brought a very good Burgundy. They brought us Bordeaux glasses. I didn't say anything until I saw that the people next to us with a Cote d' Rhone had Burgundy glasses and the people a few tables away with either a German or Alsatian had Burgundy glasses. At the end of the meal, I mentioned this to our waitress. She said, they probably weren't available when we came in or maybe the server didn't notice what we brought. Kind of tacky excuse, imo.

                                    We ordered the 5 course tasting, which was explained as what the chef wanted to make that night. Only, it wasn't a real tasting, as 2 or 3 of the 5 courses came from the menu. We didn't just want extra courses. We have always thought a tasting menu is an opportunity for the chef to show some creativity.

                                    The amuse bouche consisted of a strange dollop of hard meringue which was supposed to be savory, but tasted sweet, a halibut-potato soup tasting that was lovely and a savory panna cotta that had a nice consistency but no discernable taste.

                                    The first course was the smoked salmon, straight off the menu. It is served in a clumsy to eat from glass ball that you must reach into. Pretty, but awkward. The salmon was mild, the mache crisp, the dressing, an interesting creamy concoction, but difficult to incorporate in the strange bowl. Haphazard pieces of hardened grain mustard tasted good and were a good accompaniment to the salmon.

                                    The next course was an Asian-ish generous piece of halibut that should have been cut away from the bone. Several large bones along the perimeter made the halibut difficult to eat. No spoon was presented for the miso broth.

                                    The next course was a risotto with snails on the side and a coddled egg on top. The risotto was well done, but nothing more. But, the portion was far too small to absorb the entire egg, so once broken, one ended up with risotto egg soup, with some bland snails sitting on their own on the side of the bowl. I suppose this was intended as a soup since a soup spoon was served.

                                    The main course came right off the menu and was the highlight of the meal, a delicious and very generous portion of rare duck with minimal, though delicious fat. Unfortunately, the side wild rice cakes were undersalted and oddly sweet. The pureed pineapple, also served in a tiny cake, was too sweet and not acidic enough to compliment the duck.

                                    Not sure if the last course was on the menu or created for the tasting. It was a dollop of almost too rich chocolate fondant, served ice cream style. Ok, but nothing that made me want more than 2 bites.

                                    Overall, the food was well prepared, but the menu planning was amateurish. If we lived nearby, we'd give it another try as it seems to have the potential to evolve into a neighborhood gem. But, as it takes as long to get there for us as it does to get to Dettera in Ambler, which, we think is far superior, with a much more mature chef, we will not make a second visit to Mica.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: middleagedfoodie

                                      Excellent detail from one who seems to have knowledge of food preparation or at the very least knows what they expect from a much ballyhooed restaurant. We have opted to wait a bit for all the hyperbole to calm down into a more even opinion base on Mica. I must say I would have never expected to have Dettera and Mica, a Blackfish clone, to be compared and rated as noted here. As my experience with Dettera was early on and we have not been, yet, to Mica these are very engaging comments. Great review, thanks.

                                      1. re: Bacchus101

                                        MAF- I totally agree about the vessel for the salmon. IMO it was an excellent dish and beautifully presented dish but too difficult to maneuver and get a proper bite.
                                        Bacchus101- You should give Dettera another try, if you were there early on they have since made many changes including a new head chef. The menu and food had stepped up to meet the elegant atmosphere.

                                        1. re: TheAmblerRambler

                                          Quite right, Rambler. As you and others here have noted Dettera is much improved since the opening.

                                    2. We went to Mica last Sunday evening as a foursome, and were happy that it is still a BYOB. I am more of a foodie that a wine connoisseur. All of us thought that the decor was somewhat lacking in accordance with the prices, but it wasn't horrible. I went to Cuba only once and thought it was quaint. This just didn't have that same kind of appeal. Also, the atmosphere was a little claustrophobic, but mainly due to the overabundance of waitstaff. The service was impeccable, but didn't necessitate the extra room they took up in the tiny and noise-worthy dining room. We were seated at once upon our arrival and stayed about 1 1/2 hours.

                                      The menu itself was interesting, as it named the staff on one page and the menu items on the other. I thought that rather refreshing. Everything was mentioned in plain English with simple terminology. No one had to explain anything and take up ten minutes of our time (and theirs). I was very pleased by this.

                                      When we were seated we were asked if we wanted "fizzy" or regular water, complimentary. Yay! No use of the word "tap."

                                      The food happened to have been excellent. Yes, the portions were tiny, but were full of robust flavors and rich enough to satisfy. The plates were not overly decorated which was a surprise. That's something I like to see as it adds to the dish.

                                      I am a pescatarian, and didn't want meat or poultry. Some places frown upon that, but not Mica. I felt the menu (we all received the 4 course meal) was rich in diversity, at least for my needs. The scallops were luscious and the others at my table raved about the lamb and duck, although said the lamb portion was too little.

                                      The head waiter, French accent and all, came to inquire about our meal. In particular, he asked how my halibut was cooked. I said it was done nicely. He then commented that everyone else thought it was overcooked that evening. Strange. Very strange. Not sure that was necessary!

                                      Get the chocolate for dessert. It was outstanding. I'd go back again, maybe for a special occasion, but hope they pare down the waitstaff and rev up the decor.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: lisasharyn

                                        This goes to show how "different strokes for different folks" is a valid statement. Mica's decor was one of the things I liked best about the place. Understated and classic, perfect for the building and the neighborhood. Food was good. Service was excellent. That said, I still think it is slightly overpriced and probably won't return once it is no longer byob. I'd rather take my own wine to Blackfish.

                                      2. Ate there last night.
                                        We got the 5-course tasting menu. Waitress told us that it was items off the menu, which it was.

                                        Pros: the food is good, the service is good. Each dish had a lot of attention to it - both to its conception and its execution. Service seemed fully appropriate as well. Only real issue was teh first table they put us at, but then we asked to be moved and that was done right away. (There's one table where one diner is really in the hallway, pretty awkward.
                                        Cons: - 'cons' might be too strong a word for most of this, but the whole thing just takes itself a bit too seriously. I felt at times like I had stumbled onto the set of Top Chef-Restaurant Wars. I'd have been fine with some food being a bit more traditional.
                                        That's a style question, of course.
                                        It does wind up quite spendy, for what was enough food but only just enough. The desert that came with the tasting menu was the only real dissapointment, but then we just ordered another one which was quite good.
                                        Up for goign back, not in a rush to, probably wouldn't get the tasting menu agaain but glad I did the first time.

                                        1. Anyone been here in the last month or so? Is Jason Cichonski still in the kitchen here or is he busy with their new project in the old Ansill space? I was thinking of checking it out this week.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Buckethead

                                            I haven't been yet, but was just talking to some folks (not on Chowhound) who ate there last week and raved about it.

                                            1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                                              I drove past there last weekend and did not see the liquor license applicaton n the window. Do they have it now?

                                          2. I am so excited to try Mica, I just made a reservation there tomorrow night for by birthday dinner. It will be the first time in 6 months I will be at a restaurant without a crazy toddler in tow, so I can't wait! Any recommendations on what to order or shall we go all out for the 5-course tasting? rom the looks of it here the smoked salmon, diver scallops, lamb, and duck are all worth trying. I checked out their menu onlike and saw they have sea urchin, I have never tried that yet so I am intrigued!

                                            When I made the reservation, I learned they have their liquor licence but allow BYO with no corkage through August 1... perfect timing!

                                            1. We went to Mica last night for an AMAZING meal, best I have had in ages! We went for the 5 course chef tasting and the chef absolutely took care of us, all in all we wound up with 7 fantastic courses. They allowed us to do a tandem tasting so between my husband and I we got to try 14 different dishes. Where do I begin? We started with a chilled heirloom tomato soup and a chilled white almond soup. The tomato soup was tart and crisp and the almond soup had a rich creaminess to it. Next we have the cured lomo, perfectly salty, and a heirloom tomato and peach salad. Then we had the spanish octopus in a very spicy salsa verde and scallops dusted with white chocolate powder (I felt like I was in an episode of Chopped for that one, but the tastes blended well together). The we had the most amazing truffle inspired course. I had a 64 degree egg over polenta with shaved black truffles which was one of the tastiest earthiest dishes I have ever eaten. My husband had the sweet corn risotto with shaved white truffles. Amazing, I have no other words. Then my husband was served sweet breads and I had a roast squab with sour cherries. I would not ordinarily order squab and I never tried it, and I'm glad we put ourselves in the chef's hands because I am so glad I tried it.. Then we a light dessert course which was good but probably the weakest of the courses, I had a blueberry and rosemary cracker (a little dry) and my husband had macerated strawberries in coke. Then they brought out these mini chocolate creme brulees, super rich and chocolatey and a great way to end a fantastic meal. For every course, they really allowed the ingredients to shine. Service was great but I did feel a bit overwhelmed at times since there were so many servers attending to us, but they were all friendly and knowlegable. We did BYO and also ordered a few glasses of wine and bubbly off of their wine list which surprisingly had a number of reasonable options. The bill was not cheap but I felt we got good value, had an amazing dinner, and were well taken care of so every penny was worth it. I can't wait to find an excuse to go back!

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: AmblerGirl

                                                Sounds like a fantastic meal! I am feeling the need to return based on the truffle course alone. I'm curious, are they allowing you to bring your own bottle despite now having a liquor license? Also curious what your feeling was with regard to the sweet breads, I've never tried them and although I consider myself very open to new things I'm not so sure I'd be thrilled if that arrived as part of my tasting menu.

                                                1. re: TheAmblerRambler

                                                  They do have a liquor license and allow BYO but I heard there will be a corgage fee beginning August 1. We just made the cutoff!

                                                  When we ordered the tasting, the waitress listed out some of the main ingredients that the chef was working with and asked if there was anything we did not want. My husband likes sweetbreads and really enjoyed his but I really do not like them at all, and since we did a tandem tasting, I just said to make sure they did not "double up" on them. They also had rabbit on the menu and neither of us eat rabbit so we requested no rabbit. we told them we were otherwise adventurous.

                                                  1. re: AmblerGirl

                                                    That's good to know, I'd hate to waste a course! Thanks AmblerGirl :)

                                              2. I am looking forward to having dinner at Mica, but my husband and I did get there for brunch yesterday. We were very happy with our food, the service was impeccable and the price was more reasonable than I expected. Very similar to what we pay at Cake or Campbell's though you do have to pay extra to get toast or potatoes which would normally come with a dish. I don't begrudge them that though because the food was much better. I did a mini-review of our meal if you have any interest in more details:

                                                http://www.alonnazone.com/eating/986