Sunday, September 11, 2011

Taking a page out of Alice Waters' Chez Panisse, Maison's fare is simply prepared with mostly local and organic food, and the result is simply fantastic!  It's quaint and cozy with a charming farmhouse decor.

But for as small as the space is, it can be disproportionately loud, so prepare for the "lean-in," with a hint of "ear-cupping."  And it took a while for the servers to figure out who was taking care of which table, which was surprising since there aren't that many tables.  Finally, someone came by and said, "Is anyone taking care of you?"  Nope.  Then they overcompensated, and when another couple was seated next to us, two servers doubled efforts and the couple got hear everything twice until the servers realized their duplicity.  Devil is in the details, man.  We all got a good laugh out of that, though, and the tone that was beginning to sour was reset.

And it got better all evening when glorious deliciousness came one after another.

We paid a $5 corkage fee for our BYO-2-liter-bottles-of-B.  While I liked the flavor of each as a sipping beer, and both come from pretty stellar brewhouses, I found the pairing with the food awkward and remiss, relegating my imbibing to the good ol' backup - water.

I usually don't comment much on bread, unless it's memorable.  The bread is sourced from MiLi's Bakery.  Along with the sweetness of flavor, it's substantial, chewy, moist, yet airy.  The salt flakes on the soft butter bring it together, and it's such a lovely and satisfying eat.  And then you understand why extra bread is $1 per person.

We began with two salads, the French Country and the Octopus & Fennel.  Both were flavorful and impeccably dressed.  But the French Country was the more noteworthy of the two.  You really can't lose with the combination of crispy lardons (i.e. little bacon cubes), crunchy croutons, and blue cheese.  Yum!  I do like the way it was made entirely with frisee.  It's a really nice green, and yet I see people pick them out of a mixed green salad all the time because it looks like a "weed."  Right.  I'll take a weed over iceberg lettuce any day.

Entrees were Orecchiette Bolognese and the Roasted Heritage Pork.  Both were tremendous.  The pork was moist and tender with an exceedingly agreeable crispy skin.  Combine a single bite with the creamy polenta, the sweet-sour play of the agrodolce, the toothsomeness and chargrilled flavor of the grilled savoy cabbage, and...rapture.

The desserts, while good, were like the Ringo Starrs of the evening spent with all the Beatles - a star that is eclipsed by better stars.  New on the menu was a savory-sweet custard infused with bay leaves topped with a shortbread cookie.  Upon first bite, you get that herbaceous hit that dissolves into a mellow sweetness, but the finish?  Not so great.  So what to say when the proprietor comes by to ask how it is?  Honesty is the best policy, right?  So I told her what I thought, and when she put it on trial with her own tastebuds, she said she agreed.  Not sure if she really thinks that, but I applauded the creativity and I was really pleased that she was open enough to hear the feedback.  Now that's a great neighborhood bistro.

As for the chocolate peanut butter dessert, the flavors were good, they were fine, and while I love the rustic idea of the mason jars, if there are layers of something, a deep jar just doesn't do it justice.  The bottom held a crust that is almost impossible to get to without digging your way through to the bottom like a groundhog.

But let's put things in perspective.  The food is fantastic.  The servers are friendly, the owner is sweet, and we'll definitely be back.


Anonymous said...

Listen, I really like your blog. It's entertaining and accessible and free from any hint of snobbery. I'm currently reading my way through the entries and enjoying them very much. There's just one thing that bothers me and, as you say, honesty is the best policy, so I'll mention it.

Your grammar is, at times, a wee bit dodgy. Your sentence construction is messy, your punctuation ranges from mildly erratic to utterly atrocious, and you occasionally misuse words - in this entry alone you used the words "remiss" and "relegating" incorrectly.

Remiss means negligent or careless of one's duty. So while you could certainly say that it would be remiss of you to drink beer with your food, it is incorrect to say that the combination is remiss. A combination can't have a duty and therefore cannot be remiss; it makes no sense.

"To relegate" means to consign something to an inferior position. You didn't relegate your drinking to water, you restricted it to water.

To put it in restaurant terms, the "food" of your articles - the main content and meaning - isn't affected by these little errors, but the experience in general is. Making sure your sentences are properly constructed and punctuated is like making sure that your customers have a comfortable, well-lit space in which to enjoy their meal. Making sure that you're certain of a word's meaning and correct usage before using it is like making sure the cutlery is clean. The food is the most important thing, but not the only thing to be considered. Otherwise, though, great job and keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Where is Maison located?

Lina Bierker said...

230 North Prince Street in Lancaster. Have fun!