If fresh pasta, seasonal entrées and indulgent desserts are truly the pillars on which Ben and Elena Thomas are building Restaurant Cerise, it will surely thrive. The Bryn Mawr BYOB’s ever-changing menu has distinct European roots, especially in Paris. Chef Ben Thomas’ pedigree includes culinary school at L’Academie de Cuisine, a Michelin-star mentor in Gerard Pangaud, and time at Le Bec-Fin and Lacroix.
Diners can choose from a handful of seasonal selections on the four-course prix-fixe menu. Appetizers vary wildly, from reliable French onion soup to unconventional beet salad with duck giblets. Among the pastas, the standout lamb ragù is defined by its fall-apart-tender meat and slightly sweet red sauce, which is ladled over al dente rigatoni. Also excellent was the tagliatelle in a walnut-basil pesto.
Fish is a popular choice among the main-course options—for good reason. The pan-roasted salmon with roasted cauliflower, black garlic and mint makes for a stunningly cohesive dish. Flavorful and cooked to order, our hanger steak was paired with seasoned fries and truffle aioli (though a ho-hum side of sautéed spinach added little flair).
Indulgent dessert options might include rich croissant-bread pudding with apples, or airy olive oil-almond cake with gingered milk.
The service at Cerise is attentive but unfussy. The sound-absorbing panels do a good job of quieting noisy conversations, while the bustling open kitchen and music recall the sights and sounds of a European bistro. Three-course menus are offered Wednesday and Sunday. A kids’ menu is also available, plus Sunday brunch. 1011 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-4400, www.restaurantcerise.com.