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Bryn Mawr BYOB Brings a Bit of Europe to the Main Line

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Pan-seared trout with charred cauliflower, black garlic and mint. Photo by Jason Varney.

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.

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