Photos, story by Cassie Hepler
Ben and Elena Thomas, the chef and co-owners of Restaurant Cerise in Bryn Mawr offer an upscale, French feel on an otherwise quiet Lancaster Avenue. Multi-course tasting menus and prix fixe are the key at this BYOB with a large, well-stocked and convenient Wine & Spirits right across the street. Main Line’s dining scene gets a little more love through this husband and wife pair and a little more fresh herbs too from various staff gardens. The feel of a French bistro minus the sidewalk patio culture, it offers the Main Line’s affluent and sometimes sophisticated audience a place to escape – and drink as many bottles as their bellies can hold like our elderly neighbors enjoyed.
Chef Ben Thomas comes with powerhouses under his apron like Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, Sycamore, and Callahan Catering and Bistro d’Hubert in Paris. You can taste it in the sauces. Some of the dishes are a little salty at points, but the never empty glass of water next to your chosen wine just means you become more hydrated. Savoring a leisurely meal, is comfortable and casual in the split-level bistro space that seats 46 people.
First introduced to this space for a friend’s prix fixe birthday party (and her first one ever), Chef Ben Thomas was extremely accommodating with having it on a Tuesday, normally a day off for the chef and staff. (Normal dinner hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 5-10 p.m.; Sunday, until 9 p.m. Sunday brunch, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.) When we were so very impressed by not only the food, but the service and ambiance of French music floating through the air, we had to come back and Thomas was more than accommodating.
Overall we liked the lingering summer items on the menu and the nod to Italy and other parts of Europe on the fall menu. Sometimes you’re just not ready for cold weather! The simple, clean wooden ambiance brings a neighborhood vibe without trying to hard. Cerise has achieved that casual chic feel we would like to see and experience more of in and around Philadelphia.