Monday, December 8, 2008

Brunch with Paul Goerg

This past Sunday I enjoyed an impromptu brunch at a lovely French café near not so lovely Conshohocken. The chance to catch brunch at Spring Mill Cafe seemed like a good enough reason to open a bottle champagne. This quaint 30 year-old BYO café, serving mainly French Provincial cuisine, has a charm that is hard to match in the Philadelphia area. The knickknacks, pastels and Tiffany lamps make it an absolute escapist dining experience.

Purchased at Total Wine in Delaware this past summer, I had been looking forward to this bottle of Champagne for quite some time. This Paul Goerg Blanc de Blancs NV is 100% Chardonnay sourced from Premier Cru vineyards in the Cotes Des Blancs.

At $34.99 a bottle, I've been told that it is the cheapest Champagne, from Champagne, available in PA right now. Back in July, I was determined to buy some real Champagne and not pay too much. I wanted toasted brioche, and I didn't quite get it. It had honey sweetness up front and through the mid-palate. The finish, however, was dry and refreshing with notes of stone-fruit, apricot, peach and a touch of pear.

Now, onto the food. My lovely dining companion and I always make a point of sampling as many items as possible. We chose Pumpkin Curry soup (I've have an obsession with making and tasting curry in the past two months), the Salmon Plate (sometimes I just really want smoked salmon, okay?), French Toast à la Michéle, Quiche de Chef (bacon and onion), and B'stilla Marocaine. Ten minutes later, we told that they were not serving B'stilla Marocaine, and that we were lucky, "The smoked salmon had just walked in the door."

I'm incredibly torn as to how to comment on service, or whether or not to comment at all. As a server/bartender myself, I am particular beyond belief when it comes to service. My standards when going out are rather high, but in general, I will be okay if you don't entirely detract from my experience. I don't need you to add anything, if you do, that's a bonus; if you don't, that's fine too, you'll still get 20%. Honestly, unless I see you spit in my food, I will still tip 20%. They are making a living just like me. Maybe they should do something else...but, anyway...

It may turn out that I comment about service gaffes only. For example, telling me that "the salmon just walked in the door" at eleven am on a Sunday suggests that you bought it at the closest supermarket, as most food distributors aren't delivering on Sunday. When you tell me you're not serving an item ten minutes after I order it, I think you're just not paying attention AT ALL.

[End service rant.]

The food itself, was nothing spectacular. I enjoyed my pumpkin curry soup with fennel oil. The smoked salmon was exactly what I had been craving (so what if it probably came from the grocery store?), the addition of crème fraîche and caviar was delightful. The quiche, with real home-made crust, was perfectly eggy, bacony and flaky. The french toast, however, was inedible. Reminiscent of a raspberry and cream filled doughnut from Dunkin Donuts, covered in more raspberry sauce and more cream, I wasn't very interested in eating overly sugary fancy french toast.

In the end, I still love Spring Mill Café. It's relaxing, quiet, adorable and a complete escape from your daily life.

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