1003 Lancaster Ave.
Bryn Mawr, PA
Cafe Fresko closed in February 2010.
Rating: 4 silver spoons out of 5
Overview: Elegant Mediterranean BYOB that is a welcome addition to the Bryn Mawr dining scene. With more interesting food than Lourdas, Fresko fills a major void on the Lancaster Ave. corridor. Cafe Fresko has some customer service issues (we had to wait 45 minutes, even with a reservation), but in the long run should thrive in this spot.
Food: Called Mediterranean cuisine, it is closer to Continental with Mediterranean influence. For starters, the cheese flambé appetizer was simple but palatable. As entrees, the pistachio-crusted rack of lamb accompanied by ratatouille and celery root puree was wonderful — the lamb was not at all gamey, and the other portions of the plate complimented each other favorably. Same goes for the strip steak on a bed of baby spinach with sundried tomato polenta in a red wine reduction — it was expertly done. The striped bass with almond butter served over wild mushroom crepes was another commendable dish. When tasted alone, the fish was a bit dry, but the savory flavor of the mushroom crepe came to the rescue, providing a sapid bouquet of exotic flavor.
Bread: Served with Hummus, perhaps the most openly “Mediterranean” aspect of the food. A nice touch…
Ambiance: Small, often very loud room that has been beautifully decorated… it must have cost them a pretty penny. Unfortunately, as with Spezia, this place has begun to attract a highly snooty main line crowd… the type of people who will push you out of the way and fail to apologize, as if it is their birthright.
Service: When we checked in with our reservation, the hostess cheerily replied “OK, thanks”, and then walked away without another word. Since we had a reservation, I mistakenly assumed this reaction meant our table would be ready shortly. Well, if shortly is 45 minutes later, I was indeed correct. Unfortunately, this was not an isloated problem — other diners have complained to me about the same long wait, also with a reservation. (They know how to take the reservation, they just don’t know how to hold the reservation…) What makes it even worse is that while you wait, the husband and wife team who serve as host and hostess are not very helpful. They are extremely pleasant and nice, just not helpful. (There is a big difference.) They insisted on seating a large group ahead of us even though we had been waiting 30 minutes longer than the group, and then tried to rationalize to me that they had another table for us (that was still occupied). On a weekend night, they would not seat us at my desired (empty) table because the waiter assigned that table was “busy”. (Needless to say, someone was seated there 5 minutes after us). Cafe Fresko has a long way to go when it comes to handling their customers needs and desires with courtesy and respect. Hopefully the owners will learn this sooner rather than later (and learn how to manage the reservation process), because it would be a shame to see all that wonderful food go to waste.
Value: Excellent entrees at $22-26, combined with the BYOB policy makes this restaurant, while not necessarily cheap for a BYOB, a very good value.
# of times we’ve eaten there: 2
Reservations: Yes, but plan to wait at least 30 minutes with one
Payments: Cash only
Last Updated: 2/2004