“Good Wine is a necesity of life for me.” ~Thomas Jefferson
“Wine is Sunlight held together by water.” ~Galileo
“Wine is poetry in a bottle.” ~Clifton Fadiman
These are some of the quotes you will find throughout (click here for:) Dettera’s website…yeah, they had me at wine.
Recently a girl friend and I were on the hunt for somewhere different to spend our Friday night. We wanted to capture a sophisticated, yet no-fuss experience where we could enjoy a glass of wine and not have to drive too far. I live in the suburbs right outside of Philadelphia and wasn’t in the mood to drive to Center City and deal with parking on a Friday night. My search did not go very far as I was pleasantly surprised to find Dettera, just a 10 minute drive away. Their website is very alluring. Reading a little on the history of the small town of Ambler and how the restaurant came to recently be…all intriguing. But what really won me over was their “extensive and varied wine list” and “focus on sustainability, locally farmed produce, and the use of [our] own organic garden.”
We had reservations for 8pm, but were a few minutes late due to the rain. I called them on the way and informed them of this. We were seated almost immediately. It was a busy Friday night, especially for a small town like Ambler. As we walked from the public (FREE!) parking lot on the same block, we passed by a couple of other spots that we may have to try in the future. It’s refreshing and interesting to see a small town so alive and growing during these bad economic times.
Once inside, you definitely feel the upscale, sophisticated vibe you would in Center City, but just a little more comfortable. With two beautifully designed floors, we were seated upstairs where there is a more loungy feel and very inviting fireplace area. (Pictures on the website are a must-see.) The staff was very friendly and helpful. We learned that because the Chef uses such fresh ingredients, the food menu changes quite often. (You can see an on-line menu on their website that will give you a good idea of what they serve.) Unfortunately, I am not a fan of duck and there were several dishes in which it was included. However, my friend and I are fans of Oysters so we started with those and they were delicious. We then sampled the Carolina Shrimp. Though we were only served 3 jumbo shrimps, they were tasty enough that we had to split the last one. To go with our red wine, we then ordered the Cheese plate. You can choose 3 or 4 varieties or have the Chef select them for you…they are served with toasted baguette, mustard and mostarda. We went with three: Humbolt Fog, Tomme de Savoie and Manchego. All three cheeses were great, though Humbolt Fog was my favorite. I’m a sucker for goat’s milk derived cheeses. Obviously, it depends what your tastes are and there is definitely something for everyone. The waitress was great about helping us choose what we would like. The best thing about the Cheese plate, however….the mostarda! If you are not familiar with this Italian condiment, click on the link and read a little about it. The simplest way to describe it for me is like a thick paste of sugary heaven to go with your cheese. I have always been a fan of honey with cheese, but the mostarda at Dettera is now something I dream about whenver I’m nibbling on a bit of cheese. For dessert we ordered the Caramel Poached Gala Apple. Though I would normally order a chocolate dessert, I wanted to be adventurous and this dish did not disappoint.
The wine list at Dettera is indeed extensive and varied. I, however, am a huge Malbec fan. I’ve never had a Malbec I didn’t like and at Dettera I tried both of their Malbecs and loved them. Sadly, not all establishments carry Malbec and in that situation I will go with a Cabernet or Pinot, if there are no Organic wines available. While Dettera has it’s own organic garden, I was disappointed that they did not have an Organic Wine on the menu for me to try. Hopefully they will add this in the near future. For the cocktail and/or beer lovers, their menu looks terrific. (You can see it on their website.) Lots of domestic and local beers and some imports too.
All in all I will have to try Dettera again…a couple times! The prices are not too high, but it is NOT an inexpensive restaurant either…to be expected if you are looking for a healthier, fine dining experience. The ambience is comfortable but classy. No need to overdress, but look nice. Would be a great place for a romantic date. I think the Happy Hour might be worth checking out and there is live piano music every Thursday night. I definitely plan on going back on Sunday when they offer a BYOB option…another sweet surprise coming from a Wine Bar.
“Where there is no wine there is no love.” ~Euripides