Cerise: A Euro bistro in Bryn Mawr

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Ben and Elena Thomas at Restaurant Cerise, 1011 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr.

Contemporary, European fine dining in a casual setting is the line on Restaurant Cerise, which opens Sept. 5 in the former Main Line Grill/Brgr Joint space at 1011 W. Lancaster Ave. in Bryn Mawr.

Chef Ben Thomas, who got to Philly six years ago through a job at Le Bec-Fin, owns the BYOB with his wife, Elena, who grew up in Villanova.

Dishes are rooted from France, through Spain and into the Mediterranean. 

The two-tiered dining room, with dramatic ceiling, gorgeous brass wall sconces and wood-topped tables, seats 25 seats on the lower level and about 20 seats upstairs by the open kitchen.

It's prix-fixe Wednesday to Sunday: four courses with five or six options for each for $47; there's a three-course options available Wednesday and Sunday for $39.

A European-style weekend brunch - a self-service salad (pates, terrines, cheese), followed by two set courses (one breakfast-y) - will start in about a month.

Thomas was born in Alabama but lived in Germany as a lad. At 13, he and his family moved south of Washington. After William & Mary, he went to L'Academie de Cuisine and turned up in D.C. working for the Michelin-starred Gerard Pangaud. After a move to Philly, he landed at Le Bec-Fin and then at Callahan Catering and later at Lacroix at the Rittenhouse.

When his wife - a business executive - got a posting in Paris, he joined her and worked at a bistro for nine months. When she was transferred to Mexico City, he couldn't get kitchen work so he roamed the farmer's markets. Back stateside, he joined his old Callahan mate Sam Jacobson at Sycamore and later NoBL, in Lansdowne.

Jacobson is helping Thomas in his kitchen.

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