Searching for the perfect "grandmother" restaurant
- Jeff Shore
At some point months in the future, I will likely have the opportunity to take my grandmother out to dinner in Philadelphia. I was born and raised (and live) in Los Angeles, and love traditional Philly food...probably more than she does. I always end up dragging her to Nifty Fifty's or Reading Market against her will. This next visit, however, I would like to find something that she could really love.
She values service and decor over food, and judges a restaurant more than anything else by how fresh and hot the bread is when served. She is highly, HIGHLY unadventurous - probably her favorite place that I have taken her is the Country Club Diner in NE Philly.
With those confining requirements in mind, can anyone recommend a more formal, more "luxurious" restaurant?
Jeff, you sound like you have a challenge before you, but not an insurmountable one. I will put in my 2 cents here and hopefully you'll get somemore responses as well. There is also the question of how much you want to spend as well.
In the city itself I would recommend the following: The Inn Philadelphia - a beautiful restaurant in an over 200 yr. old brick townhouse. It has outdoor dining in a small garden in warm weather, fireplaces in cold weather, and a piano bar. Food is straight ahead American/Continental, unadventurous but good. Every dining room is beautiful and I found service to be good. It is located on a tiny little side street (251 S. Camac St., between 12th & 13th Sts.) (215) 732-2339 Entrees $20-30?
The Garden - very good traditional American food in a nice setting. Has been around forever and a favorite of the older crowd. I recently saw on the news that there was a fire there so I don't know what's up now. 1617 Spruce St., (215) 546-4455 Entrees $20-35?
Overtures - one of my favorite places to go in Philly. A small, romantically decorated restaurant with outstanding food that is traditional with French accents (rack of lamb, veal, duck, salmon, etc.). I believe they have a 3 course price fixe for $49 per person. Excellent service and it is also BYOB. 609 Passyunk Ave (near South St.) (215) 627-3455
If you venture to the Northern suburbs (Montgomery County where I live), there is The Mainland Inn and The William Penn Inn. Both good for seniors (Mainland Inn has better food).
Hope this helps and good luck. I hope Grandmom enjoys herself!
I believe La Terrase in University City is once again open; If grandmere likes fish, there is always Striped Bass, and what about the City Tavern in Old City - reconstructed Colonial tavern on Second Street just south of Chestnut, updated Colonial food (sounds like grandmama, no?) - a charming atmosphere, staff in Colonial garb and utterly dedicated to making sure you enjoy yourself.
The White Dog Cafe in West Philly (34th & Sansom on Penn campus) is quite lovely. There are many different rooms, lots of funky antiques and artwork and the food is very good. They use a lot of fresh seasonal ingredients so the food is contemporary but not so "out there" as to frighten off granny. The side dishes are all well matched to the entrees they accompany and they serve delicious artisan type bread from Metropolitan Bakery, I think. Service is efficient and friendly. Definitely a nice "grandma" kind of place.
This makes me nostalgic for the days when I needed to find restaurants for my mother.
In town, I would recommend Cutters - comfortable seats, good bread, and a straightforward menu. They have an Early Bird, too. Many older people don't like expensive places; they feel you are being "taken."
Marco's on Vine St. (has parking) gives you a choice of breads from Le Bus, and they do an excellent roast chicken; she might like that and you definitely would.
My mother and her friends loved Williamson's on City Ave., reminiscent of the old Stouffers, clientele quite elderly.
If you want to venture out of the city, try Yorktown Inn in Jenkintown or Wm. Penn Inn on Route 202, both popular with seniors.
In New Jersey suburbs, she would enjoy Ristorante Fieni on Burnt Mill Rd in Voorhees - small rooms, lovely service. The bread basket is great at Ponzio's on Route 70 - one roll is like a cheese Danish. It is a large diner-type restaurant with fresh, unadventurous choices.
Moonstruck, in the Northeast on Oxford Ave., is pleasant and popular.
The Garden is now closed, but my mother found that much too expensive. She could afford it, but it was against her principles to pay so much for food.
Enjoy, and don't grimace when your grandmother orders broiled flounder well done!