A Jewel in the Rough!
my wife and I just last night found a real jewel of a restaurant in the rough of Germantown (down the road a few miles from Chestnut Hill). We ate at Umbria and had a fantastic meal. The atmosphere of this very small restaurant is romantic (paintings of a local artist on the wall, Miles Davis playing in the background, low lit table lamps with while table clothes, etc.). The food is eclectic Italian-French-Mediterrean and the restaurant is named for the region of Italy where the talented chef visited and studied it's cuisine. It is also BYOB as well.
The menu is small but with many specials and it is reasonably priced (2 apps, 2 entrees, 2 dessert and coffees for $70). The waitstaff is friendly, helpful, and the meal was very well paced. My wife had lump crab meat and I rack of lamb and both were fantastic. In general, it was a very delightful evening and we feel we have discovered a real gem. This place is as good as any/many we have eaten at in Center City at half the price. We highly recommend it!
For another Jewel in the Rough, try Cafette, on 8136 Ardleigh St. in Chestnut Hill. (Going southeast on Germantown Ave, make a left on Hartwell and then a right on Ardleigh; it's less than a block down Ardleigh, on your right.)
The place is in a residential neighborhood. If you don't look carefully, you'll miss it. The inside is, um, casual. Really casual. However, in the summertime, you can eat outside -- al fresco.
Caveat #1. If you dine al fresco, go in the front not on the side; the fan on the side of the building is LOUD.
Caveat #2: BYOB.
The food is a mixture of a bunch of things -- some Mediterranean, some California, some French. The prices are reasonable.
The Black Bean Cakes are GREAT. So is the poached salmon!
Umbria is indeed a wonderful place. It has been a favorite of ours for years. One correction though, it is located in Mt Airy not Germantown as reported. Also worth the trip is McMenamans Tavern on the other side of the street and up Germantown Avenue a few hundred yards. They have a wonderful menu of creative dishes at very resonable prices. They also have one of the best beer selections in the city, including hand pulled ale. Also coming is a new restaurant, North By Northwest across the street and up the block from Umbria. Dining in Mt Airy has never been this good!
re: Patrick Hynes
I second the mention of MCMENAMIN'S TAVERN, as well as that of UMBRIA, bith terrific places to dine.
MCMENAMIN'S really got serious about a year ago, making Larry Melissen thier chef, and expanding from the beer bar menu they had--also very very good food, BTW---and into great bistro cuisine. I marvel at the talent in thier tiny kitchen: Beggar's Purses of pasta filled with wild mushroom puree, puff pastry(!) containing shrimp, crab or vegetables on different nights, stunning crabcakes and saute dishes, all for well under $20 per entree, many ridiculously inexpensive. And yes, the beer slection is easily one of the finest--and freshest--in the state. Owner PJ McMenamin really CARES about what he puts on tap, and it is one of the great dining surprises I have EVER found in Philly. The eclectic crowd makes it great for people-watching too.