Went to new tapas place in Northern Liberties on Tuesday, and all I can say is WOW!!! Bar ferdinand is located in Liberties Walk (2nd & George?). It's owned by the fella who designed lots of Steven Starr places and it is beautiful!!! But more importantly, the food was great. I think they will give Amada a run for their money. The octopus and the steak with fried egg and truffles were our two favs, but everything was outstanding. Pitchers of yummy sangria for $12.00. Has anyone else been?
it's nearly been a solid month, but during a trip to philadelphia i checked out bar ferdinand with another who has done the tapas thing in other major US cities and in spain.
first off.... there's no negating that it's trendy tapas. we chose bar ferdinand over amada because we heard it was "grungier" in a sense, just less "cool", but either way i still found the decor and what not overdone for what i really wanted... anyhow, the wine and alcohol prices are not far off from the overly taxed costs we get in toronto and so it didn't seem out of place. but looking back, you get much better quality for much lower prices which makes bar ferdinand quite costly.
in terms of food, we weren't impressed with it either. the asparagus crab flan was by far the best item of the night with a lovely smooth texture and a beautifully rich and savoury flavour. i found the patatas bravas incredibly disappointing as they looked like tiny homefries in a miniscule pile on the plate. i can't recall the actual name for the dish, but they're meatballs in an almond sauce... having had them before in a different restaurant, the sauce was overly salty and the meat quite dry. we also got the mixed nuts for the hell of it and the tiny little bowl wasn't even good enough as free bar snacks, especially at $3. we got a pitcher of the white sangria, that was littered with lemon slices and nary more than 3 pieces of berry and melon were to be found. the skirt steak with egg and truffle was well scented but lacking in truffle flavour. it was cooked perfectly but even then the meld of tastes just didn't work, i preferred the steak on it's own and the truffle oil on the egg.
i can't recall much of what else we ate... there was some seafood that arrived cold, some other seafood wrapped up into a tasty bite but expensive at about $2 a piece, their cured meats plate was good with some delicious serrano ham...i'm pretty sure i also had a dessert. oh right, and the bread... very stale and dull!
the total bill between us came out to about $85 and we were full enough.
in all fairness i have been meaning to repost here, as i've been back four or five times since my initial horrendous experience and it improves a bit each time.
the best seat is at the bar, where you'll likely catch a glimpse of the owner. it's also the quietest seat in the house. the music is unfortunately still at an offensive volume level for a sit-down restaurant.
everything's good - i really enjoy the garlic shrimp and the patatas bravas and the spanish tortilla. the cheese plate could be more substantial (as could all the dishes) and in general the menu could use some expansion. anyway, i feel everything's good, just not great. if i didn't live in the neighborhood i probably wouldn't travel out of my way. it should really be noted, i really do not feel it's terribly cheaper than amada. i find myself ordering more to compensate for the small portions (and YES, i do know the theory behind tapas!!) and when its all said and done, my bills from bar ferdinand and amada end up evening out. espeically since the wine that i do like at bar ferdinand (not a fan of either restaurant's sangria) is a cool $10 per glass.
so anyway. will i go back? yes, out of convenience. but i will grumble at the bill. for a cheaper alternative, check out the new tapas bar, isla ibiza around the corner. NOT for vegetarians. but my carnivorous company found it delightful.... and i feasted on some fabulous wine and bread w/ almond/date butter. yum!
Have been to Ferdinand twice now and have enjoyed the food both times. Nothing so far has disappointed me. Last night I had the crab and asparagus flan. It was very good. The beer selection is good as well and am I actually drinking something in Philly called sangria that tastes like sangria? I find the crowd to be mellow but conversational (which I like). I only have two complaints: the building and the by the glass wine list. The inside feels like a department store. The configuration is weird and all of the glass keeping it from being cozy. And as for the wine list it's the price. I think that the cheapest glass of red is $7 and the highest is $11. Both the beer and sangria are good and reasonable in price so I'll stick with those when I go here. Note: The $2 (3 oz.) house wine pour is another decent option.
possibly i just had the lone dud waiter.
i will take the advice of the poster above and i may try it again during "off" hours. if they can't get it right at 2pm on a saturday they'll never get it. but as for how our party was handled at 8pm on friday, i give an "F!" and that's not an F for friday!
My visit on Saturday was mostly positive. We sat inside since it was so darn hot out, and arrived early (5:30) to avoid any rush. The space is beautiful, but as an architect I tend to nit-pick. I'm afraid the black tone-on-tone metal table tops will not stand up to wear -- ours was already getting quite scratched. Quality details abound.
Onto the chow. The cliqcot (sp? "white sangria") was yummy, with lots of alcohol-soaked honeydew, oranges, lemon, and strawberries. Very good quality and quantity ($12 per pitcher).
The two of use enjoyed the mixta salad, albondigas (sp?), calamari with a nice smoky paprika kick, mussels with tomato broth and "fried" spaghetti-type pasta, charred watermelon with serrano ham, another dish I forget, and the bread pudding dessert. The bread pudding dessert was basically a spongey loaf with a caramelized sugar shell on top with toasted almond ice cream. It was an interesting take on the classic, but not what I had expected. It was semi-sweet and made for a nice ending. Our total for the above with one pitcher of the cliqcot was about $48 not including tip. I did notice that they have churros with chocolate, which I'll have to return for. Another item which cuaght me eye, but we didn't order was the crabmeat and asparagus flan.
Our server was very attentive, that is, until a couple and their 2 year old son were seated next to us. The server did ask them to restrain their son since running around is not a good idea with servers going in and out of the kitchen every couple of minutes. There was a small bit of exchange, and we noticed our server made less frequent stops to our table, which was fine since we were almost done.
My advice: go early to avoid the crowds and get personal, relaxed attention. Order a few dishes at a time, as they come out very quickly and you don't want the extras sitting around. It's also perfectly acceptable to wait 15-20 minutes before dessert if you want, which we did. I'm glad we went when we did -- I don't know how servers handle many parties or a large party with tapas coming out of the kitchen so rapidly. It will be interesting to return when it's in full swing.
Rabidog - I also went to Bar Ferdinand on Friday night and had a completely different experience. We sat inside, the decor was nice, though I do agree it was loud and the layout was weird. that would be my only compliant. The service was friendly, the food was prompt. Everything we had was delicous. The standouts were the fig and bacon empanadas, the seared watermelon and serrano ham, the ham and cheese fritters, and the meatballs. The rice pudding for dessert was also great. Overally, I definitely give it an A. We also had cod fritters and potatos bravas which were good. They did have tortilla and chorizo on the menu but that was one of the few things we did not try.
I figure if they do a few things right it might be worth still trying. (Like you said the Garlic shrimp was good). I wonder if they have Patatas Bravas, Tortilla, Chorizo, cod cakes etc. My theory is that if they do these even halfway decent I would try it more than once.
Unfortunately they have no menu online althought they have a website (http://www.barferdinand.com) which may have a menu in the future.
The big sticking point for me at Amada is the pricing ($35 for a pitcher of Sangria that tastes like Big Red chewing gum is too much).
i finally made it over to bar ferdinand on friday... sorry to say i can't give such a stellar review.
the layout is weird, the enterance is not well-marked and there is no host stand. it's awkward, but fixable. the noise inside was absolutely deafening - in part to a quite pretty tile mosaic on the wall, and blaring top-40-type music. with the music, the dark lighting and a massive bar, it seems like more of a drinking destination than an actual restaurant. i suppose it is called BAR ferdinand. maybe i should take it for what it is; but i'd heard soooooo many people raving about the food i guess i got my hopes up too high.
we requested a table outside because we couldn't stand the loud music. we were seated rather quickly, only a 45-min wait for a party of 3 on a friday at 7pm with no reservations. the outside area is pleasant, though we were seated next to a table where a lady just couldn't be bothered to leash her dog (which was no small dog, it was a boxer). not a bother to me; i like dogs, but the table across from me was visibly disturbed - the dog apparently liked what they had to eat. the poor dog also kept walking in the way of the servers and busboys, and still the owner paid it no mind. i had half a mind to take the dog from her and give it a more deserving home! tough situation for the staff; do they say something to the owner and possibly forfeit their tip, or do they do nothing and let some patrons suffer? they chose to do nothing.
i was seriously in the mood for some gazpacho, but was surprised not to find it on the menu! i was also sad to see no mushrooms on the menu. all spanish tapas restaurants i have visited in the past have had at least two or three mushroom tapas! no big worries, though; i try to take each menu for what it is rather than what it lacks... and there were other tasty things to choose from, though not too many filling vegetarian options. i did try some garlic shrimp (shh!), which was fabulous - standout dish of the night. the tomato salad was quite good, as was the cheese plate (though not big enough!). though each plate was priced below $8, the portions were tiny and i didn't leave full.
my company and i had to compare it all, of course, to amada. unfortunately, nothing really even starts to come close - with the exception of the sangrias. i would rate both the red and white better than amada's (amada's sangria tasted a bit too much like alcoholic hawaiian punch to me). and at $12 a pitcher, we could afford quite a bit of both!
the service i found more than just a bit ridiculous. took 15 mins to get water and another 15 to get our sangrias in front of us. ordering & starting to receive the food took upwards of an hour. the food came too slowly, with the three of us devouring each tiny plate in minutes and waiting quite a long time for the next plate. coffees came out and were finished well before dessert ever arrived, and getting the check and paying for our meal took another hour. i placed our names on the waiting list at 7pm, and though we were seated before 8pm we didn't end up leaving until nearly midnight. this is way too long, considering we never quite filled up!
if this place can stay in business another six months, i'll pay it a second visit to see if they've worked out their numerous kinks. until then i will stick to amada!
I very much enjoyed my meal there earlier this week. I tried both the white and red sangria by the glass ($3 each) and preferred the white. They have an impressive spanish wine list that I plan on exploring when I return.
Everyting we ordered was good, moderately priced, but not obsession worthy.
The service was excellent. Our server really helped us with our choices and gave us plenty of time.
I read about Bar Ferdinand in the Inquirer, and it sounded like it might actually be more the kind of vibe and prices that I was hoping for in a Tapas restaurant. I loved Amada, but it is far too expensive and a little too fussy in its presentation. I can't wait to try it. And a Sangria without Cinammon is a good thing.