Philly dining notes - Tria, Capogiro, Matyson
On Day 2 of our trip we tried three places recced by you Chowhounds - thanks again!
Tria definitely exceeded our expectations. We had a bunch of the "snacks" (tapas-style plates) for our lunch. The place was attractive but casual and friendly - so much so that we felt comfortable discussing tattoos with the woman at the next table. The service was much the same - informal but spot on. As I recall, we had warm figs w/ blue cheese and proscuitto(unquestionably the favorite for both of us) a beet salad with feta, white anchovies with pesto and salad greens, white bean paste (fine, but probably the closest to being disappointing, as we are used to a more garlic-laden version at our local favorite, Chez Sophie,) and a kind of puffy truffled grilled cheese sandwich with egg. At first I thought the bread was a bit too thick but once I hit the eggy sections I was in heaven. The wine and beer selections were so inticing we lingered longer than planned so we could have two glasses each. I started off with a pleasant rose Cava - great on a warm summer day - and then had a Spanish old wine Mouvedre. My husband had a regional microbrew and then a lambic and was pleased with both. The menu was so interesting we would have liked to have had more dining companions so we could have tried more items. This is definitely on our list of places to which we will return.
After that, we skipped their dessert choices so we could head up a block to Capogiro. We shared a large cup with four choices - we had chocolate hazelnut, chocolate banana, orange cardamom and coconut milk. The chocolate banana was a last moment change from fig and probably a mistake - it was fine, but pedestrian. The chocolate hazelnut was delicious and tasted very much like a Toblerone. We were divided on the last two. My husband was mad for the orange cardamom - I found the citrus taste a bit strong but I tend to not be a great fan of fruit flavored sweets. He thought the cocounut milk was fairly one-dimensional and he was probably right but I thought its one dimension of smooth rich coconutty goodness was enough to please me. Service was fine. All in all I thought it was quite good and I liked the selection of flavors (though I had been hoping they would have a basil that day.)
That night we took another couple to Matyson for dinner. It was quite good, but perhaps our expectations were too high. We weren't blown away as we expected. (That said, the man we were with said it was the second best meal he'd ever had, after Morimoto's, so perhaps we are simply spoiled.) We brought along a few bottles to choose from - S. Anderson Blanc de Noirs, Shepherd's Ridge Sauvignon Blanc and Joseph Phelps' Syrah. The staff handled them well and while the BYOB thing didn't save us any money, it was a nice change of pace.
We decided to pass our appetizers so everyone could share. I ordered a corn and crab risotto with truffled peaches and after one bite I was so sad that I had agreed to that deal! That dish, I will say, was one of the very best things I have ever tasted. We also had quail, octopus and escargots - all tasty, but they could not hold a candle to my risotto.
For entrees, I had the halibut, both men had duck duet (breast and foie gras) and the other woman had the scallops. The duck was terrific - the breast was cooked with Chinese five spices which gave it a lightly spicy sweetness. My halibut was nicely done - fine, but it didn't wow me. The other woman raved about her scallops but didn't touch the sides, which looked really interesting. My husband and I both admitted later that we were so tempted to snag a taste, but we she is a friend's new girlfriend and we don't know her well enough to ask.
As recommended here, we had a couple of desserts. We let the server recommend something and she suggested a peach cobbler with ginger ice cream and a hazelnut truffle tart (substituting vanilla for coffee ice cream as my husband hates coffee.) Both were good, but I was surprised (considering my aforementioned lack of interest in fruit desserts) that the peach was unquestionably my favorite. I think that was the general consensus as well.
for me it's a tough call between gelato at capogiro and the desserts on tria's menu. they have a dessert grilled cheese there (which i'm sure they describe a bit fancier than that!) which melts in your mouth in the best possible way.
after a lot of hype, i too was disappointed with serrano. their advertised vegetarian conversions of some of the menu items just didn't work. ah well, can't win em all... and makes you really appreciate the good stuff!
We were disappointed not to have enough appetite to try any of their cheeses there – we think the cheese plate is one of the best possible ways to end a meal. So, the “dessert grilled cheese with a fancy name” definitely sounds appealing.
If we stay in the Rittenhouse area next time, Tria is definitely one of those places I could see stopping in nearly every day, just for a bite of this or that. I can’t say it was better than Matyson, which was terrific, but looking at expectations vs. reality and pleasure per dollar it was definitely the high point of our trip.
Thanks! I just joined, after lurking for about a year. My thought was that we have been taking advantage of other people’s suggestions/comments/reviews extensively, so it’s about time I did my part.
Still have to write up our disappointing meal at Serrano – hopefully I will do it before we head to Montreal and eat more tasty food!