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Boston chowhound coming to Philly

I'm coming to Philadelphia in December for two dinners and two lunches. I dined in Philly when living in central NJ five years ago. I must say that I miss it compared to Boston fare which is more often overpriced and disappointing. I would love suggestions for fine dining. I am interested in chefs who are doing really creative things with food - not just steakhouse fare. Super fresh and creative seafood? Any chef's using lots of fine PA ingredients such as mushrooms or local produce and livestock? I eagerly await your input.

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  1. We have many good BYOB's in Philly - no corkage fee. Is that okay, or do you prefer a place with a bar?
    Any price range?
    Do you remember where you dined the last time you were here?
    A little more info would be helpful.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sylviag

      Last dined in Philly five years ago. Truly enjoyed Italian at Tre Scalini. We also dined at a tiny place near the Jefferson Medical School and a small theater - name escapes me. What made it memorable was the fresh tuna - purchased off the dock in Barnegat Light, NJ.

    2. http://www.ansillfoodandwine.com/ansi...

      if you are looking for creative and delicious, you have to go to Ansill.

      1. Listen to Brightman, he is 100% correct. Ansill is a place that you should not miss. If you go, be sure to get the shirred eggs and the fingerling potatoes. If it's just you going for dinner, sit at the bar. The bartenders are very friendly and knowledgeable about wine.

        Although they serve wine and beer (good ones, too), they will also let you bring your own bottle, though they do charge a corkage fee. I've been told they only allow it because David Ansill has some die-hard customers who are huge wine aficionados, and they insist on bringing their own bottles.

        Oh hey, who knew they updated their website! Finally, the menu! It used to be just a swirly placeholder.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Buckethead

          Those die-hard wine aficionados are probably customers who followed him from Pif. Pif is another great restaurant (also owned by Ansill). It's very different: byob, intimate and French. I highly recommend Pif.

        2. I really like the Fountain in the Four Seasons. It is very elegant, and it has served up consistently great food for years.

          I used to also like Striped Bass on Walnut Street(seafood), but I honestly haven't been there since Steven Starr took it over. I did notice that it was listed as one of the best restaurants in the U.S. in the last issue of Gourmet, so it must still be good.

          I love the White Dog Cafe in University City - it is one of my favorite Philly restaurants. It has an ecclectic menu and I've never had a bad meal there. They use all fresh and mostly local produce. This would be good for lunch.

          You should also check out Reading Terminal Market if you haven't already - you'll be surrounded by fresh ingredients. There are a number of good places to eat inside too, but they are very casual.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JenBoes

            hi Jen:

            When was the last time you were at the White Dog? It went downhill after Michael O'Halloran left, I haven't been in a while for that reason. Is it good again?

            1. I guess I haven't been to the White Dog in awhile - about two years. I actually moved and live in Maine most of the time, so I guess I am a bit out of touch. For example, I wasn't aware that Michael had left.

              That's a shame because I really did love that restaurant. Sorry if I gave a bum tip.

              1. I'm glad you told us that you liked Tre Scalini - one of our favorites. That gives us an idea of the level of dining you might like.

                The other one you mentioned might be La Boheme, which started out by being very good but doesn't get many positive notices lately.

                Three excellent and innovative BYOB's are Matyson, Django and Marigold Kitchen.

                Matyson has a weekly tasting menu that runs from Monday to Thursday; if you will be here on one of those days, you are in for a treat. All the food is terrific, and don't miss dessert.

                Django changed ownership, but the food seems to be just as good.

                Marigold Kitchen is fairly new. It is in a big old house/mansion in West Philly (safe neighborhood) and has an innovative chef.

                I think that you would be pleased with any of these three.
                I know that Matyson is open for lunch.

                Another recent favorite of ours is August, at 13th and Wharton. BYOB, cash only. They call it Italian with a twist - there are usually two or three pastas on the menu - but it is otherwise continental. The menu does not have all the exotic choices of the places mentioned above, but it is small and pretty and everything is always delicious.

                If you will be eating early or at an off hour, you might try Radicchio at 4th and Wood. Really good Italian, and the grilled Dover Sole, fileted tableside, is especially wonderful. Very popular, always a wait, street parking.
                Open for lunch.

                Amada is new, fun and different. If it's a weekend night, reserve way ahead. This holds true for the other places also - we're very much an eat-out-Saturday-night town. You've had other good recommendations. We haven't been to Ansill yet, but it's on our list.

                Enjoy your visit and try to report back!

                1 Reply
                1. re: sylviag

                  I have to second the recommendation for Matyson - we were very impressed with our dinner there. For us, finding an up-scale BYOB is a plus, as we can bring our favorite wines. We don't save any money, but it adds to the fun. Amada was a lot of fun, and the food was great, but it had a more boisterous atmosphere (which was fine with us but might not be what you're looking for.)

                2. another one to try that uses mostly local, organic ingredients is on the other end of the block from ansill and is called southwark. it is owned and operated by a local couple - sherry in the kitchen and kip at the bar. the bar is famous for old time cocktails, shaken and stirred with dramatic flourish. the food is continental american often with a game meat on the menu. the steamed clams appetizer is one of my favorites, along with the farmhouse cheese plate. and save room for the chocolate pot-de-creme dessert !!