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Nov 15, 2006 12:56 PM

Opinions on August (Philadelphia)?

Based on the recommendations of my fellow hounds, I made a reservation at August this weekend (when people say something is a hidden gem, my ears perk up). But I took a look at the menu on their website last night, and frankly was underwhelmed. Now, I know that menu descriptions can't accurately convey the dining experience ... but aside from the few classics on the menu which I can only assume are done right (gnocchi, bolognese), very little sparked my interest. Most items seemed either like standard semi-modern-continental-BYO fare (the ubiquitous spinach salad with fruit, candided nuts, and cheese; pasta with crab in a creamy sauce; steak/filet with mashed potatoes) or like a bad idea (angel hair pasta spring rolls?).

If you've been to August recently, I'd love to hear your opinion. Is the overall food/experience better than the menu sounds? Am I just unfairly judging a book by its cover? To give you an idea of what I like, Marigold Kitchen is probably my favorite local restaurant, and I love love love Lolita. Other favorite BYOs include Pif, Little Fish, Effie's, etc. In contrast, a number of the "tried and true" BYOs in Philly have left me disappointed (i.e., Audrey Claire, Valentino's, Ristorante la Buca), as well as a lot of popular newer restaurants (El Vez, Continental, Crescent City).

Thanks in advance for your responses.

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  1. We are headed for August this weekend. We have been going there often since we discovered it.

    It does not have the creative/unusual type of menu that Matyson and Django have - both terrific restaurants, in our opinion. I am surprised that you haven't been to them, or mentioned them. Other favorite BYOB's are Branzino and Caffe Casta Diva in center city, and Radicchio, Tre Scalini, and L'Angolo outside of town, among others.

    We have never thought much of Audrey Claire or Valentino's.

    About August - it is small, pretty, and has street parking. Some of our favorites are the scallops, crab cake (very light, not large), beet salad appetizer (great!), pastas (my husband raves), talapia (preparation is unusual and delicious), etc., etc. The menu may look ordinary but everything is so very good! Desserts, while a small list, are homemade and excellent. I am addicted to the deep-dish coconut cream pie, which they don't always have. I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but you'll have to try it for yourself.

    There are many good restaurants around town, but some are "go-back-to-places - and this is one of them. If you get there, be sure to report back.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sylviag

      Yes, I'm a big fan of Matyson and Django as well ... but come to think of it, I don't know how well their menus "read" either.

    2. My last meal at August (I'm going back like 3 years) was impressive. Nice neighborhood spot right on the park. I'll second that recommendation on the tilapia.

      1. La Buca isn't a byob. Were you thinking of another restaurant?

        1 Reply
        1. re: JanR

          Hmm, my mistake -- I was definitely thinking of La Buca, but for some reason remembered bringing my own wine. In any event, I have no idea why it gets strong recommendations ... my experience there was mediocre.

        2. I went to August for the first time a few weekends ago. I only heard wonderful reviews, so I was very excited to try it out. Honestly, I wasn't impressed with a single thing about the dinner, except for my cheesecake. The service was only so-so. The food was bland and unexciting--and I even got the beloved crabcake. I keep feeling like I hit it on an off night, since my experience was so different from others, but it is going to take me a long time to return and give it another chance.

          1. We enjoyed August. Matyson is our favorite and it sounds like we are into the same type of food.

            I wouldn't hesitate to recommend august. We have eaten there twice and the food was excellent both times. The crabcake was my favorite.

            Anyway it is worth a try.