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Restaurant Week in Philly... So Who's going where?

Okay, it starts tomorrow and - though I've been away from the Board for a few weeks - I did a quick search and don't see any comments on who's going where.

We are splurging this time with FIVE places.

Lacroix
Estia
Oceanaire
Branzino
Django

Looking forward to it. All the menus looked broad except Lacroix which has only 2 choices for first course (one is a salad, other is tuna tartare) and two for 2nd course (chicken squares or gnocchi with mussels). Surprised me but we'll see.

Okay, I started the thread. Send reports. And lets see what discoveries folks find. (I hope there isn't a thread already.. I couldn't find one.)

Bon Apetit

Steve R

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  1. Hi Steve--looks like a great lineup! We were way late in checking the site and ended up with Zanzibar Blue, not that we're complaining--we like this place a lot. Only have time for one this year, tho. Looking forward to hearing your reactions to your choices!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Elaine

      Well. We decided to cancel Lacroix after seeing the menu options. We booked over 2 months ago. Since we don't eat fish carpaccio or mussels that meant both of us would have a salad (interesting but still a salad) and "Chicken Squares in a Morrocan sauce. Plus dessert. Seemed not very interesting and at $37.50/per per before beverage, we would do better at brunch there for $20 more. We already have a group going to brunch
      there in March.

      I did email the restaurant to see if they could adjust menu even slightly from the two choices. I received a prompt and informative reply that the checf couldn't.

      BTW, if you go to Lacroix's web site you will not see any mention of Chef Lacroix's retirement and the arrival of new Chef Benjamin Levin (I reason we wanted to "test the waters" this week. I did point that out in my email. Some folks - especially out of towners - might be surprised!

      As for Zanzibar, make sure your timing is such that you don't dine into a musical performance. They often add cover charges then. Two years ago a good friend whose a great musican had his agent book him into Zanzibar Blue for a gig. But the gig turned out to be during Restaurant Week and, not only could local fans get to hear him (unless they made DINNER reservations), the regular customers talked through his whole sets as they were there for "REstaurant Week", not "Music Week" as one patron said. ;-(

      Steve R

      1. re: SteveR

        SteveR

        FYI: Lacroix's new chef is Matthew Levin (not Benjamin) and he is even more highly acclaimed than Jean Marie Lacroix. In fact, Craig Laban boosted Lacroix's rated from three to four bells under Levin's watch. So those who don't already know would likely be pleasantly surprised.

    2. I am gong to Philadelphia Seafood and Company and Dolce. My last two RW experiences were not so great so I am looking to bounce back. Wish me luck.

      1. This year Restaurant Week coincides with the remodeling of our kitchen so we're going every night! Our lineup is as follows:

        Sunday: Sole Food
        Monday: Prime Rib
        Tuesday: Cuba Libre
        Wednesday: Jake's
        Thursday: Estia
        Friday: La Fontanna della Citta

        We didn't check the menus.

        1. All seem to have at least 3 - and many cases like Estia - many more choices for each course. So I think you'll be okay. Long lists at all our other restaurahts except Lacroix. (ssems Tuna Tartare is big this time. It's on Sole Food's menu also.)

          Will await everyone's reports.

          Steve R

          1. everyone's lineups look great. i did estia for last restaurant week and i don't think you all will be disappointed. everything was perfectly cooked last time, and unexpectedly massive portions.

            i'm doing twenty manning tomorrow and oceanaire on wednesday. looking forward to it!

            1. We booked early and are doing Estia on Friday. The selections on the menu looked very good, especially considering how much those items usually cost.

              1. We booked really late and ended up at the Prime Rib last night. Not the greatest deal, since they offer this menu every day from 4:30-6:00 p.m., but we still had a great meal.

                On Sundays, PR waves the corkage fees or offers half priced bottles of wine, so we brought a bottle.

                Boyfriend had the house salad, prime rib, and key lime cheesecake (all entrees come with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach). I had the house salad, flat iron steak, and chocolate mousse cake.

                Everything was delicious (though the house salad really is worth the trip, in my opinion, as long as you're not opposed to chopped eggs in a salad), service was phenomenal, and we left feeling like it was $60+tax well spent.

                As an aside, they are really relaxing the dress code for Restaurant Week. Reallllllllllly relaxing the dress code.

                1. I find this thread interesting. Are Chowhounds excited about Restaurant Week due to the reduced prices or for the (sometimes) special menu options, or some combination of both, or something else?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Domaine

                    I can only speak for me but there are two different reasons we go: 1) To try expensive places we otherwise might not frequent (Le Bec Fin, for one) and to try new restaurants without the risk of spending a bundle. (Oceanaire) or see if there are changes with new owners (Django) Very rarely for SpecialMenu options because those options are usually smaller on RW.

                    Steve R

                  2. We're heading to Tangerine Tuesday night, and El Vez Wednesday night. I'm excited about trying both for the first time (recently relocated here).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Chao

                      Starr doesn't do RW well -- skimps on the portions big time. We've done both of those and were disappointed, so now we stick to restaurants that might be trying harder to earn our loyalty (we joined SR at Oceanaire, and did Django on Sunday - both great).

                      Susan H

                    2. I wish you all luck. I gave up on RW 2 years ago, based on the same reasons I don't eat out on Valentine's Day or New Year's Eve. It's a little too crazy for me and you often (but clearly not always) don't get the service and quality of a normal night. I'm interested to hear how this season's RW goes to see if I should reconsider.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: saturninus

                        I have to agree 100%. Smaller portions, rushed service, lack of attention to detail, etc. What you save in $$$, you lose in overall experience. It's almost like they're different restaurants.

                        that said, like saturninus, I'm looking forward to hearing your reviews, and I wish you all the best.

                      2. Went to Brasserie Perrier last night. Had a later reservation, so service was great and not rushed at all. I had the Creamy Lentil soup with Duck Confit, the Steak au Poivre with Pomme Puree and Haricot Verts, and the Crème Brûlée. She had the Risotto, the Crispy Branzino Filet, and the Cheesecake. Everything was delicious.

                        Also, as a side note, Django is extending the RW fixed price menu for a few weeks due to demand. So you may be able to get a reservation outside of RW to cut down on crowds, etc. I am going on the 2/13 as an early Valentine's Day dinner.

                        1. Monday night we started off Restaurant Week at Oceanaire Seafood Room at 7th and Walnut – in the old PSFS Bldg. It was great and I’d certainly recommend it – especially for restaurant week since I figured our meal cost about 40% less than if we had ordered same dishes off the regular menu. And they were not full – It’s a huge place – so there is probably space this week.

                          The place is gorgeous with lots of wood features. There are two levels and a few private rooms and- personally I liked eating on the first level. We did not have any problem conversing at a table for 4 in the middle of a room though all surrounding tables were full. There is jazz playing – think Fats Waller and Ella Fitzgerald – throughout the restaurant and the level is the same no matter where you walk- including the rest rooms. In fact the Men’s Room looks like the Union League one’s or upscale health clubs. They have Mouthwash, Brylcream and hand lotion!

                          Okay we are here for the food. There were 4 of us. The Huge menu is printed daily and the $30.00 RW menu is in lower corner. DO NOT depend on the menu on the RW site. As The waiter – the waiters all come over and introduce themselves by name and shake your hand! – said “the menu changes every day. But there are at least 4 choices for each course and a good variety. First thing to arrive at every table is a crudités tray. It had great Olives, carrots, kosher pickles AND marinated herring bits. (And GREAT bread!). For the first course one person had the cup of New England Clam Chowder (pronounced a bit too rich). Two of us (including me) had the fried rock shrimp. A very generous (almost entree size) portion with a spicy mayonnaise on top. The last had the Garden Salad. A large lunch size salad with the standard lettuce, tomato and onions. For Entrees there was “Dirty White Bass” (pronounced VERY spicy by the person who LIKES spicy, A Trout with fingerling potatoes – in a light lemon cream sauce (two of us had that including me – I had to send mine back to be heated as it was only warm) and a fried shrimp (actually they looked like langoustines – which were quite substantial.

                          The waiter tells you up front that everything is A la carte and suggests one starch and one veggie per table of four. We went with Hash Browns (about $7.00) and Snap peas in a sauce. ($7.95). The Peas were great and plenty to share. The Hash browns disappointed. They are made in an 8-inch pan and were crisp on the outside but mushy inside. (We mentioned this to waiter and – when he saw – we ate less than 25% of them, took off the bill without our asking!

                          For dessert the Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding called three of our names and it was delish! And HUGE portions. That was the highlight of MY meal. The 4th person opted for the chocolate mousse that was sort of ordinary in opinion of all of us.

                          So the bill was $137. with tax for FOUR of us. Since the Entrees there run about $24. to $29.00 this was a bargain. In addition, if you go this week they give you a certificate for 10% off all your food until May.

                          The water glasses – they are small and could have been bigger – were filled regularly and there was always a server or waitperson nearby.

                          The place has a menu like McCormick and Schmick and a design not unlike the Capital Grill (but nicer actually).

                          I’m glad we went. Tonight it’s off to Estia – the upscale Greek Restaurant.

                          Steve R

                          1. We went - unexpectedly - to Smith and Wollensky last night. Friends had made a reservation without realizing that it was Restaurant Week.

                            They all ordered from the regular menu, but I went the RW way. I highly recommend this place for Restaurant Week - if you can get a reservation.

                            I had the Caesar salad for an appetizer, which was just fair. However, it was a generous portion with good greens - just lacking much Caesar flavor.
                            But my main course, the filet mignon, was great. It was rare, as ordered, with a crispy crust, and one of the best filets I have had anywhere. This size, which was 10 oz., is about $35 on the regular menu.
                            The only dessert on this menu was cheese cake. It was large and quite delicious.
                            We ordered one side of hashed browns for the table - one side is all you need for 4 people. Bread was a plate of small, hot biscuits that I could go for right now!

                            We had never been to Smith and Wollensky - we don't go often to steak houses - but I liked it much better than Palm, Ruth Chris (boo), and many others. And going for Restaurant Week is the way to do it!

                            Friday we will be going to La Famiglia. I just called to find out about the menu and was told there would be choice from six appetizers and six entrees. The person who answered the phone offered to fax me the menu, but I really just wanted to make sure there would be enough choice.

                            There seems to be a big difference in how restaurants treat people for this week. I've been filing away what I read on Chowhound. Our experience a few years ago at Tangerine wasn't good; we were rushed in and out in 45 minutes and the portions were very small. I think if one picks and chooses it can be a great opportunity to try pricey and upscale restaurants at a fraction of the cost.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sylviag

                              Re: La Famiglia - I went to the last two Restaurant Weeks. The first was fine. Last time we realized that service was FAST! We were in and out in less than an hour! They are turning tables. The pasta courses for appetizers are small (based on both visits). I enjoyed the small sliced steak. For dessert you usually get a dessert sampler which is nice. They are trying to sell you wines(MAKE SURE you go to the basement to see the wine celler - it's fascinating. Wine is pricey but it's good stuff. The service is definitely professional. IF you have a choice try to eat on the mail floor. I found the second floor less interesting and both are quiet enough for conversation.

                              Steve R

                            2. We went to Haru Sushi on Sunday night, and it was a little disappointing. My tempura appetizer came out of the kitchen luke-warm at best, but my boyfriends steamed crab dumplings were delicious! I thought the entree portions were appropriate (3 rolls for the sushi entree, 6 pieces of sashimi and a california roll for the other entree) and pretty good. We had the mochi ice cream for dessert, which was a new and interesting flavor/texture. You could tell that the kitchen was on point, but they needed more staff in the front.

                              The inside of this space is beautiful - they seem to have kept a lot of the original lines, but added many modern touches. The glass-backed bar was nice, and as it was in the middle of the room, really kept it open and airy. Also, I found the ribbed banquettes very comfortable.

                              Going to XIX on Thursday, and I can't wait!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: marianne215

                                Since it openhed Haru has only received mediorce reviews so apparantly they haven't improved. I'm not a sushi person so I haven't been. Just what I read.
                                Steve R

                              2. Tonight (Tuesday) was Night TWO (for us) – Estia – FABULOUS! –WE had 6pm reservations and the restaurant was half full. When we left at 7:50 they were flooding in through the door. The restaurant is magnificently decorated – some; I’m sure from the previous Toto, but not much.

                                Dependiong on where you sit it could be noisy but we had a quiet booth. Our server was wonderful.

                                Now to the food. There were 3 or 4 choices for first course. Spanikopita (usually $7.) on the menu, Grilled Octopus ((a full appetizer portion – which is usually $17.!) and something Else I forget. There were two of us tonight so we both had the Octopus, which was superb!

                                Next up was a veal shank, chicken (I forget how cooked) and Grilled Fish. There were two different grilled fishes, which are char grilled – with salt on the skin – and then filets in the kitchen and served with olive oil and capers. (Note the head is left on). Both fish were flaky, though one was closer to a sea bass. We decided to each order a different fish and it was very easy to move half to the other plate the way it was served. The same fishes are listed on the regular menu at $26./lb and $27. lb. It’s sold by the weight. I’m guessing that we got nearly a pound fish each before the filleting. Nothing comes with it so we ordered a plate of grilled veggies ($7.00) to share. It had Eggplant, Asparagus, Carrots and Radicchio with olive oil. More than enough for two.

                                For dessert the choice was yogurt and honey, baklava or honey nut cake. We asked if we could share one and take second one home. No problem. The cake was delicious and is served (if you eat it there) with a scoop of fabulous creamy FIG gelato (with real figs in it!). The waitress even gave us TWO scoops since she couldn’t pack one scoop to go.

                                Service was attentive.

                                This was another case of a restaurant giving you full size portions and attentive service to introduce you to the restaurant and hope you come back. I calculated our meals as being about $$116. before tax and tip for two compared to the $67.00 we paid.

                                I’m sure reservations will be tough for rest of the week but – so far – we’re two for two. Tomorrow night, stop three: Django!

                                Steve R

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: SteveR

                                  Wow...that's a great review and I was glad to hear that the food was so good and that they did not shortchange you at all as far as the portions go. Having dined at Estia in the past and enjoyed the food immensely (except for the price) we reserved as soon as RW came out for Friday night and are looking forward to it very much (and will report back as well).

                                  1. re: SteveR

                                    Good to hear, I stopped going to RW because I was sick of the small portions and lackluster service. Maybe next time around I'll give it another try.

                                  2. Just to follow up my earlier reply: we went to Tangerine tonight. It was my first time, and I have to say first off that I was impressed by the decor. Love the myriad candles, the star lamps, the wall hangings separating dining rooms. We had an early reservation (5:45pm) which worked out really well. We were among the first diners there, but the place rapidly filled up. Service was quite good. Food was delivered very quickly, but I never felt rushed. I had the rock shrimp empenada to start, which for me was too reminiscent of my mother's shrimp creole wrapped in pastry. This was served with potatoes that, to me, had the taste of potato salad. Not unpleasant, just unexpected and didn't really mesh well with the empenada. I had the grilled salmon with haricots vert and Greek orzo as an entree, and with it, any negativity from the apps was forgotten. The salmon was perfectly cooked, and the feta in the lemony orzo coupled with the perfectly cooked beans tasted fantastic. I ordered the espresso pannacotta for dessert, and was disappointed to be presented with an espresso flan instead, which was in itself a bit dull. I did appreciate the wine pairing offered with the meal ($15 for two glasses). Overall, I enjoyed my time at Tangerine, and will go back with my SO, as I think it would make for a great date night dinner spot. I really want to go back and try the sour cherry Manhattan as well!

                                    1. I'll get in on the action!

                                      Tuesday - Davio's
                                      Wednesday - Red Sky
                                      Friday - The Cafe

                                      I have to say last night's dinner at Davio's was just OK. While the restaurant is beautiful and relaxing, the staff was a bit abrupt. We had 6:30 dinner reservations and felt rushed. I had the Salmon for my entree which was good, but nothing special. There were no "WOW" dishes.

                                      I'm looking forward to Friday's meal, as well. I've never heard of The Cafe, but the menu looks good.

                                      I love reading the reviews!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Hellolaura

                                        I believe The Cafe was opened by the owners of the adjacent Irish bar, the Bards.

                                      2. Went to Mandoline on Monday night. Cute place and food was good. What's nice is that you could chosse from the majority of the menu, not just 3 preselected main courses. If you go and like cheese, the goat cake pistachio cake for an app was awesome (waitress told me it was their signature dish.) My wife had the lobster mac which wasn't shy with the lobster chunks. I had the Swordfish and butternut squash risotto which was very tasty. My wife had the cod which was ok, nothing special. Dessert was a brownie, marshmellow icecream, smore combination. Pretty awesome. Nice meal, although I noticed that the kitchen was running out of the some of the apps for others who arrived after us. Service was good and the waitress even chased me down after I left my wine baggy.

                                        Thursday- Branzino
                                        Friday- Lolita (really looking forward to this.)

                                        1. So far we've eaten at Sole Food, Prime Rib, Cuba Libre. Sole Food was excellent -- beautiful room, very good service and excellent food. I had the Chilean Sea Bass with blue crab gratin after a yummy tuna tartare with wasabi -- excellent!. Don't remember my husband's appetizer, but he had the ahi tuna for his main course - was very good but barely warm -- understandable since it was served very rare, but still...Don't remember the desserts but they were very good.

                                          Monday night we ate at The Prime Rib -- again, beautiful room, excellent service. My husband had the house salad and the prime rib; I had the Caesar salad and the salmon. Both the beef and the salmon were perfectly cooked, and the salmon was a large piece of wild king salmon. They served a dishes of mashed potatoes and creamed salmon to share, and both were very good. Desserts were very good as well, but my memory is failing. Service was excellent but fast.

                                          Last night we went to Cuba Libre -- we had been there years ago but wanted to try it again now the Guillermo Pernot is there! We both had the Baja Bay Scallop Ceviche -- delicious. My husband had the plainatain and wasabi pea encrusted salmon, and I had the mojo short rib. Both were excellent. But the service was super fast and the music was very loud. He had flan for dessert and I had the coconut ice cream. The flan was OK but quite small, and the ice cream was very smooth, very good and a large portion. But we were in and out in less than an hour, which is really, really fast! Food was much better than the last time we ate there, but we'd like a more leisurely dinner.

                                          Tonight we're going to Jake's, Thursday Estia and Friday La Faontanna della Citta. Our kitchen is being redone so we can't eat at home!

                                          1. Back from Django. Great but crowded. More details later - too full - but for those going soon, go for Goat Cheese Gnochhi for appetizer. HANDS DOWN a winner and The Goat Cheese Cheesecake or the Hazelnot cake roll for dessert. Also, they are offering RW menu through next week but all seats are full except after 9pm.

                                            Great meal. Note that menu different than that on the RW site.

                                            Steve R

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: SteveR

                                              As a vegetarian, can I dine there for the RW exention? I sounds great.

                                            2. Ok, so, going to El Vez for Restaurant Week=Bad Choice. I didn't know. I hadn't been there before and thought I'd give it a try. It would be a cool place to take visitors from out-of-town maybe, just to sit at the bar and have margaritas and admittedly very good guacamole, but real-food-wise? Pass.

                                              1. Going to 21 tomorrow night. Have been there once before on a recruiting dinner, and my verdict overall was "meh" - but that might have been since it was a group of 20 or so. Regardless, tomorrow night's meal is subsidized, so I'll only be paying $15! Will report back on Friday.

                                                1. Any thoughts on Twenty Manning or Susanna Foo for restaurant week? I'm worried about Susanna Foo because her reviews from restaurant week last year are brutal.... Thanks!!

                                                  Also, I went to Estia last restaurant week, and it was one of the best dinners I've ever had--the fish is so fresh and good. Boyfriend and I didn't talk during dessert so we could focus on the baklava.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: beets2

                                                    No to Susanno Foo. As of right now, it's the first restaurant I think of when I talk about "past it's prime". Not sure about Twenty Manning.

                                                    1. re: saturninus

                                                      Thanks for the advice, saturninus. I ended up cancelling our reservation for Susanna Foo. Managed to get an early reservation at Oceanaire so that's the likely destination tomorrow night.

                                                  2. Went to El Vez last night. We bagged the $30 menu in favor of their guacamole (excellent). Also had the Tortilla Soup (very good) and the grilled beef tacos (very good also). the only disappointment was the Crab Enchilada entree. Tasted a little "off". Otherwise, an excellent meal.

                                                    1. So Restaurant Week....(sigh)....we went last night to Red Sky for a 7:30 reservation. The place was pretty crowded. At that time, we were told the wait was an additional 20 minutes....after 40 minutes, I inquired and was told we were the next table..as I was walking away, I overheard the host telling another party the same thing. As we passed the hour mark of waiting, we decided to figure out what our options might be. One person in our party called the Continental on the corner who told us they could seat us right away. At 8:45pm, we left Red Sky and ended up having a wonderful meal at The Continental. I'll never go back to Red Sky. Looking at the amount of people waiting for tables only proved that they overbooked. People were pretty angry with the wait.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Hellolaura

                                                        You're probably better off. Never heard anything good about the food. It's more of a night club. That service is inexcusable and greedy.

                                                      2. Went to Mantra last night, friends reccomended it and I had no choice. Meal was what I expected. Wine list was overpriced and unimpressive. My dishes were lackluster at best. I ordered the greens salad and bento box and cheesecake. Server seemed unexperienced and rushed us a bit. Never planned to try the place in the first place but don't plan on returning.

                                                        1. Has everyone seen this article regarding Restaurant Week? http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/l... I am not in agreeance that these restaurants offer at least a $50 dollar value. I've only been to one place (Ristorante Panorama) has come close to this, but that's it.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Hellolaura

                                                            Sounds like SteveR got a good value at Estia.

                                                          2. I went to Patou last night with 4 friends. The place was packed by 6:30. It was pretty loud, but not so much that we couldn't talk across the table. I'd never been there and was pleasantly surprised at how big it was!

                                                            They offered choices from their full menu, rather than a limited one. I ordered the escargots with mushrooms in puff pastry for my appetizer and was excited, as I don't have the opportunity to order this often. It came out as a 3 inch circle of puff pastry with about 2 snails and 2 mushrooms inside. Tasted good, but was pretty disappointing, especially since there wasn't enough for tastes to go around the table. I also sampled the tuna tartare, which was fantastic. It came as almost a pate with capers, frisee, and toast points. I also tried the mussels which came in a wonderful broth and were cooked perfectly.

                                                            For dinner I had the paella fruitte de mar. The seafood was good, not great, and the rice was a bit al dente for my taste. My one friend got the coq a vin, which was amazing! Chicken falling off the bone and the most amazing carrots. Another had the filet ($10 upcharge) which was a perfect medium with a potato au gratin and escarole with mushrooms. This was also very good.

                                                            For dessert we each ordered different things and tried them all. The favorite was the flambeed bananas.

                                                            I think I just had one of those days where you order the wrong things. I had a major case of plate envy going on with each course. All in all, the service was great, we never felt rushed, and I think it was a really good value for restaurant week.

                                                            1. We got a last minute reservation to Smith and Wollensky for tonight, restaurant week. It's our first time, and we're excited (even though it's a chain :)). Boyfriend and I are tempted to both get the filet for our main course. Anyone think it's worth getting the salmon or crabcake for variety?

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: beets2

                                                                I posted about our dinner at Smith and Wollensky. I loved that filet and don't think I woud give it up - after all, it is a steak house.

                                                                I thought the Caesar salad was just fair; you might want to try a different appetizer.

                                                                Most of the steak houses around here are chains - so what? It usually means that they know how to make a good steak! And all of the people that work there are local residents trying to make a living.

                                                                Hope you enjoy it. Report back!

                                                                1. re: sylviag

                                                                  Thanks Sylviaq---Your post was what made me jump at the available reservation! Thanks for the feedback, and we will try something different from the Caesar salad for appetizer. The pea soup looks good.

                                                                  1. re: beets2

                                                                    Wow, our dinner at Smith and Wollensky was the real deal. Everything was perfect. We got there at 8pm, and they seated us less than a minute later. Ask if we had upstairs/downstairs preference, and we asked for upstairs. There was a great view of Rittenhouse Square still lit up w/ the holiday light balls. Also, it seemed more quiet upstairs, and we didn't have any trouble hearing each other. It felt very romantic.

                                                                    They brought out amazing bread/biscuit was great--soft almost like it was made w/ baking soda or something and topped w/ rosemary and coarse salt. I was looking forward to the bread bc of sylviaq's comment and wasn't disappointed.

                                                                    Anyway, to keep things concise, pea soup was great--had a smoky flavor and had bacon in it. Boyfriend had the caesar salad, I thought it was a little plain, but he really liked it and thought it was good balance for his steak. We both had the filet, medium rare, and it was cooked perfectly.

                                                                    Also got a side order of broccoli. It was steamed, and the waiter brought out a dish of Bearnaise sauce for it. The broccoli tasted very fresh and was steamed-- nothing special but it was just what we wanted w/ our steaks (it felt good to have healthy veggies). We got a glass of wine each, merlot and syrah. I'm not a big wine person, but both tasted good to me, and of course, it's always nice to have a nice red w/ red meat.
                                                                    Dessert was cheesecake with strawberries and raspberries. At this point, we were both stuff (the steaks were big) but both managed to finish dessert, which is a testament to the dessert.

                                                                    Service was beyond reproach. Our waiter was very attentive, without being intrusive, and anticipated our requests before we could even make them. Water glasses was kept full. He made great recommendations for wine. He was outstanding, as were his helper. The food was excellent, but we were especially impressed by how great the service was.

                                                                    All in all, a perfect night. Check came to $115 w/ tip and tax which was more than we initially planned to spend, but well worth it for the perfect dinner out and we couldn't be more thrilled.

                                                                    Thanks to everyone on here for sharing their experiences and the great advice!

                                                              2. Restaurant Week Night 4 – Branzino report

                                                                Well, Restaurant Week is officially over so this is a moot point but I wanted to report on our dinner last night (Friday) at Branzinio on 17th St near Spruce.

                                                                We really lucked out this year with FOUR winners out of FOUR. (Of course it’s good we cancelled our 5th choice – Lacroix – when we saw very limited menu).

                                                                Branzino is an Italian restaurant that does a number of seafood dishes as well. The Restaurant Week menu was the exact same LARGE 2 page menu they always have but it was missing the prices. You chose an appetizer (choice of about 12 items) and EITHER a Pasta or Entree, and dessert.

                                                                The restaurant has two rooms and we were seated (at 6pm on time) in the larger interior room. It’s nicely appointed and quite fancy. The room is “hard” and can be noisy but we were next to a pole and that blocked the noise. It was full with a number of larger (4-6 people) groups. We were never rushed and finished by 7:30. And there was no back-up for tables. The waitstaff are Italian and I was reminded of L’Angelo in South Philly except that this was fancier and actually cheaper. And the food plated more interesting. We LOVE L’Angelo too.

                                                                Branzino is BYOB, which is great.

                                                                Anyway, for the first course we both ordered the grilled Calamari and it was a substantial portion made served with a Roma tomato wedge in a superb garlic butter sauce. The Bread was great too and I sopped up every bit of sauce.

                                                                For entrees, the Waiter said that the Branzino was the big seller. (It’s also most expensive entree at $24.50 on regular menu). But the stuffed Grilled Pork Chop with a Black Cherry glace called my name. It was great and came with sautéed veggies (green beans and carrots). My partner ordered the Osso Bucco which was tender but has less flavor than we expected. She’ll go for the chop next time. Came with same veggies. (Osso Bucco was $22.00 on regular menu). (BTW, the Calamari is only $7.50 on regular menu).

                                                                For dessert there was lemon sorbet, Zabaliogne with fruit, cheesecake or Tiramasu. We saw the Tiramasu at another table and both ordered it. It was FABULOUS. A cut square and filled with chocolate chips and plated on a great dark chocolate “grid” . I’m not sure what desserts cost there.

                                                                So, if you ordered the Osso Bucco or Branzino for entree, you got a GREAT bargain. My meal would have probably cost $35.00 on a regular night. But it was delicious and we will definitely be back (as long as they stay BYOB). The service was professional and everyone was happy.

                                                                Like Django and Estia and Oceanaire, we hit four restaurants this time which used Restaurant Week to introduce people to their menu without skimping on portions or service and making folks feel special. These restaurants will get our buiness in the future (though Estia a lot less because it is pricey.).

                                                                Only 8 more months until the next RW. I can hardly wait!

                                                                Steve R

                                                                1. We tried Amada and Estia and they were both wonderful--welcoming service, pleasant rooms, and generous, excellent food. Estia even had live, very nice Greek music. They're both beyond our usual restaurant budget, so we especially appreciated them. When is the next RW?

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: myra

                                                                    Generally mid to late September.

                                                                    Steve R

                                                                    1. re: myra

                                                                      I believe University City does their own RW from 6/23 thru 6/30.

                                                                    2. Our experience at Estia on Friday was very good. They had live Greek music that night too. We enjoyed perfectly cooked grilled octopus and two types of fish that were also fabulous. The achilles heel, if you will, of Estia seems to be the desserts. The fig cake we tried was good, but nothing spectacular, and the baklava was very dry and needed more honey. Still, we were very happy with our meals and the service was fine. Given the usual prices at Estia, it was very much worth it going during RW.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: bluehensfan

                                                                        Personally we LOVED the Fig cake with fig gelato. We took one piece of cake (without the gelato) home and dined on it two nights later. We are not big Baklava and honey coted fans so we were glad to have the fig cake option and it was decent portion. (Wonder why they didn't offer the other Greek "staple" rice pudding <g>.

                                                                        And we went Tuesday so missed the live music.

                                                                        Steve R