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Recommendations for one dinner in Philly

Hi Pennsylvania Hounds

My immediate family and my wife and I will be in Pennsylvania for a birthday party at the end of the month, and we will have time for just one dinner in Philadelphia, so I'm looking for recommendations. We're open to just about any place with great food but that isn't very loud. Two that we've been considering are Morimoto and Alma de Cuba but I'm not sure about the noise factor. I don't have an idea of an absolute price limit but if it's in the range of the two places we're currently considering that would be good. Alternatively if you have other options, I'm all ears

Ben Reiner

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  1. Ben, Matt Ito has just re-opened Fuji in Haddonfield, which is not that far from Philly if you are a Japanese food (sushi, sashimi, omikase dinner, etc, etc) lover. Far less expensive than Morimoto, and even better in my opinion. I'm going there for lunch on Friday, and can't wait.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bashful3

      Because of the two you mentioned I would also recommend Buddakhan.
      For eclectic food done with style there is Bliss right near the Academy of Music and Kimmel Center.
      For excellent seafood but a big price tag, Estia right across from the Academy of Music.

      1. re: idia

        How about Fork? I wouldn't exactly call it silent-but the food is so fabulous that you won't mind cupping your ears a bit. Anyway, I ate at the bar at prime time on a Satruday night, so maybe the noise level was at the high end. But the food-ummmm!


    2. There are better choices--try surfing the board for ideas.

      1. I also recommend places like Brassiere Perrier and Rouge on Rittenhouse Square. They are both (somewhat) bigger names of Philadelphia and more iconic names within our restaurant revival. You should have a much easier time getting into these places as well.

        1. Morimoto is a great choice - terrific food, and not especially loud. Get seats at the sushi bar if available and order the omakase. Buddakan and Fork are both deafening when crowded.

          1. Hi Ben,
            I think we could probably use more information from you on what you're looking for overall if you want to get really good advice. You want it quiet - do you mean business quiet or romantic quiet? Your two ideas are both see-and-be-seen, larger-than-life places- do you want that, or had you just heard those were good? Some people are steering you away from that, but maybe that's your idea of a fun night out. On the other hand you asked for quiet... :)

            If there are specific cuisines you are or are not interested in (it didn't sound like it) that would be good to let us know too... and if there is an area you are confined to, please let us know that as well.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Adrienne

              Thanks everyone for the suggestions thus far. I'll try to provide some more context about the "decibel factor". My wife and I don't care too much one way or the other in that respect but my parents get a little agitated if a place is really loud, so being able to comfortably hold a conversation is pretty important.

              Regarding the places I was looking at - I think I have a sense for what the Starr restaurants are like - they sound like they could be fun but the ambience or larger-than-life aspect is not really a factor in my decision - we're all about the chow! In fact, my first choice might have been Vetri but when I mentioned those three it finished last amongst everyone else (on the basis of menu). We were looking at Alma de Cuba because the menu sounded very appealing and we can't get high end Cuban food in Toronto, and Morimoto for the obvious reasons. I read good reviews for both although it sounds like Morimoto is less popular these days than it was at one time. Saw some really positive reviews for Alma de Cuba and I thought I read somewhere that it's not too loud - is that true?

              As far as cuisine type, we're all pretty adventurous - only caveat being that my mother doesn't like Indian food.

              1. re: Ben Reiner

                Ben I agree that the "Starr experience" is more hype than substance. They are usually mobbed and noisy. If your parents are sensitive to that type of thing they won't be happy. When we have friends come from out of town we try to steer them to a Philly place. If you like the menu at Alma try Pasion. It has a great atmosphere and the food is excellent. Alternatively consider one of our fine Italian restaurants. We rarely eat Italian elsewhere because we are so spoiled in Philly.

                1. re: joluvscards

                  I agree with this. Pasion is much quieter inside and the food is just as good. Vetri is still probably the best thing mentioned here, but I understand you want something more dissimilar from what you can get at home at Pasion probably fits the bill (I recommend the baby goat).

                  Honestly most of the other places on my mental "best-of-philly" list are boisterous, other than a few French and French-inspired places which seem pretty silly for me to recommend to a Canadian.

                  1. re: Adrienne

                    Vetri may be hard to get a reservation at less than a month in advance, but I would highly recommend Osteria. It is the new venture by Mark Vetri, and when I went it was truly wonderful. Beautiful ambiance, great wine, and absolutely delicious and authentic Italian cuisine. I would also recommend Amada, it may be a bit louder than Osteria depending on the night and time that you go, but the food is probably my favorite in philly (and it is quieter than alma de cuba).

                    1. re: illafoodie

                      I highly agree with Amada. Although not "traditional" (who really cares!) Spanish tapas. It tastes great, is very creative and it can be more interesting to share the small plates. I would ask for the back room so it is more quiet!

                      1. re: Just Me

                        I loved Amada, but I think (depending on where you're seated perhaps) it stands a chance of being too loud for this request.

                        1. re: Adrienne

                          I'm ruling out a tapas joint in part because there are a lot of them in Toronto right now (it's a big fad here right now) and also with 5 of us it might be a little awkward sharing them. Does look very good though but unfortunately we only have the one night on this visit :(

                    2. re: Adrienne

                      Thanks for the help! I looked at Pasion and it looks really good. Really appreciate the guidance - I'm going to push for either Pasion, Vetri or Osteria now

                      1. re: Ben Reiner

                        Ben and I finally decided on Pasione. Thanks so much for this recommendation. It was a fantastic experience and everyone was really happy. We started out with some cocktails, (Mojitos and caiparinas) as we ate the delicious bread. We have never seen (or eaten) a bread basket like that before! Corn bread muffins, little puff rolls dusted with cheese, flatbreads with a nice kick of spice, and another kind of white roll. One of each of these came for each person at the table. And once we finished the basket, a new full basket appeared without even asking for more!
                        Many of us at the table ordered their famous ceviche which was very tasty and different. Not the typical lime/acidic flavour. Their was a tuna, a mahi mahi, and a dominican white fish (can't remember the name). We also had the Trio Taquitos (eel, crawfish and smoked trout) - little bites of heaven.
                        For mains, I had the chino latino (bass cooked perfectly moist with a crispy top), and Ben had the Churrasco de EntraƱa (grilled skirt steak, nopalitos, and these delicious croutons). Other mains at the table were the rabbit, pork, and the salmon special.
                        We were so full to order dessert but the waitress brought us lollipops of cheesecake covered in chocolate and nuts. A great touch at the end of the meal.
                        All eight of us were really happy and satisfied with the meal and the service. It was inventive, presented beautifully, and so fulfilling. Thanks again Philly hounds!

                        P.S. We also stopped Saturday afternoon for a drink at Rouge. Didn't eat there because we were on our way to dinner but the burgers that we saw coming out of the kitchen looked delicious :) Maybe we'll have time to go there the next time we're in town. You guys have a great city of food. We're looking forward to returning.

                        Ben and Mandy - your fellow Toronto hounds.