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Missing home - and back for 5 nights to EAT!

ErinTulane Sep 19, 2007 08:57 PM

We moved several years ago and still talk about the Philadelphia restaurants and how much we miss them. Awesome restaurant scene, so innovative and dynamic and fun - and so many chefs! We will be back for 5 nights during the Christmas season and want to fully revisit our philadelphia glory days! We will be staying in Society Hill so I'd like to focus on downtown.

Heres the catch - I don't want to just go back to the places we loved, which may or may not still be wonderful (or even open). One thing I loved about Phila restaurants was the hot new places to try.

Please help catch us up on what we have missed!

Places we used to love and still discuss: Morimoto, Striped Bass (before and after the transition), Susana Foo, Buddakahn, Dmitris, Washington Square, several BYOs which I cant recall the names, and of course that spot in the back of the Reading Terminal Market with the amazing blueberry pancakes, the amish gals and those HUGE sticks of butter (yum).

Help us relive the magic - old and new!

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    baekster RE: ErinTulane Sep 19, 2007 09:20 PM

    I definitely like Morimoto (although it's freaking expensive); you get rare items like kobe beef, diver scallops. I really like Audrey Claire; it's BYOB and it's really cute. Beau Monde for crepes. Raddichio for Italian in Old City. Washington Sq is still very good. Continental is an interesting scene if you haven't been there and don't mind paying $12-15 for cocktail; their food was disappointing. Christmas is a long time from now and there might be new places to try by then. I'll keep you posted as I'm new to the area and still exploring.

    2 Replies
    1. re: baekster
      ErinTulane RE: baekster Sep 20, 2007 05:33 AM

      How could I have failed to mention Continental! I know its not "authentic" but I loved their pad thai And the fun mid century vibe in mid city is great for cocktails - thanks for reminding me! Which also reminds me of that great wine and cheese bar on 17th or 18th near the bagel place.... You see how this gets me in to trouble.... is that conveyor belt sushi place with the waiters in dickies over by Penn still open? (and yes, it Morimoto IS freaking expensive!)...

      1. re: ErinTulane
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        Ali RE: ErinTulane Sep 21, 2007 06:19 PM

        The wine place is Tria, which recently opened a new branch on Spruce.

        The conveyor belt place is Pod, another Stephen Starr place. It's good, but it isn't worth the trip if the OP is planning for Morimoto.

    2. b
      Bigley9 RE: ErinTulane Sep 19, 2007 09:24 PM

      Well, for goodness sake go back to the Amish for a plate of pancakes! Screw the looking for new places! Then after breakfast listen to your friendly CHs ...
      I think Ansil (3rd and Bainbridge - was Judy's), Gayle (right up the block), a million new excellent places in Old City, cross town to Lacroix, XIX, Oh Shoot - it's late, I should have started with Osteria, Marc Vetri's new place, Amada and Tinto from Jose Garces, you'll talk about them for a good five years if you can't get back...hmmm there are more...

      3 Replies
      1. re: Bigley9
        bluehensfan RE: Bigley9 Sep 20, 2007 03:57 AM

        The pancakes (pictured) are still great at Reading Terminal.
        You may want to try Tinto, Maytson, and Osteria for dinner.
        Also, the Naked Chocolate Cafe has very good hot chocolate and desserts.

        1. re: Bigley9
          ErinTulane RE: Bigley9 Sep 20, 2007 05:34 AM

          Thanks!! Ansil and Osteria sound great - and I see them mentioned a lot on this board - - any ordering suggestions?

          Oh and - I know the amish place at RTM is not open on Sundays - - we never tried to go during the week before.... any comments on if I have to go on a Saturday? I am planning a "perfect day" I think we will start with pancakes then go "chrismas shopping" at RTM and when hungry hit Vietnam for lunch.

          I am too excited - and we have a LONG wait ahead!

          1. re: ErinTulane
            bluehensfan RE: ErinTulane Sep 20, 2007 07:17 AM

            If you're going to the market on Saturday, earlier is better. If you're heading in town around the holidays, Termini's in the market has delicious pastries called rafaels that they only make at Christmas and Easter that are very good. You really should try DiNic's for lunch though. Their roast pork sandwich is to Philly what a Camellia Grill hamburger is to NO.

        2. d
          Decker RE: ErinTulane Sep 20, 2007 01:10 PM

          Definitely try Amada, Tinto, Osteria, Matyson, and Mercato.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Decker
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            Buckethead RE: Decker Sep 20, 2007 01:24 PM

            Good list, but I'd drop Amada and go to Ansill instead. Tinto and Amada are pretty similar.

            Washington Square is not worth your time.

            At Osteria, make sure you get a pizza at some point. Avoid the truffle one, though.

            1. re: Buckethead
              rabidog RE: Buckethead Sep 21, 2007 05:12 PM

              WHAT is all the rage about the osteria pizza? do i just need to go and experience it for myself? how's it made?

              1. re: rabidog
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                Buckethead RE: rabidog Sep 21, 2007 06:35 PM

                In a wood-fired oven with flour imported from Italy. It's the best pizza I've had in the city, the only pizza that I think is better than my own. I don't think there's anything magical about it, they just use excellent ingredients and treat them with respect. I really like the Lombarda.

                1. re: Buckethead
                  rabidog RE: Buckethead Sep 23, 2007 12:45 AM

                  excellent ingredients is what does it, i'm sure! i've been unhappy with the pizza choices i've had in this city so far for their gelatinous cheese and canned-tasting sauce. soon as i have the dough... pun intended... i will definitely check out osteria.

                  1. re: rabidog
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                    Buckethead RE: rabidog Sep 23, 2007 09:39 AM

                    It's actually not terribly expensive there, I don't know why it has a reputation as an extravagantly expensive place. Maybe people tend to spend a lot of money because the food is very good. Two people can sit at the bar, share a pizza, and each get a dish from the primi section of the menu for about $50 and leave satisfied. Adding a glass of wine or two each would probably make it more like $80.

              2. re: Buckethead
                ErinTulane RE: Buckethead Sep 23, 2007 09:00 AM

                Thanks! Why is Washington Square not worth our time?

                1. re: ErinTulane
                  Adrienne RE: ErinTulane Sep 29, 2007 06:18 PM

                  I think all the Starr restaurants have an internal battle of food vs. image -- not that these things necessarily negate each other, but the two always seem to be vying to be the "most special thing" about the restaurant. In a few cases, I think the food clearly wins (Morimoto, my GOD. I could eat there every night... I also really love Tangerine, which I know not everyone agrees with me on, and I think El Vez and Jones are pretty good...). Washington square is one of those places that out-images the food. It's not bad, but it's so much money for the watermelon mojito or pepper with chocolate or whatever's really hip, but it's just not as plain tasty as so many other places. I put it in the category of a good place for an afterwork drink or snack, but less of a special dinner place (that's approximately how I feel about Pod as well... and several others, as Jessicheese says below).

                  Of recs above and below, I add my vote for Ansill, Amada and Matyson. You mentioned somewhere that you like seasonality and I think Matyson does that really well.

                  BTW, you've convinced me to try Emeril's -- I am at Tulane now and it was on my list, but pretty low down because I keep hearing it's not that great. But I think it's similar to the Starr restaurants in Philly, it's not that they're bad, it's just that our expectations (especially above a certain price) are so high.

                  1. re: Adrienne
                    ErinTulane RE: Adrienne Sep 30, 2007 12:37 PM

                    You'll have to let me know what you think after trying Emerils! ;>

                    BTW - I hadn't realized that Marcus Samuelsson left WS. That does change things a bit.

                    We will definitely take everyone up on these recs! I am so glad I asked!

            2. d
              DaisyM RE: ErinTulane Sep 24, 2007 04:59 AM

              We prefer Amada to Tinto, although both are very good. If you like Turkish, then consider Divan.

              1. b
                baekster RE: ErinTulane Sep 24, 2007 09:24 AM

                Another suggestion is Lolita. It's BYOB, only for dinner (check out their website). If you want upscale mexican food that's creative and good, definitely give it a try (the place is pretty cute as well). It's much better than El Vez, which is yet another Starr restaurant...which is an interesting scene for a drink but not that great for food (overpriced and menu is dull).

                4 Replies
                1. re: baekster
                  ErinTulane RE: baekster Sep 28, 2007 10:32 AM

                  Thanks. We are in Texas so we probably will avoid philly tex-mex which at this point for us would be like ordering a cheesesteak in Dallas. But, I do agree with you that El Vez is a fun place for a drink! This brings up a good question... what is the best/hottest Starr restaruant these days?

                  1. re: ErinTulane
                    j
                    jessicheese RE: ErinTulane Sep 28, 2007 11:12 AM

                    I'd say Morimoto is the best/hottest right now. Washington Square, El Vez, Tangerine, and Continental are great spots for drinks and snacksand not too far from your hotel. Buddakhan is just as good as it always was, IMHO.
                    I can't see a lot of people on here being positive about the Starr restaurants, but I still enjoy them. Similar to the Emeril debate in the Tulane area.

                    1. re: jessicheese
                      b
                      baekster RE: jessicheese Sep 28, 2007 12:00 PM

                      I second that (although I haven't been to all). Buddakhan is also pretty good. I say you should definitely go to BYOB's for dinner and hit the bars of trendier places. It seems like you hit a lot of Starr restaurants last time you were here. it'll be a different (by different, I mean good different) experience. They are cuter and some places actually reminds me a lot of Europe (except the fact that they are not open till 3 am in the morning). :)

                      1. re: baekster
                        ErinTulane RE: baekster Sep 29, 2007 03:34 PM

                        Yeah - we love it all - we love the byobs (which is something we dont get enough of in Dallas) - and we love the starr concept restaurants. For what they are, they are great. Mostly we love chef-driven seasonal menus . By the way, Emeril's restaurant (the real one not the outposts) actually IS very good. We avoided it for years on principle but I have to say that was a mistake bc its a great restaurant!

                2. m
                  Michele V RE: ErinTulane Sep 30, 2007 08:20 AM

                  Erin,
                  Are you living in N.O. by any chance? Any event, if you want to eat at an inexpensive, but incredibile family run Italian restaurant, may I suggest Criniti's on Broad and Shunks streets. The food is outstanding, especially the Eggplant Parm and the Veal Marsala. I have been eating there for many years, and the father and son who own and operate the place are really great guys. They contribiute to many worthy organizations and do a lot of charitable events. The place is small, but it is well worth waiting.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Michele V
                    ErinTulane RE: Michele V Sep 30, 2007 12:38 PM

                    Not anymore - in Dallas now. NOLA will always be my "2nd hometown" though (2nd to Phila).

                    Interesting recomendation!

                    1. re: Michele V
                      rabidog RE: Michele V Oct 2, 2007 05:39 PM

                      i was craving some italian so i went to criniti's tonight. that place is great comfort food. i'm still stuffed. they start you out with bruschetta and marinated mushrooms, then on to the bread (SO much bread - and it's so good). we had a cup of lentil soup - excellent and not too thick, then on to manicotti and spinach ravioli in a vodka sauce. if i could eat one meal before i die it might be the spinach raviolis. creamy sauce, tasty and creamy spinach/ricotta filling, perfectly thick and al dente pasta. it was so good. we had spumoni for dessert, very hard with lots of chocolate chips and cherries. perfect sized dessert when you think you can't possibly eat any more after dinner (you'll find you can). the guy sitting next to us, dining solo, couldn't stop raving about his food to no one in particular. it was great.

                      i organize occasional dinner & sports outings with my coworkers, so next up is definitely going to be criniti's plus a flyers game. yum.

                    2. ErinTulane RE: ErinTulane Dec 16, 2007 06:49 PM

                      Well, its hard to believe that is so close but we get to town on Friday and so its time to lock it in! Thank you to everyone for your helpful suggestions.

                      Definites include:
                      RTM Blueberry Pancakes
                      Dmitris
                      Tria
                      Pats
                      Buddakahn
                      BYOB - TBD

                      Any thoughts on the BYOB?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ErinTulane
                        a
                        Ali RE: ErinTulane Dec 16, 2007 07:21 PM

                        If I could only ever go to one BYO, I would make that be Matyson. Despite the original chefs' departure, the quality hasn't dropped, which means that it's still a fantastic meal to be had.

                        1. re: ErinTulane
                          FriskLamb RE: ErinTulane Dec 18, 2007 06:33 AM

                          Try Little Fish in Queens Village - good value and great food. I know that my image may be burned for this - but like more than Dmitri's....

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