Philly during the fourth
My family and I will be staying in Philadelphia July 3-6. We will be staying at the Rittenhouse. We are all foodies and money is no object in terms of eating out. I never been to Philly and would love some suggestions on where to go for breakfast, lunch, and dinner near our hotel or beyond.
Food lover from SC
Food Lover says that s/he is a "foodie" and that "money is no object." I am not interpretting this to mean that Food Lover wants to visit only high end restaurants with with fancy French names. I am going to instead assume that Food Lover is interested in a great gastronomic Philly experience. I am also going to assume that if Food Lover is a true FOODIE, then s/he is not one to snub small mom and pop spots or places that may not be frequented by Lacoste wearing lads in penny loafers...but nevertheless serving great local food. Please note that some of these places may be "cash only" and do not accept Platinum American Express cards- oh, and I'm also including some spots that are pricey but so totally worth it. That said...here are my Top 10 (in no particular order):
1. Honey's Sit and Eat- great breakfast/lunch spot in Northern Liberties. Southern Jewish cuisine.
2. Melograno- unassuming Italian BYOB with fantastic simple Italian food (not your red sauce kind of place- more like papardelle pasta with walnut and mushroom ragu drizzled in truffle oil).
3. Tinto or Amada- when you are looking for a great restaurant and money is no object but you really dont want to overspend or eat escargot...then Tinto or Amada are fine choices!
4. Alma de Cuba- i typically don't like to patron Stephen Star restaurants...i must say that Alma has fantastic Mojitos and some of the best roasted pork i've had (with crispy pork skin included).
5. Cafe Apamate- nice cafe lunch spot on the weekend.
6. Monks- great burgers and fries (the mussels are good, but i prefer the burgers)
7. DiBruno Bros- great for take out food or a quick snack in between meals
8. I would be doing you a disservice if i didn't include Osteria (even though it is by no ways cheap or a dive, but oh so good).
9. Miel or Naked Choclate for coffee and sweets
10. Capogiro or Franklin Fountain for ice cream
okay...hold on...i've got an 11 and 12 as well:
11. Anything in the Reading Terminal Market...but i really like DiNic's roasted pork sammich.
12. Kabobesh in West Philly- pakistani restaurant serving grilled meats and daal.
I would suggest Tinto rather than Amada since it's closer to the Rittenhouse, and the Old City area (where Amada is) may be mobbed with partying "youth". Same chef as Amada, same tapas format, but Tinto has more of a Basque accent. The lamb brochetas are an absolute must and my 12-year-old gourmet son's favorite!
Some neighborhood breakfast places include belgian waffles at Bontes on 17th, fancy pastry at Miel also on 17th, Ants Pants for full breakfast (try the amazing creme brulee french toast or the sweet potato fries with two dipping sauces), La.Va (coffeehouse with great borekas), or Little Pete's and Sandy's for greasy spoons. Thank you.
Ok, I suggest the following for one of your meals. Go to Le Bec-Fin for dinner on July 3 or July 5 (I believe that the restaurant is closed on July 4) and place special orders to create your own custom 6-course menu. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. Tell them that you are a foodie from out of town and looking forward to dining at Le Bec-Fin. They respond favorably to that type of positioning. In fact, I would recommend that you ask to speak to Thomas Finnegan, the general manager, when making your reservation. As for the menu itself, I would recommend custom ordering the following options, where appropriate:
Appetizer course: foie gras ravioli (homemade ravioli stuffed with seared foie gras in a perigord sauce); if you don't like foie gras or truffles, ask for the homemade cavatelli pasta with fava beans in saffron sauce; if you don't like saffron or fava beans, ask for escargots "surf and turf" (this was on last summer's 6-course menu - burgundy snails and scungilli in Bordelaise sauce on top of a bed of braised bok choy). If you truly don't care about cholesterol, request the veal sweetbreads (specify that you want pancreas and not thymus gland) in brandy cream sauce.
Fish course: lobster press (the claws and tails are sauteed in the kitchen; the remnants of the carcasses are brought table side; the chef flambes the carcasses in cognac, then places the carcasses into the lobster press; the carcasses are squeezed so that all of the remaining juices and flavor in the lobsters are poured into a skillet; the sauce is then finished tableside with more cognac (flambe again), butter, light cream, and salt/pepper to taste; the presentation is timed so that the plated lobster tails and claws are brought out when the sauce is finished; the sauce is then poured over the lobster tails and claws, which are typically served with chanterelle mushrooms); this is a lobster version of the duck press at La Tour d'Argent.
Meat course: boeuf bourguignon: they serve this with housemade pasta so if you would prefer boiled potatoes you would need to specify that; they also prepare excellent squab (usually the breast seared, served with Bordelaise sauce and the legs confit in homemade cannelloni) as well as veal kidneys (cognac flambe with mustard sauce).
Cheese course (no special order needed, but ask that they ensure the aged gouda, moliterno, and sotto cenere are available); there may be a supplement for specifically requesting these cheeses
Salad course (ask that they prepare the mixed green salad that was previously on the old 6-course menu as your palate cleanser to transition from savory to sweet)
Dessert course (no special order needed - just ask for the dessert cart).
Also ask that Brian McMahon, the head sommelier, prepare a customized wine pairing for each course. You'll need to specify a per person price point with which you are comfortable for the customized wine pairing.
Just as a warning, the menu I described will set you back about $185 to $200 per person (depending on which of the options you get for each course), not including alcohol, tax, and gratuity. A good custom wine pairing will most likely be another $150 to $200 per person for 4 to 5 glasses of wine per person.
Also hit the Reading Terminal Market (it's cheap though) for excellent breakfasts (like pancakes at the Dutch Eating Place) or lunches (I prefer roast pork at DiNic's with provolone and broccoli rabe). The market may be closed on the 4th though.
Closer to Rittenhouse, Estia has fabulous fresh fish and grilled octopus, and Tria is a cafe featuring smaller bites and cheeses that would appeal to foodies and a belgian beer selection.
As the previous poster said, make sure to hit Capogiro (try the bacio!).