Help with a whole night of delicious, mellow celebration
My husband and I will be in Philly this Saturday night, unexpectedly, to celebrate his birthday. We're going to stay at the Ritz-Carlton. We need a GREAT, intresting, not loud restaurant. My budget would be about $250.00 for dinner (including drinks), and it would preferably be a place that also has a good beer selection and isn't pretentious and too serious. I just want amazing food; that's not too much to expect, right? Then we need some cool, mellow, possibly romantic bars to hop to. Jazz, or blues would be a huge bonus. We will have a car, but I don't really want to drive all over the whole city since we will be drinking. I know NOTHING about Philadelphia, and since we won't be arriving until about 4:30 Saturday and we'll be leaving by noon on Sunday, I don't have time to find out a whole lot. I'm relying on all you Philly Chowhounders to help me out. Oh, and will I even be able to get a reservation at this late date? I'm nervous!
If you like Belgian beers then I suggest that you check out Monks Cafe which would be walkable from your hotel (you would want to cab it for James or Ansill). A meal of their excellent mussels and frites would be fun and not pretentious and you won't need to spend $250 for the meal.
I would also throw Osteria into the mix - you can easily get there via the subway that's right outside of the Ritz and it's wonderful with some good beers on tap as well. http://www.osteriaphilly.com/ if you can't get a reservation, there's always the bar which I think is really nice to sit at as well.
I would second the rec for Ansill at 3rd and Bainbridge as well. Really interesting food, and a nice atmosphere.
As for the blues/jazz - I think this is an area our city lacks in but Chris's Jazz cafe is pretty intimate and usually has a good show playing - and very close to your hotel. There is also Ortliebs (ortliebsjazzhaus.com/) up in Northern Liberties (you could easily take taxi) or there is a Piano Bar on 20th and Arch (I think they even pay for your taxi...or maybe that's just on a special night)
i am so glad someone mentioned ortlieb's. it's lovely and i really think the food is rarely talked about here! they've gone thru a lot of renovations so if you haven't been in the last 18 months or so, do try!
however - while it is good food (creole/comfort food) i'm not sure if it's the place for the dinner it sounds like you have in mind. it's more everyday dining than special occasion dining, IMO. i just got sidetracked. :)
you also can't go wrong with pre-drinks at the ritz carlton bar, which i recently professed my love for.
after there, i would take a short walk down broad to estia, which is a very special greek fish place. the only thing i can't vouch for is the beer list, cause i've only had wine when going. it's a gorgeous dining room that i never feel the need to dress up much for. and the food there is to die for.
the osteria rec sounds like it would fit your bill as well. though this should come with a disclaimer - it's easy to get used to the appearance of the el (subway) but for first-timers you should prepare yourself: it's not a first-class experience by any means. it's definitely not at philly's poshest address, the restaurant, but i do applaud them for trying to shine some light on a dark area. the spring garden stop is your closest; i think it's about a block north of that. or just cab; it should only take 5 mins.
after dinner you might make your way over to tria for some great beers and wines and dessert morsels! http://www.triacafe.com/
Try opentable.com for Saturday night reservations, a quick scan gives the appearance that you should be able to get in somewhere.
I'm not sure about jazz and blues bars, but for mellow and romantic, you might stick with some of the hotel bars, sofitel, ritz-carlton, loew's, and the four seasons.