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Mar 30, 2009 11:00 AM

Need some help with fit for foodies dinner recs in rittenhouse square area

I will be staying at The Rittenhouse for two nights, and invited my mother to join me. She loves Le Bec Fin, but I really do not want formal decor or French food. Needless to say, that would not be my pick.

I have done some research and the following came up a lot: Vetri (may be too expensive), Osteria (worthwhile?), amada/tinto (but we live in chicago and have a Jose Garces restaurant here, Mercat, with a very similar menu), Zahav (not sure I want Israeli), Ansill, Moritmoto and Alma de Cuba.

We would like a place that not only has great food, but a good ambience as well (nothing too sterile or too formal). It is a Tue and Wed night. Walking distance is preferable.

We like all foods, but I'd prefer something more interesting than American/Continental or French.

We cannot wait to visit and look forward to your recommendations!

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  1. If you don't mind BYOB, how about Matyson? Some of the most interesting food in the Rittenhouse area in my experience, especially considering the weekly tasting menus they have which are a steal for the great quality of the food. Maybe not the most *fabulous* ambiance, but nice enough, definitely not too formal. And I've found mid-week to be the best time to go there as it's not over-crowded.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sockii

      Don't know whether you're aware that Le Bec Fin has changed its concept; you may want to check the menus on the website. Melograno and Salento, both BYOB's, and Tequila's, Davio's, Valanni are a few others. And I wholeheartedly agree with sockii's recommendation of Matyson.

    2. Right in the Rittenhouse Square area there are so many options. Barclay Prime in the Barclay hotel is an untraditional contemporary steakhouse with great food and a really nice atmosphere. It is also a steakhouse, but a more traditional one, but Butcher and Singer is a great new place with a really comfortable atmosphere. TInto is right in the area, Pearl was amazing when it opened, but they have changed chefs so I am not sure if it is equally as good. Suzanna Foo is Chinese with French influence, but still considered one of the city's best restaurants. Not far away on broad is 10 ARTS in the Ritz, Eric Rippert's new restaurant. Alma de Cuba is fun and also right on Walnut.

      Osteria is definitely worthwhile but not near Rittenhouse Square.

      1. Table 31 has also recently changed its menu and isn;t far from Rittenhouse

        1. We just added another night, so we have three total. I thought it would be fun to do one BYOB, one tapas, and then a third. again, we prefer close to Rittenhouse Square/sofitel, and nothing American or French and with a good ambience--great food.

          for the BYO should we do Matyson? Is that the best?

          for the tapas/small plates: I am having a hard time deciding between Ansill, Amada and Alma de Cuba? Or something else?

          for the third night: we want something different so I was thinking Morimoto? other thoughts are Osteria or Zahav for the tasting menu. Vetri is booked, unfortuantely.

          Also looking for a fun palce for a cocktail with my mom. thank you so much!

          8 Replies
          1. re: ljero

            For small plates, Ansill is the best. Zahav only does their tasting menu on Thursday nights, so presuming that the extra night you've added is Thursday, I'd go there in a heartbeat. Their Thursday night tasting menu is fantastic. Osteria is very good too but I'd rather eat at Zahav. I've never had the omakase at Morimoto but was unimpressed by their sushi and the regular menu items I've had.

            For cocktails, I'd recommend the bar at Southwark or Chick's Cafe. Both are near Ansill.

            1. re: Buckethead

              Thank you! Yes, our 3d night is a thursday--I am a bit worried about the Israeli food concept, though (although I do like a few things)--sounds like it is worth the experience, though? It is traditional Israeli?

              also for BYO: considering Little Fish and Lolita (along with Matyson)...any thoughts?

              thanks for the help! We love Mexican, Thai, Italian, Japanese, etc.

              also: how is the ambience at Ansill? If we do Ansill, then we probably won't do Matyson (or vice versa) since they both have American menus.

              I considered 10 Arts as I love Le Bernadin in NYC. the ambience looks nice although I typically do not like hotel restaurant ambience. You all have so many great restaurants and i cnanot wait.

              I also am considering xochitl (over Lolita)--are any of these places close to my hotel? low key lunch recs are also great--in fact, thinking about matyson for lunch.

              1. re: ljero

                10 Arts is OK, but not for the outrageous prices they're charging. If you've been to Le Bernardin, skip it.

                The Thursday night tasting menu at Zahav is less Israeli, more mainstream than the menu in the main dining room, so I wouldn't let that stop you. It's one of the best restaurants in the city. The chef is actually up for a James Beard award this year for best 'rising star' or something.

                Between Ansill or Matyson, my personal preference would be Ansill, but I haven't been to Matyson in a while. I love the ambiance there, it's nothing fancy but I always am very relaxed when I'm there. I haven't been to Lolita in a while. Last time I was there it was good, but it's not on the same level as Ansill or Matyson, or (from what I've heard, I haven't been) Little Fish.

                1. re: Buckethead

                  They are not doing the tasting menu on the Thursday that we are there--the Quarter is closed that night, unfortunately. I jsut called. so back to having three different nights.

                  I think the first we'd probably like to stay close in Rittenhouse Square area...a walk for a cocktail and then a walk for dinner?

                  we also love tasting menus; price no object. I wish we could get into Vetri! I am thinkign about the omakase at Morimoto, but the reviews make it sound a little overrated like you say?

                  1. re: ljero

                    I concur that Morimoto is overrated. However, the restrooms are amazing.

                    My favorite BYOB in the Rittenhouse Square area is Caffe Casta Diva on 20th Street. They have a $35 prix fixe "Recession Special" available on Thursdays.

                    1. re: ljero

                      Did you try to put your name in at Vetri for a cancellation? You seem so disappointed about not going. I've gone there a few times (over the ten years they've been open) on the luck of a cancellation - esp if you give them all the nights you are in town.

              2. re: ljero

                Subjective, of course, but I'd do Matyson. Amada, Zahav, Little Fish, Osteria, Lolita, and Ansill aren't close to Rittenhouse, though all can be reached in a short cab ride. Instead of Amada, you might try Tinto, which is within walking distance of your hotel. Same owner and concept but the tapas lean a bit toward Basque. For lunch, XIX, on Broad Street, has nice atmosphere - airy room with good views. I like lunch there better than dinner, though the room where they serve dinner is quite something.

                1. re: ljero

                  I'd do Matyson if I was doing just one BYOB, and they have a tasting menu that changes every week, and I think is every Monday - Thursday. The times I've had it, I've always loved it, and been amazed at the quality (and quantity) of food for the price.

                  The only time I did Morimotos was for the omikase, and I will say I did enjoy it very much at the time. But I've basically heard that's the only way to really get the right experience there.

                  For cocktails, I do enjoy some of the choices at Continental. I did a cocktail flight there not long ago featuring bourbon--my favorite spirit--and it was terrific. They do a lot of fun martinis and other different mixes, and if you want a bit of a "Starr" experience without doing Morimotos, could be something to consider for a pit stop.