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Boston chowhound, one night in Philly

greenzebra Oct 7, 2009 02:54 PM

Hello Philly 'hounds! Boston 'hound here. My wife and I will be in the Philly area visiting relatives for a weekend in early November, and I am looking for a recommendation for a good restaurant for an early dinner on a Friday night in the Center City area. Here is the catch: my DCs will include 2 vegetarians, a fairly picky eater (meat/potatoes/pasta kind of guy), and a toddler.

This isn't the most adventurous group of eaters, so it would probably be best to stay away from more authentic ethnic places for this trip. Full bar would be preferred to BYO, as only 2 of the 4 adults drink and I think it would be easier to be able to order a glass of wine than to have to agree on something to bring with the picky eater (the other drinker besides me) -- but that isn't a dealbreaker, I'm more interested in great food than a great wines by the glass list.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. c
    Chefpaulo RE: greenzebra Oct 7, 2009 03:55 PM

    Hmmm...well, beantownhound, this is a tall order. Are your DCs "off-the-hoof" vegetarians, pescaterians, ovalactarians or vegans? And not adventurous...OY! Provide a few more details and we might come up with something.


    1 Reply
    1. re: Chefpaulo
      greenzebra RE: Chefpaulo Oct 7, 2009 04:45 PM

      I realize this is rather a tall order, but I'm hoping you all can work some Chowhound magic! One of the vegetarians is ovolacto, the other is pescaterian, but they are both reasonably adventurous. It is the picky eater who is the non-adventurous ones -- but as long as there is some kind of approachable meat + starch on the menu he'll be fine.

      In case it helps, here are a couple of places I would take this group to in Boston: http://www.highlandkitchen.com/

    2. h
      Hungryin theBurbs RE: greenzebra Oct 7, 2009 05:19 PM

      Tough, but not impossible. Most of the places I can think of aren't super toddler-friendly, but should be ok if you go early enough. Check out these:

      Fork - see if it would work for the picky eater. The rest should be ok. It's a little small, so early would be important.

      Amada: Again, might be an issue for the picky eater, but things like the grilled lamb chopsare pretty simple and delicious, and it's loud and bustling, so a kid should be fine.

      Parc: Not the best French place in the city (those are mostly BYO or not kid-friendly), and it can get loud, but could meet your needs.

      1. b
        barryg RE: greenzebra Oct 7, 2009 09:47 PM

        Amada, a Spanish tapas restaurant, is a my go-to rec for one night stand. The food and service are consistently excellent and they have a good bar. Since it is small plates, there will be something (or a few things) for everyone, but the bill can really add up if you're not careful. I have never seen a toddler there, but if you are on the early side it should be ok, and I think the kid would love the Patatas Bravas.

        1. greenzebra RE: greenzebra Oct 8, 2009 07:11 AM

          Any suggestions for a place that is a bit on the cheaper side (maybe $15-$25 entrees) and a bit more casual? Amada looks great to me, but I'd like to have some cheaper options to suggest.

          Searching the board a bit more, I'm tempted by Rangoon or Kanela, although I'd probably have to run the menus by the picky eater first. Any thoughts on toddler-friendliness? Any recent thoughts on Jones?

          4 Replies
          1. re: greenzebra
            discndav RE: greenzebra Oct 8, 2009 07:21 AM

            Jones is what you are looking for. I was there for lunch recently for the first time although I walk by it all the time. A very wide menu, great food, a bar and in a very casual atmosphere. Service was kind of slow.

            1. re: greenzebra
              Buckethead RE: greenzebra Oct 8, 2009 07:29 AM

              Kanella is fantastic but your two vegetarians would have very limited choices. There are two veg entrees on their menu right now, if they don't mind just picking one of those I'd go there in a heartbeat, it's a great restaurant. I don't know if I'd take a toddler there, but I don't think I'd take a toddler to any place that's been mentioned so far. If you're eating at 5 PM though I don't think it will be an issue.

              1. re: greenzebra
                barryg RE: greenzebra Oct 8, 2009 07:32 AM

                Jones would work, but the menu is not very exciting and food is just average IMO. But it is definitely not bad and everyone would leave happy.

                Kanella is awesome and a much better representation of what Philly's restaurant scene offers. There is plenty of variety and the toddler would be welcome, I think, as I have seen children there. It is BYO; if you think you'll have trouble agreeing on a wine, there is a beer store a block away that has 100+ bottles and will sell them individually (Foodery at 10th & Pine). The vegetarian mousaka at Kanella is out of this world. Make a reservation.

                1. re: greenzebra
                  Hungryin theBurbs RE: greenzebra Oct 8, 2009 08:20 AM

                  I also thought of Kanella. There are fish dishes as well as pure veggie dishes. It is BYO, though, and not particularly kid-friendly, as it is very small.

                  I was going to suggest Rangoon, but I didn't know if it would work for your picky-eater. It is the most toddler friendly of all the places. We've been taking our kids there since they were toddlers. It is one of their favorite restaurants. We have never ordered anything other than beer there. It's not the kind of place I'd expect a good glass of wine, but I've never really explored it.

                  Jones is pretty boring, IMO, but it would probably suit your needs.

                2. r
                  rocknroll52 RE: greenzebra Oct 8, 2009 08:58 AM

                  OK, I'm going in a different direction from everyone else who posted. I think with your group, a good choice would be Pietro's Coal Oven Pizzeria on Walnut St. Children's menu for the toddler. Pasta for the nonadventurous. Salads, pizza for the vegetarians. Alcohol is served. Prices moderate. Its kind of a trade off you are not getting the best of food but likely pleasing the group as a whole.

                  1. m
                    micreynolds RE: greenzebra Oct 8, 2009 10:03 AM

                    Maybe this is a bit out of the way for you (it's in Fishtown/Port Richmond area - 10/15 mins from center city), but the first thing that popped in my head was Memphis Taproom. They have quite a few vegetarian options, and they have a great beer selection. I know they have wine by the glass, however I can't comment as I usually go there for the beer. For the meat eater of your group - he could get the Port Richmond Platter, something I definitely recommend. Something a bit off the beaten path, but figured I'd throw it out there.


                    1. sockii RE: greenzebra Oct 8, 2009 02:44 PM

                      Hmm. This is a bit of a tough order. My first instinct is to maybe suggest Branzino, though it is BYOB (just grab a white, a red, and/or some Peroni and you can't go too wrong.) For an Italian BYOB they have a really extensive menu from lots of salads & starters to pasta & risotto for the vegetarian...nice fish dishes as well as some good ol'steak for the non-adventurous eater. Plus it's a nice room and if you go early, the toddler shouldn't be an issue.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: sockii
                        sylviag RE: sockii Oct 8, 2009 03:02 PM

                        Another vote for Branzino. Enough menu choices for everyone, and it's good.

                        1. re: sylviag
                          micreynolds RE: sylviag Oct 9, 2009 07:20 AM

                          I do enjoy Branzino, however I don't think it's the type of restaurant to bring children. Just my two cents...

                          1. re: micreynolds
                            Carole RE: micreynolds Oct 9, 2009 08:30 AM

                            Second that.

                      2. b
                        Bigley9 RE: greenzebra Oct 9, 2009 10:09 AM

                        I am going to offer Beau Monde - http://creperie-beaumonde.com/

                        Everyone can fill their crepes with their choice of ingredients from meat and potatoes to mushrooms and leeks

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Bigley9
                          barryg RE: Bigley9 Oct 9, 2009 10:26 AM

                          This is a really good idea.

                        2. b
                          bjclark RE: greenzebra Oct 9, 2009 12:15 PM

                          You might want to look into the White Dog Cafe in University City. It's on the pricey side, but it has wine and beer available and an eclectic menu with both vegetarian and meat and potato options.

                          It's located on Samson Street in the University of Pennsylvania Campus which is slightly out of the Center City area but it's easy to get to by Public Transit or cab.

                          You can check out their seasonal menu here - http://www.whitedog.com/menus.html

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bjclark
                            Buckethead RE: bjclark Oct 9, 2009 12:40 PM

                            Have you been to the White Dog since the recent chef changeover? I haven't, and before that it was not a place I would recommend, just wondering if it's worth a revisit.

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