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Nov 17, 2009 10:33 AM

Weeknight Tasting Menus in Philly/surrounding area?

So a few of my friends and I have decided to start doing Tasting or Pri Fixe menus around the area, maybe once or twice a month. We are starting at The Orchard BYOB in Kennett Square, and I'm looking for a few more ideas so we can start charting out our "tour". We'd prefer BYOB, although not a requirement, and they can be anywhere in Philly, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties (although suburbs are preferable)
Thanks in advance!!

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  1. I'll be eager to hear about your experience at Orchard. It's practically in my backyard, and I've never been. My impression is that it's way overpriced. Do report back.

    2 Replies
    1. re: CindyJ

      Cindy, your impression is correct. We went last night (4 people) and had called ahead to make reso and ask about the 3 course Bistro Tasting Menu (spoke to the Chef/Owner) We were handed the main dining room menus (with no question if we were interested in the Bistro Menu) so we had to wait a few minutes until someone came back around to ask for the Bistro Menu. The server did not seem happy we were asking about it, and pointedly told us that if 1 of us orders from the Bistro menu, we all have to. (That was our intention when choosing to go here) The Bistro menu on-line is a sampling, but offers 3 choices for each of the 3 courses, however the menu we were presented only had 2 choices for each.
      Starter choices: Sun Choke Soup or Pear/Blue Cheese salad. I was the only one who chose the soup, it was good, but was topped w/ toasted coconut, so the flavor was a bit strange to me (I've never had Sun Choke soup before, so maybe this is the norm?) The others said the Pear/Blue Cheese salad was ok, but again, nothing special.
      Entree choices: Pork Tenderloin w/ Spaghetti Squash in a sauce of some sort (can't remember) or the Fish of the day, which was Striped Bass in a red wine sauce. 2 chose the Bass (incl me) , 2 chose the Pork. I was happy with the taste of the Bass, the top was seared nice and crispy, and the red wine sauce was good. It was served w/ maybe 8 small green beans. The taste was very good, but I thought the portion size was very small. Those who had the pork were very happy, their dish seemed to be a bit more filling, as they had the squash and some carrots to compliment the pork tenderloin.
      Dessert options: Pumpkin Cake or Choc Torte. I got the Pumpkin Cake, it was really good. Very moist, 2 small slices of cake topped w/ crunchy pumpkin croutons as well as some crunchy toffee-like crumbles, served with tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream. The Choc Torte looked good, but nothing out of the ordinary.
      All in all, the mean was good, but definitely not filling/satisfying. I was fine paying $35 for a 3-course option, but after seeing the main menu (where the Striped Bass alone was $30) I would definitely not go back. It seemed a bit stuffy, and I felt out of place as our table of young 30-somethings were about 20 yrs younger than most of the other patrons, and our server treated us as such. Also, 2 of our party were definitely not up for fine-dining, so I think we picked incorrectly in starting off our new "dinner club" Next time around, we'll hopefully find something better suited for all of us!
      Thanks for the rec's below - I'm looking forward to trying out some other Tasting Menus!!

      1. re: becky315

        Thanks for the report. I feel no need to visit Orchard any time soon.

        You might want to try Avalon in West Chester. It's an Italian BYO and they have a 4-course tasting menu that's $31 on Sunday. Wednesday and Thursday, somewhat higher on Friday & Saturday. (They're closed on Monday and Tuesday.) There are many choices for each course and I've enjoyed it both times I've been there.

        If you do go, I'd love to hear your impressions.

    2. Zahav does a Thursday evening prix-fixe tasting menu in the smaller dining room ("The Quarter"), much different from their regular menu. At least, they used to, I don't see it on their website now, but it looks like they're redesigning the site, so it may just be missing temporarily. It's not BYO.

      Bibou offers a seven-course tasting, as far as I know they offer it every night. It's simply smaller portions of the dishes that are on the regular menu that night, maybe a dish or two that's not on the menu if you're lucky. When I was there I had a fantastic gazpacho as part of the tasting menu that wasn't on the regular menu. Bibou is BYO.

      1009 South 8th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147

      237 St James Place, Philadelphia, PA 19106

      1. Matyson does a different tasting menu every week, Monday - Thursday nights. Usually $45 and BYOB. Always found it a great deal and interesting if the menu appeals, focus is typically on seasonal themes and ingredients (check their website or get on their mailing list).

        Matyson Restaurant
        37 South 19th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

        1. There are quite a few tasting menus for $35 during the week in the city, including high end spots like Lacroix and Le Bec Fin.

          Foobooz's "recession specials guide" is pretty authoritative; just look in the "over $20 but still a deal" section:

          1. Some of my favorite tasting menus in the burbs are at the Birchrunville Store Cafe (only offered the first Tues of the month), Majolica (farmhouse table, I think any night of the week?), and finally Restaurant Rosalie (sous vide, available Wed-Sun). In fact not only are those my favorite tasting menus, they are also in general my favorite restaurants!