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Two Days of Eating in Philadelphia - Really Long!

  • BHS Jan 15, 2010 06:34 AM
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Spent my BirthWeekend in your fabulous food town, and thought a report might be interesting...
Arriving on Sunday, we headed straight to the RTM to get some of the raw milk cheeses from the Fair Food Farm Stand - we cannot get raw milk, let alone raw milk cheese, in Maryland, so this is a real treat. From there, we did some serious walking around town, mostly window shopping, menu gazing and people watching. We stumbled upon DiBruno's Chestnut Street outpost and spent a good hour in there. Pre-dinner cocktails were at 10 Arts Lounge, to see what that was all about. Not much going on there. Birthday dinner Sunday night was at Lacroix; it lived up to our expectations. The sommelier, Eric, informed us about the 50% discount on wines on Sundays, which was an unexpected surprise. Highlights of the meal included the fois gras tourchon, the octopus - the first time I've actually enjoyed octopus - and the Magret duck breast choucroute - although the "choucroute" should have been in quotes, since it was basically a puree! Eric and my husband got a laugh out of that. The venison - being farm raised - was a little bland, not too interesting. There were some molecular things going on, which was fun for us. We decided on the sunchokes with bacon and apple and the Brussels sprouts as sides, plus an order of risotto. All three were delicious, but especially the sunchokes. The service at Lacroix was right up there with any four star in NYC, imho; everyone as professional as they come. Plus my husband got to tour the kitchen, always a treat for him! Next day was a walk to the Italian Market, only to find that Fantes is closed on Mondays. We headed back up to Old City to eat our fill of sushi for lunch - starting at Haru and seconding at Morimoto. The crispy duck app at Haru was the best, and the crunchy spicy salmon roll beat out the yellowtail jalapeno roll (the jalapeno was pickled, which we didn't expect nor like so much as fresh). At Morimoto, some sashimi to start, the best - actually the best we've pretty much ever had - was the Boston mackerel. Two rolls followed - the spicy tuna and the eel avocado, with the latter being the best. Disappointing was the rock shrimp tempura; we'd heard it was really good, but not to us - mostly it tasted like fried shrimp dough. Service was much better at Morimoto than at Haru. Afterward we managed to share a gelato from Capogiro - the bitter almond! We cannot go to Philly without hitting Capogiro.
Dinner Monday night was a treat from a couple who are Philadelphia natives and customers of ours - they took us to the Union League. This was possibly one of the most delightful meals of all time. From dates stuffed with foie gras, tuna tartar, diver scallops, antelope, chocolate meringue cake - from start to finish, it was unsurpassed. Service was slightly amateurish - but the waiter was on the young side and possibly just not very well trained. Overall, it was one of the best meals we've ever enjoyed anywhere. We followed up with a nightcap at XIX, in the Hyatt, where I am not sure the view is all it's cracked up to be. Maybe we were by the wrong window...We managed to get to Fantes before we left town on Tuesday, followed by some seriously good tacos at Los Taquitos de Puebla Taqueria. We passed up the beef eyeball tacos, but the beef cheeks and tongue lived up to the hype - really superlative. No room for a cheesesteak from Steve's Prince of Steaks on Comly on the way out of town. Next time...

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  1. BHS could you add a few addresses/web links to these food destinations when you have time. Appreciate it. Thanks for the great read!

    1. Sounds like a great BirthWeekend to me! Thanks for the report!

      1. Wonderful report. Thank you!

        1. Great report, thanks! I had no idea such a good meal could be had at the Union League. Is the restaurant open only to members and their guests?

          5 Replies
          1. re: nwinkler

            I think she meant Union Trust. In either case, I am surprised they liked it so much.

            1. re: OlderPhiladelphian

              The new chef at the Union League is Martin Hamann. He was formerly the chef at the Four Seasons and he's amazing.

              1. re: DaisyM

                Interesting. I am also curious if you need to go with a member to get in and are the prices as high as the Four Seasons? Although I am thinking at the Union League the "if you have to ask..." rule applies.

                1. re: barryg

                  I haven't been there in quite a few years, and when I was there it was as a guest of a member. However, the website makes it seem as if the hotel and dining is open to the public - http://www.unionleague.org/the-inn-at.... One of my memories of eating there is that I had the best fried oysters I've ever had.

              2. re: OlderPhiladelphian

                Older Phil, I did indeed mean the Union League Club. We were guests of members, and I think that that is the only way nonmembers are able to enjoy this chef's talents. Apparently Philadelphia Mag is about to do an article on it, as in "One of the best places in Philly where you can't eat". And barryg - there were no prices on the menu I saw!