Thank you Philadelphia Chowhounds! I had a great foodie trip
Sorry for the delay in posting the details of my fabulous trip! Things have just been a little crazy lately (what with the holidays and everything. I also write quite a bit - as you can see, so I had to have a chunk of time set aside). I just wanted to thank all the wonderful chowhounds that helped me plan my trip. We had such a great time, and the food was fabulous. We followed a lot of suggestions from you guys, as well as stumbled upon a gem of our own along the way. We couldn't have had such a fantastic time without you! The original post can be found here in the old Pennsylvania board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/667918
Thanks first to barryg for suggesting the pleasant stroll route. We did walk the Schuylkill Banks trail and Kelly Drive (at night), and it was quite beautiful (not too late, but the sun had just set and you could see the building lights reflect off the water). The brownstones were serene and nice to see as well. Rittenhouse square was also a nice little stroll through, since we were in the area for Lacroix anyway. The stores weren't really my cup of tea, but there were a lot of high-end retailers there. I bypassed Penn's Landing because everyone was so against it - thanks!
In Reading Terminal (Thanks cwdonald), I managed to sample the Dutch Eating Place (DEP) and couldn't manage to eat a DiNic's Roast Pork sandwich for breakfast (I totally ran out of stomach room. Thanks for the suggestion psurpcv - I'll get it next time). It looked delicious though, and the lineups started for DiNic's around 11AM. The DEP's prices couldn't be beat, and the portions were amazing, but we were still full from the previous night. Unfortunately, we only managed to pick up the suggested Apple Dumpling from DEP and enjoyed it back in Boston the next morning for breakfast. That was one mighty apple pastry - it must have weighed 2 lbs! It was quite good and when we return to Philly, DEP will be a place we won't miss. The food looked amazing. Great breakfast suggestion. Thanks guys!
Dutch Eating Place: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4324754533/
Another thing we noticed was the store that sold $1 bread bags at the end of the day. A great deal (we bought 2 and it lasted us quite a while when we got back to Boston!): http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4324939217
bluehensfan, I got a Miller's Twist and it was absolutely hands-down the BEST pretzel I've ever had. Mind you, my exposure to the tasty treat is pretty limited, but I still loved it. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how great it was, so I got a flavoured pretzel with cinnamon and sugar. After I took a bite, I could taste the underlying delicate flavour of the pretzel bread itself and regretted dousing it in the flavourings!!! Usually when I get a pretzel, it tastes plain and bland, so I usually require a healthy sprinkling of flavouring - but note to others! Just get the plain/original. I'll get another next time. It was absolutely delicious! I also hit the Naked Chocolate Cafe, which was quite a treat. The thick sipping chocolate was the closest I've had to a drinking chocolate I had in Spain. I truly enjoy the richness of the drinking chocolates in Europe, and this was pretty close and quite enjoyable. Overall, I still prefer the Max Brenner's I had earlier in the week in NYC (I did a small hot chocolate tasting), but this was very, very nice and a close second (besting Jacques Torres' version). I got a small hot chocolate to go - and when they say 'small', it's actually VERY small (not typical North American standard small, which really just equals medium/large.... tiny). But because it was so thick, it took be an hour to finish it. Reminder to others; if you get it to go, get a spoon, otherwise, you'll be trying to get it out FOREVER. It's just that thick.
Naked Chocolate: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4309117025
Hot Chocolate to go: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4309853112
Miller's Twist: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4325492098
It was too cold for gelato/ice cream, otherwise I would have hit Capogiro. I didn't have time to hit Chinatown, or the Italian Market either. Hopefully, if I have more time next time, I'll be able to branch out more from the touristy areas.
urbanfabric, I went to Vetri and we were wowed by the foie gras pastrami. It was the BEST single dish my SO has had in recent memory. It really wowed us - smoke + foie?! Wow, the combo really couldn't be beat. The spicing was really bang on, and recently we tried to duplicate the experience by ordering a pastrami smoked duck in Boston, and it just fell so flat in comparison. Wow. That's all I can really say. I'll have to hit up Paesano's next time.
Vetri Pastrami: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4324944637/
Philly Ray, we did pastas like you suggested (+ the foie) and did half portions. It was really convenient that they allowed us to do half portions. We got 1/2 portions of the following: gnocchi, casoncelli, tortellini, & pappardelle (photos to follow). We also got apps to start: foie + quail. Overall, the pastas were very well executed, and I enjoyed the flavour combinations and toppings when meat was involved. Everything was well-balanced, if not a bit too heavy for our tastes. But we generally find that true with most Italian foods. The textures were what really amazed me, especially with the spinach gnocchi! It was like a pillow, and it melted when I put it in my mouth. How do they get that silken texture?! It tasted like essence of spinach, and the flavours were all very concentrated, especially in the nut flavoured pastas. I really enjoyed them all. The Quail was a bit too cold for my tastes (just warmed, not hot). I guess it might be a taste preference, as I prefer it a bit more seared/crisp on the outside. This was handled very well, and cooked to perfection, the temperature was just a bit 'off' for me. The souffle was disappointing though and nothing to note really. It wasn't bad, it just didn't live up to the rest of the meal, especially at $12. I would have rather gone with another 1/2 portion of pasta. We had to pass on the veal, though it sounded great (thanks tho Bigley9), because we had to watch the budget (after non-stop eating for 5 days previously) and we were actually really full when we got to Vetri. Next time though...
Vetri Quail: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4325680996
Vetri Gnocchi: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4325681068
Vetri Rabbit Casoncelli: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4325681152/
Vetri Papardelle: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4325681402/
Vetri Tortellini: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4324945407
Vetri Dessert: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4325681812
Amada was a total success. I would have to say that even though Vetri was fantastic, I preferred Amada. The flavours of Amada were more to my taste, and there were a few completely FANTASTIC dishes that I still think about to this day. Thank you Philly Ray for suggesting the clams and chorizo. I will forever be in your debt. That dish was amazing and so incredibly flavourful. The sauce was so much more complex than I had ever thought was possible for such a 'simple sounding dish'. I tried to ask what that special hint of flavour was (the waitress was a darling), but she came back with chili peppers. I was hoping to see if the smoked paprika was the strong underlying flavour. But alas! Does anyone know how to make something similar? The waitress brought us extra bread to soak up the sauce when we requested it - a whole loaf! She was such a sweetheart. We passed on the pernil asado because we were full from BBQ before we got to Amada. But I'm sure we'll return! The black olive oil dip at the start was such a great beginning to a fantastic meal. The octopus was my second favourite dish because it was so incredibly smokey. They really know how to grill things here. I was amazed at the texture they achieved as well - the octopus wasn't at all tough/chewy.
Amada Flatbread: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4309855758
Amada Empanada: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4309119417/
Amada Octo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4309855878
Amada Meatballs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4309856028/
Amada Chorizo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4309120255/
rocknroll52, we stopped by the Comcast Center because of you, and the display was indeed quite interesting. The holiday projection wasn't up yet, but it was still worth a looksie. No room for a cheesesteak though....sigh. Too much food to eat, too little stomach room/time!
doxiemom, thanks as well for the suggestion of the Comcast Center. We walked to ESP and really wanted to check it out, but we ran out of time. The reviews were really good, and we wouldn't have known about it if it weren't for you. We got a picture of the exterior after it closed (at night). Quite spooky.
PSP, thanks very much for the suggestions. We walked by the cheeseteak place (Jim's) you suggested (thanks littlecmad as well), but unfortunately, I had grabbed some BBQ from Ron's Ribs just prior to finding Jim's and I was too full to even try to attempt a footlong steak sandwich. The place was really packed though, so it seems like it's a hit. I'll have to come back and give it another go. We made a reservation at Morimoto (even though we were going to give it a pass this time around), and I would have to say that I wasn't too impressed. The recommended bibimbap with yellowtail was a bit lacklustre for us. The rice wasn't crisped along the bottom of the bowl, like I've come to expect from good bibimbaps. The fish was overdone when it was prepared at our table (we went with what the waitress suggested; medium rare), which took away from the delicate texture of the fish (almost a waste of sashimi grade yellowtail, if you ask me!). And the sauce was just 'meh'. It was a great experience though and now I can say I ate at Morimoto's, but I wouldn't put it on the list of places to hit when in Philly. We also got the Omakase lunch special, which was pretty pedestrian and nothing too mind-blowing or novel. The kingfish sashimi plate was really enjoyable though and I really enjoyed the flavour and texture of the fish. The sauce was a nice compliment as well, with hints of citrus and acidity to cut the oiliness of the fish.
Morimoto tartare (omakase): http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4325567222
Coookie, thanks for the suggestions and the headsup to avoid Lacroix. We ended up trying it out anyway, and because I had lowered by expectations, it wasn't too much of a disappointment. We managed to try one excellent dish there as well! Their confit was probably one of the best confits we've had. It was uncharacteristically moist and had a very crispy skin. Most confits I've had are quite overdone, tough and dry. This was a very pleasant version that was juicy - a rare find! The desserts were boring, and everything was uninspired though, but the space was nice. The service was pretty spotty, and that shocked me actually. They were dressed better than average, but served to the level of a chain restaurant. They couldn't really describe, or 'sell' any of the dishes, and seemed like they just wanted to get out of there. Strange. I'll have to hit up the Chinatown on our next visit. It was right near the hotel, but we were just too short on time. oliviasaru, coookie, Bibou is on our hit list nex time. Thanks!
buttercup99, I can't seem to find the article I read about Lacroix losing a star. I could have sworn I read it somewhere! Thanks for following up on that for me. Fond will be added to my list for my next visit. Sorry, I think I had already left for my trip by the time I read your post!
Lacroix Soup: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4309117737 (uninspired
)Duck Confit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4309853532/
Dessert Tier: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4309853698/
Dessert Course: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4309853926 (i liked how you could choose
Another place we hit and was actually my favourite experience (okay, maybe tied with Amada), was Ron's Ribs. We had taken the walk along Schuylkill Banks Trail and were heading up South St (touristy street - wouldn't recommend it.) when we started to smell something. I just had some great yakitori in NYC so all I kept thinking about for BLOCKS was meat on a fire.... when I finally found the culprit of the smokey smell, it was Ron's Ribs. The entire restaurant was FILLED with smoke. The owner (I believe, Kevin) saw me peeking through the window and ushered us in. He prepared us something we could munch on because I told him that we wanted to walk up South St (he warned us constantly about never crossing South of South St. Great guy). He fixed us a plate of pulled pork, potato salad and a corn bread. OMG, the pulled pork was unlike anything I've ever eaten. The sauce was fantastic (sour from vinegar, heat from hot sauce, and sweet as well) and the meat. Wow. The meat. I'm almost speachless. It was so incredibly moist, tender, and fatty. The meat was left in chunks and not torn to strips like I'm used to for pulled pork. All this time, I never understood why Pulled Pork was popular. It was so...underwhelming and tough. And now I know. When it's done right... it's heaven. I was blown away. I was probably more impressed than I should have been, but it has to do with the fact that I am from Toronto, now living in Boston, and there's NO good BBQ places around anywhere I've been. Zip. Nadda. So for those that are used to average, run-of-the-mill BBQ joints, you must hit up Ron's. You won't regret it. I wanted to walk back and get more, but SO wasn't impressed enough and didn't want to walk all the way back. So I have to go back another time now!
Ron's Ribs Pulled Pork: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4309855024
Ron's Ribs Kevin: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4309119117
Ron's Ribs Menu: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/4309854670/
OK this is getting too long, so I just wanted to thank you all one last time. I hope you enjoyed my reviews and pics. I can't wait to return to your fine city! It was such a great experience and the food is fantastic!
Cheers and Happy Eating!
glad to hear you ate so well! if you have a hankering for bbq next time you come back, you should also try bebe's (carolina style) and percy street (texas-style). there are so many more places to try, but i won't harass until you post your 'i'm a comin back!" post....
and we have a max brenner's here too. :)
I'm glad you liked the pictures! The weather was great when I went. I'm sure it'll be more beautiful if I return in the Spring/Summer. Sigh... I was reminded of all the good food I had when I was writing the review and posting up the photos.... what I wouldn't give for the chorizo w/ clams + octopus dishes at Amada right now... or Ron's Ribs...
Thanks for the recommendations on Percy St and bebe's. I'll definitely add that to my list. I couldn't believe Ron's Ribs were THAT good. I have to try some of their other items next time. Hope they live up to the experience that their pulled pork gave me.
yeah, I knew about the Max Brenner's, but wanted to try your local fare :). Thanks for the tip! And I'll definitely post before my next trip out. You guys are so incredibly helpful!