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Dinner for four - BYO or otherwise: Considering Meme, Cochon, Kanelli, Audrey Claire

Hello Philly!

Foodies coming into town for a comedy show at Helium this saturday (Rittenhouse Sq/ Penn Center (according to yelp)). The show starts at 10.30. Looking for excellent eats, any cuisine type. Have read wonderful things about the byo scene -- considering Cochon, Kanelli (if I can get a ressie) and Audrey Claire (same). Also considering Meme (I know its not a byo).

Any other thoughts? We love food, served in a chic but laid back setting. Particularly locally sourced menus. Generally prefer smaller- to medium- sized restaurants, nice/hip (but nothing "exclusive") vibe and of the neighborhood-gem variety over larger, white tablecloth, fanciness.

Flexible re price but would like entree to stick within the mid to upper twenties (or lower, of course).

Any feedback or suggestions would be much appreciated.

Looked into the above, and also:
Alma de cuba
Little Fish

Ate at Matyson (and quite enjoyed it, but was not blown away) last time I visited.


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  1. don't know where Helium is.
    if it's near Rittenhouse sq and you don't want to travel too far, you can rule out cochon, little fish, osteria, and bibou. none are too far, but most people wouldn't want to walk it.
    of the remainng, i liked audrey claire more than alma de cuba (which isn't byo, btw). i'll say this, though: it is LOUD.
    it does have a neighborhoody feel, esp. when it's nice out.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bob Loblaw

      For stuff that's reasonably close-by, on the BYO scene, I like Melograno, Branzino and Audrey Claire the best.

      For very good food in a neighborhood setting, you also might want to check out Pub & Kitchen and Meritage. The first is definitely "pub food" but with an upscale twist; the second has a great front bar and excellent food.

      Cichetteria 19 is not far away either and I know they're big on local-sourced foods, and I loved it on my first visit recently. Can get pricey or can be less so depending on what you order, lots of choices from pastas to pizza to whole fish.

    2. I strongly recommend Meme--very solid french-american cooking that dances between rustic and refined, reasonable prices, and a great little wine list, also very reasonably priced. I can't promise you'll be blown away here, but I definitely prefer it to Matyson and at the end of the night it won't have broken the bank.

      Another restaurant to consider, given your interests and location, is Melograno, an Italian BYO in the Rittenhouse area. They don't take reservations on weekends, and the room may get rather loud, but it's still a favorite of mine. They've recently added a website, so you can browse their menu if you like.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nwinkler

        Helium is on Sansom, next to Noble, i think. Melograno is basically across the street and good, but I would have to say I prefer Audrey Claire.
        There are plenty of options in the area though.
        La Viola, Branzino, Meritage(20th and Lombard)........................

      2. Given how late the show is, seems like you could easily eat anywhere and town and still get over there in time. If you want to stay in the neighborhood, I'd go with Meme. If not, Cochon and Kanella are two of my top favorites in the City, I'd recommend either. Cochon is earthy, comfort food; Kanella is incredible flavors, but definitely has more potential to be "lighter" fare if that is important to you; they also both take reservations and I believe that Cochon is on Open Table these days.

        People on this board loooove Audrey Claire, but after a series of mediocre dishes there a few years ago, I took it out of the Meme/Cochon/Kanella category in my mind.

        4 Replies
        1. re: urbanfabric

          urbanfabric, you are not the only one who thinks that Audrey Claire is past its prime.

          1. re: barryg

            Barryg, curious, have you been there lately? Used to think the same thing, but was there twice about 9 months ago and was really good, good flatbreads

            1. re: bonappetite

              I have not been there recently. Maybe it is time to give it another try, thanks for the tip on the flatbreads.

              1. re: barryg

                The flatbreads are awesome, definitely a big reason to eat there.

        2. Kanella, Bibou, and Osteria are the best of the places you're looking at, but you won't get a table for four at Bibou this Saturday. Ditto Osteria (according to Opentable), and Osteria is more pricy/fancy than you're looking for. I'd call Kanella right now if I were you.

          Meme and Cochon are good, not as good as those places but I'd recommend them.

          Audrey Claire and Alma de Cuba are not in the same league.

          I'd also recommend Meritage, at 20th and Lombard.

          1. I would go to Meritage or Fish if you don't mind a bit of a walk. Fish is the new, larger venue of Little Fish and much more comfortable.
            Both excellent food, casual, nice atmosphere.
            I've never been a fan of Audrey Claire - uneven.
            You won't be able to get a reservation at Bibou.

            1. Thanks everyone!!
              Right now we're considering pre-show ressies at Cochon or Meme OR a post show reservation at Kanella for 10pm. I really want to do the late dinner at Kanella 'cause of all the great feedback, though all three spots sounds like a nice experience.

              Do you think that the 10pm at Kanella is too late/rushed meal?

              The feedback has been a huge help! I will definitely post a summary.

              Also, any other suggestions would be welcome as we plan to try many more spots in philly. Saddens me that NYC doesnt have more of a byo scene.

              Oh, if someone can drop me a line - how long in advance do you usually need for weekend reservations at osteria? or bibou? And possible Vetri?

              6 Replies
              1. re: bobjunior

                At least a month for Bibou----but never hurts to check it out, I sadly got to my email too late last pm, but there had been 3 cancellations at a sold out wine dinner at Bibou---it is the best. And, actually, a they have 2 seats at a bar near the ktchen that are up for grabs, not sure if you can erserve or not, but worth the try. At very least, speak with Charlotte and leave a cell for any last minute cancellations.

                1. re: bonappetite

                  If you follow Bibou on Twitter, Charlotte often tweets last minute cancellations. Unfortunately, we usually can' get babysitting together that fast, but if you are flexible, they appear to have cancellations quite often.

                  1. re: bonappetite

                    thanks for the tip! is this for this saturday?

                  2. re: bobjunior

                    I've never been rushed out the door at Kanella. We went on NYE and they did a great job of spacing reservations so that no one was waiting and no one had to leave before they were ready. I don't think it's too late for the restaurant, you'll have to decide if it's too late for you!

                    1. re: bobjunior

                      Vertri is usually a two month out reservation for the weekend - Osteria a month.

                    2. Cochon or Matyson. both are great.

                      1. Thanks to all for the feedback.
                        We had a great weekend of food with one little mishap.

                        First, excellent pork, rabe and provolone sandwiches at DiNic's in terminal market. A great lunch but for my wallet being stolen while we ate, only to find out later that the thieves went on a several thousand dollar spending spree at a kmart.

                        Anyways, had a great time at Helium (though drinks were of course kinda pricey). Then went to Kanella for a wonderful meal. Everything was fantastic except the halumi and the special fish of the day. (I'm not reporting on other specific menu items bc we ate all specials... which is not that normal for us. The homemade pasta of the day was incredible). All around great meal and LOVELY service.

                        Finished the weekend with a lovely brunch at Distrito. The place was kind of empty (though it was pouring and I know understand that Distrito just started serving brunch) BUT it was great. Service was very good and prices reasonable.

                        Thanks again! Can't wait to come back.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: bobjunior

                          That sucks that your wallet was stolen, sorry to hear it. Hope it doesn't wind up being too much of a hassle. Keep an eye on your credit reports, they might try to open accounts in your name.

                          1. re: Bob Loblaw

                            Loblaw, great point. (And great username -- I'm sure I'm not the first who mentioned it!)

                          2. re: bobjunior

                            So glad you enjoyed our food. So sorry about your wallet, please don't judge us all on the behavior of a few!

                            1. re: Bigley9

                              Of course not bigley. I had a great weekend. If thats one of the more bad things that has happened to me in the recent past, i'm relatively lucky, right?

                              1. re: bobjunior

                                Good attitude bobjunior! Come back soon!