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Restaurants everyone loves--except you

So I stole this topic off the MSP and Manhattan boards. Not trying to be a Negative Nancy but would like some conversation on the board besides just restaurant recommendations, And ok, I like to complain sometimes. Not trying to call places out, just pointing out what may be my own taste or ordering deficiencies. Would love to hear counter-arguments or suggestions on how to better enjoy these places.

I'll start.

Dmitri's. Only been to the Fitler Square location but have been there several times. Never had an outstanding dish and the dishes they are most known for, the Grilled Octopus and Shrimp Pil-Pil, I do not like at all. The grilled octopus in particular is some of the worst I've had anywhere (to my taste). Swimming in oil, too much lemon, and no charring whatsoever. Pil-Pil just tastes like fried shrimp and is not spicy to me. It's also greasy and I do not like that it is just a pile of shrimp with nothing else to balance the flavor.

Vietnam Restaurant. I don't get what the big deal is. Some of the dishes are good but the menu is limited compared to Nam Phuong in South Philly and the prices are higher. The Pho is just bad. Maybe I am biased because most of my Vietnamese experience is from a friend's home cooking and Nam Phuong.

Tinto. It's actually good, but every meal I have had there is a let down compared to my experiences at Amada. I still recommend it to people because I know the overall dining experience is good and everybody else likes it. Maybe Basque isn't for me.

Mercato. Long waits, crowded and uncomfortable, standard Italian food though the Olive Oil flight is fun. What's the appeal?

Pudge's Cheesesteaks. Only went once. Service was atrocious. Not rude but efficient like Pat's/Geno's but slow, painful and indifferent. Waited 15-20 minutes to be approached by waitress, and she seemed just about ready to jump off a bridge. The steak was average; seemed to put emphasis on the size of the portion rather than the flavor.

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  1. Whenever I get into a conversation about restaurants, everyone always talks about how much they love Buddakan. But I just don't get it. To me, it's like "fast-food fine dining."

    3 Replies
      1. re: Philly Ray

        I'll agree that it's "fast food fine dining," but you can't hate on the edamame ravioli. Those are legitimately good.

        1. re: Philly Ray

          yes! agreed--was taken there for a birthday dinner a couple years ago (which was terrible for other reasons too) but aside from tasty cocktails, the food was just 'meh'. i mean, cod with miso? that's supposed to be interesting? plus, my companion, who is a vegetarian, was given some ridiculous oversized bowl of fried vegetables. he loved it, actually, but to me it just spoke to how little care went into it.

        2. Heh. I know what you mean about the service at Pudge's. I always get it to go. But the rolls are fresh and delicious, the cheese is nicely melted and the mushrooms are fresh and plentiful. Once in lansdale I got a cheesesteak with mushrooms and it came with One canned mushroom slice. My friend loves Pudge's roasted peppers on his steaks and dreams about them when he is away at school. I like their steak meat too. I remember in their old location, the next shopping center over, my friend and I were regulars and we we didn't show up for a couple of months because we were so busy, the owner or manager asked us in a very nice way. "haven't seen you two in awhile, was there any problems?" I melted like cheese on hot steak. Not sure if he is there any more. My main problem with Pudge's used to be that the steaks came out so hot that it was agony to wait until they cooled enough to eat. I used to burn my tongue regularly. But for over rated I would list a lot of the pizza and chinese places in the 'burbs, too many to list, I think people just go to which ever one is closest to them. My one friend used to rave about Perkasie Pizza until I asked him to provide a few details.

          1 Reply
          1. re: givemecarbs

            Yes great point about the steak being so hot. Actually, as I was eating it I wondered if I was missing some of the flavor because it was so f'in hot. But I was on a lunch break from a job and after waiting 20 minutes for my order to be taken I really couldn't wait any longer to eat. If I'm up that way again maybe I will give them another go, call in the order, and let the sandwich cool. FTR I wasn't impressed with the bread, though.

          2. Fun idea! For me it's Lee How Fook. Nothing I've had there has been very good, and certainly not as good as the same or similar dishes at Shiao Lan Kung, which I think of as in the same general category. Even their famed hot and sour soup doesn't do it for me. I just don't get it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

              I love LHF, but I'm not into their hot & sour soup at all. Also, they've slipped in the last few years, ever since they renovated the dining room. They're still good, IMO, just not AS good.

            2. Audrey Claire's doesn't do it for me on a number of levels: Server didn't understand what rare salmon means; Mama's highly-touted cheesecake doesn't hold a candle to mine; don't get the charm of eating cheek-by-jowl with the other diners or on the narrow sidewalk on Spruce Street. And then there was the restroom I couldn't get into because the dishwasher was occupying it for his smoke break.

              While Modo Mio has fabulous food at reasonable prices, after several visits (and being told the owner likes it this way) I've come to accept the noise level is too high for my comfort.

              Bebe's serves nothing approaching real NC-style barbecue (and has the annoying practice of putting too much meat on a sandwich). Real NC-style barbecue is cooked slowly and basted with a vinegar-based sauce as it cooks to the point it will fall off the bone. The taste is piquant and permeates the meat. The biscuits on Sunday morning, however, are quite good.

              8 Replies
              1. re: Seeker19104

                Seeker is there anywhere in the area to get the NC barbecue with the vinegar based sauce? I haven't had it since I moved here from NC. Whimper.

                1. re: givemecarbs

                  Bebe's does offer a NC-style vinegar-based sauce (no tomato) on request. Actually it is Eastern NC according to Mark C there, he says in West NC they put a drop of tomato in the sauce. I might have that backwards.

                  They definitely don't cook the meat with sauce though. It's dry rubbed and smoked overnight, so no basting.

                  1. re: barryg

                    Thanks! No tomato in the Raleigh area, at least when I was there.

                    1. re: givemecarbs

                      Alas, Mark talks a good game at Bebe's, but fails in the execution. I did have the aforementioned vinegar-based sauce; however, the resulting sandwich was a huge disappointment.

                      I do an ersatz version of NC-style barbecue in my crock pot that is superior. The meat actually absorbs the flavor of the sauce which mimics the traditional slow roasting of a whole pig over an open pit with frequent basting.

                      1. re: Seeker19104

                        What cut do you use? How long do you cook it?

                        1. re: barryg

                          Pork shoulder or chicken thighs, depending on who's coming to dinner. At least six hours on high in an older crockpot. The new ones would take less time as they get hotter. PS It's better to cook this a day or two ahead and let flavors meld even more.

                  2. re: givemecarbs

                    We like Carolina Blue in Pitman New Jersey, worth the drive from Philly, busy bar, great smoked items, reasonable.

                  3. re: Seeker19104

                    I liked Audrey Claire a lot...the restaurant has a minimalist atmosphere with no tacky decorations and an open kitchen in the back....I found the entrees to be seasonal and delicious. Plus, I love dining with the windows open in the summer time.

                    Elaine from http://www.elleats.com

                  4. I actually really like some of the places you mentioned....
                    Dimitris, in particular, is one of our go-to spots. I really like the shrimp 'special' that they have (it's a great dish, but i do admit that it's odd that, while not on the printed menu, they have it every night). i also sometimes find that eating there tapas-style is the way to go. some of their apps are better than their entrees.
                    as for vietnam, i like the food there. my favorite vietnamese food in philly, though, is a food truck on temple campus; hard to go elsewhere when you can get good chicken bun for $4.50.

                    as for my own pics:
                    -Roast pork sandwiches at DiNics. Just don't think that they're that great.
                    -I would say Standard Tap, although a thread a few days ago shows I'm not alone in this
                    -I ate and Matyson once, and liked it - but really don't get the big fuss.
                    -not sure what the general opinion is on Alma de Cuba, but I'm not a big fan. do like some of their drinks, though.

                    1. I have lived in Montgomery County for the past 30 years and finally went to Pudge's a couple of weeks ago. We did get our order to go and I hope the sandwich would have been better if we dined in. It was so wet, I had to use a knife and fork to eat it. It was a cheesesteak with fried onions. I have no desire to go back.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: crazyspice

                        Sorry you had a bad experience crazyspice. Pudge's has ruined other cheesesteaks in the area for me, but I dislike their onions, either raw or fried. They use a food processor so the onions are like long strings. Gag. On the rare occasion where I can't finish my steak as soon as it is cool enough to scarf down I save it for later and it is of course kind of soggy. Any other place you would recommend? I used to get my steaks from Ray's Pizza in lansdale before I found Pudge's, and they do a nice job there too but I prefer Pudge's. I think Pudge's has the best hoagies too, except for those darn stringy onions.

                        Ray's Pizza
                        Verizon, Swedesboro, NJ 08085

                      2. Agree most heartily with you on Dmitri's and Mercato. Just tried Vietnam after a long absence and found it to be unimproved. Not that is bad, but for me nothing on the menu that works for me or that l find enticing, never again. If the later poster did not understand Lee How Fook before, the original sous chef died a few months ago and when last there a few weeks ago left virtually everything uneaten. Took it off my list and as l live three blocks away, a major loss.
                        My new one that everyone loves and l really did not was Koo Zee Doo, way too fatty and heavy. Might add Stella

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          Deluca, thought I was alone on Koo Zee Doo. Had one of the worst meals ever there only to be flabbergasted by its glowing reviews. Feel as though I ate at a totaly different restaurant. The entire evening felt completely amateurish. Others I would add to this list are Sabrinas , Cafe Estelle, Silk City, and Honeys. Can't stand huge portions of mediocre food.

                          1. re: tilemaker

                            oh, man, i thought it was just me. i've tried honey's a good six times now, and it's just not great. i'm also with you on sabrina's. and i'll throw morning glory out there, too, though i've only been there once. my tofu scramble was so bad i just couldn't bother giving a second chance. brunch is such an easy meal to make taste delicious, i'd just as soon make it at home before going to those three. but if i can't be bothered to cook, the frittatas at cafe lift and the french toast at north 3rd are what i'll aim for.

                            vietnam is sorta my guilty pleasure. nothing out of this world, but sometimes i really want to gorge on simple pan-fried noodles and their are by far my favorite. i wish their papaya salad packed more oomph; that's been my craving lately, a good papaya salad. i went there yesterday for lunch. a woman was breast-feeding right next to us. i joked to my friend it would have been mighty uncomfortable if we were at a thai place instead and i was slurping up some tom kha gai. :)

                            1. re: rabidog

                              I don't get the fuss about Morning Glory at all, either. Exceedingly long wait, slow/disinterested service, barely adequate breakfast food. I couldn't believe it when I went there and they advertised special mango pancakes, which sounded delicious, but then was rudely informed they were out of mango and just substituted pineapple instead. Ugh. With tons of better places to go, I'll not be back ever.

                              1. re: sockii

                                A friend berates me unmercifully because I think Morning Glory is a waste of time. Thanks for the moral support. It's one of those Philly "scenes" to me where waiting an hour is part of the experience. Their pancakes aren't even good and I hate that frenetic pace when I'm trying to enjoy a leisurely breakfast.

                                1. re: naneharvey

                                  i said earlier i'd never go back to morning glory after my one visit and i'm sticking to that. however, my dining companion from that day recently returned and was disappointed again. over. hyped. we met again yesterday to give south philly breakfasts another chance at green eggs cafe. green eggs was awesome!!! i had a quinoa porridge which was creamy, fruity, fabulous. got a side of pancakes which were dry, but i didn't care much because the porridge was so filling. coffee was good and orange juice great. my friend informed me they really try to source a lot of their food locally. love that place. so long, morning glory!

                          2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                            I went back to Vietnam after a years absence ,it really went down hill.They were cooking with canned mushrooms ,yuck! Also there were a lot of water chestnuts in dishes that shouldnt have had them.Never going back there for me.

                          3. Great topic.
                            I agree completely on Vietnam. Never been to vietnamese place with a pu pu platter before. Seems like a mix between asian cuisines that have been modified for American tastes.

                            My picks lean more toward the board darlings that many are afraid to criticize.

                            Osteria - we had a terrible meal topped by pretentious service and an unbelievably large bill for what we had. No apology for the items that were sent back. No offer to comp part of it. The pizza was soggy with olive oil. Yuck.

                            Le Bec Fin - the food is fine but the pretentious servers, outrageous wine list and crowded seating were a complete turn off. What's with the fake French accents?

                            Buddakan - (and most of the Starr experiences) too cookie cutter. Too noisy.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: joluvscards

                              Full agreement on Osteria. Gorgeous restaurant, wanted to love it. Can't even like it. Terrible rabbit dish - tough, blackened and greasy, Disgraceful, don't even know how they could have sent it out.

                              1. re: tilemaker

                                I was also disappointed with the rabbit at Osteria, but I loved the pizza and pasta.

                              2. re: joluvscards

                                +2 on Osterian-Based on my two visit to Osteria your observations are high on point. I think this is one of the most overrated and overprice restaurants in Philadelphia. Yuck is a good one word description.

                                1. re: Bacchus101

                                  Here I vehemently disagree. Given how long the restaurant has been open, its clear how to order at Osteria. Order apps, pizza and pasta. Anything else you are asking for trouble. So Osteria is inconsistent, but is very easy to have a good to a great meal there if you do your homework.

                                  1. re: cwdonald

                                    Yes. I also had some of the best pork there, ever. It had been slaughtered just that morning, and the sliced rack was incredible.

                                    1. re: cwdonald

                                      Pizza and apps (especially cured meats), I'd agree upon. Not the pasta, very disappointing in my experience (uneven seasoning and flavor balances).

                                2. Replied earlier and did not go thru....so shorter version but glad i waited, because i agree with last post about Osteria because my friend and I too had soggy pizza and did not think octupus as good as aforementioned D'mitris----keep meaning to give it a second chance though.
                                  As for Dmitri's, I much prefer Queen Village on Catherine....tried to tell myself i was crazy and it was just atmosphere, but indeed, the octupus is more charred, albiet, perhaps heavy on lemon but i like it that way. True, small plates are the way to go and the lamb dinner is also good. I've had the shrimp scampi(small plate i think) and was good, never tried any other dish there.
                                  Let us know Barryg if you try out Queen Village! Oh, and this is a fun post!

                                  1. Interesting how much consensus seems to be emerging...

                                    I will add my votes for Modo Mio and Matyson. I've only been once to each, so I do feel like I owe them another visit before passing judgment. But for what it's worth, I went to Modo Mio with a party of 6, so we were able to order pretty much the whole menu, and we had issues with almost every dish, including the complimentary bread and ricotta. Nothing was terrible, but we thought the execution was just across-the-board lacking. Matyson, meanwhile, simply disappointed my very high expectations; I wanted to be wowed, but found our meal fine but forgettable.

                                    I'm alarmed to see that Vietnam is getting some heat. I definitely agree that their pho is utterly blah, but I've been devoted for years to their appetizers (virtually all of them), the broken rice platter with pork chops and the combination rice noodle bowl. I hope they're not slipping...

                                    And like bonappetite above, I've had good experiences at the Queen Village Dmitri's, where the fish has been fresh, perfectly charred, and drenched in just the right amounts of lemon and olive oil.

                                    1. This is very interesting. I'll add my vote for Modo Mio as well. I've given it several chances and had the same issues every time--some terrible service gaffes (and I'm not overly picky about such things), and the food, while good, was not good enough to overcome the problems.

                                      I think the thing about Vietnam is that it developed its reputation before there were so many other choices for Vietnamese food. I think the appetizers are great, but agree that the rest of the menu is fairly average, and the pho is bad. It is a nice place to go, though, and is never outright bad (other than the pho).

                                      I'm surprised about the many mentions of both Osteria and Matyson. I've eaten at both many times and had nothing but superlative meals at both. I just had the best restaurant dish I've had in months at Osteria this past week (and been to many great places in that time). I also loved Koo Zee Doo, though I've only been once.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                                        Many times when l read a review or get a restaurant recommendation l listen to people who have the same 'mouth' as l do. A person whose desire for food matches mine, whether spicy, fancy, whatever. You and l should read each others reviews with a large grain of salt. The restaurants you list as good, l do not like, e.g. Osteria, and since l live 200 yards from it l wish l did; and the ones you do not like e.g. Modo Mio, which is my current to go place. They treat me better than family there and l love the intensity of their flavors. This is what makes this an open forum and l am always amazed by the posters likes and dislikes as while many times they mirror mine, as many times they are the absolute opposite.

                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                          "The restaurants you list as good, l do not like, e.g. Osteria, and since l live 200 yards from it l wish l did; "

                                          Do you live in the Divine Lorraine?
                                          That would be pretty cool.

                                      2. Love this thread. For me it's The Farmhouse at Loch Nairn Golf Course in Toughkenemon (sic) PA. After hearing rave review after rave review from friends my wife took me there for my birthday several years ago. Blech!!! We both hated it. What was worse, everyone around us was practically having a foodgasm. We couldn't wait to get out of there.

                                        Also, on the pho front, just went to Pho 75 last week. Meh.

                                        Barry, sorry to hear about your experiences w/Dmitri's. We only go to the original at Third and Catherine and have never had a bad meal there. I am concerned though that he's opened up a third location and he's doing some personnel shifting, so we may be avoiding going back for a while.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Rondo

                                          About Dmitri's, I'm guessing it's a taste thing; I like my octopus very tender and on the dry side. Do not like it floating in oil/lemon, but some people do.

                                          Thanks for pointing out Pho 75. I love Pho, to the point of the periodic addiction, and I have never liked Pho 75, and I've tried both locations several times. The broth just seems to lack the flavor I want and is maybe too salty or MSG'd (I love MSG, too, and cook with it). I always thought something is wrong with me because it's a darling of the chefs and industry people around town. Pho Ha, Pho Hoa, Nam Phuong are all better to me. Never had the Choo-Choo place in Chinatown. I read once that Pho is different in N and S Vietnam so maybe the style is different and I prefer one over another.

                                          1. re: barryg

                                            Isn't Pho 75 a chain? I seem to remember seeing them in D.C. as well (and was not enthralled by my visit to the Philly location when it opened as well, but then again not much at Chinatown has impressed me so I chalk it up to my cuisine preferences). I used to like Nan Zhou but they have been slipping it seems too...

                                            1. re: bluehensfan

                                              Yes, it's definitely a chain. The menu says so and they apparently have locations up and down the coast. I had it once and haven't gone back; it just didn't do it for me.

                                          2. re: Rondo

                                            Oh god, the Farmhouse makes me feel like I'm 7 again, trapped at an endless family dinner with over-priced lousy food. I can practically feel the patent leather mary janes and smocked dress. I might as well order a Shirley Temple and be done with it.

                                          3. Great topic.

                                            Sabrina's - just because you throw a bunch of shit on a plate doesn't make it good.
                                            Vetri - had a throughly disappointing meal there. Food was fine; service and wine pairings were completely uninspired.
                                            Nodding Head - poor food, overrated beer

                                            As with others, I'm surprised to see Matyson on here. I've had nothing but phenomenal meals here.

                                            20 Replies
                                            1. re: jaba

                                              Ok, as the one who (I think) first put Matyson on...
                                              Of course it makes the list! It makes the list *precisely* because other people have had "superlative" meals there. If everyone else didn't love it, it wouldn't be eligible!

                                              I just thought it was good, not great. I'd eat there again, but only on someone else's dime. (Standard Tap, otoh, I ruled out ever going back to 5 years ago. Might go back now, but don't regret missing those 5 years).

                                              FWIW, I'd almost argue that Osteria is ineligible - there are a lot of negative reviews of it on this site. Not a majority, but I'd guess 1/4 to 1/3 of the posts about Osteria are negative.

                                              1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                                "Of course it makes the list! It makes the list *precisely* because other people have had "superlative" meals there. If everyone else didn't love it, it wouldn't be eligible!"

                                                Excellent point. That's what I get for posting after I've been drinking.

                                                1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                                  Bob, did you go to Matyson pre- or post-owner/chef change? I went about 6 times pre and loved it, but the wife wanted someplace different if we were taking the trek into town. Haven't been in about two years so...?

                                                  1. re: george2

                                                    I was there probably 2 years ago. don't know if that was pre-or post-change.
                                                    (also, if you read my user name out loud, you'll see that i'm not really named 'bob' - it's just a character from a tv show)

                                                2. re: jaba

                                                  The beer at Nodding Head is lame, but I don't know any beer drinkers who think it is good. There are not too many bars with that kind of atmosphere in CC West so I end up there more than I would like.

                                                  Your (accurate) quibble with the food there reminds me of Monk's. I just can't stand fighting the crowds and pretentious service there anymore. The beer list is excellent, but so many other places have great beer lists that unless there is a specific bottle I want, I'd rather go elsewhere. I have never had any good meals here. I used to like the mussels until I realized that many, many restaurants do them better. The fries and aioli are very good though. I have a lot of respect for Monk's for being the granddaddy of the Philly beer scene but I really have no desire to go there anymore. On that note, all the Fergie bars are overpriced and have bad food, with the one big exception being Grace Tavern, which I love.

                                                  1. re: barryg

                                                    For sure I will tack on my vote for Osteria - though it looks like maybe that doesn't fit the category, given all the others who seem to agree. Terrible experience - pizza way too salty, swordfish drowning in a pool of oil.

                                                    I also was not a huge fan of Koo Zee Doo, though I only went once. I didn't dislike it, but I've been surprised at all the positive hype.

                                                    And I used to be a huge Sabrina's fan...but the last 2-3 times I've gone, it's been terrible. (HOWEVER i still love Sabrina's for dinner...far better than brunch). I ordered the breakfast burrito (at the Callowhill location), and they actually served it with marinara sauce instead of salsa...I thought I was going to vomit.

                                                    A bit off topic...because I still like it...but I don't think the Village Whiskey burger is even close to being the best in Philly. It's good...but it's no better than many others (Pub & Kitchen, Royal Tavern, Butcher & Singer, Capital Grille, Grace Tavern, Resurrection Ale House, etc.). I much prefer the VW pulled pork - now that's the best pulled pork sandwich i've ever had!

                                                    1. re: barryg

                                                      I got really turned off the first time I went to Nodding Head and saw their completely pretentious disclaimer on the beer list that "If you don't like our beer, it's probably your fault not ours" or whatever it says.
                                                      I really wanted to like it more than I do because, as you say, the atmosphere is great.

                                                      I've only ever had the Monks fries, but those are great.

                                                      Grace is another place that seems like it would be perfect. But after going there about 3 times and having various waitstaff or bartenders be complete a**holes, I decided it wasn't worth it. However, I do think they food at Fergies is above average and not too expensive. I also think they pour the best Guiness in town.

                                                      1. re: barryg

                                                        I agree with you up to a point about Nodding Head. Their Berliner Weiss is superb. Other than that, I do not like that brewpub. And the food at Nodding Head... oye. I would much rather go downstairs to the Oyster House.

                                                        Another brewpub that puts out VERY few good beers is Triumph at ANY location. There are exceptions.. the special pilsner that they brewed last year in memory of Jay Mission was superb. But Princeton New Hope and Philadelphia locations in general put out some mediocre microbrews.

                                                        1. re: cwdonald

                                                          Old post, but I positively loved the Berliner Weisse at Nodding Head recently. We usually stay fairly nearby, so we often stop in for a brewski or two.

                                                          Can't say I've ever been disappointed with any beer there, either. They made a great Kölsch-style beer a few years ago that I liked.

                                                      2. re: jaba

                                                        jaba, absolutely ditto on Sabrinas. Who needs 5 pounds of bland potatoes? Could never figure that one out. Another mystery to me is Honey's. People love it, they line up for an hour. For what? Mediocre food, served carelessly in the ground zero of hipsterdom?

                                                        Zahav - overpriced, over salted, underwhelmed. They should be ashamed.

                                                        1. re: tilemaker

                                                          THANK YOU! I was afraid to hate on Zahav for fear of being booted off the Board - but I don't get it. Nothing I have ever had there has been that exciting and although I would not call it "bad", I would call it overpriced and overrated. I am amazed at how much love it gets. Even if I the 3 times have been there were the only 3 times that the chef was having a bad night, there are too many other great options in Philly.

                                                          1. re: doxiemom

                                                            I'm with you on Zahav - it's Israeli street food priced like it's waiting for its third Michelin star...I LOVE Israeli street food mind you...and they do some of it well - but the dishes are TINY and the prices high. The fresh made pita is great - and I love the Limonada (basically a bourbon mojito)...maybe next time I'll just sit at the bar eating bread and drinking...

                                                            1. re: rafi2000

                                                              spero? The menu at Zahav over the past year or so has transcended the street food thing, take a look on the website. BTW you can go there for happy hr and get the Lemonana and half-price hummus and laffa.

                                                              1. re: rafi2000

                                                                hey, that's what i do... sit at the bar - wine, hummus, crispy haloumi, califlower... and i adore it. i really only go there for happy hour, when a lot of stuff is pretty deeply discounted. haven't really tried the rest of the menu. salty, yes. agreed. but i adore salt. my friends joke that i would salt a salt lick, so take whatever i say with a grain of salt (ha! ha!). :)

                                                                1. re: rabidog

                                                                  Is Zahav getting more casual? We have not been in a year and was wondering if I could get away with dressy shorts for dinner?

                                                                  1. re: bluehensfan

                                                                    bluehensfan, it's just my personal opinion, but i think dressy shorts are appropriate at nearly every resto in the city other than some of the very top-end steakhouses and pricey see-and-be-seen places around rittenhouse. i've most definitely gone into zahav in nice shorts, and i feel perfectly at home. i mean, the staff there wears cotton polos and khakis, which to me implies casual dress is totally fine. i usually shy away from t-shirts with writing on them, but i feel nearly anything else goes. i work as a hostess at one of philly's nicer restaurants and i think i've seen it all, though! i subscribe to the theory that the paying customer's always right. :)

                                                                    1. re: rabidog

                                                                      Thanks for the tip! I decided to wear pants but saw a guy wearing shorts and dirty sneakers the next table over, so I guess anything goes these days. At least nobody will call me under-dressed. BTW-I like Zahav but ordered the Mesibah for the first time. The lamb that was served with it has to be one of the best things I have ever had at any restaurant and blows everything else at Zahav out of the water...even the haloumi cheese.

                                                                2. re: rafi2000

                                                                  Priced like it's waiting for its third Michelin star? $36 prix fixe (at least last time I went) for the number of courses and amount of food, I thought was pretty cheap

                                                                  1. re: rafi2000

                                                                    Ditto. As a one of the small plates places we like we feel it takes the "small" too far for the bucks. The bread, hummus and drinks can do it quite nicely for us as a stop before dinner elsewhere, sorry to say. As for the comments below on dress, all is more casual . As to wether it is really acceptable is a good question for someone more in tune with this type thing than me. But, a bit higher standard, nice casual would be welcomed by myself and by many based on comment I have heard. Zahav's customers can look like commuters in the waiting room at a train station, a mixed bag at best.

                                                              2. re: jaba

                                                                I agree about Nodding Head.. The food is not normally very good, and if you go during the day, you'll see how ripped and ratty a lot of the cushions are. My friends like the beer, but I haven't tasted any yet.

                                                              3. Ditto Osteria for not a great meal. Maybe it was because I went on a Tuesday or maybe it was because I have had such excellent meals at Vetri and had high expectations. So disappointing I haven't been back.

                                                                I am a huge Monk's fan but, also having been off-put by the crowds, like it much better for lunch ... if you are someone willing to throw back three beers by 2 PM that is :).

                                                                1. Not necessarily a chowhound-destination, but everyone I know loves to go to Ralph's in South Philly. To me, it is the most basic high volume food operation. I'll be happy to never have to go to a group dinner there again.

                                                                  I sureley don't wait in line for Pats or Genos either, but I don't want to get that pot stirred up.

                                                                  I think Devon Seafood Grill is way overated too and only does the biz it does, because of its location.

                                                                  Don't like Mid-Atlantic Tap Room either.

                                                                  Now, there are a few other places that always get slammed but that I still love... like Cuba Libre.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: xtian

                                                                    IMO, Devon Seafood is strictly for tourists.

                                                                    1. re: Mawrter

                                                                      There are a few things I like at Devon, like their Cioppino and their evil-good-even-if-its-cliched molten chocolate dessert. But otherwise agree it's nothing special, not much better than Bonefish.

                                                                      1. re: sockii

                                                                        Totally agree. Devon is good for the biscuits but not much else is outstanding IMO.

                                                                    2. Cosign on Buddakhan and Vietnam. Both were expensive let downs.

                                                                      Around these parts people rave about a few restaurants that we think were tired and cliched, namely Black Lab Bistro and...dare I say it...Majolica. Black Lab used to be this really cute, laid back family place where they prepared affordable mainstays like sandwiches and meatloaf. Then the deliberately morphed into this high end sort of place and the few times we were there we were utterly depressed by the pricey menu and lackluster dishes.
                                                                      Majolica -- man would I love to support this place. Can't do it. Not when I can make similarly uncomplicated dishes at home -- BETTER -- for a fraction of the price. I mean, I'm not expecting earth shattering but for those prices it better be damn delicious.

                                                                      Over in Wayne -- Christopher's. It's ALWAYS mentioned as a great place for kids. Yes, maybe as an alternative to McDonalds. But what about if your kids are willing to try new things and, shockingly, their parents don't want to eat crap?! It's so frustrating that families have to turn to dumb-downed food just because kids are involved.

                                                                      Clearly, I have pretty strong opinions. ;)
                                                                      But if someone were to start a thread on restaurants that seldom get love I'd be the first in line to shout out accolades.

                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                      1. re: isadorasmama

                                                                        By the way, Buddakhan in NYC just got named one of the highest grossing restaurants in the USA...the place rakes in over $20 million a year!!!

                                                                        1. re: Den

                                                                          And all the New Yorkers probably think the NYC location was the first, too.

                                                                          1. re: barryg

                                                                            Nah. We're just provincial, not stupid. We know ours wasn't first; we just think it's way better. :)

                                                                        2. re: isadorasmama

                                                                          I have to say that I can see Vietnam on this list - although I will always go back for a few of the appetizers - but goodness how did it get expensive???

                                                                          1. re: Bigley9

                                                                            Zahav -- a little bit of very expensive mediocre food, IMHO.

                                                                            1. re: hungry100

                                                                              I was surprised to see that both mentions of Zahav note the high prices. Did you have the $36 fixed-price menu when you went? This is all I've had, but I was astonished at the value--more food than anyone in my party could finish, and on my only visit the food was terrific (well, to my taste anyway). What was essentially a 5-course tasting menu feels very fairly priced at $36. Was your bill much higher ordering a la carte?

                                                                              1. re: nwinkler

                                                                                Agreed. Maybe because I am an expat NYer, I feel like Zahav is an awesome value. Nice place, good service, a lot of really good food. Not a huge fan of the cost:quality ratio of the wine list though

                                                                          2. re: isadorasmama

                                                                            Agreed on all counts (unsurprisingly!). Christopher's is probably good ... if your standard is cafeteria food. At least they have a liquor license. And Majolica, wtf? I can get an ob/gyn appt more easily. I was all excited to try their new format but at 8:45 last night they said their kitchen was closed.

                                                                            1. re: Mawrter

                                                                              My gripe above would make more sense if I'd remembered to point out that I called repeatedly to get a reservation but got no answer.

                                                                            2. re: isadorasmama

                                                                              Buddakhan WAS pretty fun in the '90s for a glossy, cocktails, see-&-be-seen kinda thing. I did it; we all did it... but chow? Not so much. It's not a serious food place.

                                                                              1. re: Mawrter

                                                                                But that bento box chocolate dessert was good in the day!

                                                                            3. Tacconelli's. Great crust, but the cheese, sauce, and toppings were so low quality that it's hard to see why this place makes so many "Best of" lists.

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: jaba

                                                                                Maybe because l am used to it, having gone for decades, but my fav pie south of New Haven. Always thrilled when someone writes negatively about it as makes my quest for a late reservation far easier.

                                                                                1. re: jaba

                                                                                  I think the white pie at taconelli's is the best.......red could take or leave except the crust and garlic!-----BEST!

                                                                                  1. re: bonappetite

                                                                                    Really? They use garlic powder and it gets burnt in the oven. I do like the thin crust.

                                                                                    1. re: barryg

                                                                                      Really? Have not been in years so maybe this is a change...............i know we used to reek of garlic for 24h later and i don't think that was powder! Now i need to go and see.

                                                                                  2. re: jaba

                                                                                    I agree. I love white pizza, but their cheese tastes cheap and synthetic.

                                                                                  3. zahav - nothing there was memorable, except that i was definitely paying a lot for what i was getting. service was also meh. i really don't understand this one. no wow factor - at all.

                                                                                    amada - this place is too loud, and the bench seats along the wall are the complete worst (i feel like a little kid sitting at the grown ups table). the food there is just not worth dealing with it.

                                                                                    mama's pizzeria (bala cynwd) - can't comment on the pizza, but the cheesesteaks? really? that bread is terrible. it's all floppy and it absorbs all meat grease and turns mushy.

                                                                                    monk's - hipster holier-than-thou service is so painful, and as someone already mentioned, there are so many other places with decent beer lists...

                                                                                    1. I went to 500 degrees for my quarterly cheeseburger because of the reviews. Meh. I didn't find the meat flavorful and the patty was too thick for my liking. My friend ordered her burger medium and it came out rare although mine was fairly close to the medium rare I ordered. It's weird because I usually have the opposite problem, burgers always are coming out overcooked. I didn't love the fries either, they were too crispy with no potato "fluff" on the inside.

                                                                                      In South Philly, Los Caballitos ("The Cantina"). It is a nice place to sit outside with a margarita, which are ok, not great, but the food is overpriced and mediocre and the service can be snide. Forget about sitting inside if you want to have a conversation.

                                                                                      I agree about Osteria. I went there when it first opened and thought it was way overpriced. Had a yummy bottle of red though.

                                                                                      But I still love Tacconelli's, especially the white pizza with spinach and tomatoes. Just don't go on a Friday or Saturday.

                                                                                      1. I had just took the family for a nice ride and visited Taqueria Moroleon up in Avondale after reading the reviews of it here from other fellow chowhounds. I wasn't that impressed and didn't see what made this above and beyond any other authentic Mexican places in the Philly region.

                                                                                        We had gotten there and the place was packed, so we had a half hr wait, which I didn't mind. Once we had gotten seated, I believe they just forgot about us b/c we didnt even get our drink orders till TWENTY MINS after we were seated (and we sat in the room by the bar/kitchen).

                                                                                        Don't get me wrong, the food wasn't horrible by any means, it just wasn't as good as I expected with all the positive reviews that were listed, and the service left a bad taste in my mouth where no amount of tequila could clear. IMHO, Taqueria La Veracruzana is still on top and this little Mexican place I found in Kennett Square called La Hacienda Meijas (835 W Cypress St) a very close second.

                                                                                        I do know that Moroleone had just recently moved to their present location approximately 5-6 months ago. Maybe new chef?

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: paychecktoday

                                                                                          Nah, Taquiera Moroleon has never been all that, imo. (Haven't tried the new location, not in a rush to do so.) It's better than most mexican restaurants of that kind -- I call it soupy mexican, where most every dish is just s different combination of the same four ingredients -- but that's still not saying much. And yes, the service can often leave something to be desired. The only reason I would go on occasion is to have an excuse to get Mexican ice cream at Michoacana in downtown Kennett afterwards.

                                                                                        2. Gilmore's in West Chester. Food is good, I'm not disputing that, but the experience is not great. They're not as bad as they were for regimented times, but I remember once coming at 8:05 for a 8:15 reservation and being told to wait in the hall or outside. I expected a whole horde of people to come out for a complete turnover of tables, but there weren't. When they did deign to let us in, there were only three tables occupied.

                                                                                          The waiters are reasonably competent, but awfully self-important. I love how they try to wow you with French words that they can't pronounce.

                                                                                          I remember once a smoked salmon mousse served on an inverted Martini glass. Inevitably the mousse crumbled and pieces fell into the doily on which the glass was placed, guaranteeing that you couldn't fish it out of the doily except with your fingers. I'm sure Peter tastes his food, but I wonder if he ever eats it the way he presents it.

                                                                                          Don't want to knock the food, that would be unfair. But there's now plenty of other good food in the area, and much more welcoming atmospheres for similar or lower prices.

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: FrancisdeR

                                                                                            I had that exact same presentation of fish (if I remember correctly it was a tuna tartare), the dish perched precariously atop the inverted base of a martini glass, at Gilmore's on the one and only occasion I've been there. It was/is incredibly ridiculous, we basically couldn't eat it as presented, we ended up just using our fingers as you did. There was even some kind of flower blossom or something under the martini glass. The whole experience was like a parody of all the things people hate about pretentious fine dining. We were even congratulated by our waiter for making such awesome menu choices, as if all the other people who come in must be dopes. Ugh.

                                                                                            1. re: FrancisdeR

                                                                                              Wow. I'm surprised you and Buckethead feel this way about Gilmore's. I've been going for several years and my favorite thing about the place is the waiters. They are extremely professional and very nice. Not the least bit snobbish or pretentious. I believe their delivery is somewhat tongue in cheek. The food is great and the prices are very reasonable considering the service and the beautiful atmosphere (AND the fact that it is byob). As for the seating, I think Susan Gilmore does a great job. When Peter comes out at the end of the meal he is very down to earth and stops at every table. More than I can say for Marc Vetri. This past Saturday was my fifth time at Vetri and he has never come to our table to say hello. He only speaks to his friends. Not sure what happened in your case, but Susan does wait for the entire first seating to clear before seating the second seating people. Your seats are designated before you get there. The reason a whole hoard of people didn't come out was probably because many had left before you arrived.

                                                                                              1. re: JanR

                                                                                                I think a lot of my criticisms come down to my personal preferences concerning fine dining. The atmosphere and service at Gilmore's is very old-school fine dining, lots of art, gold, and decorations in the dining room. I find that kind of thing gaudy and uncomfortable, but some people like it. Ditto the ridiculous presentation of the fish dish. I like a plain white plate if possible, and I don't want anything on it that I'm not meant to eat, let alone a flower blossom contained in an upside-down martini glass. But some people love that stuff. I couldn't care less whether the chef comes over to say hello to me or anyone else. If he is doing his job in the kitchen that's really all that matters to me. The waiters were *too* nice, to the point of obsequiousness. And no matter our respective opinions about that, I'm sure you'll agree that servers touching their patrons is not professional.

                                                                                                1. re: JanR

                                                                                                  Jan, as they say, diff'rent strokes for different folks. The title of this thread is, after all, "... that everyone loves except you". Just as people react differently to different tastes, they react differently to different atmospheres, demeanors, etc. That's normal.

                                                                                                  1. re: FrancisdeR

                                                                                                    So true. Strangely, Gilmore's seems to be the only place where I like that type of atmosphere. My absolute favorite experience is (was) the chef's table next to the kitchen at Littlefish.

                                                                                                    1. re: JanR

                                                                                                      I thought every table was next to the kitchen at Littlefish...;)

                                                                                                      1. re: Philly Ray

                                                                                                        Guess you're right about that! Gee, I miss that place.

                                                                                              2. The Persian Grill. I live really close to it. Everyone seems to love it. It is not at all good. Tiny portions of overcooked oversalted lamb on overcooked rice.
                                                                                                The Caspian Grill across the street makes much better food at a better price, although it is a takeout restaurant.

                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: thehungrything

                                                                                                  I haven't been back to Persian Grill in a while and also don't get it and agree with you on Caspian. By the way, Caspian also has a spot at the Flourtown Farmer's Market on weekends.

                                                                                                  1. re: Den

                                                                                                    are those the places in lafayette hill? i've never understood why they're so close to each other, when it's really not an overrepresented food in the area.

                                                                                                    1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                                                                                      They're a block away from each other. However, Caspian offers a wide variety of food that for the most part is very different from Persian Grill.

                                                                                                  2. re: thehungrything

                                                                                                    Wow. I am glad I checked this thread again. I am currently working with someone who came to America from Persia/Iran 23 years ago. She said the food at The Persian Grill was really good. I trust you folks first!

                                                                                                    1. re: crazyspice

                                                                                                      Well, I actually kind of like it. Or at least, I think I do. I never get the 2 places straight. And I've only eaten there a few times, and not for a few years - but I like things like rice with little pieces of nuts and fruit in them.

                                                                                                      1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                                                                                        I think if I go, I will take this person with me.

                                                                                                        1. re: crazyspice

                                                                                                          My Iranian friend likes Shundeez in Chestnut Hill. It is weird to have these 3 places so close together.
                                                                                                          I prefer kabob cafe in Wayne to all of these choices. And they have the most reasonable prices.

                                                                                                          1. re: thehungrything

                                                                                                            Persian Grill is on my "never again" list for the incredibly bad service we had there a few months ago. If the food had been terrific, I would have given it another chance, but it was just so-so. We really like Shundeez, too, but it's a little to expensive for us right now. When we want kebabs, we go to Yalda in Horsham.

                                                                                                            1. re: oliviasaru

                                                                                                              Ditto on Persian Grill. We had a coupon, gave it to them and they conveniently forget to deduct it from the bill. We couldn't flag anyone down to get the bill adjusted. We finally had to take it to the front and they were rude.
                                                                                                              The food was fair.

                                                                                                              1. re: joluvscards

                                                                                                                I have decided to pass on Persian Grill. I trust you guys way too much to dine any place so many of you dislike.

                                                                                                  3. Not as high end as the other places mentioned but I've never understood the appeal of Dalessandro's cheesesteaks. I think they're always dried out and have never particularly cared for them.

                                                                                                    1. Amada - ordered five things on Sunday not one thing was worth all the hype. Actually ,when we finished our meal we went to Fish for the third time and had another great meal.
                                                                                                      Osteria - was there last night and while both of our pastas were" good "(SO had the chicken liver & I had the nights special, pigs feet with parmesan) it was the copious amount of oil that sat on the bottom of my dish and the amount of salt that ruined it for us, i mean... it was really bad.

                                                                                                      1. Know it's just over into NJ, but Lambertville counts, right?

                                                                                                        Hamilton Grill Room. I really don't get the good reputation this place has. Condescending and incompetent service (dropped a serving spoon on delivering a side dish and never came back??) to mediocre food at high prices. I went with high expectations and was devastated by the reality. Oysters came with the liquor spilled out of them, servers did a dump and run with all of the dishes, a steak was delivered without a steak knife--and it took 10 minutes for one to arrive.

                                                                                                        1. I know this is going to be controversial, but I was really disappointed with the hamburger at Good Dog last week. I seldom eat red meat, but all of the great buzz persuaded me to splurge. Sadly, the burger I was served at lunch was a bit more than the medium I ordered. Moreover, the beef was dry and just plain tasteless. The best thing about it was the brioche bun and caramelized onions. I very much prefer the juicy turkey burgers I get from Griggstown Farms at the Headhouse Farmer's Market.

                                                                                                          1. Not there anymore, but Susannah Foo. It was every critic's favorite, but I found the food only slightly better than neighborhood Chinese and the waiters rude and totally unacquainted with the wine and bar list. Had been there once or twice and found it OK, then the 3rd time, we had this terrible experience, on our anniversary, yet. So, we never went back. The one in the burbs has more inventive food, but alas, the waiters know no more about wine and the wine list does not complement the cuisine at all. One waiter did not know that there was a difference between Austrian and Australian wine. I don't mean he didn't know about their differing wine production methods. I don't think he knew they were different countries.

                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: middleagedfoodie

                                                                                                              middleagedfoodie, I don't think that's right. Austria and Australia are not different countries; it is like Syrah vs Shiraz, just two different ways of saying the same thing.

                                                                                                              1. re: barryg

                                                                                                                i dunno if you are joking or not, but austria and australia are definitely 2 different countries. one is a continent all by itself, the other is in europe.

                                                                                                                it was actually noted in the beginning of the movie dumb and dumber, haha.

                                                                                                              2. re: middleagedfoodie

                                                                                                                I totally agree with you. Susannah Foo was overhyped, overpriced mediocre food.

                                                                                                                1. re: thehungrything

                                                                                                                  Me too. When we ate at Susanna Foo, I thought it was just a really expensive Chinese restaurant.

                                                                                                                  And to top it off, the server dropped the check on our table while we were still having dessert!

                                                                                                                1. re: naneharvey

                                                                                                                  Funny...that reminded me about Kanella. I was not enthralled with our visit there a few years back after it opened. Great dips and sardines but the whole fish I ordered was just mediocre and served with a bunch of greens that tasted like something that got caught in the net when they caught the fish (hopefully they did use a net).

                                                                                                                  1. re: CPaul

                                                                                                                    When's the last time you were there? It was in decline for a long time but since Terence Feury took over the kitchen (maybe 6 months ago?) it's much better.

                                                                                                                  2. Ok, I'm in culinary hell in the western suburbs. The People were sooooooo excited about the opening of PF Changs in Collegeville. WHY?!?! Just why oh why? I just wanted to shake them- PF Changs, puh-lease. I'm not a food snob really am I? Need some positive affirmation here. Just kidding. The People who love the PF Changs need to grow some- Taste Buds.

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: grlwhoeats

                                                                                                                      I hear you! We are close to Plymouth Meeting the land of chain restaurants. Thankfully there are some sporadic good places near us.

                                                                                                                      1. re: grlwhoeats

                                                                                                                        I'm with you on PF Chang's being overrated. OTOH, I have a SIL who not only is Asian, but cooks like a dream, so I admit being spoiled.

                                                                                                                      2. after just revisiting zavino + posting on that pizza thread, i came to the realization that i seem to be the only person who dislikes zavino. not a fan of the crust, the pie selections (outside of the margherita - hard to go wrong with that!) the claustrophobic atmosphere, or the complimentary sparkling water that only somewhat sparkles. this was the first place in a long time where i've done the "HOW much was that bill?!" double-take.

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: rabidog

                                                                                                                          Can't fault most of your criticisms, but the bill double take? Pizzeria Stella had that effect on me big time. I found Zavino's prices very refreshing in comparison.

                                                                                                                          1. re: rabidog

                                                                                                                            I liked, didn't love, zavinos. i liked the crust, liked the sauce, liked the cheese ok - somehow the 3 didn't work together, like each wanted to be the star.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                                                                                                              good way of putting it, about each wanting to be the star. yeah, i'd agree with that.

                                                                                                                              barryg, i think i have a bad habit of not paying much attention to the amount of the bill when i roll out of a place satisfied from my food and a little wine drunk. perhaps this is why i'm always broke :)

                                                                                                                            2. re: rabidog

                                                                                                                              Love Zavino. Very good pizza. Spectacular pasta.

                                                                                                                            3. There was a time when people were singing the praises of Han Dynasty in Exton. Since they opened two other locations (Royersford and Philly, which just won 3 bells from Craig LaBan) I haven't heard or read much about the Exton location. Still, I must say, although I've ordered many of the "must-trys" I found them bad beyond bad. Most recently, I could not even eat the wontons in chile oil or the spicy chicken in chile oil. I have a pretty high threshold for heat, but these two dishes were awful and spicy to the point of being painful. Is Exton Han Dynasty still what it used to be? I feel no need to go back.

                                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                No, it certainly isn't. I work with a lot of Chinese people. They are the ones who introduced me to it. They don't go any more, preferring Z. Wei. I love to go there, but I find that I just don't get as good food (or treatment) if I don't take a Chinese person with me.

                                                                                                                                1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                  I could not agree with you more, CindyJ about Exton Han Dynasty. The food there is awful--as you mentioned, it is beyond hot! I also find the service there unveven. There is no need to go back there. It is hard to believe that it is the same place that it was when Han was there. Wish there was another good Chinese restaurant in the area

                                                                                                                                  1. re: wcgal

                                                                                                                                    I'm glad I'm not imagining things with regard to Han Dynasty. Last time I was there, I chatted with Han's mother who was lamenting the fact that Han was spending all of his time in Philly, where he's become a local celeb.

                                                                                                                                    My favorite "neighborhood Chinese" place, King's Island in Kennett, seems to have closed. I liked that place for no-nonsense, old-fashioned Cantonese food: wonton soup, egg rolls, shrimp in lobster sauce, etc.

                                                                                                                                    One place in the Exton area that I do like is Green Papaya, although I'm such a creature of habit I usually end up ordering the same thing whenever I go -- shrimp with eggplant in red curry sauce. Also, although it's BYO, their stemware is just plain awful -- almost like little stemmed juice glasses, certainly not appropriate for even a simple off-dry Reisling.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                      Couldn't agree with you more about Han Dynasty in Exton. I loved that place but it has gone way downhill since he opened the Chinatown location and took his best chef with him. I don't even know where to go in Chester County for good Chinese.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rondo

                                                                                                                                        I've been searching for good Chinese food in Chester County, too. It seems that just about every Chinese restaurant around serves the same gloppy food off nearly identical menus.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                          Cindy, try Z. Wei. They pick up where Han Dynasty was before they went downhill. But take someone who knows Chinese (unless you know it yourself). I go there every time I have a chance (with the said Chinese person in tow) for a respite from the "same gloppy food off nearly identical menus". Even Mandarin, a pretty serviceable place, has gone down some recently.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: FrancisdeR

                                                                                                                                            As a matter of fact, I was there for lunch a few weeks ago. It was... okay. Then again, I didn't have the requisite Chinese person in tow. Which dishes would you recommend there?

                                                                                                                                  2. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                    We're still big fans of the Royersford location and think it surpasses other Chinese restaurants in terms of authenticity and quality in and around Phoenixville or thereabouts.

                                                                                                                                  3. Out in the burbs it's Bacco's when they first opened the food was great, I gave them three bad meals of my life, never again, yet my Pop still thinks the place is great!
                                                                                                                                    In AC Cube Libre... twice, bad over cooked food, slow service with a I could care less attitide

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: cgarner

                                                                                                                                      We hated the food at Bacco. There are still numerous posters who really tout their pizza, but I can't bring myself to go back.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: cgarner

                                                                                                                                        Agree on Bacco. Both the food and the service have issues.

                                                                                                                                      2. Sweet Lucy's in the far NE.

                                                                                                                                        I think the food is just okay, but everyone around me loves that place.

                                                                                                                                        1. Was in town for a long weekend and was told that Gianna's was a great lunch spot. Being a chef and owning a restaurant, I looked forward to trying this restaurant. My dining companion ordered a taco salad that I tasted. Unfortunately, too much cumin and chopped meat in a taco salad shell do not make a taco salad. It was not good. On trying to return the dish, we were told in a snarly manner that the owner and chef thought it tasted fine, so it would remain on our bill. So much for customer service... second try, a corned beef sandwich. Served cold, no condiments, and salty. Upon request, mustard was thrown on the table. Again, not good. Would I go back? Not in a million years. Food quality and service was very poor.

                                                                                                                                          Gianna's Cafe
                                                                                                                                          1205 Tilton Rd, Northfield, NJ 08225

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: rmanchester

                                                                                                                                            Are you talking about the Gianna's that was the super vegan-friendly spot in Center City? I believe it's closed. Huh, I never knew anyone to eat real meat there.

                                                                                                                                            1. So agree with barryg about Pudge's. Indifferent staff, average steak at best and the tables are always filthy. Have tried it a few times and will not go back again. It's just never clean in there.

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: artrep

                                                                                                                                                I never got Pudge's... the one and only time I ever got a hoagie there, the meat was sliced entirely too thick... big turn off!

                                                                                                                                              2. Marathon Grill. Every time I go I'm underwhelmed and a bit bothered by the prices. Last week was the final straw. $13 for a smallish salad with four shrimp, $6 for a 12 oz. glass of milk shake and $4 for a small 10 oz. bottle of Martinelli's sparkling cider. Food is okay and service is spotty; sometimes great other times real slow. Staff is always pleasant, though.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: george2

                                                                                                                                                  I didnt realize they were that expensive. They have always been mediocre, IMO.

                                                                                                                                                2. I've been to Amada twice and still don't quite get the hype. For the price point, I find the food to be overly salty and portions meager. Wasn't impressed with Distrito either - I'm still waiting to be blown away by a Garces restaurant experience.

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                                                                                                                                                  1. re: malkazanie

                                                                                                                                                    We found that you have to plan for the saltiness. I don't think that the problem is the dishes themselves so much as the lack of a 'base' - something like pasta, bread, white rice. At Amada we just asked for bread and it made a big difference having it. Otherwise, it's overpowering. I didn't expect this, but I found that I don't want *every* bite to be full of flavor, sometimes my taste buds need a break.
                                                                                                                                                    But then, there's my alternate theory about the saltiness - on teh Next Iron Chef, no way that JG's sweat wasn't dripping into the food!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                                                                                                                                      I've always been very happy at Amada (except for their little piggie diversion which seemed gamey to me). However, the Garces Trading Company experience has been kind of meh our last few visits. The food seems like it's slipping and the service was other-worldly (in a bad way) the last time we went there. And as for the Moroccan sandwich, I'd much rather have one at Argan.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                                                                                                                                        Order bread to counter act the excessive saltiness in their food? I don't think so. Try Bar Ferdinand. I've been going there for years. Only went to Amada once. Found it to be overhyped and overpriced.

                                                                                                                                                    2. Mine -

                                                                                                                                                      At the low end: Any cheesesteak. All the reviews of this one over that one. Spent my first year in Philly trying many of them (probably close to a dozen across the city) + decided cheesteaks aren't for me. Discovered the Bahn Mi + I've been a happy camper ever since.

                                                                                                                                                      At the high end: Morimoto (went in early 2010). Talked about this with some other folks who raved about it + they said it was phenomenal a few years back, but has slipped + concurred with my opinion in the past year or so. For a suboptimal experience -- definitely not worth it.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Vetri. It's not even on my first tier when it comes to my favorite restaurants. The food was good, but I've had better at Amis (not to mention Vernick, Fork, a.kitchen, bibou, Lacroix, the Fountain, etc) , and given the price point, I just don't see the appeal.

                                                                                                                                                        I had one mediocre meal at Le Virtu and one very good one. I'm not sure if I've been back since, the inconsistency is not a big draw.

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                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jhpark

                                                                                                                                                          I thought Le Virtu was pretty mediocre, too. But I'm a huge snob when it comes to good Italian food.

                                                                                                                                                        2. What's with the all the revivals of ancient threads recently?

                                                                                                                                                          But interesting to read all the anti-Osteria-Philly comments. Which I happen to agree with.

                                                                                                                                                          However, just went to the new Osteria-Moorestown, and it is much better...will post something in a different thread.

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                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                                                                                                                                            Good question...some how they get responded to then hit the top of the list again. People , like me, do not look beyond the most recent post and propagate it further. Got me again!

                                                                                                                                                          2. Lacroix- just not great at all
                                                                                                                                                            La Famiglia- mediocre
                                                                                                                                                            Buddakan- eh
                                                                                                                                                            Ruth's Chris
                                                                                                                                                            Mikimoto in Wilmington

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                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                              No one on here likes Buddakan, do they?

                                                                                                                                                              Never been to Lacroix for dinner, but I still like the brunch. Not sure if it's as good as it was in the old days (pre-me), and I think it's not as high quality as I would like (but hard to do better with a buffet), but it's still unique.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                                                                                                                                                I like a few of the dishes at Buddakan a lot. The short ribs were really good, and the edamame ravioli. But otherwise it was more about just sitting around and enjoying the ambiance. So overall, the food wasn't the most appealing...

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                                You know my feelings about dining in Wilmo so no comment re: Mikimoto's is needed.

                                                                                                                                                                Lacroix used to be better a few years back. The last few visits have not been so hot and for the price of admission...

                                                                                                                                                              3. Awesome thread. I like the necro threads when they're good! Maybe this board is becoming more active?

                                                                                                                                                                Anyway, the only one I can think about Le Cheri, and that's barely fair since it's so new. I did not have a good vibe in the building, the ambiance was weird, the owner Charlotte seemed really cold and stressed, and the food was not as special as Bibou. For some reason I expect it'll be great next time.

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                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                                                  There was so much good content on this thread, I figured it'd be interesting to bring it back.

                                                                                                                                                                  Do you mean the vibe in the art alliance building in general, and not just the restaurant?

                                                                                                                                                                  I like the quality of the food very much, but prefer the approach/style at Bibou - they're keeping the slightly more 'elegant' dishes like bone marrow, the escargot and foie gras preparations, etc, at bibou, and using the more 'down-home/peasant food' specials they'd occasionally do at bibou at Le Cheri (beef bourgignon, sauerkraut, cassoulet)

                                                                                                                                                                  Some dishes would naturally be at home in either restaurant, but it does seem they're trying to keep the dishes separate. So I wonder if it's more a matter of quality or liking the approach more or less at one of their restaurants over the other.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jhpark

                                                                                                                                                                    Great insight. I'm much more of a fussy, elegant type of guy so the breakdown you suggest makes a lot of sense regarding my preference for Bibou over Cheri. Sorry for the inelegant sentence structure!

                                                                                                                                                                2. I just got back from a second trip to Vetri to see if maybe I'd missed something the first time around. Nope.

                                                                                                                                                                  I think the food there is good, but not $155 good. I'd gladly go if there was an a la carte option, because there are a few standout dishes. Service is also strangely awkward--one guy talks way too fast, one guy keeps a hand in his pocket at all times, one guy keeps wiping his nose.

                                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: agozoic

                                                                                                                                                                    If you want to try Vetri when it opened a decade or so ago, try Zeppoli in Collinsgwood, NJ, across the Ben Franklin Bridge, l love it.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, Zeppoli is wonderful. And, yes, Vetri was more enjoyable (and affordable) a decade ago.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: agozoic

                                                                                                                                                                      I noticed the hand-in-the-pocket guy; that's a good call! There's something shady about the service experience that detracts from the expensiveness of the restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                                                        When I was there for the last time, it was the phantom sommelier. He appeared once to ask us if we wanted to do wine pairings, didn't see him again after that.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                                                          I think I'd prefer the hand in pocket guy over the nose wiper. And just think of what we're missing behind the scenes...

                                                                                                                                                                      2. I'll add Green Eggs to the list. Been there twice (the original location) and the food was so-so and the service was not great.

                                                                                                                                                                        One time I went I asked for a breakfast burrito. She said they were out of beans and I'd have to order something else. No more than 5 minutes after I placed my order, a breakfast burrito is served to the customer next to me. I asked the server what was up (I didn't see her until she brought our food) and she flatly said, "oh they just bought some more beans." So I was stuck with a greasy breakfast skillet I didn't like.

                                                                                                                                                                        I don't get how people wait in long lines for their food and service.

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lawgirl3278

                                                                                                                                                                          I keep hearing how great Geeen Eggs is but everytime I walk by and take a look at the food to see what people are eating all I see is heaping plates of greasy looking home fries. I know their red velvet pancakes are supposed to be good but if that's the case then why do I never see anyone eating them?