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May 13, 2010 05:14 AM

Planning a Philly Food Trip

My husband and I are planning a trip from DC to Philly for a weekend in June, with 2 objectives: 1) Celebrate our 24th anniversary; 2) Check out some of the wonderful BYO restaurants which we've been reading about. We have a number of terrific wines in our wine cellar that just HAVE to be drunk soon and we figured that this would be a great excuse to do so!

Right now, we have reservations at Fond and Bibou (but, of course, this can be changed). I'm trying to decide between KooZeeDoo, Melegrano and Kanella for our third restaurant. I would appreciate some help from the Philly BYO experts. We want to make sure that we try three very different cuisines and quality is most important. What do you think?

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  1. If I were you, I'd drop Fond and go to Kanella, Bibou, and Koo Zee Doo. I like Fond a lot but it's not on the same level as those three, you probably have been to places just as good in DC. Fond and Bibou are also similar styles of food (I'd call Fond French-inspired "New American"), Kanella is much different.

    1. I haven't been to fond yet. From the reviews it seems to be French.if you want to try different cuisines you might want to go new American like Matyson or bistro7. We have loads of great Italian byos like Radicchio,,TreScalini and Branzino. Meme is quite good too. A short drive fromCenter city is blackbird, a wonderful new American byo.

      Have a great time.

      1. I completely agree with Buckethead. Fond is more "New American" than French, but overall is more similar to Bibou (which is much better) than the others. For the most variety and excellent quality, I would do Bibou, Kanella, and Koo Zee Doo, unless you really want Italian, in which case Melograno is a great choice. One thing to keep in mind about Koo Zee Doo is that the portions are large and meant for sharing, so with two people, you would probably get two apps and an entree unless you are really big eaters. I always have trouble with this because things are so good I want to try more, so we bring leftovers home, but that would be difficult in your situation.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

          Some of the entrees at KZD are indeed huge, but two of the best ones are small enough that they can serve as an entree for one: the pork and clams dish (Carne de Porco à Alentenjano) and the duck rice (Arroz de Pato). For two people, I'd suggest splitting the chicken gizzards (Moelas) app, getting those two entrees, and two desserts. Don't skip their desserts, they're phenomenal. Every time I've been there they've had a couple specials that were fantastic too, last time it was a deep-fried take on a deviled egg, delicious.

        2. Thank you all so much. You've really been a great help. I will follow your suggestions and drop Fond and go with Bibou and Koo Zee Doo. I'll let my husband choose between Kanella and Melograno (got to make him feel like he has *some* part in this planning!).

          3 Replies
          1. re: barbarasa

            Depending on what days will you be here, you could actually do all four places. Kanella serves lunch Thursday through Sunday, so if you'll be here on a weekend you should go there for lunch one day. You really shouldn't miss it. They do just as good a job at lunch as at dinner. I'm not a huge fan of Melograno, if you were picking one Italian BYO in the city I'd recommend Modo Mio, but if you want to hit an Italian BYO for dinner I'd definitely try to squeeze in lunch at Kanella one day.

            1. re: Buckethead

              That sounds great, but would probably just be too much! So, after looking at online menus, my husband agreed that KZD, Kanella and Bibou will make a fabulous combo (trio??) for our Philly food weekend. Thanks so much for your help.

              1. re: barbarasa

                Kanella has the added benefit of taking reservations, which Melograno does not! I think you will really enjoy KZD, Kanella, and Bibou! Let us know how the weekend goes!

          2. I want to thank each of the Philly responders to my original email. We just got back from our Philly Food Weekend and it was absolutely fabulous! We got there on Friday in time for lunch at Monk's Cafe and we thoroughly enjoyed the special Belgian beers being poured in honor of Beer Week, as well as the excellent food. My mussels with blue cheese and bacon were some of the best I've ever had!

            Friday evening, we went to Kanella, where we were especially taken by the warm reception we received. The owner stopped by early on to welcome us (he said that he knew that we were 1st timers, since he hadn't seen us before) and we told him about our food-driven mission for the weekend. The food was terrific! I was especially pleased with the special grilled rabbit starter. Our mains - the pork chop and the veal flank steak - were delicious and imaginative as well. What a great introduction to BYO's!! And it was great to enjoy some wines from our cellar which we've been "saving".

            On Saturday night we went to Bibou and it was another wonderful, wonderful evening. Again, we were made to feel so welcome by the owners and the food was beautifully prepared. My husband started with the foie gras and I had chanterelle mushrooms in a garlic cream sauce. For mains, he had the quenelle and I had a stuffed marrow bone. Then, for dessert, we first shared a cheese plate and then shared a baba au rhum. WOW!!

            Finally, on Sunday, we went back to Kanella for brunch and then to KooZeeDoo for dinner. At KZD, we started with Peri Peri shrimp (as good as the best we ever had in Mozambique - and that's a major compliment!) and the salt cod/potato croquettes. For a main, we shared the pork and clams, then had the chocolate plate and the caramel eclairs for dessert. It was a fabulous meal - made even better by excellent service. I'm so glad that we decided to go there.

            We thoroughly enjoyed each of the BYO restaurants. It's such a happy coincidence that the screwy liquor laws have lead to the development of such excellent, food-focused restaurants. I just wish that we had places like that here!

            Again, my thanks for all your help. I'm really looking forward to getting back to Philadelphia sometime soon. What a great eating town!


            3 Replies
            1. re: barbarasa

              Thanks for reporting back! Sounds delicious.

              1. re: barbarasa

                What a lovely report! Thank you for letting us know about your experience.