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Jun 22, 2011 11:34 AM

Great suggestions for European couple near Logan Square

I need your great advices again!
My parents (in their 50s) will be travelling to Philadelphia this July and I'm trying to find some nice restaurants for them. A little info: they're from Europe and prefer restaurants that aren't chains, but not to formal either (no jackets required please). They loved the Peninsula Grill in Charleston, the Tasting Room in St. Augustine and Quartino's in Chicago.
I know they will be staying near Logan Square/Franklin Institute.

I wanna suggest them Zahav, but for the other nights I wanna recommend something more nearby their hotel. I came up with some ideas (below), please let me know what you think of them. And of course: bring on your own suggestions. Thanks in advance!

Philips Seafood
Fish (worth travelling for?)

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  1. How many nights do they need dinner recs for (besides Zahav)?

    Tinto, Barbuzzo, and Fish (which is a lot closer to where they're staying than Zahav is) are all very good, Dandelion is too but I don't know if I'd recommend it for someone who's just visiting. Barbuzzo and Fish are a bit better than Dandelion and Tinto.

    I wouldn't bother with R2L and Melograno. Both are OK but nothing that will wow a visitor.

    I have no idea what Philips Seafood is.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Buckethead

      Philip Seafood is an awful chain seafood restaurant. If they want ok seafood on Rittenhouse, Devon would be a better bet.

      I would recommend in addition to those above, Bibou, if they can get a reservation. Classic french bistro, and some of the best food in general coming out of Philadelphia. For the view alone, Bistro St. Tropez is nice in the Design center as you can look out over the skyline at sunset.

      Barbuzzo is good, though if they want italian they might also consider Amis which is down the street a ways, but has a broader set of dishes. Both spaces however are a bit on the loud side.

      1. re: cwdonald

        Thank you so much! I looked up the suggestions and I really like them; especially Amis and Bistro St. Tropez. Devon looks nice, but the recent reviews are mixed and Bibou is BYOB.

        Now I wonder if I should send them to Zahav... Is it worth a trip?

        They have 3 or 4 evenings in total.

        1. re: Denisek

          Bibou is BYOB but don't hold that against it (or any of our city's other BYOBs), most BYOs in Pennsylvania are BYO due to our state's ridiculous liquor laws, which make a liquor license very, very expensive, and not due to the ambition of the chef. Bibou is the best French restaurant in the city. Of course, if your parents live in France they may not be interested.

          Zahav is the best restaurant in the city in my opinion, you should definitely send them there, and to Bibou if they can get a reservation (the place is small). If you want to send them to an Italian dinner I'd pick Barbuzzo or Osteria over Amis, probably Osteria because Barbuzzo is extremely cramped and extremely loud.

          1. re: Denisek

            Zahav really isn't very far and catching cabs on both ends is very easy. The cab ride is maybe ten minutes, I wouldn't factor the distance into your recommendations.

            1. re: Denisek

              + 3 on Zahav- Agree with Bucket,barryg and with The James Beard Society certainly one of Philly's Best!

            2. re: cwdonald

              Thank you so much both! I looked up the suggestions and I really like them; especially Amis and Bistro St. Tropez. Devon looks nice, but the recent reviews are mixed and Bibou is BYOB.

              Now I wonder if I should send them to Zahav... Is it worth a trip?

          2. We have dined in many restaurants in Europe and have never endured the ear-splitting noise level that we have in some of the places here. I wouldn't recommend Barbuzzo or Amis unless they go with headphones. Lovely food, but you can't even talk to your dining partner. Melograno also has a high noise level.

            Skip Philips Seafood.

            We like Fish very much. It's a long walk or a short cab ride.

            Most of our friends stopped eating at Bistro St. Tropez quite a while ago - overpriced and ordinary, in my opinion.
            I think they would enjoy trying one of the restaurants on Rittenhouse Square - it's a fun scene. Most people like Devon, and they could sit outside and watch the people parade.

            R2L is pleasant because of the view of the city.

            Hardly anyplace is formal here, especially in the summer. No jacket required.

            If they would go to a byob, they are close to Matyson, which has excellent food. There is a wine/liquor shop right around the corner.

            We haven't tried Dandelion yet, but it gets good reviews. Tinto should be a good option.

            Good luck with the choices!

            2 Replies
            1. re: sylviag

              I thought Barbuzzo was cramped and aside from the delicious antpasti plate was just ok. The budino dessert is very good though.

              Philips Seafood-I did not realize there was even one in town. I'd skip it and the Devon and go to Estia for fresher fish that is flown in from Greece daily. I liked some, but not all, of the things at Fish but other people seem to like it.

              Dandelion is pretty good, especially the fish and chips.

            2. i think fish is definitely worth travelling for- esp if you want seafood and would consider philips (i agree with others that devon is a much better choice)

              1. Thanks everyone! So now I have:

                - Zahav
                - Fish

                And the other options:
                - Tinto (they love Spanish-style food, some reviews mention it's too exenpensive though...)
                - Dandelion (but have to check if they'll like the English pub-feel)
                - Barbuzzo (but I'm not sure after bluehensfan's comment)
                - Devon (looks nice, but the recent reviews are really mixed)
                - Bistro St. Tropez (I'm nut sure after Sylviag's comment)
                - Amis (maybe too loud, will check with my parents)

                22 Replies
                1. re: Denisek

                  I would not axe Amis for being loud. It's not deathly silent because of the industrial feel interior but the noise level did not detract from my meal there. In fact the volume at Dandelion seemed greater thanks to the incessant hip-hop music that is piped in. And don't discount Barbuzzo because of me. Some of the things I had (the antipasti and the dessert) there were great but the pasta and pizza we ate were just meh. And it's very eating in a railcar. But regardless the food is much better than what they are serving up at Devon (except the biscuits at Devon are good).

                  If it helps, when we stayed in Philly last year for a few days, we ate at Zahav, Fish, and Amis. Most of the stuff at Zahav was really good like the haloumi cheese and fried cauliflower but we'd have been disappointed if we did not order the Mesdibah and tasted the lamb. It made the meal. Amis was very good too and our server (I think his name was Joe) gave us some excellent recommendations. Just skip the mixed seafood thing because it was miniscule. We liked the skate wing and scallops at Fish and even the desserts (even though they are often reviewed critically) but the other two fish things we tried were not mind-blowing. Regardless, Fish was much better than Devon. But, if I am looking for good fish in town, having eaten at these places (and money is no option) I would head to Estia.

                  Hope this helps!

                    1. re: Denisek

                      please listen and scrap Bistro St Tropez

                      1. re: Bigley9

                        Considering you have not eaten there in ten years... please do not listen to Bigley.. her opinions are suspect at best. It is really annoying when people dismis a restaurant they do not eat at.

                        It is a basic French Bistro. They food is ordinary.. but I have taken folks from Boston and from Paris there and they have enjoyed the food and the experience. And they do not have their noses in the air like some of the people that comment on this board.

                        1. re: cwdonald

                          why are my opinions suspect? I have eaten at Bistro St Tropez on several occassions and not ten years ago. I thought it was mediocre and the service on my last visit was disorganized so I decided not to return. But the bigger issue regarding this poster's request is that they are considering many better options.

                  1. re: Denisek

                    If you are going to eat on Rittenhouse I would consider Parc.

                    Bistro St. Tropez food is ordinary french food... I like it for the view. And the proximity to where the diners are staying.

                    Another restaurant to consider is Fork. Terrence Feury is doing great work there, and you get as good charcuterie there as you do at Amis.

                    Osteria would be a good alternative to either Amis or Barbuzzo as long as they do not mind taking a cab.

                    To reiterate on Dandelion, while the place is trying to feel like an english pub, it has multipel dining rooms each with their own ambience. I usually sit upstairs and it feels more like a restaurant than a pub. The music volume varies depending on the time of the day.

                    1. re: cwdonald

                      Parc looks like a great option, it's on the list. Thanks!
                      (Fork seems nice, but the reviews are too mixed)

                      1. re: Denisek

                        Our meal was average at Fork. There are so many great suggestions already on this thread.

                        1. re: Denisek

                          If you are considering Parc, I'd really recommend sending them to Bibou instead. Parc is nice for what it is but if you want to send them out for French, Bibou is the place.

                            1. re: crazyspice

                              But Bibou is BYOB. I know that's a thing of the City and the state laws, but my parents prefer a non-BYOB-place...

                            2. re: Buckethead

                              Parc and Bibou are two completely different dining experiences. Parc is bistro food, and you can sit outsided. Its about the place, and the surroundings. Bibou is a small (nay I would even say cramped) restaurant where the food is the center of the experience.

                              1. re: cwdonald

                                Good advice! Myself; I love a place where the food is center. But my parents are somewhat different...

                            3. re: Denisek

                              Parc is great to have a snack/drink and people watch, it's right on Rittenhouse Square. Good bread, cheese, charcuterie but for dinner it's expensive and mediocre IMO.

                              1. re: barryg

                                I agree - I enjoy Parc for a 5 o'clock cocktail and small snack after an afternoon of wandering and before preparing to go out for dinner - just like the many restaurants on piazza's in italy/europe

                                1. re: Bigley9

                         I doubt my choice of Parc. It looks wonderful and all the reviews are so positive. Could you (Barryg) explain why it's mediocre to you? And Bigley9 why it's a better option for a small snack instead of dinner?

                                  1. re: Denisek

                                    Parc is good for brunch on a nice day when the windows are open and it's nice outside. Never been there for dinner though...

                                    1. re: bluehensfan

                                      I have been there for dinner many times. It to me is a classic french bistro. You can get simple dishes like charcuterie, cheeses, wonderful french onion soups, well dressed salads and simple dishes like coq au vin. I tend to eat there before I go to a concert at the Curtis Institute which is just around the corner. I do not consider it a "fine dining" experience the way Bibou is, but it is good food. And brunch is a wonderful meal to enjoy at Parc as well.

                                    2. re: Denisek

                                      The bread and charcuterie are great; good quality and portion for the price. But the two times I had more substantial food I thought it was pretty bad. One time we got the huge raw platter--oysters, crab legs, etc. It was edible but the quality of the seafood was very mediocre and it didn't taste very fresh--not worth the price at all. Other dishes like duck breast were tepid and mediocre as well. French onion soup was pretty good. It was all ok but disappointing and not cheap.

                                      Another time we ordered the green bean salad--this was 5 pieces of butter lettuce, stacked up, with maybe 10 green beans mixed in. It was barely dressed and not very good. After that I decided to stick with the cheese etc. because it's actually enjoyable; there are many better places for dinner that are also a better value.

                                      I've heard from industry people that the kitchen mails it in during the week and only puts effort into brunch. I don't know if that's true, but it seems credible to me. The place is always full and turns tons of tables, so why put Starr's best staff in the kitchen? My friend who I had the green bean salad with said she's had it before when it has been excellent but agreed it was bad this time, so quality may just be inconsistent.

                                      I've had breakfast there and I would go back for that too.

                                      1. re: barryg

                                        I have been to Parc twice, once for dinner and once for brunch. Both times I got very poorly executed food: brandade that tasted like a salt lick and ratatouille that was gross and watery and bland.

                                      2. re: Denisek

                                        For me the people watching and the less crowded (and quieter) atmosphere are better at off hours. The meals I have had there have been fine, just nothing that made me swoon

                            4. Thanks everyone!
                              My parents just returned from their trip and although they only could stay for two evenings, they had wonderful experiences at Parc (great pissaldiere, very good steak tartare and crispy fries) and at Barbuzzo. They fell in love with the salted caramel-dessert...