Philly Report- Dec 2011
Reading this board was really helpful when planning our trip, so hopefully this will be helpful to someone else.
We live in Chicago and came in for an extended weekend (our 4th trip to Philly), with the major focus being to hit as many great restaurants and bars as we could fit in. We hit quite a few spots 2 or 3 times, so I will arrange by place, instead of day by day.
-First stop of the trip was Eulogy Belgian Tavern in Old City. This is an old standby for us. Great dive bar-type atmosphere, amazing beer list, and as usual, we loved the dijon mussels and fries with all three of their sauces (the fries are not traditional Belgian style frites, but delicious and crispy nonetheless).
-Oyster House- we ended up stopping here 3 times over the trip. Once was for their $1 Oyster Hour (5pm-7pm weeknights). It was VERY crowded but we managed to get a small table in the bar. We had some oysters (perfectly shucked), the Happy Hour punch, which was an Applejack brandy and apple cider concoction for $5, and the grilled octopus salad recommended by our server which was really great (but maybe a little small for the price). On other occasions we had a bunch of raw little neck clams which were also very fresh and perfectly shucked, Manhattan and New England clam chowders (both solid representations), an awesome caesar salad topped with fried oysters, and each of the three other punches they were offering (Mother's Ruin, Gunpowder, and Garden State- all really nice, with the Mother's Ruin being the favorite- you can check out descriptions on their website). Overall, loved Oyster House and would highly recommend it.
-Alma de Cuba- made three stops to the lounge here. All the apps are $6 during Happy Hour and the two ceviches we tried were really good (shrimp and yellowtail kingfish). The red sangria was solid, and the dark and stormy was fantastic (had quite of few of those!)
-Our first dinner was at Fish (still in the Lombard location). We had the scallop and lobster starters- both top notch and and a great way to start the meal. The entrees (skate and sturgeon) were also very well-prepared, but just a slight disappointment after the starters. They were good, but pretty expensive. Only other note was that our dessert was quite tasty as well. Our server recommended the Mexican chocolate mousse, which we normally wouldn't pick ourselves, and it was both rich and light, with a kick of spice. Overall, very good, but I'd probably stick to appetizers and oysters in the bar instead of a full meal here next time
-a.kitchen- LOVED this place. Stopped in for brunch on a whim and sat at the bar. Their "higher end" cheesesteak is fantastic and I would highly recommend everyone at least go in for drinks because their bartender is awesome (try the "Steelbach"- it's a great drink, champagne, cointreau, Kentucky bourbon, and orange and peychaud bitters). Ended up here 2 other times for more cocktails and snacks (and no, we weren't even staying at AKA).
-Zavino was another of our dinners and actually ended up being our overall favorite meal of the trip. Both the brussels sprouts and the house-made meatball appetizers were awesome- especially the meatballs- the tomato sauce was the best I've had in a while. Our fabulous server recommended a perfect (and inexpensive) wine as well as the burrata pizza, which I think was a special. The crust of the pizza at Zavino is incredible- we went to Barbuzzo a few days later and both agree that Zavino's pizza has the slight edge. Our server also helped us put together a cheese plate for dessert and then sent us over to Capogiro for gelato- couldn't have asked for a better night.
-Stopped in at El Vez one afternoon for a drink and snack- all I can say is although I've been there in the past, I should have known better. Everything was awful and I'll just leave it at that.
-Tria Washington Square West- had a light brunch on Sunday. "Sunday School" wine and beer special were both great as was the ricotta bruschetta and the rosemary potato chips with truffle aioli... the Truffled Egg Toast with Fontina however, was amazing- we almost ordered a second one. I will absolutely go back to Tria again.
-Barbuzzo- did this for a lunch- really liked it and would return again. Great service and food- had the antipasti plate, the famous uovo pizza, and the even more famous Salted Carmel Budino (SO GOOD).
-Amada- another dinner. This has been a favorite restaurant of mine since I first tried it, but it's been a few years since I've been back. More than enough has already been said about Amada, so I will keep it short. We got the more expensive tasting menu and wasn't really as blown away as I have been in the past. The only standout was that we got a portion of the Whole-Roasted Suckling Pig with rosemary white beans for part of our third course, which is normally only available as the whole pig for large groups, so that was pretty exciting (maybe someone didn't show up that had ordered one?)
-With no plans for our last night in town, we decided to go over later in the evening to Tinto to see if they are doing more exciting things there than at Amada. Let me just say, we were 100% more impressed with Tinto. We only got 4 plates, but they were all oustanding- highlights were the chicken brocheta and the artichokes with fresh pappardelle.
-After Tinto, we walked next door to Village Whiskey for some pickles, oysters and cocktails. Very cool atmosphere- we had a great time and loved the pickled cauliflower and carrots- also loved the toasted bread, whipped ricotta, and kalamata spreads they bring with pickles. Will definitely be heading back to both Tinto and Village Whiskey right away when we come back to Philly. Oh and make sure you try the Harvard Girl cocktail!
-Ranstead Room- went here twice- love it and can't wait to go back. The bartenders are really the best I've ever seen. We mostly ordered off-menu and just had our bartender keep making us drinks based on our preferences. All the drinks were delicious and interesting- bartender was great at giving us some good info about the ingredients they use and stories behind the history of the drinks.
-Franklin Mortgage- I was so excited to try this place but after giving them two visits and 5 cocktails, I was really disappointed. It's incredibly loud, and the service was pretty cold. No one really wanted to talk to you about the menu, they just wanted to take your order and that's it. Add to that the fact that I really didn't like any of the cocktails very much, we'll skip this one next time.
Overall we absolutely loved our trip to Philly and were sad to leave. All the people we talked to were so nice and welcoming, and genuinely happy to talk to us about the city. You have a truly wonderful food and drink scene and we can't wait to come back and try more. Sorry this is so long and thanks for reading. Let me know if anyone wants more detail on anything.