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One Dinner in Philadelphia

Karen1440 Mar 1, 2012 08:24 AM

I will be staying at The Embassy Suites Center City, 1776 Ben Franklin Pkwy, in mid April and would like opinions on the best restaurant in the area. I am coming in overnight for the VanGogh exhibit and, hence, will be there only the one evening. Price is not an issue, as long as there is value for the money. Thanks.

  1. p
    Philly Ray Mar 1, 2012 08:55 AM

    If money is no object and you want the best we have to offer, go to Vetri...


    Make your reservation ASAP, especially if this will be for a weekend evening.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Philly Ray
      Karen1440 Mar 1, 2012 09:21 AM

      Well, OpenTable says they are booked, unless I wish to eat very late, which I don't. This is 6 weeks away and is annoying. But we have that in Chicago for some of the top rated restaurants. Still annoying.

      1. re: Karen1440
        cwdonald Mar 1, 2012 09:34 AM

        If you want a unique experience in Philadelphia, go to Zahav. Modern Israeli cooking. Very good food. If you want to try Marc Vetri's food, go to Osteria (not Amis), and eat at the bar. Great service, relaxed atmosphere. Recommend you stick with the anti pasti the pasta and the pizza.
        If you like food the emphasizes fresh ingredients, perhaps a.kitchen or pumpkin near Rittenhouse Square, and only about a four block walk for you would work. If money is no object and you want a fine dining experience, either LaCroix or the Fountain Room at the Four Seasons are close and I am sure you can get a reservation.

        1. re: Karen1440
          Philly Ray Mar 1, 2012 09:34 AM

          Call them directly. They don't always release all of their tables on Open Table. This is close to the Philadelphia equivalent of booking at Alinea.

          1. re: Philly Ray
            Delucacheesemonger Mar 1, 2012 09:53 AM

            Perfect post.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger
              Karen1440 Mar 1, 2012 10:11 AM

              Thanks to all. I will try the Vetri suggestion and Zahav.

              1. re: Karen1440
                deprofundis Mar 2, 2012 04:07 PM

                If price is no option, you definitely have to try for Vetri. It's the best of the best. DO call them directly.

                A lot of people love Zahav. I'm in the "good but not life-changing" camp. I would say if you go, you have to get the Mesibah, because the lamb is far and away the best thing on the menu. It will be a lot of food, though.

                Osteria and Amis, per someone else's suggestion, are also great options. Osteria is a slight cut above Amis (in quality and price), and they also offer pizza. As the other person noted though, most people (myself included) are not big on the entrees at Osteria. You can't miss by going to Amis either, and their secondi are actually pretty great.

                1. re: deprofundis
                  Karen1440 Mar 3, 2012 07:36 AM

                  Thanks. I will try for Vetri and pass on Zahav, because of the amount of food. If Vetri doesn't go, then I'll choose from the other suggestions and something will shake out.

                  1. re: Karen1440
                    barryg Mar 3, 2012 08:12 AM

                    You can order however you want at Zahav, the Mesibah lamb shoulder tasting is not the only way to enjoy. I like the lamb shoulder but my best meals there have been just ordering the small plates. The Tayim menu is a good value and you get to try a lot of dishes. You'll be full, but not served an insurmountable plate of meat.

                    1. re: barryg
                      deprofundis Mar 3, 2012 08:40 AM

                      You chose wisely. The food at Vetri is several orders of magnitude better than the food at Zahav, imho.

                      1. re: deprofundis
                        Karen1440 Mar 3, 2012 10:53 AM

                        OK, Gang, I am on the wait list for the early seating at Vetri. I was told to call back fairly often to check my status, as those showing the most interest get preference to fill any cancellation. Wish me luck. And so many thanks for all the suggestions and advice. Ciao e bice!!!

                        1. re: Karen1440
                          deprofundis Mar 3, 2012 10:59 AM

                          Awesome! Make sure to report back after you go!

                  2. re: deprofundis
                    sockii Apr 14, 2012 04:34 PM

                    I'm in the camp of having repeatedly liked Amis better than Osteria, as weird as that may be. But with ordering a number of small plates at either restaurant, you're likely to hit on something wonderful or two to your tastes. I did like the pizza at Osteria but greatly preferred the pasta at Amis.

        2. b
          BelgianBeerMistress Mar 1, 2012 09:37 AM

          The main food reviewer of the Inquirer just released his best restaurants list here: http://www.philly.com/philly/restaura....
          Any of these are good contenders.Talula's Table isn't in Phialdelphia, but the sister restaurant, Talula's Garden, is also wonderful and very beautiful inside.

          18 Replies
          1. re: BelgianBeerMistress
            Karen1440 Mar 1, 2012 10:11 AM


            1. re: Karen1440
              bluehensfan Mar 1, 2012 10:32 AM

              If you do go to Zahav, make sure to get the prixe fixe Mesibah so you can enjoy the lamb shoulder. You have to order thsi ahead of time, though...

              1. re: bluehensfan
                cwdonald Mar 1, 2012 11:30 AM

                As much as I enjoy the lamb, for someone dining alone, from out of town, who may not have the ability to take food home, the mesibah may be overkill in terms of the amount of food. Either go there with a great appetite, or consider doing the tasting menu without the lamb, which still is quite special.

                1. re: cwdonald
                  Karen1440 Mar 1, 2012 01:15 PM


                  1. re: Karen1440
                    sylviag Mar 1, 2012 01:56 PM

                    Zahav is very good, but not everyone's top favorite. We know quite a few people who are not wowed by it.
                    If you like excellent French cooking, try for a reservation at Bibou. You might enjoy sitting at the "bar" - not a liquor bar, but a place near the food preparatioin. It's a warm, comfortable atmosphere.
                    To sit and relax in a beautiful atmosphere, I would go to Lacroix or the Fountain.
                    Talula's Garden, from what I hear, would be quite lovely.
                    We very much like Osteria and Amis, two Vetri restaurants with great food at more casual prices.
                    We are a great restaurant town!
                    By the way, lunch in the Art Museum is very pleasant. Reserve ahead.

                    1. re: sylviag
                      Seeker19104 Mar 1, 2012 02:02 PM

                      Yes, Art Museum food unexpectedly good. Even the cafeteria is above average.

                      1. re: Seeker19104
                        Karen1440 Mar 1, 2012 02:09 PM

                        I plan on lunch at the Art Museum. Thanks.

                    2. re: Karen1440
                      bluehensfan Mar 1, 2012 02:58 PM

                      A solo Mesibah has been done before :)


                      And my two cents about Talulah's Garden, while it was all very good, if given the choice of returning or trying a new place, I'd go for the second option.

                      1. re: bluehensfan
                        Karen1440 Apr 13, 2012 11:13 AM

                        i have just been confirmed at Vetri for the early seating April 21. I have also booked Granite Hill at the art museum for lunch on Sunday. Thanks to all for your recommendations and I will report back on Vetri.

                        1. re: Karen1440
                          Hungryin theBurbs Apr 13, 2012 12:32 PM

                          Very nice! The Van Gogh exhibit is terrific (though very crowded when I was there). Have a great time.

                          1. re: Karen1440
                            Philly Ray Apr 14, 2012 09:04 AM

                            Be sure to order the spinach gnocchi. It is one of their signature dishes.

                            1. re: Philly Ray
                              Karen1440 Apr 23, 2012 08:07 AM

                              Vetri: words escape me. Superb is an understatement. The service, the wines, the food extraordinary. The chef not only insisted I have the Almond Tortellini with Truffle Sauce in addition to the Spinach Gnocchi, but served me dessert, as well. Thank you, thank you for this recommendation, The best restaurant dinner I've had in a long time including the very good dinner, last week, at Les Nomades in Chicago. All this and the excellent VanGogh exhibit. Good weekend. Thanks again.

                              1. re: Karen1440
                                deprofundis Apr 23, 2012 08:25 AM

                                Yes! Vetri's a pretty amazing place. Those almond tortellini are some of the best things I've ever eaten. I'm going this Thursday myself. Can't wait. :) Did you get the chocolate polenta souffle for dessert? Did you get the goat as your main?

                                1. re: deprofundis
                                  Karen1440 Apr 23, 2012 08:34 AM

                                  Yes on the goat and no on the soufflé. I had strawberries in phyllo with a yoghurt sauce. Also had escargot, sweetbreads and rabbit pappardelli which I requested. I went for the Grand Wine Pairing and was not sorry.

                                  1. re: Karen1440
                                    Buckethead Apr 23, 2012 08:43 AM

                                    How much are the wine pairings? I'm going in a month or so and was planning on doing them but the website doesn't list prices.

                                    1. re: Buckethead
                                      deprofundis Apr 23, 2012 09:00 AM

                                      They offer three beverage pairing options:

                                      Beer ($70)
                                      Wine ($90)
                                      Riserva Wine (I think $125)

                                      1. re: deprofundis
                                        Karen1440 Apr 23, 2012 09:25 AM

                                        The Grand Wine Pairing "Riserva" is $135

                                        1. re: Karen1440
                                          Buckethead Apr 23, 2012 09:39 AM

                                          Thanks. I suppose the pricing may vary slightly as the menu changes and the wines for each course change.

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