NYC Hound Weekend Trip Report- Thanks for all the suggestions!
We rolled in Thursday night and after unpacking and relaxing a bit we set off to our first and easily best meal in Philly at Matyson. They had a five course menu that night featuring Beets and luckily all four of us chose that option:
Warm Golden Beet Soup- cavier toast, crème fraiche and fennel.
Striped Bas Crudo- pickled beets, meyer lemon, capers.
Grilled Lamb Kofta- Golden beet quinoa, mint, feta, pistachios.
Beet & Short Rib “Ravioli”- crispy sweetbreads, ricotta, beet greens, truffle jus.
Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Tart- Raspberry- beet ice cream.
Just writing out the menu for you I feel transported back to how incredibly perfect this meal was. I swore the cavier toast in the soup was the best carb I’ve ever had but then the complex flavors in the crudo had me declaring some of the best fish as well. Then the “Ravioli” came made out of beet instead of pasta and stuffed with decadent short rib and topped with crispy sweetbreads. I can’t even tell you- I was in food heaven. This was one of the top 10 meals in my life and all for the incredibly reasonable price of $45!
The service was phenomenal as well. We had brought a small Prosecco, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Cabernet to pair with the meal and each time one was about to be finished we were greeted with proper glasses for the next. Even the bathroom was beautiful with a large vase of amazing fresh cut flowers and a copy of the nights tasting menu on the wall. This is truly a gem of a restaurant and I would seriously make this my local if I lived in Philly.
Day two in Philly I really got after it. I woke up and went first to Reading Terminal where I walked around and stopped at the counter for the Pork Sandwich with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe at DiNic’s. I thought it was a tasty sandwich- one I would order again especially with that cheese but I don’t really get all the hype. After satisfying my sweet tooth with a Heath Bar Crunch cookie from Flying Monkey it was onto Good Dog Bar to meet friends for lunch.
The classic Good Dog Burger was delicious- a hefty patty with lots gorgonzola oozing out. I also liked the combo of sweet potato and regular fries- that was a nice touch. Unfortunately the cheese steak empanadas weren’t very good. The chocolate stout sauce was terrible with the beef and their just wasn’t enough filling to make the empanadas stand out.
After lunch my friends went back to the flower show and I set off on my own down to Pat’s and Geno’s- I just didn’t feel right about leaving Philly without trying each one. My first stop was Pat’s where I ordered a sandwich without onions and with whiz. Man I can’t tell you how disappointing this sandwich was. The meat had that funky taste like it had been sitting on the griddle for days and the bread was dried out.
Over to Geno’s- just by looking at my cheese steak I could tell it was better. The roll looked fresh and the meat was actually dripping a bit of sauce. There was a lot more flavor and it clearly wins between the two. However I’ve had much better cheesteak’s from Philly imports in NYC like Shorty’s, 99 Miles to Philly and Carl’s.
After a long walk back into town and some exploration of Chinatown and the surrounding area it was time for a beer at McGillain’s followed by dinner at Barbuzzo. We started with a delicious bottle of Cab Franc and split a bit of everything.
Roasted Beet Salad with young goat cheese, grapefruit, tuscan kale, pistachio pesto, sherry vinegar.
Caciocavallo stuffed meatballs with house ground shortrib, pork, oregano and calabrian chile
Margherita pizza with san marzanos, house stretched fior di latte, basil and extra virgin olive oil.
La Colomba Espresso Tiramisu with fresh whipped cream and crushed amaretti
Marcie Blaine Chocolate Tasting –prosecco, moro, balsamico, salted pignoli.
Salted Caramel Budino with dark chocolate crust, vanilla bean caramel and sea salt
Everything was really well done with the airy light meatballs and salted caramel budino being the favorites of the night but I would probably try another place if I was to return to Philly. It was certainly good but nothing special really made it stand out to me.
We ended the night with drinks at the Farmer’s Cabinet. I started out with an ordinary Vodka gimlet but quickly moved onto to one of their specialty cocktails after trying my friend’s Arms of York. The Imprudent Sauciness was rye, spiced poached pear, red wine syrup, cinnamon dram, barrel-aged aromatic bitters, lemon and honey. This was a fantastic cocktail and befitting for how chilly the night had become. We sipped our drinks and loved every second of the live jazz band playing before heading off to sleep. Day two complete.
Saturday morning we awoke- excited for the prospects of a BYOB brunch. We packed up a bottle of sparkling cider and some champagne and headed out. We had made reservation for Kanella and luckily we did as the bright airy space was packed. We got out table, popped our bottle open and waited for the flurry of dishes to arrive.
Cyprus Breakfast- two eggs fried in olive oil, halloumi, lounza and bread.
Malohwa: pan fried savory puff pastry from Yemen, served with a boiled egg, spicy tomato salad and Greek yogurt
Shaksouka- two eggs poached in a cumin scented tomato and pepper stew served with grilled bread.
Greek Salad- romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, olives and feta cheese
Wow- everything was fabulous. My Shaksouka was brimming with zesty peppers and spicy tomatoes, the Malohwa were incredibly flaky and the Cyprus Breakfast was simply awesome. Kanella lived up to each and every expectation I had and surpassed it. If I lived in Philly this would be my go to brunch place for sure.
After a day of sightseeing and stopping for some PA beers a few spots, we ended up at Little Fish for dinner. Walking in I just loved how the tiny space and open kitchen worked together. I wasn’t feeling overly hungry (must have been all the food I’d had up to this point) so I started out with some East Coast Oysters and ordered an appetizer as my main.
The oysters were delicious. Big and briny with a salty mignonette already on top. My Hamachi Tartare was also very good with a sprinkle of nuts and some Hearts of Palm. Other dishes included a small but delicate Lobster Salad with mandarin oranges and a Roasted Scallop dish served atop some creamy lentils.
For dessert I would pass next time on the Chocolate Cake which was dry and disappointing. But the Vanilla Pot De Crème was absolutely amazing! I only wish we had ordered one each instead of splitting the tiny thing. Overall Little Fish was good but certainly pricier than I would have expected even with it being BYOB. Our service was a little indifferent as well which kind of made the meal a little uncomfortable being we were in such a small environment.
The last meal before leaving Philly Sunday was at Village Whiskey. We got there right before noon and got a table up front. I ordered the Village Burger with Jasper Farms Cheddar and we split some Tater Tots and Duck Fat Fries with Sly Fox-Cheddar Sauce.
My burger was unfortunately very overcooked- I had asked for medium rare and it came out well done. I would have returned it but we were tight on time to catch our train. But honestly there wasn’t much flavor to the meat itself anyway. The duck fat fries were just okay (I like a thinner fry) but the cheese sauce they came with was downright delicious. The tater tots were pretty good but I couldn’t put my finger on the smoky flavor in there- anyone know? I also thought it was a bit odd how perfectly shaped both the burger and the tots were. It was almost as if they molded each one. For my cocktail I absolutely loved the Champs Elysees and I really wish I could have had one more while I was there but again- short on time.
So that’s my Philly report. I’ll be a little more in depth with the food and pictures over the next week on my blog if you feel like stopping by- otherwise thanks for all the help. It was quite a food tour to say the least!
Thanks for the report. Certainly many here share your impressions of Pat's and Geno's. Your other comments offer insights which will be useful in future selections. Also we have heard recently that Village Whiskey food has been spotty, at best. We look forward to your future visits.
I haven't been to Matyson or Little Fish. I agree with pretty much everything else you said, though. Barbuzzo and Village Whiskey are overrated. Garces places, in general, have disappointed me a bit. Pat's & Geno's are worth going just to say you were there. Now you never have to go back. ;) Kanella is great. I love DiNic's hand-sliced version of the pork sandwich. Next time, instead of Barbuzzo, do one of the Vetri places (Osteria or Amis) for a similar, but better meal. Zavino is very good too.