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Feb 1, 2013 09:14 AM

I’m bankrolling moderate birthday dinner on Valentine’s Day for college daughter and friends; Please help narrow down choices

For the first time in 18 years, I can’t share my daughter’s birthday on Valentine’s Day because she’s in college in your great city. I said I’d pay for a dinner out with 2 friends, and they may add 2 more. These wonderful young women were thinking of giving themselves a special Valentine’s Day dinner. They are freshman at Drexel; I believe they have a car and are under 21. My kid is a sophisticated, adventurous eater; don’t know about the others.

I've done research and come up with the following options. I’d appreciate any advice you have; I know they need to get reservations ASAP.

Huge thanks for any insight you can offer.

Modo mia $35 4 course turista menu

Melograno $35 fixed Valentine’s Day menu

Barbuzzo menu can’t find price

Twenty Manning Valentine ’s Day fixed menu

Ela valentines

Ferdinand -- no special menu

Kanella, no special menu

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  1. You might want to stay in the neighborhood and try Pod which is Stepen Starr's answer to Asian. It is designed around the college crowd with its unique color-changing "pod" booths.

    1 Reply
    1. re: arepo

      Thanks, I'll take a look. Any sense of which of the above might be best?

    2. Of those places, Kanella is the best. Modo Mio is pretty far away from Drexel, so is Bar Ferdinand, I might rule those two out just based on that since (unless they have a car) they'd probably spend $40 on cab rides. Bar Ferdinand is very good though. I'd also rule out Ela, it's decent but not great, and very overpriced.

      If you want to stay closer to Drexel, Jose Garces has two places over there that are pretty good: Distrito (better) and JG Domestic (still good). There's also a location of Han Dynasty (semi-upscale Szechuan chinese) close to Drexel that is very good.

      I'd say Kanella or Han Dynasty.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Buckethead

        Not a big fan of Kanella. As Buckethead mentioned, Modo Mio is out of the way. How about Marigold Kitchen? It's not too far of a walk.

        Did you think about just getting them a gift card to Steven Starr restaurants? Then she can choose a place (even Pod!).

        1. re: bluehensfan

          Marigold Kitchen seems to have tasting menus and is quite a bit more expensive. Is Modo mia good? They do have a car. Would it be fun for college women? The gift card is an idea I'll investigate but I do think they want a special night in Philly.

          1. re: rmanna

            Modo Mio is great, easy access by car and also public transportation from Drexel, I don't think it's too far out of the way. Best value of the bunch for sure -- but be advised it is cash only. It is small and loud which young people seem to like. Also it is BYOB which seems to popular for the under 21 college crowd -- and as I mentioned they don't need to drive, it is a one-set subway ride from Drexel and they can take a cab back if they don't want to ride it later in the night.

            Kanella and Melograno are also BYOB (and take credit card), I like both a lot too. Of the bunch I trust Kanella and Modo Mio to not cut corners on their V-day menus (all too common), Melograno I'm not so sure.

        2. re: Buckethead

          Buckethead and I disagree regularly about Ela. I really enjoy the food and don't consider it overpriced at all. I would say that Ela isn't great for limited eaters.

        3. Agree with blue on xing Kanella for many reasons the least of which is the food which is good enough. Distrito is close by with interesting food and a fun venue. We love Barbuzzo which is small plates, fun, busy and can sometimes be too loud but probably not for college girls. Not been to Modo mia but it gets very good reviews from hounds here who's opinions I value.

          1. Of the restaurants you mentioned above, I've been to all but Ela. Modo Mio, Kanella, and Barbuzzo seem the best to me. All are accessible by car (Modo Mio is a bit further but still easily doable by car), and all would be fine for college kids.

            Modo Mio's turista menu is the best deal ($35). Barbuzzo's Valentine's Day menu is $55, and ordering of the regular menu at Kanella would probably fall somewhere in between (depending on what you get). (Melograno for $35 also seems like a good deal, but I can't get the menu webpage to open).

            Of all those restaurants, I enjoyed my meal at Modo Mio the most.

            1 Reply
            1. re: soccerfan80

              Thank you all for your thoughts. I'm going to suggest Modo Mio's turista menu, Kanella, and check out Distrito. Really appreciate knowing that Modo Mio is cash only!

            2. Kanella might be a little too challenging for an unadventurous eater, if there's one in the group (the big special this week has been lamb testicles...)

              2 Replies
              1. re: caganer

                Excellent point, cagner. Make mine the chops!

                1. re: caganer

                  There are plenty of things to order for less adventurous eaters there, as long as they like mediterranean food.

                  The dips, falafel, and moussaka are all great for example.