The Swedish princess hits Philadelphia
All hail worthy chowhounders. I have not been to Philly for 4 years and the resto scene seems to have changed dramatically. I am this time bringing my Princess, who, as always, wants interesting, value-for money eating in large enough portions, preferrably in a romantic environment. Not costing more than USD 70 pp less drinks and tip and preferrably 50.
She will reside in Rittenhouse 1715 and she does not mind walking but does not like to spend her apanage on cabs. She likes places where one would feel out of place in blue jeans and a chequered shirt, but also out of place in a tuxedo or a ball gown.
I have therefore dutifully researched and found the following suggestions for a week in philly. Before submitting this list to the scrutiny of her Royal ice blue eyes I would love to have the local chowhound community say "aye", "off with his head" or "you should maybe try this one"...
arrival: mid-day 16 may. Intercontinental flight and limo from JFK but princess is probably slightly tired. Dandelion for upscale pub grub w foie gras? Amis?
17 may: day spent touring countryside (e g shopping at Polo outlet)
Tasting menu at Talula´s garden?
18 may: as above for activity. Zahav Mesibah dinner
19 may: Sunday prix fixe at Bibou
20 may: Matyson tasting menu
21 may Devon seafood-I love USD 1 oysters and lobsters at market price before 6PM...and signature cocktails for USD 6.
22 may: tasting menu at Bibou, cleverly finishing off the BYOB bottles from sunday
23 may: Tasting menu at Sbraga
How now, for that assortment of evening feeding spots?
Kindest rgds and tks for comments and suggestions.
Sounds quite wonderful!
I would try to fit Vernick in there - but make sure to get a reservation well in advance. He's been getting named best new chef all over the place.
I would also say skip twice at Bibou.
And I wouldn't recommend Vedge, although I know some people love it.
My friends who are not veggie oriented have enjoyed it but thought that once was enough.
If it works out and you love oysters (as we do), try to stop in at the Oyster House on Sansom Street. Marvelous oysters.
No reservations, very casual.
Buckethead and l seem to rarely agree. Thought Vedge was nice people with cute portions of OK food, nothing was even a double let alone a home run.l think the lamb shoulder is the way to go at Zahav. l also think that one meal at Bibou is ample. l would skip Matyson also and perhaps go to Farm & Fisherman. l am not a huge fan of Kanella or Sbraga as well.
Have fun whatever your choices.
Thanks buckethead-I had an inkling it would be You that took up the glove. Vedge is vegetarian, right? Princess does not eat vegetables, at least not as main courses. Vernick is of course good and could be taken instead of Talulas. Is it such a big difference between Talulas one year in advance booked table and the tasting menu on request that one may get at the "Garden variety"? Kanella is greek, and, unbeknowst to the rest or the world, my princess does not like greek food. Will looks lovely but is longer than walking distance from Rittenhouse square just as Fond is.
Why Fork over Matyson or Talulas?
Kindest rgds and tons of tks for Your first comment.
Vedge is actually vegan. I'd really encourage you to try it, it's just a fantastic restaurant that happens to be vegan. Search the board for others' opinions of it, you're not the first visitor to think "veggies aren't dinner" and I think you would have a different opinion after eating here. Another option: Vedge is a block or two away from an area that's very dense with good restaurants: 13th St. between Chestnut and Walnut. You could make a reservation at one of those places (Jamonera or Barbuzzo would be my pick but honestly none of the places on this block quite crack into my top tier of Philly restaurants), but stop at the bar at Vedge first for a few small plates. Vedge also has a great happy hour that you could probably pop into without much trouble just to sample a few things.
Like I said I haven't been to Talula's Garden since the original chef was there, I just haven't read anything about it recently and wouldn't risk it for a once-in-4-years visit. The best thing there has always been Aimee Olexy's cheese selection anyway, you may want to sit at the bar there and get a cheese plate. It's also pretty expensive, entrees are all around $30.
Fork has been very good the past few years under chef Terence Feury, but he left recently and I was worried that Fork would slip back into the mediocrity it had been for years before that. But what actually happened is that the owner imported (or poached) Eli Kulp from NYC and now Fork is better than ever. The menu there is just a lot different from what we've become used to in Philly over the last few years: I've lost count of the places that have opened where "farm to table" is their motto but the food at those places often isn't very interesting once you get past its provenance. Fork sources a lot of ingredients locally but doesn't stop there. It just feels like a place that's a little ahead of the curve for Philly.
Matyson used to be excellent, then several years ago the chef and pastry chef decamped to the west coast and the sous chef took over, and IMO it's been pretty good since then but not a place I'd send a visitor from out of town to, let alone one who hasn't been here in 4 years.
One other thing: for your Zahav dinner, I'd opt for the Ta'Yim tasting menu instead of the Mesibah. I like the lamb you get with the Mesibah but the most interesting things there are the small plates and you get way more of those with the Ta'Yim menu.
You should also check out Capogiro for gelato, there's a location (the best one, I think) near your hotel at 20th and Sansom.
Wonderful comment. I have everything set then. Sorry if we skip Vedge. Going to a vegan restaurant, no matter how excellent, would leave both me and princess howling in pain. Carnivores do not feed on grass and leopards do not change into zebras...
I promise a report end of may to summarize our impressions. Tks a ton.
I just typed a long reply which Chowhound promptly deleted, so the short version is: skip Sunday prix-fixe at Bibou, if you haven't been here for 4 years you don't need to go to Bibou twice. Keep Zahav, Sbraga, Dandelion, Bibou (once). Drop Amis, Talula's, Matyson. Instead, go to Vedge, Vernick, and Kanella's Sunday prix fixe. Vedge is a must-visit. Other options include Will BYOB, Fond, and Fork.