Vernick Food and Drink - has anyone been there?
I guess I am really out of touch with the restaurant scene in Philadelphia. Living in the Western suburbs and retired from working in the city has resulted in my just being really out of date. I guess except for some lunches for restaurant week, several wonderful Bibou dinners, lunches and dinners at Matyson and La Famiglia and some dinners at Le Lirtu, I tend not to get into downtown much.
Anyway, when I was looking on Trip Advisor (where I tend to look when we are out of town) I noticed the following listed as the number one best restaurant - Vernick Food and Drink - but I don't really remember reading much about it here. Maybe I have just missed it but I was wondering if anyone has been? Thanks in advance.
Definitely go! It's terrific--some of the more inventive cooking going on right now, and the kitchen really knows how to coax flavor out of everyday ingredients. I've reliably liked just about everything I've had there over my several visits (peas & bacon toast, tuna poke, uni & eggs, maitake, brussels sprouts, ravioli & whole chicken, for instance, are not to be missed).
For those still searching this board for info about Vernick, I want to share that my husband and I went there for the first time last night to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. The experience was wonderful. The food was delicious. I would go back in a heartbeat. I highly recommend it!
Go, Absolutely. Certainly in the upper echelon of Philly restaurants. I've greatly enjoyed all three of my visits and look forward to another very soon.
Just to chime in here, but my wife and I dined at Vernick's for the first time tonight and I'd put it up right there at the very top of Philadelphia restaurants.
We had an excellent experience, found the wait staff and the ambiance just divine, and the food was extremely flavorful without being overly heavy or too pretentiously gourmet.
We were treated to an excellent amuse bouche, which was a sweet potato soup with a touch of maple syrup. It was as good as it sounded.
I started with the Island Creek Oysters with a citrus sauce. I loved them; perfect size, a touch briny for flavor, but complemented so well with the spicy citrus sauce.
I then had the Chili-Glazed Octopus with shaved endives. OH MY. I've been on an octopus kick after reading Honey Olives and Octopus, and this one was right up there with Kanella's in terms of tenderness, except the Chili glaze was a little more interesting to me in that it had a nice char and a certain bite that made what can otherwise be an interesting, yet not exactly flavorful crustacean really pop. The endives worked perfectly to balance the dish.
i should add that my wife did the Grilled Heart of Romaine with figs and cheddar cheese, and we both were huge fans. The grilling made this otherwise "salad" extremely interesting.
My large plate was the Grilled Black Sea Bass with the "fiery" tomato sauce, which wasn't that fiery however extremely fresh and tasty. The sea bass was light and perfectly cooked, except maybe lacking in the flavor punch department relative to the chili-glazed octopus. There were broccoli florets with the sauce, which added a nice touch of green to the plate.
We had two vegetable accompaniments. First off, the Brussels Sprouts. You have to get these. They're roasted with some sweet chili-like sauce and even have some grapes in for a little more sweetness, but it works so perfectly and the skins of the of Sprouts and the juiciness of the red grapes are again divine. We did a the Cremini Mushrooms, which our server said was the first night on the regular menu. They were very good, however, served at room temperature so maybe not quite as savory as the Brussels Sprouts. I heard some other table oohing and awwing over the Cauliflower for future reference.
Finally, the desserts were outstanding. We had the Artisan Cheese Plate (a light Brie from New York), which came with a sweet bread, candied walnuts, and a fruit preserve. The cheese was sizable (maybe 3 ounces), and it was a welcome relief to focus on one excellent cheese rather than moving through 3 - 6 lackluster cheeses as I've had to endure at some other restaurants recently.
My wife asked for some (non-sweet) bread or baguette to go with the cheese in addition to the sweet bread, since she's French and serious about this sort of thing. They brought her their sourdough, which is their only bread. The bread itself is good but they had drizzled olive oil on it despite it being for the cheese course! The horror!
Luckily, we were engorging ourselves on the real standout, the Date Cake with Coconut Gelato. Another must-have item. The cake was absolutely delicious without being overly heavy or greasy and the coconut gelato was sweet, fruity, and perfectly delectable to pair with the moist date cake.
Good wine list and some interesting cocktails. I like the bar scene downstairs, although the upstairs dining room is very comfortable and well appointed and IMO better suited for the dining pair.
I did not find the upstairs noisy. We were seated in a corner spot by the windows on a Saturday evening, so maybe we were slightly cloistered although it was definitely hopping. Every table was full and there was even a little baby. ;)
My impression was the downstairs bar area was quite a bit louder and very packed. Is there a back room I'm missing?