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HELP - Three Nights in Philadelphia

Hi All -

My wife and I and our 17-year old twin boys will be in Philadelphia for three nights (Monday - Wednesday) in late February. We'd love some ideas for three interesting, lively and upscale places for dinner, perhaps places that typify what Philly does best. Pricey is ok, although we're probably going to avoid the top, top end such as Vetri. We're pretty adventurous eaters (even the boys, although I would probabaly skip Vedge - don't think they'll do vegan!). We're staying near Rittenhouse Square but we can jump in a cab so location is not crucial.

So far, here are some that I am considering:
-- Vernick
-- Ela
-- Osteria or Amis (if we do one of these, which one?)
-- Amada (our boys love Toro in Boston so we thought they might go for this)
-- The Farm and the Fisherman

What do you think? Any others?

Thanks very much!

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  1. Toro is so much better than Amada. Skip Amada.

    I think Amis is more interesting.

    Ela sucks.

    Vernick is great. You'll love that. You'd probably love Zahav too. Farm and Fisherman is a great choice.

    So basically I'd try to do Vernick, Zahav, and Farm and Fisherman.

    edit: and if you can't get into F&F, other options are Laurel and Will. If you can't get into those, I'd go to High Street on Market, or Fork.

    10 Replies
    1. re: alex1018

      I pretty much agree, though I prefer Osteria to Amis by a wide margin, and I'd rank Fork above Will or Laurel (and Will above Laurel). And I'd twist their arms and take them to Vedge. They do a great happy hour there with inexpensive bar snacks, you could go sit at the bar and sample a few things before dinner at Farm and Fisherman, which is nearby.

      1. re: Buckethead

        oh i rank fork and high st above will and laurel also... was just trying to think of other BYOBs.

        basically, OP, you can't really go wrong with either Amis or Osteria... i just think Amis is a restaurant that fewer cities have. Osteria is a restaurant that a lot of cities have. I'd also pick Fork or High Street over both of those.

        1. re: Buckethead

          Other than Vedge you have made my comments exactly.

        2. re: alex1018

          Ela is a restaurant that divides this board. I love it and find the food very interesting and well executed.
          Vernick and Zahav are both good choices. I would also skip Amada, but if you want tapas consider Bar Ferdinand in the Northern Liberties section of the city (just north of center city)

          1. re: Bigley9

            Agree, Ela is excellent.

            I'm increasingly of the opinion that Zahav is over-rated. Someone has to say it, so there I did.

            1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

              I agree on Zahav being overrated, but I'm spoiled with a variety of Middle Eastern eateries back in the homeland.

              I found Le Virtu to be disappointing, but *really* like Osteria.

              1. re: linguafood

                See, I love Zahav but find Vernick overrated.

                In any case, I don't think Zahav is too much an overlap with Oleana - they both do modernized Middle Eastern flavors, but Oleana is a little bit more fusion-y. You'll encounter different dishes at each.

                1. re: linguafood

                  Although I do enjoy it. Over-rated isn't the same thing as Bad.

                  1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                    No, not bad. Just very heavy-handed wit' da salt.

                    1. re: linguafood

                      Oh boy, tru dat
                      When l get the mesibah l order the lamb cooked without salt and bring my own fleur de sel to add a touch to it.
                      Sort of BYOS

          2. Amada is the first thing that came to mind - fun for a family and consistent - good choices

            Center City has some great choices but some of the best of Philly is happening in the close-in neighborhoods

            Steven Star's FetteSau http://fettesauphilly.com/ BBQ in Fishtown as a great fun and family friendly place

            Le Virtu http://levirtu.com/ in East Passyunk is Italian-Abruzzese excellent and a nice atmosphere

            are two thoughts but I would consider making one of your choices outside Center City - either in S. Philly or Fishtown/NoLibs to get a different vibe

            6 Replies
            1. re: JTPhilly

              'Steven Star's FetteSau http://fettesauphilly.com/ BBQ in Fishtown as a great fun and family friendly place '

              Family friendly yes, great bourbons yes, decent que comparing it to their Brooklyn location, l think not.

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                OK. My only reference for BBQ are Texas Hill Country and Queens Korean as for the East Coast It never measured - I did not expect much from trendy high concept Q in Philly but my experiences at Fette Sau have been good- good meat, good sauces, great service. Honestly a place I truly wanted to hate but could not. If the one in Billburg is that much better - awesome I am sure
                its worth the wait.

                1. re: JTPhilly

                  My experience there was meat sitting on a tray under lights, barely tepid and dried out, having been precut

                  Hill Country in Manhattan when first opened was tended to by the pitmaster from Kreutz Market in Luling, Texas and it was AWESOME.
                  He has long left as has any decent BBQ there, damn.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    I've had big consistency issues at fette sau but they always have sliced the brisket to order. When it's good it's great but sometimes it just isn't. Ribs and chicken are pretty consistent and happy hour with $5 manhattans and old fashioneds is great. Never liked any of the sauces or sides.

                    Hill country is opening a philly location btw.

                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      "My experience there was meat sitting on a tray under lights, barely tepid and dried out, having been precut"

                      ugh that is sad, and disappointing very different then my own - I have not gone there very often even though it is practically down the street - I love the space. Maybe they are not moving enough volume.

                      Hill Country in NYC was ok - not magical- when I went my brother told me the ribs were supposed to be bad - he does not eat ribs - I had to prove to myself - they were not good - everything else was good though.

                      The Salt Lick in Driftwood TX is Magical, I want to go back -

                      1. re: JTPhilly

                        The Salt Lick in Driftwood TX is Magical, I want to go back -
                        TRU DAT

              2. Zahav isn't your typical middle-eastern kebab and hummus joint. You should definitely check out their menu. I think their tasting menu "mesibah" is awesome, and a great bargain as well.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Worldwide Diner

                  Zahav isn't really that different from Oleana, Boston's great upscale "Levantine" cuisine restaurant - at least in terms of flavors and preparations. That's not to say Zahav isn't a good restaurant, just that Boston has something similar so it's not necessarily going to seem as adventurous to a chowhound Bostonian as it would to one from Omaha.

                  1. re: caganer

                    Love all the feedback! Many thanks.

                    Caganer, it's interesting that you made the comparison to Oleana -- that is one of my very favorite Boston area restaurants. If Zahav is similar, I'm sure we would like it but perhaps we should try something else.

                    I like the look of Le Virtu. Maybe we should go there instead of Osteria or Amis?

                    If we have to choose one between Vernick and Farm and Fisherman, what does everyone think? Vernick might have a buzzier vibe (poor choice of words), which might appeal to my kids a little more...

                    1. re: Tennyson

                      as a second thought on Zahav, maybe it is worth considering if you really like Oleana - you'd be one of the few to have a first hand opinion of two of the "hottest" upscale middle eastern restaurants in the US. Everyone says that's going to break as a trend, why not be a trendsetter?
                      Kanella, Greek-Cypriot, byob, might also interest you if you like those flavors.

                      1. re: caganer

                        Been to Oleana many times...If push comes to shove, I think it's better, and certainly much more creative, than Zahav. Completely different vibe of course.

                      2. re: Tennyson

                        For me, Vernick over F&F by a lot. Vernick is definitely a livelier atmosphere, F&F is a small BYOB. Le Virtu is good but not as good as Osteria.

                        1. re: Buckethead

                          As always, F&F over anything else this city has, especially Le Virtu.
                          Lucky me will be there Friday again.

                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                            Had an excellent meal a few weeks ago at Le Virtu. First time I had been there in a while. Killer cocktails too.

                  2. No one has mentioned it, but I'll throw Sbraga into the mix.

                    1 Reply
                    1. I know it a suburb, but family, as told me that Ambler, has some nice spots?Any local knowledge?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Raffles

                        Ambler has some fine places for the burbs, but doesn't come close to the city places on your list.

                      2. Thanks, everyone, for the great ideas. I ended up booking Zahav, Osteria and Fork. Vernick had no availability other than 5:30 p.m., which didn't work for us. Really liked the look of The Farm and Fisherman, but perhaps more for my wife and me rather than the whole family.

                        Can't wait to try them all!

                        3 Replies
                          1. re: Tennyson

                            The item at Fork that was wonderful was the 'beast' which currently is the duck feast. Order it in advance or you will not get it.
                            For two will give your entire party a pretty good chunk of duck breast and confit of legs/thighs.

                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                              The Roast Beast (before being carved by the Grinch):