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Mar 20, 2014 09:52 AM

Romantic, Intimate Anniversary Dinner

I've been sifting through all the recommendations from the "Philadelphia Bucket List" thread, looking for a romantic spot for an anniversary dinner in mid April. With all the wonderful restaurants it's overwhelming, so I'm once again asking for help.

I'm looking for something similar to Bondir in Cambridge, one of my all time favorite places. Their menu changes daily, their food is fresh and sustainable and the atmosphere is very romantic. I hate it when people do this but it's the only way I know to show what I'm looking for and find out if it exists in Philadelphia. They don't have their menu uploaded for tonight but you can see last night's menu here:

Any recommendation, even if it's not like Bondir, would be greatly appreciated. Must be on the small side (not noisy), intimate and romantic. Thanks!

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  1. You might want to check out Fork's new "Our Terroir" menu:, I had it a few weeks ago and it was pretty great.

    21 Replies
    1. re: Buckethead

      Thank you! I made a spreadsheet of all the recommendations from "Philadelphia Buck List" and Fork is not on the list! Maybe I missed it.

      Just looked over the menu. The price for the "Terroir" seems very high for that menu. Do you think they're charging that much just because it's local? That seems odd but the prices are way higher than their regular menu. On the other hand it does look like it fits the bill for what I'm looking for. It looks a little more flashy, where Bondir is very romantic and understated.

      Did you think the food was deserving of $95 a person?

      1. re: JunieB

        There are quite a few tables, I wouldn't call the atmosphere "very romantic", maybe if you're sitting at one of the banquettes. It's definitely a quiet space.

        Actually, you can virtual tour inside here:

        The inside has been redecorated (for the better) since those photos were taken, the banquettes on the sides aren't so freakishly tall now. I count about 50 seats in the dining area.

        Another place you might want to consider is the Farm and Fisherman. It's not on my personal absolute best of Philly list but it's very good, and one of the few places in the city where "farm to table" is more than just a buzzword.

        1. re: Buckethead

          Thanks. That link didn't take me to a virtual tour. How did you get there? Through Google or through the restaurant's website?

          I was considering Farm and Fisherman before I posted but I was hoping to find another option. Not crazy about their menu.

          1. re: JunieB

            The link just worked for me but if it doesn't for you, try googling "Fork Philadelphia", on the right-hand side of the results there should be a photo with the caption "See Inside", click that.

            1. re: Buckethead

              I did that but I only got a photo. It's not that important anyway. I'll fool around with it later and see if I can get a tour. Thanks.

            2. re: JunieB

              Was again at F&F this week and it IMVHO has all you wish. Mica and Fork are good restaurants, F&F is an occasion restaurant.
              If you wish when you call for reservations, ask Judy about your concerns she will do a lot to make you content.
              They do vegetables as well as l have ever experienced.

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                I like that it's small and I've always intended to go to Blue Hill, where they take farm to table eating very seriously. Thanks.

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  Deluccacheesemonger, this is for you, even if you deleted your comment calling me rude!

                  Sorry! We got a divorce so the anniversary was cancelled and it's hard to write with a broken heart.

                  Just kidding. We ended up at Mica for our anniversary and we are going to The Birchrunville Store Cafe with another couple in July.

                  To tell you the truth, I was not all that impressed with Mica and I took too long before writing about it and now many of the details have escaped me but so as not to be considered rude, here goes.......

                  I really liked the space - definitely small, intimate, and romantic. Cozy. We didn't care for our waiter at all. He was aloof and not helpful. It felt like we were putting him out just to refill our water glasses. My husband asked a question about a dish or an ingredient, and I can't remember now what it was, but the waitperson acted like my husband had said "what is this thing, asparagus, that's on your menu?" He seemed like a pretentious snob to me.

                  The food was good - it just wasn't anything I would hurry back for. I can't really put my finger on it as to why that's true. We've been to other upscale restaurants that use foams and exotic ingredients and we've loved them, and have returned often. For some reason we both agreed that we would not be in a hurry to return to Mica. Of course April is not a great month for fresh seasonal ingredients. We always run into that problem. But I think it was more about the preparation (and the waiter!).

                  The pretzel rolls were quite good. To start, my husband had raw fish but I don't remember what it was. He liked it. I had leek & potato soup w/roe and sorrel. The soup tasted a little too much like cream for my liking and I didn't care for the pop of the roe in my mouth, in this particular dish. I think the chef was going for a textural thing but it didn't work well for me. Others might have liked it just fine.

                  Next, my husband had the Burgundy snails with a foam and other things and I had white asparagus w/radish and a couple of different accompaniments on the plate. I liked the condiments but the asparagus was undercooked. I like crisp but this was ridiculous. I think it was intended to taste raw. My husband liked the snails.

                  For our entrees my husband had a pork duo - belly and shoulder. He said it was great. I had fresh gnocchi w/peas, watercress, and foam. The gnocchi was pretty good but the peas were raw. I think it would have improved the texture of the dish if the peas had been slightly blanched, but once again I think raw is what the chef intended. I think he likes contrasts.

                  We were pretty full but I talked my husband into sharing the ricotta doughnuts, and they were my favorite part of the meal! There were SIX and we couldn't eat them all but they were heavenly. If I remember correctly, they were served with a vanilla custard.

                  So there you have it. I shouldn't say I will never go back to Mica because they are very near where I live and upscale restaurants are few and far between in this neck of the woods. We'll see.

                  1. re: JunieB

                    To make it worse, l did not remove the comment, Chowhound moderators did, l stick with the comment.
                    Thank you for reporting back and l agree with you re: Mica. Blackfish as well but l am such a minority on this board in that opinion, l rarely voice it anymore.

                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      That's funny that you didn't remove your comment. I got a kick out of it. Sometimes I think the moderators take their job a little too seriously.

                    2. re: JunieB

                      Sorry to hear you didn't have a great experience. The last meal I had at Mica was one of the best I've had in the Philadelphia area in a few years, but, I know how disappointing it can be to go somewhere that's very hyped up and the evening's experience doesn't live up to it (I've had that experience at a number of places much loved in the area on Chowhound.)

                2. re: Buckethead

                  I finally figured out the Google thing. I was on an old laptop using Chrome, which can no longer be updated because of the age of the laptop and it wouldn't load the plugin. Ugh.

                  I like the interior of Fork!

                  BTW - if you're ever looking for a good place to eat in Brooklyn (there are many, but) there's a great little restaurant in Red Hook called The Good Fork. Small menu but very good.

                  1. re: JunieB

                    If you are familiar with New York restaurants, the chef at Fork (Eli Kulp) used to be the chef at Torrisi Italian Specialties.

                  2. re: Buckethead

                    They have a 4 top table that its in the window facing Market St, when you walk in the door it's about 180 degrees arounf to the right. It feels completely separate from the rest of the restaurant and very intimate. Maybe you could request that table.

                    1. re: barryg

                      I was thinking the same thing when I watched the Google tour that Buckethead pointed me to.

                      1. re: JunieB

                        Maybe I'm different, but I usually hate sitting by the window (especially for a special occasion meal). I feel like the restaurant is putting me there so people outside can see that people are in the restaurant and then I also feel like I'm dining in a fishbowl.

                        When we went to Fork for our anniversary last year (which I noted when I made the reservation), they wanted to seat us at a two-top on the other side of the door, but the table was not set up like it is in the tour picture. There was no tablecloth and I think there was another two top next to it. Plus, it seemed like a small and cramped table. Maybe they thought it was "intimate" as you suggest.

                        1. re: Philly Ray

                          I usually like window seats but it entirely depends on the restaurant and where the window is. It is not my experience that restaurants want to put me there but rather that those tables are often hard to get because people want them.

                          Your table at Fork doesn't sound intimate to me. If I don't like where they seat me I'm not shy about asking for a different table. Of course they can't always accommodate me and I'm not offended when they give priority to their frequent guests.

                          1. re: JunieB

                            We did ask to be seated in the main dining room and they did accommodate us.

                  3. re: JunieB

                    I just saw that I didn't respond about the prices: I thought it was a little high, but I chalked it up to the sourcing of the ingredients. One of the dishes features saffron that's actually grown in PA. If you've never been to Fork though, the regular menu is great and does feature a lot of local ingredients on it, I wouldn't say the Our Terroir menu is a must if it's your first visit there.

                    1. re: Buckethead

                      I don't think it should cost that much just because the ingredients are locally sourced but I definitely want to eat at Fork.

                3. i think in general philly doesn't do "romantic" very well.

                  I should note that i find Fork incredibly worth the price.

                  That said, maybe you'd like Talula's Garden or Talula's Daily? The menu, I think, is similar in spirit to Bondir (from what i can tell), and i think it can be pretty romantic. TG is large, but there are some corners they could tuck you in to if you ask when you make the rez. And TD is really small and relaxed.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: alex1018

                    That's the feeling I'm getting. Oh well, anniversaries are only once a year!

                    The regular prices at Fork are absolutely reasonable for a good restaurant. I was just wondering if $95 for the "Our Terroir" was that much better than their regular menu.

                    Talula's Garden is another restaurant not in my spreadsheet! It does in fact look very similar in spirit to Bondir. I'll keep looking around, but in the mean time I booked a table there. Thanks!!

                    1. Not to get sidetracked, but whenever I see someone looking for a "romantic" restaurant, I wonder what exactly is their definition of "romantic".

                      To one person it could be a fancy wood-and-leather steakhouse, and to another a tiny, spartan BYOB. To another, French. Not having been to Bondir, it's impossible to say what would meet your personal definition.

                      The most romantic restaurant in Philly is Vetri (according to my definition, which is quiet, cosy, and very, very expensive!).

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                        Yes, the term romantic is subjective, just like our tastes in food. To me it's a feeling, an atmosphere, and it can be created in many different ways. Bondir is small (only 20 tables or so), the place settings are old Englsh china, it's very cozy and quiet, with a fireplace, unpretentious, with just the right amount of attention from the wait staff. That said, I can think of hundreds of other ways a restaurant could be romantic. From what I can tell by the online photos Vetri looks romantic but I have a hard time spending $500 on a meal. I have certainly spent a lot more when you consider hotel rooms, flights, and a weekend of fancy dinners. It's a personal problem.

                        1. re: JunieB

                          Yes, that does sound romantic. I just can't think of a good restaurant like that in Philly.

                          Maybe Mica? But no old china and fireplace only has candles in it.

                          1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                            Mica was going to be my pick. That's where my sweetie and I had our early Valentine's Day dinner this year and, especially arriving early, we found it quiet, comfortable and romantic. It was also nice walking along Germantown Ave first and checking out some of the fun gourmet & spice shops nearby.

                            1. re: sockii

                              What a wonderful suggestion, and you just gave me a great idea!! Our anniversary is on a Tuesday but I chose the weekend before the date so we could go into the city more easily. Chestnut Hill is very nearby and a romantic little town on its own, so maybe I can finagle two dinners - Center City on the weekend and Chestnut Hill the night of. I love it! Thank you!

                      2. Unfortunately, not very many small restaurants are quiet, unless they are empty. I have found it does help if they are super expensive (not sure what the connection between price and noise is, but perhaps rich people have less to say).

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                          lol. I've been to lots of small, quiet restaurants. A lot depends on the ceiling material, and how much the restaurant is willing to invest for good acoustics. When I say quiet I don't mean quiet enough to ear a pin drop; I just mean quiet enough to be able to hear your dining partner speak.

                          1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                            Ha! Actually, don't the more expensive restaurants often space their tables more generously? They can afford it.

                            1. re: JanR

                              I have my theory, and I'm sticking with it.