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{Don--I know this is off-topic but I'd like to hear what people I trust think about the Philly dining scene... Delete if you must!!!! unsure.gif} [(*)]

They've extended the Dali exhibit and I've got tickets for 9:30 on the morning of the 20th. A good friend is meeting me there from NY.

We may add in a trip to the Barnes or the Constituion Center but right now I'm just thinking about lunch.

We probably go to Philly once every 18 months or so and have pretty lousy luck with dining. Before we default to cheesesteaks (which we often miss if the parking and traffic is too bad...) I did discover I can get a table at the following places:

Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel

Morimoto

Le Bec Fin
Buddakan

What's a girl to do????

Thanks!

Jennifer

---

[(*) Little did you know that almost eight years later, your "Delete if you must' imperative would result in a brand new forum!]

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What's a girl to do????

Thanks!

Jennifer

This girl would head over to Buddakan. Byobs Melograno, Porcini and Ava are not open for lunch, but Matyson (37 S. 19th), and Fork have lunch. If a really early dinner is doable, you can usually get a table without a reservation at any of them. Porcini has an upstairs waiting room where you can start drinking your wine.

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Funny I just got back from Philly for the Dali show Monday...

Morimoto's is great and expensive...The multicourse Omakase can run up to $120 and the matching multicourse drink pairing (which was very good) goes for $60...at the very least stop in to Morimotos and have a drink/snack at the lounge which overlooks the restaurant, which is a treat to see.

Another place you might want to look into is Pasion (known for their cheviche) and Django (which Sietsema reviewed in his Postcard recently.) Another restaurant that gets rave rewiews is Vetri (but you might have a problem getting a reservation this late in the game). Mark Vetri just won the James Beard for best Mid Atlantic chef.

Finally, also check out the Reading Terminal Market...a foodies paradise.

If you want some bars here's a post from my blog that details my Trail of Beers tour of Philly...

Our trail of beers started at Fergie's. While you're not going to find anything extraordinary at Fergie's, the list does include Hoegaarden, Yard's ESA and standards like Guinness, Harp, and Smithwicks all on tap backed up by 36 bottles...The Irish stylings of the bar makes it a pleasent stop off for a quick pint.

Perhaps the best known outside the City of Brotherly Love is Monk's Cafe. Written up by numerous travel, food, and beer magazines, Monk's offers an impressive selection of Belgium beers on tap and an extended bottled beer list. The Boudin Blanc Sausage went very nicely with the Delirium Tremons. Unfortunately the award winning pomme frites were no better than limp shoe string french fries, nothing pommey nor fritey about them!

However, a true find was across the street from our hotel: Ludwig's Garten (1315 Samson St). Dark and dingy, Ludwig's has German beer on tap...and a lot of it. The cheese and sausage platter was a nice snack and beer prices couldn't be better during their late night happy hour, $2.95 a beer after 11pm!

Just up the street from Ludwig's is a pleasent respite from walking around mid-town Philly, Sansom Street Oyster House. With windows that open onto the street and a large handsome bar, the obvious appeal here is anything raw and while the beer isn't special, you can't beat some oysters and Bass to while away the afternoon.

My finally stop on the trail was way off the beat path. A quick trip up 3rd Avenue to the Nothern Liberty neighborhood brought me to The Standard Tap. The kind of neighborhood joint that anyone would be happy to have near by, The Standard Tap offers a smaller but well choosen beer list from regional brewers likes Yards, Victory, Legacy Brewing, and Dogfish head (just to name a few) and offers two beers by hand pump. If I lived in Philly, I could see myself spending a lot of time at the Standard Tap!

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Another place you might want to look into is Pasion (known for their cheviche) and Django (which Sietsema reviewed in his Postcard recently.) Another restaurant that gets rave rewiews is Vetri (but you might have a problem getting a reservation this late in the game). Mark Vetri just won the James Beard for best Mid Atlantic chef.

Finally, also check out the Reading Terminal Market...a foodies paradise.


This mirrors my planned weekend in June. I am planning on a combination of two out of Django, Vetri and Pasion for dinners depending on if I can get into Django or not and Reading Market and the Constitution Center on Saturday.

If anyone has been to Pasion, how does it compare to Ceiba? They seem like similar concepts (big, splashy, Latin, even down to the ceviches) and I'd rather not go somplace when I can get something similar at home. But if it is better than Ceiba I'd give it a go.
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Thanks!

Alas, Vetri isn't open for lunch and I have to be back that evening because I'm seeing the Toulose Latrec exhibt first thing Saturday morning. (I'm not usually such an art slut but the schedule worked out this way...)

After much negotating, we've decided on Buddakan.

Jennifer

P.S. The Constitution Center is amazing!

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Probably heading up there this weekend. I would strongly recommend sticking to Philly's thriving BYOB scene, as BYOB's are something we don't have in DC (for that matter, we really don't have all that many good, creative mid-range restaurants like they do in Philly, period). It gives you a chance to open a special bottle and keeps the bill very reasonable (especially considering DC's generally high wine markups).

A few recs, in rough order of preference:

Django (tough reservation, though)

Matyson

Pumpkin

Chloe

RX

Audrey Claire (very hit or miss)

Also, I hear alot of good things lately about Marigold Kitchen and Alison at Bluebell. My sources tell me Vetri (not BYOB) has gone way downhill.

PS-- As Tweaked mentioned, if you're a beer drinker, Ludwig's and Monks have excellent selections and good food too. Eulogy in Old City is good for Belgian beers as well (but don't eat there).

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After much negotating, we've decided on Buddakan.

Reporting back:

Buddakan was amazing. I was coming down with a cold but I could still tell this was amazing food. Like what Ten Pehn wants to be and than some. Great room, perfect food. Edamame ravioli that I'm still thinking about days later.

Breakfast at Reading Terminal Market--yummy, affordable and lots of fun. No time to walk around although we did snag cherry hamantashan for the ride home.

Cuba Libre--had a last minute dinner there and it was nice. Not outstanding, too loud but it was the food was solid and the sangria was festive.

Thanks for the suggestions and ideas!

Jennifer

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My Philadelphia was last weekend (is it a DR.com requirement to hit Philly this summer?). Did Marigold Kitchen, Pasion and of course, Capogiro. Here are my ramblings.

I really wanted to love Marigold. I originally had reservations at Django for my trip last weekend, but on recommendations of several people, I switched to Marigold.

My wife and I had two appetizers and two entrees. Both the Grilled Cheese and the Clam Chowder Risotto blew us away with their creativity and execution, especially the bacon foam with teh grilled cheese and the plump juicy clams in the risotto. jenrus' smoked paprika tagliatelle was excellent.

Only my sous vide braised lamb shoulder was a miss - chewy and fatty but still with a nice lamb flavor that unfortunately was mostly overpowered by a one note middle-eastern spice that I couldn't quite place. Sous vide seems like the wrong way to cook such an initially tough piece of meat. But despite that the food was very good.

So what was wrong, and why didn't we have any desserts? Because it had to have been at least 80 degrees in the restaurant (well, maybe it was 78). Last Friday night was very hot and humid and we had to wait a while on the front porch / foyer area which wasn't air conditioned. We got hot and the inside wasn't much better. Anyone who was at the Pasta and Tomato event last week knows I can sweat up a storm, but it seldom happens in a restaurant.

I don't want this to come off as petty and obviously (I assume) this is an isolated incident. The food was, for the most part, top notch. But a dinner is about the whole experience and I can't say I loved Marigold.

Pasion was another story - a more sophisticated, less theme-parky vibe than I expected and the food was excellent, especially the ceviches and the dulce de leche "fondue" for dessert. And it was a comfortable 70 - 72 degrees in the dining room. We are lucky here in DC. Pasion may get more press, but I'd put Ceiba up against it any day.

And Capogiro was as good as advertised. We had Chocolate Peanut Butter, Champagne Mango, Cashew, Strawberry Tarragon and Burnt Sugar. The Chocolate was a little too rich for my taste and the Burnt Sugar was good, but ultimately not as "burnt" as I was hoping for (I love Hagen Dasz's creme brulee flavor, it gets this just right).

But the cashew was about perfect and the sorbettis blew me away with their sweet, tart fruitiness. Perfect on the miserable humid day that was last Saturday.

On the whole, as good or better than my previous favorites at Otto in New York. I need to get back to Two Amy's to see where their famous offerings stand in the hierarchy.

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Nice to see this discussion. I hope those of you hitting Marigold are also trying Rx around the corner. Greg Salisbury is top-notch. When I lived at 43d and Spruce Marigold was nothing special, but on my upcoming trip back I look forward to checking out this revision of the place. With regard to it being hot-- the thing is, many of the older West Philly restaurants lacks central a/c. Yes, it seems odd, since they're in the humid East Coast environs, but it's true. It was annoying at first, but I came to find it charming...

As for Pasion--blah. Used to be terrific, 4-5 years ago, but had a terrible meal there at start of 2004 and can't bring myself to return. Lolita is truly a gem, and if you're looking for a more South American substitute for Pasion then try Azafran off of South Street (go while it's still open, if y'all know what I mean...).

Capogiro is a gem. They are now doing mail order, fyi!

Sara

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I still have dreams about my meal at Django back in June, particularly the goat cheese gnocchi and the ginormous cheese plate.

I've heard great things about Marigold, but only seem to pass through Philly on Sundays when it's not open.

How does Capogiro compare to Magruder's in Cleveland Park, or even il Laboratorio in NYC?

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Thanks for the Lolita recommendation! I had a very good meal there last Sunday -- especially the skirt steak special with heirloom tomatoes and sweet corn.

Of course, Capogiro was splendid as well. I got the concord grape and white peach, both of which were like taking a bite of the actual fruit. I also tried a friend's sesame and ginger. Outrageously trippy.

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Had a very good dinner at Matyson on Saturday night. Everyone enjoyed their meal and everything that I tried was delicious.


My experience past weekend at Matyson was not as good as yours. The service was fabulous. The food was good but I would not return because (1) there are much better restaurants at similar prices in Philly and (2) there are restaurants in DC, such as Corduroy, that prepares better scallops and lamb. For apps we had: asparagus salad, clams & ham, chick pea salad and a duck confit salad. For mains: lamb loin, scallops and something else that I can't remember at this moment.

I didn't get a chance to try out their desserts since I was adamant on getting the warm chocolate cake at Rouge, under my old apartment.

I strongly recommend Dimitri's on 3rd & Catherine. It is my top 5 restaurant. At 6pm, there was a 1 1/2 hour wait!!! You can order EVERYTHING on the menu and still be way under $300. For party of 4, I think our bill was $100 (we eat ALOT). Dinner included: greek with greens, baba & hummus, scampi with garlic, grilled octopus, fried smelt, grilled lamb, grilled whole striped bass, fried calamari, 2 egg custards and 2 greek coffee. I would go even if it was $200/person. It's that good!! BTW, they only take cash...which is not uncommon in Philly.

GO GET COFFEE from LA COLOMBE!! I brought back with me 5lbs of coffee (nizza blend). I have yet to taste coffee like La Colombe's in DC.
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I'd be a regular if this joint were in my neighborhood.

Good to hear you enjoyed Monk's. There are a lot of hidden gems in Philadelphia.

I've been a bit intimidated about posting here because many of my favorites do not rise to the "fine dining" level that seems to be the standard many people here aspire to when they eat out. Me, I like eating. I was raised in NYC where my family motto was "You can't eat the atmosphere." One of my clearest childhood memories is eating a fish sandwich for lunch at the Fulton Fish Market at a place called Sloppy Louie's. There were picnic tables and benches where fishermen sat side-by-side with stockbrokers enjoying incredible fish at a great price.

Kind of like the atmosphere at Reading Terminal Market where you get your lunch from one of the stands (Mexican, vegetarian, Italian, Syrian, Greek, Chinese, cheesesteak/pork sandwich, Japanese, etc., etc.) and then find a table. The etiquette is just to ask if the seat is taken. That often breaks the ice, and you get someone to talk with if you've come alone. Everyone eats there. It's a true cross-section of humanity.

PS You can also shop at the various food, farm, vegetable, and meat stands for dinner, or pick up the odd used book. Quite a place.

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As I inferred, things got blurry after a while :) Thanks for the correction. Another trend I noticed in Philly was a big emphasis on Belgian beers. Aside from Eulogy and Monk's who specialized, nearly every half-way decent pub/tavern had a nice selection on tap. While at Eulogy I had to indulge in the obligatory pot of mussels. Never had been an aficionado before, Hopleaf in Chicago got me started on that kick.

mussels and frites at Monk's, with their flanders red to drink...mmmm....how much is the chinatown bus to philly again? Nodding Head also has some great beers. You could spend several evenings in that city and never go to the same place twice but also be at a great beer bar or brewpub.

In other beer-y news, I recently took a week-long brewery trip up through Maine, and had some really solid stuff at a few of their breweries...Andrew's, Bar Harbor, and a couple in Portsmouth, Smuttynose and the Portsmouth Brewpub. Lots of english brewing influence, so lighter on the hops than in other regions of the country (read: west coast IPAs). I'll post more details later, but suffice to say it was alot of fun and beer (and lobster!). Most of the breweries we went to don't distribute down this far, but Geary's and Smuttynose can both be found in DC. Good stuff on both counts.

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Off a trip this past June, I can recommend the following low to midddle brow places:

Dinic's in the Reading Terminal Market - The roast park with sharp provolone and greens was the best sandwich I've had in the last 5 years. Sloppy and wonderful.

Radicchio Cafe - Italian BYOB north of Old City - had a wonderful scallops with grilled radicchio appetizer there for lunch; everything we had was wonderful.

Eulogy tavern and Monk's - Two great Belgian taverns with many variations of steamed mussels with frites.

Cool places to grab a drink along with tasty bites included Cantina El Caballito and Royal Tavern in south Philly, Tria near Rittenhouse Square and Standard Tap in Northern Liberties.

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I'd just like to say that, in general...

The Philadelphia restaurant scene is catching on like wildfire. And BYOBs are very popular among restauranteurs. Perhaps because of PA's strict liquor laws?

There are streets that never had much of anything that are now CROWDED with restaurants. Makes for some good eatin' :lol:

And there are so many relatively new ones, I had never heard of, before making the drive there.

Alas, we still have yet to dine at Le Bec Fin...

However, Philly has its own Restaurant Week coming up in September.

My, how the world changes in just a few years... :)

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Quick weekend trip to rainy Philadelphia to join spouse on business led to two wonderful meals. Went to Matyson for the first time, and can see what all the buzz is about - it was terrific. Awfully small and tables close together, but the ambience is calm. Food was great. The current theme was corn, which appeared in some form in almost every dish. The crab and corn risotto appetizer was small and pricey, but delicious. An heirloom tomato, arugula, corn, and ricotta salata salad was summer personified. Main dishes included pan-seared scallops with a lightly truffled corn jus sauce, which was delectable for its tastes, textures, and smells. A steak frites was perfectly done with an expert char; not quite up to Ray's standard, but delicious nonetheless. Our dessert was a selection of sorbets and ice creams, including a corn ice cream to carry the theme. Love the BYOB concept (we brought a nice Oregon pinot), which Matyson complements by providing decent glasses. Interesting watching the table of elderly diners next to us, who had brought a thermos of cocktails!

Also went to Morimoto, which has not lost its luster despite the absence of hands-on Iron Chef presence (Morimoto was manning the shushi bar when we first went several years ago). Since we had been there several times, we knew what to expect, so we were not totally shocked by the prices, although they seem to have crept up even a bit more from last year. Nonetheless, food was outstanding for the quality of the ingredients and the care in the preparation and presentation. Ms. Dcdavidm long ago fell in love with the spicy shrimp tempura, which is addicting. She also had a refreshing cold soba noodle dish. I usually go for some form of the omakase, which this weekend featured a string of presentations based on the use of heirloom tomatoes. The selections were creative and delicious.

We have always been impressed by Morimoto's service; the staff is invariably young, enthusiastic, well-trained, and knowledgeable. Our server exemplified the way to build a server-customer relationship. She presented herself with friendly professionalism. In response to my questions about each omakase dish as it arrived, she not only described the ingredients, but engaged in a conversation about the dish. Realizing that we were really interested in the food, she brought out a selection that was not part of the omakase, but which the chef was experimenting with and wanted customer reaction. When the check came, I noticed that it did not include the two cocktails we had ordered upon arrival. She explained that, "we comped those because we really enjoyed talking with you about the food!" Nice treat.

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Heading to Philly at the end of the month. Most of the entries are bars and high end restaurants. Where else should I eat? I was thinking Cheese Steaks at Pat's and Mike's in South Philly (never been). Maybe Italian one night and anything else that people can recommend. I will be staying downtown near University and Woodland Avenues.

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Heading to Philly at the end of the month. Most of the entries are bars and high end restaurants. Where else should I eat? I was thinking Cheese Steaks at Pat's and Mike's in South Philly (never been). Maybe Italian one night and anything else that people can recommend. I will be staying downtown near University and Woodland Avenues.


Get your steak from Tony Luke's instead, and while you're there, also get a Roast Pork with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe. Then argue as to which is better. No losers here.

For Italian, I'm partial to Marra's on Passyunk. Family-style red-sauce-Italian, nothing nouveau or expensive, just great pizza and pasta. Also Tacconelli's, for their amazing white pizza, but note this from CitySearch: "Pizzas must be ordered a day in advance to avoid the 90-minute-plus wait due to crowds and volume of pies made per day."

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Make sure to get some Capogiro gelato! We also really liked stopping for coffee at La Colombe cafe on 19th just N of Rittenhouse Square - European feeling cafe with excellent coffee they roast/blend themselves. Check out the Reading Terminal Market if you have time.

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"Make sure to get some Capogiro gelato!"

Ditto! We ad some amazing flavors there this last trip -- nectarine and lemon-opal basil, and Thai coconut milk :)

Ooh -- also, we visited the new DiBruno's shop (unfortunately, during lunch rush, so decided to postpone a full buying spree until next time) -- looks, smells, and I'm sure tastes great!

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i never knew about taconelli's until about a month ago, and now every time i go back to philly, i feel the need to eat their pizza!

another place that i go to every time i'm in philly on a sunday, is beau monde. it's a creperia on 6th and bainbridge. they serve a brunch menu (i get the mushroom, roquefort cheese, sunny side up egg crepe almost every time) and have great spicy bloody marys!

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Django was once the hottest of the hot, but I have heard rumblings -- ownership changes etc. Not to say it's not still great (I haven't eaten there), just recommending due diligence. Some inconclusive back and forth here.

I had a very pleasant dinner at Rx, in West Philly (near Penn) not long ago. Think even with/one step up from Montsouris, with a nicer room and better service. (Apparently the RX guy is also the one of the original Djano guys.)

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I also found my way to L'Angolo so I suggested that, warning about the lack of martinis.

Waitman, your mother must be very unlike mine! While I'd probably have fun at Bob & Barbara's (particularly at tonight's drag show), there is just no way my mother would.

Bob and Barbara's....their Jack and PBR specials are deadly. One of the worst hangovers I've ever had. I prefer going on the nights when then have the jazz trio playing. SMOKIN'!!!!

I know I've said it before, but I can't recommend the Standard Tap enough - especially now that it's non-smoking (but with a smoking patio...apparently they got a special exemption for now). That places continues to amaze me with it's food. Don't ever pass up the fried smelts. They are perfect bar food. We'll probably have our New Year's Day brunch at The Tap.

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Going to be up in Philly in a couple of weeks and want some suggestions on some BYOBs that I should try.

Lunch was an Italian roast pork at Tony Luke's. Excellent, enough said. Dinner was at Bistro 7 for a pleasant meal. Highlights were gnocchi with butternut squash and walnuts, short ribs with mashed and swiss chard, Chinese style bbq salmon with shitake risotto. They said that the menu changes weekly and unfortunately it is not available online as far as I can tell. If you go know one thing, this place is LOUD.

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We took a quick trip to Philly in late December and had a great time, thanks in large part to the information in this thread. I see that MDT already has posted about the Rittenhouse location of DiBruno's and that's a great idea. If you feel like exploring more of DiBruno's and more stores like it, I'd recommend a visit to the Italian market in South Philly. It's an outdoor market (well, really many, many shops lining a few streets) and is incredible. I do not know if SEPTA stops there, but I'm fairly certain a bus would get you there. Incredible shops and wonderful food and housewares and it has a real "market" feel. It's also great fun to see each shop and the differences among the various butchers and shops. I'm still kicking myself for not bringing back some cheese from a few of the stores. Yummy foods.

I second the recommendation for the White Dog Cafe in the University area.

In a neighborhood a little above the Penn campus we had delicious Ethiopian food at Dahlak on Baltimore Avenue (by S. 47th). When we ordered a few spicy dishes we were asked if we wanted the food spicy, we said yes and the food was indeed spicy but also very well flavored. I am adding this link from menupages (although I see from some comments that the menu is a little out of date). Dahlak.

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Thanks for all the recs -- didn't get everywhere (notably, missed the Italian Market) but we did cover a lot of ground. Cheesesteaks from Jim's were awesome, with the wiz definitely beating out the provolone. Got to both Capogiro locations and tried lots of flavors -- I liked my combo of apple cider, dulce de leche, and pecan, but my fiance insisted that his orange cardamom, dark chocolate, and pistachio combination was superior. Girls, girls, you're both pretty. Checked out DiBruno's and Reading Terminal Market, nice vibe from both although obviously very different.

Brunch at White Dog was excellent, especially the pumpkin cream cheese pancakes with almond and walnut syrup. And Amada was a home run, with cheeses and meats and fried apple and all sorts of greatness. $80 before tip but we agreed we could have gotten by with maybe 6 dishes instead of 9, so it could be done for less.

We tried to go to Tria but it was packed, so we settled for sushi at Genji. Which had both really excellent (lobster tempura) and really terrible (spicy tuna roll) bites, and not great service.

All in all, a pretty awesome food weekend. Thanks again for the guidance.

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Standard Tap is always a good option, in the Northern Liberties nabe: http://www.donrockwell.com/index.php?showt...p;hl=gastro-pub

I have to second the nomination for Standard Tap. The beer was great (and I'm not even a beer person), and the food was really good. I had the chicken pie, which was finished off with a little swirl on the crust, and my husband looked at it longingly while I ate around it and then made it my last bite. He had the duck breast, which he really enjoyed, but I found a little sweet.

Also had Pat's cheesesteaks (me: provolone, him:Wiz) and we both wished that the meat was more seasoned and a higher quality. On Sunday, we enjoyed an Italian dinner at Dante and Luigi's, which may be the oldest Italian restaurant in the United States. No credit cards, just cash or checks. It was good for what it was, which was exactly what we wanted: simple, tasty and filling Italian food (not terribly cheap, but whatever).

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We spent last weekend in Philly, and had meals at Sabrina's, Monk's, and Morimotos.

I am a brunch person, so the menu at Sabrina's was immediately tempting. I ended up with the french toast -- huge pieces of Challah bread stuffed with cream cheese and bananas and probably something else -- that was incredibly good, and impossible to finish. The restaurant is one of those tiny little places where you wait outside for 45 minutes until you can squeeze into a table and read the specials off the blackboard walls (similar to the type of places I used to haunt in Boston, but haven't found yet in DC -- Colorado Kitchen comes closest, I'd guess).

Monk's was fantastic -- crappy (though friendly) service, great sandwiches (accompanied by...2 pieces of lettuce as a "side"), and a varied beer list. The highlights were the mussels (the Thai ones, flavored in curry and coconut milk, were particularly outstanding) and the fries.

Finally -- Morimotos. My experience is strongly influenced by my reaction to the waiter, who was over-the-top with his recommendations. One of us ordered the $100 tasting meal, while our waiter spent roughly five minutes trying to talk him into the $150 version, despite my friend's continued insistence that he was happy with the one he ordered. The waiter then turned his attentions to me, and bullied me into an appetizer; when I decided I wanted sushi, he turned the menu back to the appetizers and a dish that was definitely not sushi (but a good $20 more than the rolls I'd asked for). It was very offputting -- none of us ordered an entree under $35, and we were all drinking, but he still gave us the type of hard sell that for me, was ultimately more memorable than the incredibly good lobster I enjoyed.

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Just returning from Philadelphia, where we ate our faces off for several days, in order to escape some home renovations. We hit Marigold, Matyson (Lunch), Morimoto, Le Bec Fin, and Tony Luke's.

Marigold was excellent - we had the five course tasting menu, which I thought was a good deal at $50. Highlights included escargot, turbot in saffron sauce, and roast pork wraped in grape leaves. Having heard that Marigold has been inconsistent lately, I am happy to report that our dishes were well-executed. Our service was semi-aloof, but got the job done, wine opened and decanted, etc.

Matyson: Lunch here. I had a cavatelli special as an app, which was fantastic. My wife had parsnip soup with Duck Confit, which was ecxellent. Mains were Steak Frites for me, and a goat cheese and crab crepe for my wife. She loved the crab crepe, however my steak frites were badly overcooked. The kitchen was responsive to this mistake, and a new dish arrived shortly thereafter, perfectly medium rare. The fries were a bit over truffle-oiled as well. Matyson was our only average meal on this trip - everything was fine, but not incredible.

Morimoto: At this point, we were wondering why we'd eaten at restaurants beginning with the letter M! This was our second time eating at Morimoto in probably two years. We sat at the sushi bar once again, and once again Morimoto was behind the sushi bar, preparing items and expediting. We enjoyed the omakase, both of us opting for the $100 version. service was attentive, and the sashimi course in particular shone. The only miss we had was the desert course, which was a cherry mousse, served too cold, on top of a flavorless poundcake. Otherwise, we had an enjoyable meal overall.

Le Bec Fin: We've eaten here several times, and the details of ou meal are a bit hazy at this point. We do love the unlimited amounts of dessert and cheese from the cheese tray. One thing that struck me about this dinner was how rare this type of restaurant is becoming in the USA - jacket required, formal service, etc - "grown-up" would be the words I'd use to describe it. This visit didn't have the incredible highlights of a meal, say, at Citronelle, but it was solid overall.

Tony Luke's: We each had a steak, wiz, wit, and split a Pork sandwich (purely in the name of research). We enjoyed it more than Pat's or Geno's, and I look forward to having my cholesterol checked at my check up this coming tuesday....

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Well, this thread helped more than pay for the subscription fee to this site b/c we batted 1.000 for our meals in Philly. Thursday evening we chose Matyson over Django and couldn't have been happier with our meals. We started with the highlight of the night (and maybe weekend), fried soft-shelled crab. Little did we know that they just came in season, but we got one of the last ones from the kitchen and it was perfect. The table seated after us had to settle for tempura shrimp, which seemed to use the same breading, but you can get that year-round. I also got a bowl of the matzoh bowl soup since it was a special from the tasting menu, but it's tough to measure up to Max's Kosher Cafe matzoh ball soup. Good but not "wow" (though I liked the dill added). Our entrees were seared scallops and a potato-crusted halibut, both of which were perfect. Scallops are potentially my wife's favorite food, and she thought they were the best scallops she's ever had. We ended with apple crepes and coconut cream pie, but the small amount of chocolate that we had in the pie showed me we made a mistake by not getting the chocolate creme brulee. Great start to the vacation.

Lunch Friday was a last minute decision to go to Amada, and despite going ten blocks in the wrong direction of our hotel, thankfully we hopped a bus in the opposite direction for the restaurant. Their lunch special allows you to get a soup and salad or sandwich (which also comes with spicy potato fries) plus a soft drink for $12.50. Eavesdropping on the table next to us really paid off b/c the woman asked the waiter if she could repeat something she had done the last time she was in: Get half the sandwich, half the salad, full cup of soup, full order of spicy potatos, and the drink for just $12.50. No brainer for me. My wife got grilled wild mushrooms (wonderful but overpriced at $14), olives, and a tortilla. The tortilla was enough to answer the question of how this place compares to Jaleo: Amada wins in a bloodbath. For example, it was a full tortilla (Jaleo gives you a quarter), served warm (huge bump up in my book), with a saffron aioli ('nuff said?). We rationalized our massive food consumption by calling this breakfast and lunch.

Walking around the city created some room for dinner at Marigold Kitchen. We both opted for "just" 3 courses: butterfish (tasty) and sweatbreads in crispy chicken skins (phenomenal; Landrum should ditch that batter and use this Palena-like skin for his apps) appetizers; lamb three-ways (a lamb stew was everything that Chef Gerard Panguad had hoped to execute at the Le Academie de Cuisine dinner) and salmon poached in olive oil (unbelievably delicate and sophisticated) for entrees; and molten chocolate cake (yes, very boring but good) and a pineapple semolina cake (devoured by my wife). Like Matyson, a totally wonderful experience that shows that it has recovered from any slippage after it sale.

Before leaving town, we had lunch at Pietro's Coal Oven Pizzeria since Tacconnelli's didn't fit into our plans. I don't feel as though we missed out. I loved everything: the fresh buffalo mozzarella, the blistered crust, the sweet tomato sauce, the spicy sausage, and the thick pepperoni. Three pieces are literally the only food I've needed all day. Wonderful pie and walkable from our hotel.

Maybe I was just a pushover this trip, but we made food the heart of our whim vacation and we left without a single disappointment.

Travel tip: Sorry to extend this post further, but thought folks might appreciate this insight. We got our hotel on Priceline.com the night before. I put in four stars, center-city Philly, two nights, and $100 and it was immediately accepted by Loews at 1200 Market Street, a block from City Hall. What a steal. This place was stylish (Art Decco restored), clean, friendly, and unpretentious. It's even pet friendly. When we got home this evening, I turned on MTV and saw the exact hotel on "Bam's Unholy Union"!!! He got married in the hotel and his wedding party stayed in the hotel. Most people probably wouldn't take the reference of one of the founders of Jackass, but if you see the episode you'll see this is actually a really nice place. The rooms for my wedding's hotels in Rockville were over $100 but not as nice as this place. Plus, you could walk 10 blocks in either direction to cover pretty much all the great food, history, and shopping that Philly offers. My advice is to start off with a price lower than my $100 though :blink:

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cjsadler and I were in Philly this weekend. Lunch was a philly cheesesteak taste test between cheesesteaks from Pat's and from Geno's. There were five of us at lunch and from each place, we got the following three cheesesteaks: Cheese Whiz and onions, only Cheese Whiz, and provolone and onions. The ideal cheesesteak would be with Pat's meat, Geno's bread, Cheese Whiz and onions.

For dinner, we tried a new BYOB called Mandoline. Appetizers (not pictured) were a pistachio goat cheese cake with figs, tuna tartare with crispy wontons, and veal ravioli.

Entrees were seared scallops with a mascarpone and pea risotto,

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roast chicken with mashed potatoes and asparagus and topped with a soft fried egg (this dish was great!), and

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grouper with candied carrots, potatoes and mango and vanilla coulis.

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For dessert, we shared the smores (graham crackers, brownie bits, marshmallow gelato from Capogiro's, and caramel and chocolate sauces)

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and the apple bundt cake.

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And to make the evening exciting, there was foie gras protest at Amada, the restaurant next door to Mandoline.

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We had two outstanding meals in Philly last week -- Italian at Vetri (highlights being a warm asparagus flan and an almond tortellini that melted in the mouth) and Basque tapas at Tinto (highlights being a chicken skewer dish that was so good that we ordered it again during the same meal, and a rice dish that was morelicious ;)).

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I recently spent four days in Philadelphia. Dinner one night was at Pietro's for pizza. Good but not great pizza, with Maggiano's size portions of the fried calamari starter. The beer list wasn't bad, and the service was friendly but not annoying. The next night we had the tasting menu (five courses) at Striped Bass. It was expensive ($85) but the cooking was excellent. After a chilled cucumber soup starter, each course featured a different fish, very well prepared with interesting (but non-overwhelming) sauces and accompaniments. This meal had a certain pace that I very much. The wine list featured very few bottles for less than $50, and many for well over $100. Service was a bit odd for a place like this--not horrible, just kind of weird, with a few strange comments. The next night we went to Sansom Kabob House for Afghan. Solid, unpretentious, and very inexpensive. Very enjoyable. Finally, Dinner on our last night was at Nodding Head Brewery. Good pub food (Fish and Chips) and enjoyable beers (I particularly liked the Brewers' Gold IPA, and also enjoyed the Porter). Friendly service, good vibe in this place. I'd definitely go back. I wanted to hit Monk's Cafe, but the wait was very long (45 minutes-1 hours for a table), so I passed.

While the dinners were good, we had even more satisfying experiences at the Reading Terminal Market for lunch--this is a can't miss place. Sandwiches at DiNic's were fantastic, as was the cheesesteak from Rick's. The espresso at Old City Cafe was very good, albeit served in a paper cup at the location right in the center of the Market.

But the true piece de resistance for my trip--Capogiro Gelato--Pistachio gelato, Rosemary/Honey/Goat Milk gelato, Grapefruit/Campari, fior di latte--oh man, I can't wait to go back to this place!

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Going to Philly next weekend for some female bonding. :( As much as I would LOVE to return to Morimoto, my gal pals want to stick to the less expensive BYO options--so, I made reservations at Bistro 7.

Good choice? Any thoughts from the gallery? I'd be interested to hear what you all think. Thanks!

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Going to Philadelphia for a conference, which just happens to fall on my husband's birthday. We have a reservation at Matyson. Can anyone tell me what the atmosphere is like? I just called to make the reservation (during lunch service) and it seemed pretty loud.

Also, anyone been to Bistro 7 lately? They seem to have plenty of reservations open, and I'm wondering if its a safe bet.

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Matyson is definitely delicious, and still a good option even after Matt & Sonja's departure. Lots of wood and brick, so I'm not too surprised it was loud at lunch. I haven't noticed it being loud at dinner. If you're there during the week and they have a tasting menu on, it's a great deal. 5 courses for $45, I think.

I know nothing of this Bistro 7... unfortunately a lot of the BYOBs don't take reservations (like Mercato and Lolita, and I don't think Audrey Claire does either) so it can be hard to make plans with a group for some of the most dependable places. The best food I've eaten in Philly in the past three months was without a doubt at Tinto.

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We'll be in Philly on the 19th/20th for a show and will be eating at Osteria on Saturday. However, we have friends whom we haven't seen since...???...and want to get together with them Sunday -- any thoughts about what will be open (and good) for dinner on Sunday? As for Tinto, sadly, we began boycotting them after they promised the chef -- brother of a friend -- a raise and then fired him instead. Grrr.

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Had a lovely weekend in Philly, despite some grey weather toward the end of the trip. Our Saturday night dinner at Bistro 7 was quite nice--man, that BYOB concept is killer! I certainly enjoyed polishing off a bottle of Grgich Hills chardonnay all by myself--without having to pay the usually ridiculous restaurant markup. The favorites of the meal were the duck mousse (more like a pate, and SOOOO delicious) on the charcuterie plate, the gnocchi appetizer (done very classically, and just about the only version I've had recently that compares to Proof's), and the glazed duck legs with lentils. The venison was good, though cooked too much for my liking, and the scallops were perfectly respectable. The pear tart was the only major letdown--it was served with a creme fraiche that had black pepper in it (I also thought I tasted thyme, but the chef said it was just pepper). It was WAY too savory for such a sweet dessert, so the flavors were all mixed up and, frankly, not tasty at all.

Sunday brunch was at Creperie Beau Monde--yum!!! The French onion soup was warm and comforting, and it had the perfect amount of cheese on top. The savory mushroom crepe was very good, but it was the Nutella and banana dessert crepe that really won the day. Delicious! The atmosphere was neat, too--it almost felt like we were in a little creperie in Paris.

While not as mindblowing as my previous Philadelphia dining outing (at Morimoto), the weekend was very enjoyable and reminded me how many new and different culinary experiences lie within a short drive of DC.

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Glad to hear your visit was largely a culinary success, bettyjoan!

We have friends coming up from DC this weekend and I have a bit of a puzzle. I'm trying to figure out how to equate Matyson to a DC restaurant. I know comparisons aren't always useful -- and it drives me nuts when people ask for "the Citronelle of Philly" or the "Vetri of DC" or whatever -- but I'd like to equate Matyson to somewhere the friends have been, so they can make a choice between there and somewhere else.

So, those of you who've been to Matyson -- what DC restaurant would you equate it to? Best I've come up with so far is a "more casual Mendocino", but that's not quite right cookingwise. Cookingwise maybe it's closest to Wabeck-era Firefly?

Had a great meal at Supper (10th & South) the other night, including house-made charcuterie. They are generally a small-plates place but on Sunday nights [edit: only the first Sunday of the month, apparently] they have family-style meals, which I hope to check out soon.

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I went into Amada with high expectations, given that its chef, Jose Garces, was a 2007 finalist for the Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic James Beard Award.

Eleven dishes later, and $240 poorer, I can say with confidence that Amada - at least on this night - wasn't even as good as the downtown Jaleo, and considering that it's a much smaller operation, that's saying something.

The highlights of the evening were the Sangria, a glass of Godello, the dip brought before the meal, and the dessert. In between came an armada of courses, ranging from decent (Albí³ndigas ($11), Amada's Empanada ($12) Chipirí³nes A La Plancha ($5)), to mediocre (Pulpo A La Gallega ($11), Boquerones ($12), Piquillos Rellenos ($12), to poor (Gambas al Ajillo ($9), Entrecote A La Plancha ($15)), to inedibly salty (Patatas Bravas ($4), Caldo Gallego ($7)).

Last year, Garces opened a second restaurant, Tinto. Has this affected the performance of Amada? I don't know, but I do know that given my expectations coming in, I walked away from my dinner roundly unimpressed.

Compare and contrast with John's Roast Pork, where a large Roast Pork Sandwich with onions, peppers, sauteed spinach, and sharp provolone set me back all of $6.50. Scarfed greedily, this was one of the most satisfying sandwiches I've had in a long time. Unlike the vast majority of subs, this one actually needs and benefits from the hoagie roll. The sharp provolone is quite pungent, and as good as it was, it slightly dominated the mild pork, so next time I'm going to either get mild provolone, or add a few squirts of Tabasco, heretic that I am. Everyone needs to make a detour to John's Roast Pork at least once in their life.

Cheers,
Rocks.

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A friend & I are heading up to Philly for a quick getaway and concert on Saturday night. I've gotten tons of ideas for breakfast/lunch on Sunday, but need a place to grab a bite before the concert somewhere near the hotel (17th & Race) or the Broad Street Line. Want to stick pretty casual, sit down American or Italian (can't imagine there's good Mexican up there?)...not too expensive.

Any suggestions?

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We ended up at Osteria afterall & had an absolutely delicious meal for about $125 with tip & tax. We ended up at the front bar since the back bar was already full at 5:05 when we arrived. Since I wanted to try a bit of everything, my friend was kind enough to humor me & share an order of the mozzarela bufalata with swiss chard crostini; the parma pizza with mozzarella, fontina, arugula, and prosciutto di parma; a sweet & rich squash tortelli with butter, sage and amaretti; and the chocolate flan (aka the chef's molten chocolate cake) with a scoop of fabulous pistachio ice cream & crushed pistachios to cap it off. To drink, we started with their Venetian spritzer, which is red or white wine, campari and blood orange with soda. I had the red which was a really refreshing way to start...my friend ordered it with white & had the unfortunate chance to taste what happens when you add too much campari (YUCK!), we also both had a glass of Tocai with dinner which made the tortelli dish magical. Our seats were right in front of the pizza oven & to the immediate left of the expo so it wasn't really a relaxing meal. If you go, which I highly recommend you do, get reservations (try for the enclosed patio area) and enjoy. Also make sure to think ahead about how you're getting home. Taxis are few & far between - we ended up having to walk back to the hotel which wasn't far but the heels I was wearing weren't quite hiking boots (and I have a healing broken toe)!

For brunch this morning we were going to go to Honey's Sit 'n Eat, but the line outside was daunting. We headed over to Market for a quick bite at Fork etc, but ended up at Continental on the corner of market & 1st. Great brunch - my friend had a huge plate of brioche french toast with caramelized banana and I had the roasted tomato frittata with fontina & bacon served with a side of grits & multi-grain toast. They start you off with a passion fruit slushie too!

All in all, I'd say this was my best food experience out of all three of my Philly trips to date (and George Strait rocked the Wachovia Center which just made the trip all the better)!

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Had a lovely brunch at the White Dog Cafe (on Sansom between 34th and 36th sts.) with my mom today. We both chose the Eggs St. Bernard, two eggs poached on english muffin with smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce (there is something really special about this sauce cuz it was better than average) and green beans. This dish was absolutely amazing. I was concerned the salt content would have been too much, but my first bite alleviated these fears. Mom and I were delighted. The White Dog serves fresh squeezed OJ, and the coffee was freshly brewed and just what we needed.

Afterwards, Mom and I cabbed it to the Seaport Museum to attend the Settlement Music School Centennial Concert. My favorite highlights were the jazz ensemble and the children's choir with orchestral accompaniment.

Then we walked to Marmont on Market and shared the baked brie with spinach and red wine reduction. Very chic place, intimate setting, must go back for dinner later, note to self. Very cool peeps.

Dinner was with Dad at Penne on Walnut St. in University City, upscale Italian. I tried the radicchio and arugula salad with blue cheese and the grilled octopus appetizer. A gavi di gavi and the Damilano Barbera by the glass complimented my meal beautifully. It was nice to see a wine by the glass list that was (nearly) strictly Italian. The bread pudding with currants and cinnamon, served warm, with a scoop of vanilla, was a lovely finish to a spectacular meal.

Looking forward to my next meal in the city two weeks from today. Spending Mother's Day at the London Grill on Fairmount Ave. I need to get home more often!

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I love the name! I'll bet they have good, um, buns there...
Baltimore is so close, yet so insular insofar that B'more has this excellent pit beef, and I've never heard of anywhere in the DC area that serves it. Roast beef sandwiches are very popular in Philly, so your sandwich is positively drool-worthy to me, Henry.

Do you live in Philly? Happens to be one of my favorite food cities. Every couple of months I make my way up for Ocean Harbor, Dmitri's, and cheesesteaks of course. I was at Morimoto about a month ago and was sadly disappointed. It used to be my measuring stick for Japanese food, but I fear quality is slipping slightly as of late. Recently, Leon's, a bit south of the city, has assumed my top spot for best cheesesteak in Philly.

Come to think of it, I can't ever recall seeing pit beef anywhere else but here. That's definitely worth investigation. I want to go to NY to sample beef on weck - one of the most poetic accountings of meat ever was in Gourmet's Road Food column many years ago, wherein the sliced, medium rare beef was described as (and i paraphrase) looking like soft, velvety rose petals. Mmm, rose petals.

By the way, has anyone been to Little Texas on Pulaski? I've driven past countless times, but have never been inclined or able to stop and check it out.

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yesterday:

Tony Luke's - roast pork sandwich, sharp provolone, broccoli rabe

Nodding Head - Phunk (!), Berliner Weisse (!)

Monk's - Cantillon Oude Geuze (!) (barrels selected by Monk's), Port Hop 15 (!!$9 for a 22oz!!), Ghent mussels, braised veal cheeks (!)

Belgian Cafe - a new place. Sly Fox Pils in can (!), Boulder Cold Hop

Jack's Firehouse - Yards Pale

Bishop's Collar - something hoppy?

London's - Pimms Cup, ?

Nodding Head - Phunk again, and a couple very unnecessary glasses of Berliner Weisse.

It was like a highlight reel of consumption. Hoppy beers, sour beers, good pils, pork, veal, mussels. I love Philly.

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