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Everything posted by brescd01

  1. These comments (Rich, Philadinng) are either tongue-in-cheek or ridiculous. I value my nights out, I would never intentionally disappoint myself. Sales reps treated me to a night at Del Friscos, I sat at a table, after drinks at the bar, and I got bad service in both spots. When I said I do not normally notice poor service, I obviously meant I am not too fussy. I ordered fish because I felt like it. By the way, of four people there only one ordered steak, one ordered chicken, two fish. Why ordering undercooked blackened swordfish is confusing I am not clear on, no other restaurant I have tried has this problem. I have to order the swordfish to a certain degree of done-ness, why not undercooked? For swordfish lovers, this is pretty common. Tuna has been cooked this way for a long time in restaurants. I ate at the bar at the Palm because there is a TV there and more commotion and people watching. Again, why going to a steakhouse and eating lightly or not eating steak is so outrageous, I cannot understand. The Palm has an enormous non-steak menu, in fact, by far most of its dishes are not steak. Del Friscos in particular promotes its seafood on its web site, as do many of the steakhouses. Leban hated Del Friscos so I am in good company. The Palm has ended up on the bottom of most lists, I am not saying there are not good things I may have missed but my perceptions are hardly eccentric. I continue to assert that there are not to many high-end full-service (non BYO) non-ethnic options in Philly for a night out. For a thread that has been knocked so many times, it has attracted an extraordinary number of views and posts. It is what it is, my report on two steakhouses one of which was bad and other other of which was mediocre, in my experience. I eat out about once per week and enjoy myself most nights. These were the exception. Actually Rich and Philadining, you are just having fun with me, right?
  2. I think people are being too philosophical. I also was not comparing the Palm to all restaurants, just other steakhouses or high-end restaurants. I really don't see the big deal about not ordering a steak. The top steakhouses in town impressed people with a lot more than their steaks. Leban thought Del Frisco's terrible, I did too, what's the problem? The Palm is at the bottom of most lists I have read of the best steakhouses, I thought it belonged there, how am I really separating from the herd? I also fail to see the plethora of options for a nice night out in Philadelphia that other posters suggest. If we eliminate the precious or ethnic and we want full service, very few restaurants remain but steakhouses.
  3. Despite the fact my dog is not welcome there, I LOVE the new Oyster House. I have not had anything there that was not delicious. And the decor is very classy. But it is not high-end or luxurious, it is more like a pub that serves seafood. And I HATED Oceanaire. I really, really long for the "casa de productos" restaurants I enjoyed in Madrid, the specialty seafood brasseries I tried in Paris, or even the specialized seafood restaurants of NYC, of which there are apparently quite a few. I never liked Striped Bass. It was prestigious and of course an excellent restaurant, but I prefer much less precious food.
  4. Obviously I go to the places that deliver to me that which is most important to me, and for non-ethnic, non-haute cuisine fine dining, virtually all the options in Philadelphia are steakhouses. Take Barclay Grill as an example, it would not have the reputation and reviews it has if it did not do all aspects of a fine meal so well (appetizers, salads, desserts, drinks, service), as wonderful as its steaks are. And this city is bereft of full-service high-end seafood restaurants. The best is Oyster House, and that is casual at best. The most elegant comfortable bars are disproportionately in steakhouses as well. I don't remember whether you were one of the naysayer about my "steakhouse plus" concept, but in hiladelphia, like it or not, steakhouses are an important feature of fine dining meat or otherwise, much more so than in NYC.
  5. Wow Rich, that's harsh. At the Palm we had cocktails; I think a Mojito and my wife the house cocktail. WI got sautéed spinach, Caesar salad, and my wife had a salad too. She had a shrimp entree. We had the "half and half," a mixture of potato sticks and onion rings. Then we split the Tiramisu. All very, very mediocre. At Del Frisco's the service was spotty at best. We had drinks before we sat down and no one served me at all though staff passed me multiple times. I had the swordfish. I ordered it undercooked and blackened and it arrived with the usual preparation specified on the menu (not what I ordered). I had a Caipirinha cocktail. The waiter's wisecracks were not appropriate to the prices. We split the crab gnocchi, mediocre. I had mousse for dessert (like lead); my friend had the chocolate soufflé, which came straight out of the refrigerator. Mind you, steak specials cost over 60 dollars, as did lobster tails. This is the most expensive restaurant I have found in Philly. So far as eating a steak, I am not sure why I can't go to a steakhouse and get what I want.
  6. My wife and I eat out at a nice place once per week at least and recently we hve been trying the steakhouses. I proposed, though my idea did not get much traction, that steakhouses in Philadelphia were important restaurants for more than just steak and that this was a new sort of restaurant unique to Philadelphiam, or at least uniquely important. In any event, we don't blow a wad, just salads, appetizers, maybe one entree. So I re-visited The Palm last weekend. The Palm has such a storied name for me (I am from New York City), I could not believe it was bottom of the heap like most reviewers suggest for Philadelphia steakhouses. We sat in the bar and had salads, sides, an entree, and drinks (no steak). And it was hopelessly mediocre in virtually every regard. Not bad, just mediocre. And somone has to fix the menu, no menu in an expensive restaurant should resemble te Appleby's menu with its specials and trademarked titles for everything. Last night I found someone else to pay for a night at Del Friscos. I honestly did not believe LeBan's review of the place. I figured he went too soon, they would have fixed the problems, etc. If anything, it was worse than he described. Food was pretty bad and service was very bad, and I am not someone who notices these things usually. Again, I did not have the steak but appetizers, salad, fish, and dessert. Terrible. And the prices were truly outrageous, and I am not easily outraged. Just a report.
  7. My wife and I returned to Union Trust and ate at the bar. There were a few drawbacks, for example the bar gets really crowded after 9 so standers are crowding sitters, limiting how comfortable a meal one can have there. After one initial unfavorable impression close to Union Trust's opening, I have come to believe that UT is a welcome supper club-type restaurant that adds a bit of glamour to the Philadelphia scene. As usual, we enjoyed most everything we had. However, I had raw oysters and I did not like them that much, though they were fine quality and well-shucked. I have a few questions: I did not like their iodine-y flavor. What causes that? How do I avoid it? There have been several orders of oysters at various restos I have eaten that had the same problem.
  8. I cannot believe that I am the only one who just calculates a flat percentage (20%) of my pre-tax bill as the tip. I mean, if the waiter insulted me or did not at all do his job I am not going to add insult to injury, but I have really never had that experience. The back-and-forths about such rules often revolve around a waiter's desire for more tips, and while I am sure experienced waiters know what they are doing, I wonder how many people actually slide tips up or down, it sounds awfully time-consuming.
  9. I just read an outstanding list of "rules" servers should follow, in the NYTimes, which can be found here: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/one-hundred-things-restaurant-staffers-should-never-do-part-one/?em I did not have any qualms about Midatlantic's service from my first visit, though during my expensive second meal there last night, not once did anyone ask me, sincerely, what was wrong. There was the perfunctory question, but the server did not inquire to find out why I was unhappy. The virtues I had appreciated on my fist visit had receded and all I could see were flaws, which other people have alluded to. My raw oysters were warm and tasted too much of iodine (what causes that?). Fondue just okay. Oyster stew way too creamy. Smith's cake nothing special. But the main problems were the disappointing (and expensive) oysters and the menu that, like my last visit, defies understanding and is really hard to order from due to unfamiliar and undefined terms, or unusual usages, so that one moment you are hungry and then suddenly you are nauseous. Also, as someone pointed out, way too much of one flavor. I am disappointed mostly because I really wanted Midatlantic to succeed. It is in an easy-to-get-to location and it has a classy set-up. But I find hard to believe they are going to get far with this menu. $87/person not including quarters for the meter.
  10. brescd01


    I know people hold very different opinions on this subject (TV's in bars). But when I said the bar was uncomfortable, there being no TV did not contribute to my opinion. And I am not sure the bar would be uncomfortable for a drink, as opposed to a full dinner.
  11. Katie, of course you are right. My point was, when we are searching for on-line reviews, using them is hard because I for one would not be dissuaded from going to the restaurant because they mishandled a drunk. And I have to get back to Le Castagne one of these days to try it again. If I were ever going into a place YOU bartended at of course, I would keep my arms at my side and stand at attention! Your are tough!
  12. My wife and I went to Fish last night. Fish is the outpost of the celebrated Little Fish chef. I have been to Little Fish several years ago and I do not remember it. We sat at the bar, the restaurant takes reservations and we had none. We found the bar very claustrophobic and uncomfortable. Seats were uncomfortable. No television. Service was excellent. The food was superb. Our major complaint was that the menu design was not very informative (dishes are divided into "hot" and "cold"). The staff did not give us adequate guidance about how to order. We were complaining that there were no side dishes or starches to fill us up when we got an entree that was extremely filling, only it was not labelled as such. Some of the plates are very small and looking over the meal this is not a problem if the appetizer-size dishes and the entree-size dishes are clearly identified. The food was the opposite of comfort food, so I cannot imagine coming here "to hang out" given that the bar was so uncomfortable. But the dishes were so good if this place does not get three bells it will be due to its physical plant. We had the fluke crudo (microscopic, bordering on offensive), octopus carpaccio (a little better), scallops (only two), escolar (filling and delicious), and oysters (wonderful). Bread was stale (a little). The flavors were superb. I think we all know there is a space between "offensively small" and "family style" where one feels happy, the fluke particularly just seemed like a slap in the face. The bill came to $79/person with tax, tip and drinks.
  13. Another fine dinner at Oyster House last night. Everything was very, very carefully prepared. Another reason I won't miss Oceanaire. Now if they could only get TV's behind the bar, I would live there!
  14. That is so funny, I did have indigestion, I thought it was all the fried foods!
  15. Jese, Vadouvan, I thought I wrote a flattering review and you make me feel like a heal. Am I allowed to say anything negative or is that off limits?
  16. After the initial mishap of having gone to Midtlantic on Sunday (the restaurant changed its web site after I went, I swear), I went there last night to let off some steam. First of all, let me say the bar was not at all crowded so I don't know how the staff would perform under pressure. But the service was impeccable and the decor is very classy, call this a sports bar for grown-ups. I had salad with potatoes, fried oysters, and root beer sticky buns. Everything was high quality but the restaurant has a few issues. First, there are enough unusual terms on the menu, used unusual ways, that they need a glossery. The concept is "Old Dutch" and what they mean by things is not at all obvious. For example, my "salad with potatoes" was a mixture of greens with fried potatoes, so that what I wanted to be a light snack was actually a very heavy filling meal, and not in a good way. The dessert looked normal, but trust me, it was enough for 4 people. No one can eat that much sugar. And the fried oysters were enough for a meal (fried foods are really, really filling apparently, I guess that is why we are always asking about fried foods at the obesity practice I work at). They were spectacular, certainy the best fried oysters I have ever had (though I admit I have not had many, mostly those awful Mrs Paul's kind I think). What I got and what I wanted were two different things. I assume that the rest of the menu is similarly kooky but I could be wrong. I have strange wishes: it is in an odd location on Market at the corner with 37th. I want it to succeed but not so as I can never get in there. I think it is yet another classy bar to add to Philly's collection, along the lines of Village Whiskey or (RIP and sorely missed) Brasserrie Perrier. Nice televisions by the way, a lovely place to watch a game. Small things: I asked for the volume of the game to be turned down and the manager lowered the volume and checked with us to make sure it was okay. Did everything taste better as a result? I will be back, if only to crack the code of the crazy menu!
  17. By the way, I was looking for reviews for Le Castagne Katie and I found this funny one here http://philadelphia.citysearch.com/review/11555443?reviewId=14856021 The reason I post its link is because we have argued over what consititutes reasonable patron expectations, because if you look "through" the subjective of the diner's account, I think the incident sounds accurately described, and because this review is why on-line reviews are so difficult to use, the writer was irate but I think it was an awkward situation for everyone. The acount does not in any way dissuade me from returning to Le Castagne to try it again.
  18. Jesus, I read La Grolla right off the Philly.com web site! Katie, LE Castagne is exactly what I was driving at, I didn't mention it because I am familiar with it. How difficult learning about these places is, is demonstrated by this knowledgeable crowd's having nothing to say about Locanda Veranda or Portico, yet!
  19. I swear they changed it after I went, even Michael Klein agreed with me when I wrote him. But thanks for rubbing it in...
  20. I have been expanding my experience with continental restaurants in Philly, and because of my prior lack of experience, this means exploring well-known restaurants that have been around for a while. I wondered about La Famiglia, Il Portico, La Veranda, La Grolla, and La Locanda. Anyone recently been to these (upscale?) restaurants?
  21. I am lucky that I am permitted to even post here. I went to Midatlantic today because its web site and several places on the net say that it is open. But it isn't. I am clueless.
  22. Oh my G-d how embarrassing!
  23. I appreciate the warning, can you be more specific?
  24. I searched the internet for recent commentary on Bookbinders and found very little. Can anyone comment on its quality recently? The traditional accusation against it has been that it is overpriced, though its quality is better than its previous incarnation. I recently visited the new Oyster Bar and enjoyed it, so use that for comparison.
  25. I went to Capital Grill last night with my wife (who else?), and we enjoyed it, primarily because of the service. For example, when we walked in, as usual, they had no seating, but after a moment they rushed after us to tell us they could seat us due to a cancellation. Then I ordered a "Dark and Stormy" cocktail (not on their menu) and the waitress said they did not have ginger beer, I ordered something else, then a moment later she appeared with the Dark And Stormy, saying someone had "run across the street and bought ginger beer." Then when I ordered my sword fish, she made an extra trip to make sure of how I wanted my sword fish cooked (it came out just the way I wanted it). I even ordered a special preparation (blackened) which was how they served it, though I am not sure the actual execution was anything special. Our desert was just okay (the ice cream sandwich) because the cookies were nothing special. And the Caesar salad I ordered as an appetizer was really mediocre, and when I complained, off the bill it went. The person who led us to our tables even picked our napkins based on the color of our outfits so that we would not be troubled by lint. My general feeling was if anyone displeased us, their children would be killed as an example to the others. The vibe I got was one of ferocious competitiveness, "we are on top and we will stay that way." Capital Grill has consistently received excellent reviews in Philly but it faces competition from dowagers Ruth Chris, Morton's, and Smith and Wollensky, hopefuls like Prime rib, the Palm and Del Frisco's, and razor shop establishments like Butcher and Singer and Barclay Grill. I even thought the decor was nicer than I remembered it (I think I was last there for lunch in 2001). I once had dinner in the Minneapolis Capital Grill and though it was one dinner, I don't remember this razor sharp attention to detail, and in fact, I did not enjoy it. This is just personal taste, but I would LUV to come to the bar (as opposed to the restaurant) more often, but it is too damn crowded, there is never any seating there, and I mean never. So yeah, I guess chains do not always suck. $95/person with everything including valet, coat check, etc.
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