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Everything posted by philadining

  1. I STILL find myself suggesting to friends that we go to Walt's, before remebering that it's been closed for years... There's still DiNardo's at 3rd and Race, but that place was never a favorite with my crowd, I haven't gone in years. And I think they get their crabs from Louisiana or something, so although they're pretty similar to Maryland crabs, it's not exactly an East-Coast experience. I can see the desire for a change of pace, but I'd trade a tray of blue crabs for a garlic roasted dungeness at Crustacean any day! But there's got to be some good crabs around Philly. I sense a new topic starting...
  2. Almost any of the Steven Starr restaurants are unusual enough that I usually try to take out-of-town guests to at least one while they're in Philly. It's an event, almost as much about the setting as what's on the plate, but I've found the food to be pretty solid at most of them, spectacular at some. Buddakan is the classic Asian-fusion thing, Tangerine is Moroccan-inspired, Pod has good Asian fusion food and the decor is amusing, El Vez is upscale mexican, and Morimoto has really great Japanese (try the omakase if you don't mind spending $80 or more per person!) There are others of course, but those are the ones that have been most impressive to my guests in the past, and have had the most consistently good food. Any of his places are good spots for a (pricey) cocktail, and perhaps an app at the bar. All of those spots are a little dressy, but I've never worn a jacket... I'll second the recommendations for getting a roast pork sandwich, and cruising the Reading Terminal Market, and DiNic's is a good way to do both at the same time. Breakfast or lunch at one of the Amish counters at the Terminal is pretty unique to this area, plain hearty country fare, but fresh and good. A really good Philly hoagie is a wonder to behold, I favor Sarcone's but there are endless disscussions about this in other topics here, and a valuable reference to these types of eats, as mentioned before, at Holly Moore's site The South Philly red-gravy restaurants are a truly authentic Philly thing, but probably not all that exotic if you can get homey Italian where you live. Nonetheless, a simple pasta at Ralph's is pretty satisfying (don't bother with the fancy stuff, just get the gnocchi, or ravioli or something like that.) There's better, fancy Italian if you want it, but the simple places are a more specific Philly thing. Philly has a very solid Chinatown, and Nan Zhou hand-drawn noodles might offer something different than home. Rangoon is really terrific if you don't have Burmese near you. The big Philly trend in the last few years has been the good, small BYOB. If you can get a reservation at Django, do it (and yes, get the cheese plate). If you can bear waiting around on the street, try Melograno. There are lots more mentioned above, I'm sure folks will post more faves. if there's something in particular you were looking for, ask, I'll bet someone here knows where to get it!
  3. I grew up in upstate NY surrounded by Wegmans, so it's kind-of comforting that they've invaded Downingtown, Allentown, Princeton -- don't blink, there might be one around the corner from you by next thursday. As huge, commercial, big parking lot, mainstream supermarkets go, they're pretty great. The produce selection is very broad, cheese is surprisingly good (I found a Point Reyes Bleu that I'd fallen in love with at Django, and a Petit L'Edel de Cleron that always seems to be sold-out at RTM), seafood isn't bad, meats are good if you talk to the butchers. No supermarket can replace the specialized places in the Italian Market or RTM, I always go to one of those if I'm making a special meal (and I need a dose of friendly abuse from the guys at Claudios every once in a while) but if you need to get stuff fast, and/or are stuck out in the burbs, you could do worse than a Wegmans.
  4. I've been to Farmicia twice now, and liked it both times, although some things seemed a touch understated. I'm all for leaving good ingredients to speak for themselves, but if they NEED a little push... For starters, we've had the corn crepe with wild mushrooms and squash, the lentil salad with goat cheese, the minestrone soup, and an apple/smoked-cheddar salad. These were all solid and comforting but teetering on the edge of boring. (These were mostly "small doses" except for the crepe, although the lentil salad was WAY more substantial than any of the others. I'm not sure I understand the delineation between small and medium doses.) For entrees we've tried the duck, which could never be accused of being dull. I loved it, but it was a bit over-the-top for my dining companion, who couldn't quite hack the assertive anise-cardamom-black pepper vibe. The pork loin was fabulous, stuffed with veggies and cheese. The leg of lamb was very comforting, thin slices set in a bowl of white beans and broth, but could have used a little push of... something.... I found myself adding salt and pepper, which I almost never do. The scallops were perfectly cooked, with a pleasingly distinct citrus fragrance, but the vegetables and broth underneath somehow had almost no flavor. The chocolate layer cake and apple tart were fine, but I wouldn't bother getting them again, the rice pudding tasted like, well, rice. Their gingerbread was really good. Rick Nichols complains about careless execution in a recent Inky column: but I've experienced no such thing, everything we had was very well made, just sometimes a little plain. Nichols makes a good point that the local farm/organic thing is not exactly unique in town, so they might not want to lean entirely on that aspect of the food as their defining image. I'll be going back to try more, but I hope they amp-up some of the flavors a bit. Maybe this phenomenon is just part of the time of year: fall food is more about comfort. I had liked the food at Novelty, so I'm glad there's still good food in that location, but there's a lot of competition in that neighborhood. Here's the official website.
  5. If they can squeeze you in this weekend, and if it's on the menu, the buffalo filet with black trumpet mushrooms is pretty memorable. But I've rarely been disappointed with anything there. Please report back, and I look forward to your other thoughts about Dilworthtown, Vickers, et al.
  6. The Birchrunville Store Cafe is one of my favorite places anywhere, not just out in the sticks. The food is in a par with any of the happening BYOBs in Center City (yes, even THAT one) and it's a really charming little place. But it is very small, so it's already hard to get into, and hard to find. Totally worth the trip: their official website They've started offering a tasting menu on wednesdays and thursdays, which I've not yet tried. That's a little pricey at $60-70 (although likely worth it), but the prices on the regular menu are pretty reasonable (entrees mid-twenties). There's no state store nearby, so plan ahead with wine, and bring a few, as the menu changes. It's not SO long a drive Katie, we'll get you out here some day...
  7. Not having a super-cool mobile lounge to illegally park outside, I've found a different tactic that seems to work for getting a table at Melograno: stroll in at 9:30 on a weeknight. This has worked for me three times now. No wait, and pleasant service even though it's clear that they are looking forward to going home (and you get to see what the staff eats...) Everything is pretty strong here, but jeeze, that pork tenderloin with apples and olives is really amazing! The truffle/mushroom/walnut parpardelle is worth a special trip too. What's most amazing though is that even with only one other table occupied, the place was still incredibly loud. If they'd just take reservations and do a little sound treatment, they'd be almost ideal. Until then I'll try to find some earplugs and a cool pick-up truck.
  8. Sophie's..... now you're making me all teary! but then I get choked up remembering the LeBus bus.
  9. Thanks, and my apologies for the Yahoo ads. To be honest I'd forgotten all about them, I web-surf with Safari on a Mac and it blocks all that pop-up stuff. But you make a good point, I put the site on yahoo when it was merely a whim, and then got carried away, and at this point it probably ought to get moved or upgraded or something. When I have a spare minute... And yeah, i'm getting pretty good at hide the belt! Count me in.
  10. I was lucky enough to be at that same dinner with Katie and Holly and the prodigious shinyboots, as well as the guys from PhillyLunchbox.com, and I'll echo their comments that Marigold Kitchen is a very promising new restaurant. Everything we had (and we had, well... everything...) was skillfuly done and of a high quality. Of course, some things were more thrilling than others. At the risk of blatant shilling (Katie promised she wouldn't yell at me) I posted more thoughts about the food at my own humble amateur site, so rather than blather on about every jus and rillette and savory marmalade, you can read more here if you're interested: Marigold Kitchen review at philadining.com I'll be curious to see how the winter menu changes. I hope not much! They are doing a couple of tasting dinners for the new menu in the days before thanksgiving, details at their website: Marigold Kitchen I'm hoping to make it to one of those, if the transportation gods are smiling. And although this is surely not the right place for this kind of thing, let me just say hello, and mention how, for some time, I've enjoyed lurking around this forum and benefiting from the accumulated knowledge of this crowd. A few folks encouraged me to stop peering out the window from behind the curtains and come out and play with the other kids, so, umm, well, hey, hi, how are ya? And please don't beat me with that wiffle bat.
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