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Kanella


TarteTatin
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Two friends of mine went last week while I was out of town and unable to join them. They really loved it! Dips are good and the lamb entree came highly recommended. Actually, every single review I've read about this place has been excellent.

It's high on my list of places to try soon.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I've been there a couple times now, it's great. I still have fond memories of the two or three meals I had at the old Meze at 9th and Catherine (I think? It's Pat Bombino's now), the chef there is the guy who now runs Kanella.

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I thought it was pretty good, Mr. Tarte Tatin can't stop raving.

Four of us shared the dipping plate, pita, baba, I think a bit of salmon tartare, I think a garlicky, hummusy/onion dip.

Then came the amuse which was this AMAZING Cyprus carrots or something: cardomon, cumin, wonderful.

After, we had our two vegetable dishes; the beets were very good with yoghurt and red onion, their haloumi cheese wasn't ready yet, so there was a special cheese app.

Then the four of us split three entrees: the stuffed pepper was really good. Came with a delicious pilaf... the kebab was huge, with sirloin and sausage (wish there was lamb as it was titled "mixed" kabob). Ordered medium rare, overcooked, but good. Came with thick homemade fries.

The third was three pork medallions with peas (really good thick peas) and potatoes.

We had four desserts, a walnut cake, an almond and date cake, a panna cotta with cherries, and some sort of creamy flan thing served in a martini glass. They topped it with rose water. I really liked this, the others thought it was too savory.

Nice mix of neighborhood, families, etc...

BYOB, total for four was $125 plus tip.

We'll go back...

Philly Francophiles

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They have two rabbit dishes, one app, one entree.

Both sounded amazing.

And quail.

But it was hot and we were with others that we were sharing with that weren't as adventurous, so...

Oh, the panna cotta thingy we had for dessert was a lemon mousse in thyme syrup with preserved cherries. I stand corrected by today's review in the City Paper. Tasty.

Philly Francophiles

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We finally tried Kanella this weekend, and were somewhat surprised to find it less than packed, it's gotten some very good press lately, so we assumed it would be jammed. It did get full-ish later, but I'm pretty sure I noticed people walking-in without reservations. I suspect it might be summer-in-Philly syndrome, everything seems a bit slow. Anyway, go now, I'm sure it's going to be packed solid come fall.

We really enjoyed it a lot, out of the many things we ordered we didn't dislike anything, and there were only a couple of things that didn't thrill us.

We started with two apps from the specials.

Grilled Cuttlefish

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Very nicely grilled to add a smoky edge, but it still remained tender. I liked the texture, a little more substantial than squid, but still delicate. The citrus dressing brightened it nicely.

Beef Tongue

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Very soft, almost falling-apart, it reminded us of long-cooked brisket. And we mean that in a good way... Great intense dark sauce.

Loukanigo Spitisio: Grilled Cyprus Sausage

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Loved the grilled crunchiness to the casing, and the spicy flavors within.

Grilled Haloumi

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-eh... I don't think there was anything wrong with this, I think I might just not like haloumi all that much. The cheese was kind of dry and mostly tasted salty, and not much else.

Octopus Kathisto

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Again - eh... not bad, but we're spoiled here in philly with lots of great octupus. I found this one a little bland and a little chewy, but really not unpleasant in any way, just not up on the same level as most everything else we had here. This was braised, a welcome variation from simple grilling, but in the end we weren't all that excited by it.

Keftedes

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Really good meatballs, interesting spicing, crusty but still moist.

For Entrées:

Kouneli (Rabbit Stew)

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This was my favorite, and that seemed to be the consensus around the table. The rabbit had an intriguing flavor, I'm not sure if it was from its rabbit-ness or the other ingredients in the stew. The meat was tender and succulent, infused with the slightly sweet herby broth. I think I tasted some of Kanella's namesake cinnamon in this dish, which worked really well. Excellent.

Quail

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These had very nice flavor, but as is so often the case with quail, it was a little tricky to get at the tasty parts. In a different preparation once could pick up pieces and gnaw on them, but in this soupy presentation that would get a bit messy. So, although it tasted good, it was a little annoying to do battle with.

Lamb

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The crusty outsides of this were just spectacular. And the rarer insides were good too, although some parts of it were a little too rare, to the point of being chewy. Still, overall very enjoyable.

Grilled Dorado

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A close second to the rabbit in my opinion, this was a very high quality fish, with a pleasing twist from being grilled in a grape leaf, imparting some of that flavor while protecting the flesh a bit. But there was still some good smoke from the grill infiltrating into the fish, a subtle sauce underneath adding to the complexity.

We didn't really have room for dessert, but curiosity got the best of us, and I'm glad we indulged.

I've forgotten the names of these, but we started with a semolina custard in phyllo

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This was quite tasty, it reminded me of a very good cheese blintz, but flakier, crispier...

Lemon Yogurt Mousse

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Vividly tart, this was a full-on palate-cleanser! I loved it.

German Chocolate mousse with lavender ice cream (special)

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A bit more restrained than the lemon, this was still pretty intense. The lavender ice cream was perhaps too subtle, but still a very nice parter for the chocolate.

The creamy pannacotta-ish thing with rosewater...

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This was as restrained as the lemon mousse was loud, but each had charms. It indeed did give a slightly savory impression as TarteTatin noted, but we liked it.

And we finished with thick Greek coffee

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Our server was very good, giving helpful suggestions, and pacing the courses very well. He offered to bring the apps in a few waves, which is a welcome alternative to being inundated with plates, especially when over-ordering, as we tend to. He was also very good at keeping wine glasses filled, and overall checking in on us, even though it did finally get a little busy later.

The overall vibe was very pleasant there, we even ended up chatting with neighboring tables. One party in particular give us some helpful reviews of dishes we didn't get to try (rabbit tenderloin appetizer gets a thumbs-up.) I suspect they might be checking-in here, if so - hey, hi, nice to meet you folks!

We liked this place a lot, there are a few dishes I'd get again anytime, and there were several more things on the menu we want to try.

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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it's very good.  don't miss the sausages wrapped in caul fat.

1. They have crepenettes?!

2. Are they opened for lunch?

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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it's very good.  don't miss the sausages wrapped in caul fat.

1. They have crepenettes?!

2. Are they open for lunch?

1. Their Greek/Cypriot iteration, but close enough;

2. Yes.

I do recall the lunch menu differs somewhat from the dinner menu. I can't recall how, though, and Menupages were no help - only the dinner menu was available.

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The lunch menu is shorter but I think it's a subset of the dinner base: sausages, dips, rabbit, fish. Plus an egg dish I didn't look too closely at since I don't like egg dishes.

I walk by all the time since it's in my neighborhood, but I've only been in for dinner once. And that rabbit stew is indeed lovely (if a little sweet), as are the sausages.

Cooking and writing and writing about cooking at the SIMMER blog

Pop culture commentary at Intrepid Media

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What neighborhood would that be? I will be at U. Penn that day.

10th and Spruce. Not really walkable if you have an afternoon at Penn to return to. Then again, none of the alternatives are, really.

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What neighborhood would that be? I will be at U. Penn that day.

It's "Midtown Village" or the Gayborhood, depending on which realtor you listen to, @ 10th & Spruce. Not a long bus/cab ride into town from University City.

You're going to have a tough time. Not many places do a Saturday lunch, even if they serve lunch the other days of the week.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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  • 3 weeks later...

We tried Kanella and though we enjoyed it, we won't be back any time soon. The plates (except for the huge kebab) were too precious. For example, the special smoked herring appetizer came with two fragments of herring. The pasta entree came with 5 ravioli. Dinner was $104 for both of us with tip and tax, no alcohol. We felt rushed by the server, though he was very nice.

The food was much better than Dmitri's for example, and yet I would not hesitate to celebrate at Dmitri's (or Estia for example, for different reasons), but I wouldn't celebrate anythng at Kanella. Too cramped, too precious. We left full but an underportioned plate has a psychological effect on us that is not good.

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We left full but an underportioned plate has a psychological effect on us that is not good.

Strikes me and I bet others that it may be slightly unfair and perhaps contradictory to say a restaurant's food is "underportioned if "You left full".

Does the extra food on the plate that you dont eat after you are "full" which goes in the trashcan offer a better value to the dining experience ?

Dimitris is also the single most overrated restaurant in Philly that is essentially price driven but the food is average at best. It's just cheap food under the guise of being "mediteranean".

Cochon for example charges slightly more and has way better food.

It's a 30 seat BYO, it does not seem any more cramped than matyson, django or pumpkin.

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First of all, we left full because we ordered more plates, obviously. Hence the $50/person tab. The problem was that some of the plates were under-portioned. Had the appetizers been more appropriately sized we would have consumed fewer french fries from the entree and we would not have ordered dessert.

Second, I did not write that Dmitri's has better food or that its food is even as good, in fact I specifically wrote that its food is a step down. Nevertheless, I am more comfortable there. Whenever someone writes that Dmitri's is "overrated" I am always wondering, "By whom?" I have never met anyone who loved Dmitris who said it serves great food. Just that it is tasty and unpretentious.

Third, vis a vis space, I am not sure what to reply to that list of restaurants except perhaps I would feel crowded there too.

Fourth, I spent the day after housebound due to stomach upset, presumably due to the food I consumed at Kanella. Since it did not rise to the level of food poisoning, I am not sure to what to attribute it. GI upset is a great disincentive to return to any restaurant.

I am not sure how a mixed experience at a restaurant could be seen as contradictory, just nuanced.

Edited by brescd01 (log)
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This is an interesting discussion, as I went to Kanella for the first time on Wednesday and had the opposite experience: neither I nor my wife were able to finish our food. I thought the appetizers (the dips o' the day and cuttlefish) were reasonably-sized, not huge, but the mains (a sausage special and the dorade) were really a whole lot of food. That's mainly because of the sides that accompanied the dishes (with the fish, a huge mound of Swiss chard, much more than in philadining's photo above, and with the sausage, a really nice stew made with English peas.) At the time, we contrasted it with our last date night, at Zahav, where I liked the food, but which is straight-up poor value for the money.

I wonder if part of it is what you ordered? I feel like portions of ravioli are always really skimpy: that's why I rarely order it in restaurants.

Anyway, I thought the food was very good, especially the sepia: a little stronger-flavored than squid or octopus, but still tender and delicious. The sausage (lamb, mint) was another high point; I'd buy some to cook at home in a minute. The fish was also very good, but you know, I find that with whole grilled fish, while there's a huge gap between not-very-good and good, there's not so much difference between good and very good. That probably doesn't make any sense (I blame too much sun this weekend), but there you go. Bottom line is, we enjoyed it and would happily go back.

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I had the same experience: the entree was much larger than the appetizers and certainly fairly sized.

I only went once, and perhaps I managed to pick the three smallest appetizers on the menu, that is possible.

The quality of the preparations was very good, exceptional even.

When I forget my upset stomach and I want Greek food again, we will probably give it another chance. And maybe ask for a different table.

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We ate at Kanella over the weekend and found it nice that apps were a little smaller, and, I thought, less expensive than other similarly priced BYOBs. We were tempted to get three apps to split between the two of us, but decided to stick to two and perhaps make it to dessert for once!

For the appetizer course we split the sausage (which we both thought had a liver-y taste- in a good way- remniscent of pate, yum!) and the dips of the day.

For entrees, I had the quail. Despite philadining's warning of the mess, I dove right in and gnawed on it. It was just too good to leave any of the bird behind. My husband had the rabbit stew which he loved and cleaned the plate.

For dessert, I went with the almond and date tart with the namesake ice cream and my husband had the chocolate mousse with the same ice cream topping. I think it was supposed to be lavender, but the cinnamon worked nicely.

Overall, pretty cozy seating, but great food and great service.

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  • 5 months later...

The food feature in the Esquire that arrived today is breakfast. Part of their setup is "no brunch allowed." To confirm, there's a sidebar by Tom Junod on Waffle House, fer chrissakes! Say what you want to about Waffle House, but it's damn sure breakfast.

The only local entry is Kanella. How could "The Cypriot breakfast plate tastes heartier and more serious than its American counterpart," "grilled halloumi and lounza (ham) are salty slabs" and Turkish coffee be wrong?

But neither this thread nor their webpage mentions breakfast or hours. Wazzup?

Charlie, the Main Line Mummer

We must eat; we should eat well.

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I don't believe Kanella has ever served breakfast, and I'm pretty sure they no longer serve brunch. So is the "Cypriot breakfast" plate on the lunch menu? Or was this brunch from a few months ago but they were in denial that it was brunch because the word "breakfast" is in the dish name? I share your confusion.

Cooking and writing and writing about cooking at the SIMMER blog

Pop culture commentary at Intrepid Media

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