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Prix Fixe in Philly


hazardnc
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I will be making my semi-annual trek to Philly at the end of the month to take the kid to college on the Main Line. Sadly, my trip never coincides with Restaurant Week, so I am wondering if any of you know of good prix fixe deals in town or elsewhere in Montgomery County.

Also, anyone have an update on Blackfish in Conshohocken? I may make reservations for a farewell dinner if it's still as good as it was in the beginning.

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I guess it depends what you mean by a "deal"... I'd say the most exciting prix fixe in Philadelphia at the moment is probably the $65 Thursday night dinner at Zahav. That's not cheap, but it looks amazing.

And Matyson's prix fixe (available Mon-Thurs) is a very good deal at $45. I had a disappointing dinner there back in July (the lobster menu, which was only okay, and made worse by lousy service). But that's the exception rather than the rule, I think.

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Not a prix fixe but I am headed to the Main Line next week and have settled on a dinner at Margaret Kuo's Dragon's Lair. As you know, there is no decent Szechwan in North Carolina, so I have high hopes for this.

Whenever I am in that area, I always hit Mama's in Bala Cynwyd for a cheese steak. Not an iconic cheese steak by any stretch, I think it is the cheese steak equivalent of kobe beef. It takes about 15 minutes to prepare but it is well worth the wait. When I lived in Charlotte, Peter Reinhart and I shared Proustian moments about Mama's.

Edited by BrentKulman (log)
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Not in Philly proper, but a short hop over the bridge in Collingswood, NJ is Tortilla Press on Haddon Avenue. Their Twilight Dinner Deal from 4PM-6:30PM Monday-Thursday is a screaming bargain at $16.50/person. And it's BYO to boot. Yes, you'll be eating with a lot of old folks, but the food is outstanding and they'll make you margaritas if you bring your own tequila. The guacamole is made fresh to order and is also delicious.

Go closer to 4PM and call it a late lunch if it makes you feel better... :smile:

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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Gnocchi on Passyunk, just off South St. has a very good prix fixe. IIRC it's $35 for three courses including dessert. The best bargain is the veal chop. It's BYOB, which is a big plus.

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

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Matyson, definitely. I actually had the lobster menu twice, which just goes to show how little parenthood has done for il Professore's palate...

Marigold Kitchen is extending their $30 Sunday/UC Dining Days prix fixe week-round for... the rest of the month? At least the next couple of weeks.

Sundays, Littlefish and Pumpkin have great deals for really good food.

Check here:

http://foobooz.com/2008/04/recession-specials-guide/

for a more comprehensive list.

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All great suggestions.

Andrew, is Zahav the place where the owner had a blog chronicling the whole process of opening a restaurant, including taking the staff to Israel to learn about the food? What comes on the $45 menu - that has to be a lot of mezze!

Katie, I planned on taking the kid to NJ to shop at the Container Store (I LOVE the place), so is the Tortilla Press near there? And no worries about the twilight thing - the kids make fun of me being an old bird anyway.

Brent - the kid loves Chinese, and I know where this place is. Have you ever tried Yangming in Bryn Mawr?

Capaneus, I sadly, I am leaving Sunday so I will miss Marigold's special. This is a BYOB I have long wanted to try. But I will definitely check out Matyson.

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Brent - the kid loves Chinese, and I know where this place is.  Have you ever tried Yangming in Bryn Mawr?

Capaneus, I sadly, I am leaving Sunday so I will miss Marigold's special.  This is a BYOB I have long wanted to try.  But I will definitely check out Matyson.

No, I haven't had Chinese on the Main Line since I lived in the area many years ago. Generally, I stick to more urban settings for Chinese. Should I consider going to Yangming rather than Dragon's Lair.

Also, I have been to Matyson, but before the change in ownership. If the new owners have kept up the standards, you will be in for a treat.

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Brent - the kid loves Chinese, and I know where this place is.  Have you ever tried Yangming in Bryn Mawr?

Capaneus, I sadly, I am leaving Sunday so I will miss Marigold's special.  This is a BYOB I have long wanted to try.  But I will definitely check out Matyson.

No, I haven't had Chinese on the Main Line since I lived in the area many years ago. Generally, I stick to more urban settings for Chinese. Should I consider going to Yangming rather than Dragon's Lair.

Also, I have been to Matyson, but before the change in ownership. If the new owners have kept up the standards, you will be in for a treat.

I would say Matyson is actually a bit better - more solid, at any rate - than it was late in Matt and Sonjia's tenure. Certainly, the tasting menus have frequently been absurdly great.

And hazardnc, yes that's Zahav. I haven't liked their regular menu as much as I wish I did, but the Thursday tasting menus look very good. I haven't had a chance to try one yet. They're actually $65, not $45 ($100 with wine, which is probably how I'd go). This week's (just got the e-mail):

Chef's Tasting Menu

Canapes

Chicken Liver Truffle, Cracklings

Lamb Tartare, Truffled Labneh

Sweetbreads, Crispy Chicken Skin

Fried Mussels, Tarator

Blanc de Blancs, Francois Montand, France, NV

Amberjack Crudo, Sorrel, Apple, Fennel

Falanghina, Terradora di Paolo, Campania, 2007

Bluenose Bass al Ha'esh, Verbena Broth, Sea Beans

Gruner Veltliner "Lois", Loimer, Kamptal, 2007

Duck Breast, Pistachio, Rose, Foie Gras

Amazigh, Zniber, Meknes-Fez, 2007

Cheese

Ossau au Piment, Dates

Petit Mothias, Figs

Chaource, Blueberry

Blu del Moncenisio, Sesame

Port, Dow's 10 yr Tawny

White Chocolate Shortcake, Peaches,

Vanilla-White Cardamom Ice Cream

Moscato d'Asti, Borgo Monclavo, Piedmont, 2007

Vegetable Tasting Menu

Canapes

Watermelon and Feta Kebab

English Pea Custard, Sumac

Carciofi alla Giudia

Corn and Summer Truffle Pastel

Blanc de Blancs, Francois Montand, France, NV

Beets, Haloumi, Yogurt

Chenin Blanc, Mulderbosch, Stellenbosch, 2006

Chickpea Cavatelli, Tomato, Fava Beans, Kashkaval

Falanghina, Terradora di Paolo, Campania, 2007

Porcini Kibbe, Dates, Carrots

Negroamaro, Terre, Puglia, 2007

Cheese

Ossau au Piment, Dates

Petit Mothias, Figs

Chaource, Blueberry

Blu del Moncenisio, Sesame

Port, Dow's 10 yr Tawny

Blueberry Tatin, Sumac Caramel, Blueberry Sorbet

Monbazillac, Domaine de Grange Neuve, Dordogne, 2003

If you're looking for good Sichuan, you may want to consider the Tasty House at 8th and Arch rather than MK or Yangming, for better food at a considerable savings.

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As Capaneus said, that's Zahav. There is a $50 prix fixe every night (mostly mezze and so forth), but the Thursday night menus are what really look crazy good. The regular menu is very good, but it's also more expensive than it really ought to be.

(And re: the lobster menu at Matyson... Capaneus is nuts. Some of the courses were good (I liked the dumpling soup with lobster dashi. But the ratatouille, for example, totally overwhelmed the delicate flavor of lobster. Still, Matyson is good way more often than it's not good, and is definitely worth a visit.)

Katie, I planned on taking the kid to NJ to shop at the Container Store (I LOVE the place), so is the Tortilla Press near there?

Tortilla Press is in Collingswood, and the Container Store is in Cherry Hill (I think); they're spitting distance from each other. Maybe a ten minute drive.

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Just for the record, the Szechuan Tasty House is at 9th and Arch. And yes, if you're looking for Szechuan in particular, I'd go there, rather than the places you mentioned out on the Main Line.

Or, if you want to stay out near the Main Line, and you're willing to drift a little further out route 30, to Exton, Han Dynasty really rocks for Szechuan, Taiwanese, and generally awesomely great Chinese food.

I haven't heard any reports from Blackfish in a while, and the chef has opened a branch down on the Jersey Shore, so I'm not sure where he is at any given time. That said, several folks I trust like the place a lot, so it's probably worth a try.

Gilmore's in West Chester used to have a pretty great prix fixe mid-week, but I don't see any mention of it on their website now, so I'm not sure if they're still running it. It's a really nice restaurant in any case, and not crazy expensive. Just got Best of Philly: Suburban BYOB.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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I would highly highly recommend Matyson's $45 tasting menu (M-Th), it's always delicious.

Marigold Kitchen does three courses for $30 on Sundays. Pick any appetizer, entree and dessert from the menu.

Lolita and Bindi also just started doing prix-fixe nights. Lolita runs one on Monday and Bindi does one Tuesday and Wednesday nights, inspired by whatever the chefs find at the Headhouse Square farmers' market that week.

$35 per person, BYO, might be cash only. Both restaurants are on 13th between Sansom and Chestnut, and they have great homemade mixers (strawberry, watermelon-mint, etc.) if you want to bring tequila, rum, or vodka.

An example of this week's Bindi menu:

FROM THE CHEF (you will receive all of the following items, served family-style)

tomatoes, simply as is

gold and red jewel tomatoes, maldon sea salt

tomatoes, raw

chilled tomato shorva, indian and lemon cucumber, spices

APPETIZER

tomatoes, fried

green tomato "pakora", turkish orange eggplant, spicy tomato-sesame chutney

MAIN COURSE

tomatoes, oven dried *

bengali style mahi curry, oven dried heirlooms, green chili, panch phoran spices, lime rice

tomatoes, pickled *

cumin-yogurt marinated chicken, rich tamarind-coconut dal, heirloom tomato pickle

tomatoes, confit *

spice grilled lamb loin, curry leaf, pickled "red of florence" onions, lemon chickpea salad

BREAD

tomatoes, roasted

hand rolled griddle bread, tomato kut, caramelized onion, ghee, sea salt, house raita

DESSERT

tomatoes, frozen and tomatoes, candied

brandywine tomato granite, yogurt almond sooji cake, lemon candied tomatoes

* vegetarian option available with chef's substitutions

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Man, I was planning on leaving on Sunday to avoid the Labor Day traffic - now I wonder if I should stay? But I also wonder if these places will be closed Sunday, the 31st for the holiday?

And Brent, I am no expert on Chinese food in Philly and its environs. I think I tried Yangming b/c it was highly touted elsewhere - not sure if it was here or on Chowhound. I thought it was good, but I have no point of reference. That said, I got a rec for an Indian place (Desi Village) that some folks raved about. I found it to be quite average.

I might have to take the kid into the city to try Tasty House - gotta love the name!

Edited to add - I read that Estia has a pre-theatre deal from 5-7 with 3 courses for $30. It's a pretty limited selection, however.

Edited by hazardnc (log)
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Han Dynasty is worth the ride, but I'd go into Chinatown rather than to Exton from Bryn Mawr/Haverford.

Sang Kee in Wynnewood is my go to place over Yang Ming. I dunno about the Dragon place but I was surprised to see an Elaine Tait quote on Margaret Kuo's web page. I guess we could ask Ben Franklin where to have a pint on Old City.

Charlie, the Main Line Mummer

We must eat; we should eat well.

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Katie, I planned on taking the kid to NJ to shop at the Container Store (I LOVE the place), so is the Tortilla Press near there? And no worries about the twilight thing - the kids make fun of me being an old bird anyway.

Piece of cake. Maybe 12 minutes at most.

Container Store is in Cherry Hill Mall facing Route 38. Take Route 38 West to Cuthbert Blvd. South/Collingswood. Follow Cuthbert Blvd. over the Cooper River approx. 2 miles until you hit the traffic light at Haddon Avenue (Wawa on your left). Turn right onto Haddon Avenue and follow approx. .75 miles to Tortilla Press at 703 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood.

Tortilla Press is BYO. Don't know if you'll want to drink anything if you're driving, but you could easily detour to Moore Brothers to pick up a nice bottle of wine if there's another adult or two to share with you. Just turn right onto North Park Drive (the road aligning the near shore of the Cooper River just after you cross over Route 70) and follow to the other end at the Route 130 traffic light. Moore Brothers is in the last office complex on your right, 7200 North Park Drive. Just go back down the river to Cuthbert Blvd. and turn right and continue as above after you've wine shopped. Alternatively, you could just go wine shopping after Tortilla Press. Moore Brothers is open until 8PM weeknights, 6PM on Saturday. Just make sure you have someplace to keep your wine cool after you've bought it. Having it transported and stored at ideal temperatures, only to leave it in a hot car is alcohol abuse.

Enjoy your trip. Let us know where you ended up and how you enjoyed everything.

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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