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Django, Philadelphia


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We had a delightful dinner at Django, 526 S 4 th, Philadelphia. This small BYO has gotten some excellent reviews in the local papers so be sure to make reservations a month in advance. The restaurant is near South Street, an "interesting" neighborhood with multiple tattoo and body piercing shops.

The menu has 8-9 appetizers and entrees and lists the farmers who provide some of the provisions.

We started with an amuse bouches and bread that is presented in a flowerpot. For appetizers we had seafood and sofrito stuffed squid, toasted cumin tomato sauce and olive tapenade; breast of quail, hand rolled penne alla carbonara and pistachio parmesan pesto (my favorite); baked chicken crepes, twelve spice curry sauce, salted almonds and golden raisins; licorice cured sliced salmon, layered Lancaster beets vinaigrette, brioche toast, mascarpone crema; and an heirloom tomato salad, warmed sheep milk feta, olive tortellini and organic sprouts. Entrees were a juicy apple smoked ham wrapped pork loin, goat cheese gnocchi and sour cherry sauté; grass fed sliced filet of beef, braised beef cheek-fontina tart, savory beef and rosemary jus; roasted duck breast, braised pulled duck leg risotto, black mission figs and jus de canard; and pan roasted grouper, spicy chorizo bolognese, aged balsamic and orecchiette pasta ears. For dessert we shared a decadent chocolate almond terrine with almond ice cream and an artisan cheese plate accompanied with toasted croutons, nuts, and Pennsylvania wildflower honey. The owner impressively described each cheese and went into such detail that I thought she was going to tell us the name of the cow/goat that the milk came from. She added a charming educational component to our dinner. The meal with tax and tip was $42 a person. Phone: 215-922-7151.

Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"

TABLE HOPPING WITH ROSIE

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  • 4 weeks later...

They have about a 2 week wait for reservations. I live in North Jersey and on several spontaneous visits to Philly, we were unable to get in. We had to settle for Fork, Astral Plane, and Jack's Firehouse on the last 3 visits. Not shabby, but is Django that good? 2 weeks is a long wait-- very few restaurants do that well.

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Django is better than "that good." On my next visit to Philly I will eat there twice before I eat anywhere else. In fact, I eat often in NYC and DC at the high end and I would go to Django, if I could, before just about any other restaurant in either city. It's BYOB, so you can bring your own wines with no corkage fee or hassle, small, charming, warm service, personal cooking, chef in the kitchen, his wife handling front of the house issues and the stellar cheese course with super honeys and accompaniments, as Rosie mentioned. Considering the quality and creativity of the food the price is a steal.

Move heaven and earth to go here and wait two weeks if you have to.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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  • 4 months later...

Had tickets for Marcel Marceau yesterday, so we called 30 days in advance for reservations at Django. (The max that they allow). After eating a meal there it would seem that this is one of the best "unacclaimed" restaurants in Philly now.

A long, storefront type place bordering 3 neighborhoods-- Psychedelic South Street, with its heavy-metal and tattoo parlors; Queen Village, a working class district, and Society Hill, an very upscale neighborhood of 200-year old federal-style houses all renovated inside. Lovely posters on the walls, gorgeous bathrooms, and clever small tablecloths on top of larger ones.

This restaurant serves food just the way I like it, smaller portions of very complex, flavorful, creative food. The menu changes monthly-- we started with Pan Fried Oysters, with baked brandade, olive tapenade, and olive oil. Also, Scallop and Arugula salad, with pink grapefruit, panzanella bread, and a rose vinaigrette. The oysters were heavenly, the potatoes wonderfully spiced with the tapenade. The scallops were undercooked and served cool, the bread was cubed and toasted and mixed wonderfully with the scallops. A great start.

For Entrees, we got Mustard Glazed Monkfish, with chouicroute, seafood sausage, potato puree, and smoky fish fumet. We also had Overnight Toasted Cumin Pork Shoulder, with tomato spaetzle, wild mushroom saute, and taleggio sauce. The monkfish was a star with its chewy texture, and the seafood sausage was homemade and very unusual, all perfectly blended with the potatoes and sauce. The pork was a pulled pork served in a circle, the mushrooms were fantastic and the cumin was an under-flavor rather than being overpowering. Complex, interesting, wonderful, a lot of thought into this food.

Dessert was the cheese plate, the owner comes out with 10 cheeses in a circle with little toasts and describes all of them in detail. Some french, some spanish, and some swiss cheeses. A great end to a great meal.

There were a couple of service flaws; They forgot to bring us their acclaimed bread in the flower pot, we had to ask; we brought a white wine and had to ask for an ice bucket to keep it cool; and, they took our order for coffee and forgot to bring it. They were sincerely apologetic about these oversights, and since they were so good-natured about them, it did not detract from the experience.

Any visit to Philadelphia should include a visit to Django. We will be back!! Do need to reserve well in advance, however.

Edited by menton1 (log)
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  • 2 months later...

in the interest of keeping things in one spot, i'll cut-and-paste my thoughts on django from this thread here

The place was packed and the sound level deafening. It certainly appeared that this was a “hot spot.” the restaurant looked like it could have been comfortable in any number of hip cities across the country. Exposed brick, prints through out, a pleasant buzz about it, etc.

Freshly baked bread was served in still-hot ceramic flower pots. This bread was a standout. Just sweet enough, soft, and delicious. Unfortunately, I ate the whole “pot”, which threw off my appetite for the rest of the meal. But it was worth it..

It was clear when the appetizers arrived that the chef was fond of fresh ingredients, and especially herbs. Fresh herbs popped out of both dishes. The first was a celery bisque. This bisque was visually striking: white broth, white celery noodle (with a tint of green), and droplets of herb-infused oil about. This dish was just fantastic. Slightly tart, slightly sweet, and rich-tasting without being gloppy. Mrs. Tommy had a goat cheese gnocchi, served in a bit of butter sauce, with tarragon and a mix of other herbs. The gnocchi were beautiful. Soft, light, delicate, and with just enough cheese flavor. Another winner. At this point, mrs. Tommy wondered who had ordered better. It was a dead heat.

The entrees were a bit disappointing. Perhaps this is due to the huge build-up.

I ordered a cod dish. The cod was cooked perfectly, and seasoned with a spice mixture. However, something wasn’t working. The flavors didn’t marry well. Or perhaps they could, but for some reason didn’t. a perfectly acceptable dish, however. The dish, overall, was lacking in flavor (with no help from the cod of course). Mrs. Tommy ordered the bacon wrapped strip steak. I normally wouldn’t allow anyone to order steak anywhere but a steakhouse, but I made the exception, as the dish sounded pretty good. And it was. I have to question in the cut was actually strip, though. It sure did look, feel, and taste like tenderloin. The bacon wasn’t overpowering or soggy, or even wrapped. It was basically served on the side of the thinly sliced “strip” (although I’m sure the meat was wrapped at some point). The reduction was rich and deep, and by the time the dish was done, the risotto had sopped up some of that reduction, and all was good in the world.

Oddly enough, I think we ordered dessert, but I don’t remember it. Perhaps it’ll come to me.

The bill was 65 bucks before tip. Certainly a great deal. (BYO)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I went to Django last night, due to everyone's comments about the place. Here's what we had:

They brought out an amuse-bouche of Cod Salad on a pasta chip.

The bread in the flower pot was great. They offered us another one - and we took it, even if it did make us really full (I was with one other person)

For appetizers, I had the above mentioned Scallop Salad with Arugula and Grapefruit. My friend had Pasta Carbonara with Spring Asparagus.

For entrees, I had Daurade (a type of fish i had never heard of) with fried chorizo and mussels, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, all in a saffron broth. The daurade was pan fried, the skin was kept on, so it was crunchy. This was also served with a chickpea "souffle." This seemed to me, like baked chickpea fries, thick, very creamy in the middle. The whole entree was excellent, and such a unique mix of flavors that all went very well together.

I should mention that they brought the chickpea fries out after i had gotten my plate, it seems like they had forgoten to put them on the plate.

My friend got Salmon Croquettes with Salmon, which was a potato croquette with salmon pieces in it, and then a piece of Salmon on top. It also had Spring Peas, and a tangy mustard emulsion. It was good, but definitely nowhere as unique as my dish.

The desserts were AMAZING. My friend had the above mentioned almond-chocolate terrine, served with almond ice cream. It was excellent. I had madeleine cakes served with chocolate ice cream, and a dried chocolate banana crumble.

Our bill came to $78 after taxes and before tip. We were there on a sunday night at 8pm, and it was very full, but not overly noisy.

As previous posters have said, i could tell that all of the vegetables were very fresh, and they used a lot of seasonal ingredients, asparagus, spring peas, rhubarb etc. There were some very unique dishes on the menu ... i was especially impressed with the unique dessert dishes.

The only complaint i have is the service was a little slow. It took a while to get our check. And, luckily we didn't need change, otherwise, we would have been there for a little while. But the servers were all very friendly.

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Erin

"The only complaint i have is the service was a little slow. It took a while to get our check. And, luckily we didn't need change, otherwise, we would have been there for a little while."

Are you inferring the place does not take credit cards?

Viejo

The Best Kind of Wine is That Which is Most Pleasant to Him Who Drinks It. ---- Pliney The Elder

Wine can of their wits the wise beguile,

Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --- Homer

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I don't know why you all are saying that Django is cash-only--it's not. I went there w/ 3 friends the other night and we charged dinner.

Also--I've been 5 times now, and this was the only time I was disappointed. I didn't take notes, so forgive my lack of detail, but I had the asparagus soup and then the striped bass with the same preparation as the durango described earlier--and honestly, both were pretty boring. Not nearly as fresh and delicious as previous visits. My friend's pea ravioli was nice, but not great. The cheese plate was lovely, as usual tho.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Sara and Erin

Thanks for the clarification.

Viejo

Edited by viejo majadero (log)

The Best Kind of Wine is That Which is Most Pleasant to Him Who Drinks It. ---- Pliney The Elder

Wine can of their wits the wise beguile,

Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --- Homer

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Cash Only, hasn't slowed their business down at all.  Reserve 2-4 weeks ahead!!

Oops!! Had a brain lapse. They do take cards. A great destination restaurant. Don't know what I was thinking about......

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  • 1 month later...

Last (oppressively muggy) Sunday night, sampled from the July menu (well, they were closed until 7/19). Not much help I guess for anyone going there now, but here goes:

Amuse: Crab (?) raviolo

Starters:

Marinated Octopus -- nicely chewy, tangy

Corn/Clam Chowder -- topped w/four plump, fried Ipswichs, very corny, very thyme-y

Mid-Course:

Tuna Basquaise w/polenta -- seared, rare tuna excellently paired w/a peppery, smokey sauce. From my experience, a different flavor direction for Bryan.

Leek Quiche w/potatoes and mushrooms -- individual quiche, split to share. Very good crust, though too thick, overwhelming the somewhat meager filling. Well seasoned. Sauteed paper-thin potatoes and mushrooms. All sauced with a delicious, thin-ish pine nut pesto.

Instead of the latter, I really wanted to have the pissaladiere topped with bleu cheese, but my wife's allergy to the latter nixed that choice.

Mains:

Roasted Salmon -- can't remember the accompaniments. Salmon was, well, salmon -- never my fish of choice in restaurants. This was, as I recall, just fine.

Tilefish w/beans -- first time I've tried this fish. Apparently, its taste has been compared to lobster or scallop. In fact, tilefish feed on crustaceans. It was fairly meaty for a white-fleshed fish, but rather mild with a peculiar, but not unpleasant, finish, somewhat like the aftertaste of a scallop. The beans in a bit of broth paired very well.

Dessert:

A sorbet (shoot, my memory fails me) on shortbread with ginger semifreddo -- the sf was creamy but not overpoweringly so. It's a good alternative on hot summer nights to the well-known chocalate desserts and cheeses offered.

Tab: $85 + tax/tip.

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  • 2 months later...

After reading Rosie's review, I called and made a reservation for 4 days ahead. Called Fri. for a Tues. reservation.

The food was great and the owner was very gracious.

We had ratatouille in basil aoli served in a puff pastry as an amuse-bouche.

For appetizers terrine of squab and seared foie gras, goat cheese gnocchi, fried calamari risotto.

Entrees---red tail venison loin, trout, pork loin.

Everything was as good as Rosie said.

Worth a revisit.

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glad to hear they're not always booked up.

friend of mine said he goes there like once a month.

at the time, i had heard that people continually had trouble getting a reservation.

I was like, so you're the one making it hard on everyone else!

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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  • 2 months later...

I was there on 11/21. Had a scallop in pistachio pate type of thing that was quite good. One of our other diners had a venison dish which was amazing.

I can get more details on what I don't remember if you'd like. In a way we were more focused on the wines, which included a 1982 Mouton Rothschild and a 1985 Sassicaia.

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I was there on 11/21. Had a scallop in pistachio pate type of thing that was quite good. One of our other diners had a venison dish which was amazing.

I can get more details on what I don't remember if you'd like. In a way we were more focused on the wines, which included a 1982 Mouton Rothschild and a 1985 Sassicaia.

Dude - did my invitation to this wine spectacular get lost in the mail???!!!??? Sounds like the great food was secondary to the outfrigginrageous wine!

I need to be hangin' out with your crowd more often.... :wub::biggrin:

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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Dude - did my invitation to this wine spectacular get lost in the mail???!!!??? Sounds like the great food was secondary to the outfrigginrageous wine!

I need to be hangin' out with your crowd more often.... :wub::biggrin:

If only it were that easy--the guy who brought that stuff flew in from Saskatchewan. He also brought a 2000 Latour-Martillac blanc which was real nice, and the other guy who came in brought a 1999 Setti Ponti Crognolo which kinda sucked.

The next night we moved on to the 1995 Bollinger Grand Annee, the 2001 Martinelli Jackass Zin, and a bunch of other less memorable stuff. Oh and a couple of different Inniskillin ice wines.

Probably the best wine weekend of my life, and that wasn't even why we were getting together, originally.

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If only it were that easy--the guy who brought that stuff flew in from Saskatchewan. He also brought a 2000 Latour-Martillac blanc which was real nice, and the other guy who came in brought a 1999 Setti Ponti Crognolo which kinda sucked.

The next night we moved on to the 1995 Bollinger Grand Annee, the 2001 Martinelli Jackass Zin, and a bunch of other less memorable stuff. Oh and a couple of different Inniskillin ice wines.

Probably the best wine weekend of my life, and that wasn't even why we were getting together, originally.

Sweet! It's always best when such things are a pleasant surprise. No expectations and nothing but enjoyment. :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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Django pretty much lived up to my expectations. The atmosphere was a treat, as in DC we don't really have cute places in converted row houses. After being seated, we were served an amuse of mascarpone rolled in walnuts. Then we started off with goat cheese gnocchi with porcini mushrooms in a beurre fondue and a lobster salad with noodles and celery root. The gnocchi were excellent-- very light, with the right texture. And porcini mushrooms... well, those are always a good thing. The lobster salad had a lemon vinaigrette and was good, but not really outstanding.

For entrees, we had bison loin and a monkfish and shrimp fricasse. The bison loin, ordered by my girlfriend, had an interesting flavor, but was a bit too rare for me for such a thick cut of meat (it was entirely red except for the seared outside). The fricasse had a tomato, herb, and fish stock sauce finished with a good bit of butter that was a little on the overpowering side, but I still enjoyed the dish.

Dessert was a candied orange creme brulee napoleon and a chocolate almond terrine. The creme brulee was slightly overcooked (and so were the phyllo layers) and unfortunately served ice cold, but the candied orange flavor was a great idea. The terrine was very rich and chocolate-y, with layers of almond buttercream. The maple-almond ice cream on the side was outrageously good.

The total bill, with tax and tip was $106. A great deal-- we brought along a nice bottle of pinot noir. I love the Philly BYOB's (something that doesn't exist in DC either). As we were leaving, we got the added entertainment of the drunk who left the restaurant just before us falling flat on his face in the street (he was ok).

Edited by cjsadler (log)

Chris Sadler

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