Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

The Divine Miss "M"


philadining
 Share

Recommended Posts

I am proud to say that upon arriving at M last evening for a date with the future in-laws, and chatting with the loquacious  and talented bartender, I learned that Philly and the internets are really a small world.  When I mentioned the egullet thread to the bartender (is there not a better word for her?), as if I was telling her something new, she simply said her name was Katie and being the egullet stalker that I am, I gasped, "YOU'RE KATIE LOEB???"    Enough gushing.  on to the goods.

Funny, I actually say that to Katie too, in spite of having known her for years. She just has that effect... (Oh, and I believe her preferred term is "intoxicologist." Or was that "Buddha of Booze"?)

Anyway, welcome, SugarJ, and thanks for the writeup on M. I had drinks there a couple of weeks ago, and it was great. I definitely need to get there for dinner as well. It sounds terrific.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Funny, I actually say that to Katie too, in spite of having known her for years. She just has that effect... (Oh, and I believe her preferred term is "intoxicologist." Or was that "Buddha of Booze"?)

That's Booze Muse, Andrew. :raz: Actually, my favorite new term this week is "Spiritual Advisor". :laugh:

SugarJ - glad I could convice you to come out of lurkdom and post. Your insights will be most welcome here. It was a pleasure to meet you, your very charming hubby-to-be and the soon-to-be in-laws. Your in-laws are regulars. I've seen them at the restaurant several times. It's funny getting recognized out of my little sandbox in cyberspace. I'm surprised you couldn't tell it was me from my little cartoonish avatar! :biggrin:

The viognier you had was the Renwood. I'm fond of it too and suggest it often to try and convert the knee-jerk Chardonnay drinkers. The first drink you had with the Falernum was a Queen's Park Swizzle - sort of a funked out mojito with rum, fresh mint, Falernum and bitters. The Taylor Made was my surprise fave of the evening. Who knew bourbon went well with grapefruit and cranberry juices? Pretty interesting concoction that tastes like none of it's parts when it's finished, but is a cocktail I think could convert "girlie" drinkers to whiskey.

Megan - you're welcome to come visit Philly anytime! You missed the cassoulet feast this weekend past chez TarteTatin, but I know the invitation is open. There's lots of us that look forward to meeting you and raising a glass. In the garden, even! :wink:

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Megan - you're welcome to come visit Philly anytime!  You missed the cassoulet feast this weekend past chez TarteTatin, but I know the invitation is open.  There's lots of us that look forward to meeting you and raising a glass.  In the garden, even! :wink:

Including me, since you've poked me at least once on Facebook.

Katie: Check your inbox.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Forgot to report on Friday happy hour:

All bow down before the God of Good Spirits.

It was probably the liveliest scene I've ever encountered with only four people plus the bartender -- my friend Greg, me, Katie, of course, and in series, a (I think -- I wasn't taking notes) real estate guy who lives nearby and a lawyer transplanted here from Florida. From her we learned that the Florida bar is deliberately difficult to pass in order to discourage snowbird lawyers from up North from taking all the business from the natives. From us she learned why you can find the phrase "Philadelphia lawyer" in the dictionary to this day.

I had intended to try some of M's excellent tequilas for a happy hour (which required my leaving Widener an hour early to get back into Philly in time; as my bus hit Swarthmore right as the 4:21 inbound was departing, I ended up not getting there until 5:20), and Katie did not disappoint, fashioning a black cherry margarita using (mumble -- I wasn't taking notes) and imported black cherry syrup from Zagreb.

The olives served as bar munchies are delicious and a welcome change from the usual salty carbs.

All seekers in search of spiritual guidance must make a pilgrimage to the bar at M posthaste. If you are watching your wallet, do so between 4:45 and 6 p.m., when everything's half price.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That was a Sour Maraska Cherry Margarita made from a Croatian Sour Cherry Syrup I bought at Bitar's. I love cherry and lime together. Sour Cherry Gimlets are tasty too. :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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi--peeking in from the NYC board, which is my favorite lurking spot...I'm traveling on business to Philly this week and am planning the dinner for Thursday night. "M" sounds like it's perfect--but is this the kind of place where you need to book a month in advance? No Open Table availabilities for 4 people, alas.

I left a message, but will want to investigate other options if this isn't going to be possible.

Thanks for the reality check!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi--peeking in from the NYC board, which is my favorite lurking spot...I'm traveling on business to Philly this week and am planning the dinner for Thursday night. "M" sounds like it's perfect--but is this the kind of place where you need to book a month in advance? No Open Table availabilities for 4 people, alas.

I left a message, but will want to investigate other options if this isn't going to be possible.

Thanks for the reality check!

sadie:

Call on Tuesday and ask to speak to Tom, the Dining Room manager. Restaurant is closed today so no one answers the phone.

We do use Open Table, but with a 28 seat dining room, it is best to speak to a human. I'll look forward to seeing you on Thursday. I'll be the one behind the bar mixing your pre-prandial cocktail, I hope. :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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Saturday we decided to pay a visit to restaurant M, after seeing the reviews here and encouraged by Katie Loeb’s presence at the bar. Another point of interest to me was to see what looked like one of the best outdoor settings in Philadelphia in person.

We made it through the door and were recognized by Katie, who presides over the bar, strategically placed between the entrance and the dining room. After introductions, our SPIRITUAL ADVISOR provided us with drinks: these were remarkable both in preparation and in the fact that we only had to suggest the base for them, she took it from there. With the aid of a supersecret special ingredient to which we got an introduction, she was very successful. Thanks again!

After chatting for a while – and getting introduced to another e-gulleteer that happened to be at the bar, we moved to the dining room.

I have to state at this point that one of the notable features of the restaurant is the location: the outside garden, to which Philadining’s photos do a lot more justice than I can with words, is really a remarkable space and we got confirmation that it’s going to be open for brunch soon, which makes it doubly interesting.

Equally important to me however, because it addresses one of my pet peeves and one of which not even Vetri is completely innocent, is the dining room itself, which is a comparatively small space that has mercifully NOT been overcrowded with tables. It sits twenty-eight people with proper spacing between the tables and manages therefore to insure a sound level which doesn’t require megaphones to conduct a conversation. It also successfully walks the fine line between elegant and casual without falling into pretentious, another thing that more famous restaurants (I’ll stop making names before I get a line of angry owners outside my driveway) can’t quite manage.

Our server – a very professional individual in stark contrast to his colleague who graced our tableside elsewhere last week - suggested we go with the tasting menu to fully appreciate the chef’s vision for the food. This is generally sound advice when the person in charge of the kitchen has a good handle on things, so we consented. We also chose to go with the wine pairing to complement the tasting.

On to what we ate:

The amuse was a cherry tomato confit with basil gelee, on the now familiar ceramic spoon.

Then came a salad with goat cheese, blood oranges and toasted almonds, with a white (new world, not overly blessed by oak, I unfortunately forget – it probably was a chardonnay grape). I wish I could FIND blood oranges like the ones that were used in the dish.

It was followed by a cauliflower risotto with black winter truffle and parsley oil, accompanied by a pinot noir, notable for the proper execution of the risotto, properly creamy and not overcooked. If I were to nitpick, it needed a slightly stronger base (risotto traditionally calls for chicken stock, in this case perhaps a vegetable stock would have helped?). The idea of cauliflower florets, however, was novel and paired well with the truffle.

We then moved on to a striped bass on top of an artichoke reduction, accompanied by a lovely viognier, the wine high point of the evening – it just needed to be a little colder, to my taste. The striped bass was good, though sadly Philadelphia never quite manages to have the best fish or seafood – admittedly a lifetime in Venice gives me standards which are somewhat difficult to live up to – but it was broiled to a tasty crunch on the top and still moist on the inside. The artichokes and the stock perhaps need a little rethinking – possibly a better rendition came from the Kittle House in Westchester, NY.

The meat course was a Wagyu hanger steak with a Madeira and mushroom reduction, served on white polenta with blanched asparagus, which perhaps needed to be pulled together a little more as a plate. It was accompanied by a cabernet sauvignon which was a touch too new world for my taste.

For dessert, finally, we were served a molten chocolate cake with raspberry sorbet and a late harvest zinfandel to go with it. The molten core cake is certainly not a novelty any more, but this one’s texture was particularly well balanced and the sorbet was very well made, with no hint of grain.

Sadly we didn’t get to taste the squab or the pork belly, which the server had recommended for the evening, so that will have to wait until our next visit.

In the words of a well-known wine critic quoted on Wine Spectator some time ago, ‘mighty tasty!’ And just as importantly, the rest of the restaurant experience helped the food along as it should: the location is really quite remarkable, the service was professional without the traces of affectation - or cluelessness – that plague many places and the drinks were one of the strong points of the evening.

We’re looking forward to coming back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

f I were to nitpick, it needed a slightly stronger base (risotto traditionally calls for chicken stock, in this case perhaps a vegetable stock would have helped?).

Risotto *does not* traditionally call for chicken stock.

It calls for "meat broth" as in "Brodo" which consists of other meats.

Chicken stock is the non-italian western interpretation of risotto.

The problem with most broth based dishes is the default reliance on chicken stock.

The same issue occurs with ramen noodles or Udon houses.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Risotto *does not* traditionally call for chicken stock.

It calls for "meat broth" as in "Brodo" which consists of other meats.

Chicken stock is the non-italian western interpretation of risotto.

The problem with most broth based dishes is the default reliance on chicken stock.

The same issue occurs with ramen noodles or Udon houses.

Uhm. I grew up in Italy and still live there most of the time, by coincindence my father is from Milan. By coincidence also, he happens to be in the trade and to have an interest in the history of cooking. As much as we can gather a reliable 'original/traditional recipe' for risotto, which is a difficult endeavour at best , it indeed calls for 'brodo', specifically 'brodo di cappone' (see Pellegrino Artusi et al., though I do realise the gentleman has closer ties with Bologna than Milan) - which is capon. I translated 'chicken stock' for lack of a better term. Now, we can discuss until we're blue about the fact that if we do go back and look at what was really done until recently, obviously the people cooking would've used any brodo they had at hand, as is usually the case with many recipes rooted in popular tradition. It is however fairly safe to say that in Lombardy, Milan and Pavia alike, since at least the turn of the century, when one wanted to make risotto 'properly', if one had the resources, one used 'brodo di cappone'.

If you want to be even more precise about it, one should also skip the butter and use bone marrow, but that's not a good idea, these days (see, again, Artusi et al.).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fabio

Where one grows up has little to do with the ability to cook.

Fact is risotto made with chicken stock is not remotely as good as one made with broth.

I find it curious that you are nitpicky about Osteria's Dough but cave-in on the subject of making a great risotto.

One cant be selective about the intergrity of cookery.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fabio

Where one grows up has little to do with the ability to cook.

Fact is risotto made with chicken stock is not remotely as good as one made with broth.

I find it curious that you are nitpicky about Osteria's Dough but cave-in on the subject of making a great risotto.

One cant be selective about the intergrity of cookery.

As a matter of fact, I regard it the opposite way: I am not 'caving in' on risotto, I'd be 'caving in' if I were to accept brodo period as the *most appropriate traditional answer*, within the admittedly delicate boundaries of what is considered traditional. And where one grew up and how familiar one is with the culinary traditions of an area have, evidently, a lot to do with that. I will stand by what I said until I read differently in about two dozen 'historic' cookbooks I happen to own or on Accademia della Cucina's website.

With that said, here you're raising a different point: what tastes better, as opposed to what is more traditionally appropriate. As far as that goes, I will agree with you: a 'mixed' brodo will give you more body to work with, in many types of risotto. The thing is, in this particular case, a nice slosh of heavy duty 'tasto di manzo' based broth would have killed the cauliflower very effectively. The same thing happens, in my opinion, if you use the same undiluted in a risotto alla milanese, but that is clearly a matter of taste and opinion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Uh, I hate to interrupt this discussion, but I had dinner last night at M restaurant and wanted to swoop in to say how much I (and my colleagues) enjoyed it.

It is a small dining room, narrow, but not crowded. As someone observed "it's just perfectly thought out." I would call M one of the best date restaurants--too bad I was with co-workers! The bar scene seemed convivial from where I sat, clearly led by Ms. Katie Loeb!

The drinks: I told Katie what I liked--and got the perfect cocktail. No joke. I usually get sweet cocktails and then feel like I'm drinking syrup. But the stronger ones are too much for me. The Vanilla Lavender Martini--I highly recommend it. Fruity and fresh but not cloying. Delicious! A co-worker got an orangey martini (can't remember the name)--he liked it very much (as I did) but his second martini was the Vanilla Lavender.

The food: Starters included two arugula salads, the risotto, and the scallops. I can't comment on the others, but the scallops were perfectly cooked and seasoned. They came with slices of hearts of palm. So much better than the scallops I had eaten at Morandi!

Entrees included the duck, the risotto, the hanger steak and a fish dish that I think was the striped bass. I loved my duck--especially the duck liver ravioli on the side. The hanger steak I didn't try, but I ate a LOT of the polenta that went with it. What we noticed the most about our meal were the perfect portion sizes--we didn't feel gluttonous, but totally satisfied.

Desserts: two molten chocolate cakes and one banana tarte tatin. Fabulous!

My only observation would be that the bread could have been served warm--it was a cold night and a chilly room (which they fixed for us) so warm bread would have been perfect. But that's a small thing.

We stumbled out of there pretty darn happy. Glad I found this recommendation! I think my co-workers might have thought I was crazy introducing myself with my screen name, but the meal more than made up for their concern over my mental well-being. The internets rule!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Sadie! Glad you and your colleagues enjoyed yourselves.

Your friend had a Flaming Orange Gully first. The Vanilla-Lavender sours have been quite popular this week. A girlie drink that even the boys like. :wink:

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Katie, you've always impressed me with your wine knowledge...but your mixologist skills are astounding! Vanilla-lavender sours....my, my, my.

Can't wait until we are in Philly again and can visit. Pork belly, squab leb confit and visions of banana tarte tatin dance in my head!

And to the two of you debating brodo: you are having a traditional, classic, Italian "discussion". I'm sure Artusi would be chatting along if only he could. :laugh:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's OK. All lively discussion is encouraged. If it really gets too OT I can always split it off into its own topic if need be.

I'm just happy I've got folks coming to visit me and play guinea pig for my drinks! :smile: Judith, you're next!

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I'm glad to see lfabio on egullet, if for no other reason than to provide a knowledgeable counterpoint to the Grand Pontificator. "

can we just let the personal stuff go? please?

if you are referring to who i think you are, he's known personally to many of us, and he's got serious cred.

egullet is just better when the personal stuff is kept out of serious discussions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To put this back on track about M, I will say I am looking forward to a meal there next weekend (4/14) and am awaiting my spiritual consultation with Katie.

Will the Patio be open or is outside dinning to much to hope for this early in the season?

Edited by brucedelta (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

To put this back on track about M, I will say I am looking forward to a meal there next weekend (4/14) and am awaiting my spiritual consultation with Katie.

Will the Patio be open or is outside dinning to much to hope for this early in the season?

Whether they let you sit outside or not, the weekend forecast makes me doubt you'd want to: we'll be back to highs in the mid-forties by then.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...