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Django, Pasion! & RTM: a weekend report

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Django, Pasion! & RTM: a weekend report

gbEvan | Mar 17, 2002 03:59 PM

Back in February many of you gave very helpful suggestions – thanks. Here’s where we ended up on our visit from New York last weekend:

Django on Friday night was overall very good. An appetizer of clam carbonara over cappellini with cockles and smoked bacon wasn’t as clam-y as expected, but was quite yummy anyway. The bacon (from a local provider) was especially good, I’m told – I don’t do that mammal thing myself. Roasted quail was rich and meaty, and boned except for legs and wings, which was a pleasant surprise. There was maybe a bit too much of the Hunter’s Bread & Bird stuffing, with what looked suspiciously like bits of ham in it – I didn’t actually confirm that, however.
Tender duck breast came with a delicious peppery confit/potato galette and pickled onions; the duck skin unfortunately wasn’t crisp. A celery leaf garnish was a nice touch.
Seared black grouper in a tea-infused fish broth with butter turnips and potato batons: very good fish (though with no obvious sign of having been seared) in a creamy, delicious sauce studded with tiny intense mushrooms. The potato batons were so undercooked as to be barely edible. And I don’t know what kind of foam was on top, but that’s a fad that’s well past time to be retired.
The cheeses were well-chosen and perfectly ripened. If I have any complaint, it's that too many kinds were served at once to be properly appreciated.
All in all, I'd happily return on a regular basis if I were closer.

Lunch at the Reading Terminal Market: after a buttered pretzel, we shared a chicken sandwich with especially tasty sharp provolone and spicy roasted peppers at Rocco’s, followed by ice cream at Bassett’s – what could be bad? The RTM was insanely crowded, however, probably due to the Flower Show.

Dinner at Pasion! was also really good and beautifully presented. Four of us didn’t taste one another’s food for the most part, so some of this is “as reported”:
Three ceviche selections were fresh and nicely varied. The fire and ice tuna in a slightly sweet coconut milk sauce (served in a coconut shell) was quite good, though with insufficient fire. Hamachi with peppers and pickled onions was also delicious, but best were sweet and silky scallops with a blackened tomatillo truffle sauce.
(A side gripe about Pasion! and too many other places: if the list of specials is going to be so long and detailed that the waitron has to read it to remember everything even though presenting it umpteen times in an evening, why should diners be subjected to a memory test? It would be easy enough to print up a list of the evening’s specials.)
Other appetizers: Salmon croquettes with cucumber salad were “a little heavy but very good.” Conch and crab fritters were “excellent”.
Crispy whole sea bass was served boned but with the head & tail on, with fried yuca, mojo criollo, Nicaraguan vigorón salad and black bean sauce. The fish got a bit lost in the “crispy”, but it was all delicious anyway.
Very tender goat was served on a banana leaf, with radishes and especially good, spicy mustard greens, tasting perhaps of horseradich.
Chilean sea bass, cilantro, and sun-dried tomato crust, wild mushroom tamarindo sauce: “a bit fruity ... almost very good … a 7 out of 10.”
Pork loin was “interesting” (in a good way) and “really good.”
Buñuelos de Chocolate were excellent, though the listed rum was barely discernible. Arroz con leche looked nothing like pudding – it was a crispy disk (appearing like a large crabcake) with a creamy interior. Very sweet, but nice nonetheless.

The RTM was unexpectedly open on Sunday because of the Flower Show, but the PA Dutch places among others were closed, of course. We ended up at Pearl’s Oyster Bar. The oysters in the stew were huge and pretty good, but the broth was too buttery and with not enough oyster broth for the amount of milk. But it’s been years since I’ve had real oyster crackers and the iced tea was also real and mercifully unsweetened. Then we ended with a small variety of good Italian pastries/cookies from Termini Bros., being too stuffed to even consider having cannoli.

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