Konstantinos Pitsillides, the chef at Kanella, is a very passionate, highly talented professional. He trained in 3 Michelin Star Restaurants like La Tante Clair and The Connaught Hotel, but as many chefs come to realize they are most passionate about cooking the food of their childhood - and in his case rustic Greek fare.
Walking into Kanella you feel like you are in Chef Pitsillides's childhood home in Limassol, Cyprus - a coastal city that boarders the Mediterranean Sea. From the rustic wood tables to the comforting brick wall you immediately feel relaxed in this laid-back and buzzing atmosphere.
Bread Service at Kanella is made in house and varies from day to day. The offering presented to my table was a multi-grain loaf served with tahini sauce. The bread was warm and very chewy (the chew is developed by the formation of the protein matrix gluten), but the exterior of the bread was burnt. I know the burnt surface looks rustic, but it simply does not taste good.
A plethora of appetizers were ordered and the majority of them were wonderful. Grilled Duck Hearts were plump and meaty; the addition of sweet grapes, salty olives, and pungent onions greatly enhanced the flavor of the duck. A mouth-watering sausage was served with a tangy tzatziki that excited my palate. To the contrary, a perfectly cooked octopus was lacking salt and had way too big pieces of peppers that were left unpeeled.
Grilled Duck Hearts with Grapes, Olives, and Braised Beans
Sheftalia: Grilled Cypriot Hand Rolled Sausage Served with Tzatziki
Grilled Octopus with Pepperonata and Capers
For my main course I ordered Braised Pork Cheeks. The cheeks themselves were melt in your mouth tender and had a great flavor from the braise, yet some cheeks were still cold. The first couple bites were very enjoyable, but the monotonous texture became very boring. I do not enjoy eating baby food.
Braised Pork Cheeks with Cinnamon and Sage
On a more "tasty" note my brother's Crispy Duck Leg was fantastic. The duck was flowing with moisture and had a perfectly crisped skin. The potato puree was silky smooth and the fresh dill added a beautiful brightness to the dish's rich counterparts.
Papia: Roasted Duck Leg with Pomme Puree, Baby Greens, and Pomegranate Demi-Glace
Service, while not technically perfect, was extremely friendly. Our server was bursting with intensity and had ample knowledge of the food being served from the kitchen. A forgotten appetizer was graciously served with main courses free of charge, which was very kind of the staff. Some minor mistakes included bread being served before plates were set and tables not being fully cleared. However, I really enjoyed my waiter's dedication to making his customers feel happy and comfortable.
I truly recommend Kanella to anyone who lives in or is traveling to Philadelphia. Great food served at cheap prices in a great atmosphere, what is better than that?