WEDNESDAY: RED OWL TAVERN, ZAHAV & FRANKLIN MORTGAGE
Decided on drinks @Red Owl Tavern, as it happened to be right next door to where my man was giving his talk. Nice bar, huge bourbon selection, absolutely horrible bar stools (unless you're in your early 20s). Had a "Careful… Eugene" (bourbon, vermouth, bitters) & my man a very good Old Tom Collins.
Off we went down 3rd street towards Zahav, which was a bit of a bitch to find. We actually ended up entering through a back door and having to sneak through a room rented by a private party, where we got a few curious looks.
After a bit of a wait -- the place was packed to the rafters -- we were led to our table. I love the fact that you get the choice of complimentary (!) still or bubbly water, and they kept the carafes coming. Overall I would say the service is pretty great, even though it had that 'corporate' feel I'm not too fond of.
Next we got the awesome pickles. They were inhaled. Another portion was brought.
We knew the mesibah was out of the question for two, and since I'm not much of a dessert person, neither did we go for the smaller tasting menu. Instead, we chose à la carte:
- salatim & hummus with laffa: the best by far of the bunch were tabbouleh with pomegranate & apple (maybe the best tabbouleh I've ever had, or at least the most interesting), the red beets salad and the roasted eggplant. The beans in tomato sauce were a bit undercooked for my taste, the two kinds of cuke salads were on the bland side; the hummus was fairly salty and rather heavy on the cumin, but very creamy, and my man *loved* the laffa.
- kibbe naya: basically a very well-seasoned lamb tartar that came with a few lettuce leaves to wrap
- duck hearts: another highlight of the evening -- very rare, came with mini-falafel, green chickpeas & tehina
- sweetbreads: unfortunately completely overwhelmed by the breading -- too bad, as I love sweetbreads
- fried cauliflower with mint cream: nice, but quite a large portion
- blistered beans: nice and spicy
After all of this, we were positively stuffed, but had made the mistake of ordering the duck kebab (nice) and the hanger steak (very salty, very garlicky), so we were struggling to finish.
As a general observation we thought that the chef was a little heavy-handed with salt (and seasoning in general), and I say that as someone who is not shy about big flavors when preparing my own dishes. It was simply too much. Maybe s/he had a cold….
For post-dinner drinks we ended up at Franklin Mortgage, as both Tria and Village Whiskey were full. Love the place.
THURSDAY: SANSOM OYSTER HOUSE / WELLS-FARGO AKA GREASY AIR & BEER / SHAKE SHACK / VILLAGE WHISKEY
Still stuffed from dinner at Zahav, we weren't really feeling a big dim sum meal, so went to the Oyster House instead: I had half a dozen Mattaki (wonderfully creamy, almost reminiscent of uni) & half a dozen sizable Wellfleet, followed by a Manhattan clam chowder that was meh. My man had a snap turtle soup that was uninteresting, save for a hint of cloves, followed by a very generously portioned shrimp salad roll.
Off to the Flyers game where we subsisted on ridic expensive beer and breathing in the "crab fries" and otherwise unidentifiable grease molecules that satiated the air. And our clothes. Ick.
Flyers won after being way behind, so --- WOOOOT!
Took the express train back by mistake so ended up in Center City. Went to Village Whiskey, which was packed again. Saw Shake Shack across the street and decided to go for it. We were starved and I'd never had a shack burger before: this was a very nice FF-style burger, but only in New York would people stand in line for that. Seriously.
Went back to VW where a table had opened up in the meantime, ordered a couple glasses of rosé and …..split another burger, which was very good. Well cooked, if skimpy on the cheddar, and the bun was a bit much.
FRIDAY / DiBRUNO'S / LE VIRTU
Grabbed a crappy brie baguette at DiBruno's to eat on my way to my appointment, but ended up tossing it. Passed my citizenship test with flying colors. Went to RTM in hopes of a small snack but didn't see anything that qualified.
Stopped in at Nodding Head for a *very* good Berliner Weisse-style beer and an excellent cask-conditioned seasonal ale (7.5%).
Took the subway to Le Virtu which was packed, and had a nice, more European atmosphere than Zahav. Had a very good bottle of Trebbiano with our meal, which consisted of
the octopus salad: more salad than octopus -- I thought the octopus pieces were too small, I personally prefer a chunkier style so you can actually taste the octopus. I also thought the salad was a bit heavy on acidity. My man ordered the N'duja, which was very good, with a nice kick & very filling (a given, I guess).
I'd already zeroed in on either the taccozelle with porcini or the pheasant ravioli, but they were also offering black and white truffles for an extra $20/$30 supplement, respectively. As I've never in my life had white truffles, I decided to splurge and got 'em -- it was a special occasion after all.
It was a very generous shaving of truffle, but I have to say that the flavor was on the milder side, and I am not sure that, were I blindfolded, would be able to taste the difference between white or black truffles. Lesson learned.
My man's porchetta was very juicy, but the big piece of skin that was presumably put on the plate for consumption was unfortunately not crispy at all, but rather chewy. Shame.
After dinner we stopped in at Farmer's Cabinet, which was so empty I jokingly asked whether there had been a bomb threat. Apparently, they lost their license recently and were only serving food, so we went back to Franklin Mortgage for post-dinner drinks. I love this bar as it has an adult feel, wasn't ever crowded wall to wall on either night we were there, and makes a mean drink.
SATURDAY / DiBRUNO'S
Our required stop & shop on our way out of the city on a truly gorgeous, spring-like sunny day (perhaps only ruined by the crazy bellowing of the "Isrealite School". Whoa!)
4 hot italian
4 duck sausage w/foie gras
2 jalapeño cheddar brats (already gone)
2 apple breakfast sausages
2 parsley pecorino & 2 wine & garlic sausages for friends
2 lbs. of maple glazed bacon
1 big ball of bufflo mozza for only $4.99 (!!!)
gigantes in tomato sauce
I look back to being back in January, possibly.