As a chowhound who recently moved from Brooklyn (after 12 years) to the Philadelphia area I figured I would let others know what I am stumbling upon, for better or worse. I work at Penn so my job is located in West Philly. I will try and report on that area and others as I get acclimated.
Last night a friend from out of town came in and we decided to go to Fork (on her expense account) located at 306 Market Street, supposedly voted as one of the Best of Philly in Philadelphia magazine this summer.
Well, we had a reservation for 8:30 and got there on time. We waited about 25 minutes and sat on some chairs at the front. While the decor tries to be steamlined and austere in browns and neytrals, it ends up being cramped around the bar while in the back there is more breathing room if you sit back there near the open kitchen. While the wait staff and hostess were apologetic for our having to wait, it wasn't like they offered to buy us a glass of $7.25 pinot noir (Pennsylania's liquor prices are ridiculous). Once we sat down, my friend had roasted beets with greens and pecans. It looked good, but the portion was pretty small and I think it was $6.00. I had a baby spinach salad with fennel, sundried toms, and white beans in a lemon dill vinaigrette $6.95. The beans were too crunchy to my taste and I tasted no dill to speak of. For mains she had halibut with pea shoots and spinach ($12) and I had acorn squash stuffed with wild rice and cranberries and warm applesauce with swiss chard on the side($12). My friend's halibut was supposed to be in some kind of mustard cream but she couldn't find it. My squash was not very good and had little exciting flavor. Desserts were a little better, the chocolate rum cake was excellent and the lemon thyme cookies were good. However, they had this thing called a snickerdoodle, which is a cinnamon cookie, oh my god, this thing was so sweet you got a headache just looking at it. I thought if this is the best in Philly, I may be in trouble. The thing is Fork is probably not what a chowhound would want in a place, but being new to the city, I figured I would check it out, and having an expense account made it easier to deal with when the bill came to a hair over $100 with tip.
All I can say is I have my work cut out for me here because what most people around here think is stylish, new American food is just overpriced to me with wine prices that make you want to die. I will say that Philly does have a lot of BYOB places because of the liquor laws. I will report back when I have more to say, but overall it looks grim. Anyone have any good tips for a chowhound in the city of brotherly love?