I have a twice-a-year dinner date with a friend. We have been eating together for 15 years. It's my turn to pick the restaurant, and was thinking of Bibou, but they are booked (naturally) when we had set a date.
Here are the "rules":
1) We never go to the same place twice
2) Atmosphere should be "romantic" (though we are not a romantic couple)
3) BYOB is OK, but we don't have a preference pro/con
4) Doesn't not have to be a "dressup" place but we shouldn't feel out of place dressed up
5) We want to hear ourselves talk
6) Food must be excellent
7) Location can be anywhere in the city or surrounding area (though we rarely go East to New Jersey, we can pretty much get to North, East and South to Delaware though).
Our last two picks were Bistro La Minette and Matyson. Years ago we went to Vetri before it became Philly's flagship. We've done the obvious ones like Amada, and made discoveries like Alba in Malvern.
So I was looking at Cochon and Farm and the Fisherman. I saw that Mica and Ela were related to Blackfish (where we've been, and I understand Ela has a different chef than the other two). Heirloom has been recommended on these boards.
I understand Zahav is sensational, though we tend to prefer "red wine food" if that makes any sense.
Any comments on the above (like, obvious favorites, or ones that aren't necessarily as good as the others); or very special places that are like the above?
I'd appreciate input. I need to pick a place and make the reservation.