This is the prize-winner. Ed and I went there with two other chowhounders last night (I'm sure Steve will post his views later). I got there early, and they were serving spring rolls (which I missed) and mini-pizzas at the bar for happy hour, along with $4 glasses of wine. The house wine was quite good -- I nursed mine through the outstanding little pizza app and took it to the table (as did Ed and Steve). Nice touch -- the hostess took the glasses from us and put them on a tray to carry them with her to our table. And she matched them up with the right people.
We chose three apps between the four of us. I had the smoked salmon on blini. Fabulous. Generous portion of four slices of what looked like really good nova lox, on top of a very thin potato pancake with just enough onion flavor. No grease. A dollop of high-class chive cheese spread, and some sort of sauce garnish painting the table that was greenish and herby. Good quality french rolls.
Ed had the mixed field greens salad, which was generously sized, very fresh, very good, even a good hunk of tomato. The other two ordered a pasta dish that I tasted. It was really good but would have been too filling for me.
I ordered the wild striped bass. Nice sized filet on top of a bed of mashed potatoes (a bit bland) with a sauce (I forget what was in it), watercress (very sweet) and a few pieces of pickled cucumber. Excellent fish, and presented beautifully in a rhomboid-shaped deep white bowl. The other three had the short ribs. A small but filling portion of very lean and very tasty short ribs on the same mashed potatoes, with a leaning tower of baby carrots and green beans (and a tree of rosemary). The sauce was luscious.
We had to order desserts at the beginning. We went with two molten chocolate cakes and two chocolate/banana bread puddings. I tasted the bread pudding, and thought it was good but too sweet. The choc. cake was outstanding, but maybe not quite as fabulous as the warm bittersweet choc. tart at Matyson's Tuesday night (the only thing that was better at Matyson's). I also ordered tea with dessert (didn't have to do that at the beginning, at least), and they brought an excellent fresh-brewed leaf tea in a cast iron pot. A blend I did not recognize, but clearly carefully chosen and unusual, and the water was properly boiled and the pot obviously pre-warmed. Most restaurants (even very good ones) do not do tea this well. I was impressed. We left very satisfied, even though objectively you might have thought the portions were small. They were so carefully prepared and well seasoned that you did not feel at all hungry (the desserts took care of any lingering pangs, that's for sure). And we weren't hurried out, either. We were left alone to talk for as long as we pleased. Oh, and Ed Rendell was eating there last night, too. But not with us. If the purpose of Restaurant Week is to get new regular customers, I think BP succeeded. They showed their best at a reasonable price.