Had a very nice meal at Davios last night. Davios is a chain, though a chain of only 3, two of which are in Boston and with rather different menus (based on what we see online, I think the Boston menus look slightly better). We were familiar with the place from Boston where its more a business-lunch/expense account dinner sort of Italian steakhouse place. The Philly one is attached to the Club Quarters which makes for a slightly more casual vibe (though no cheaper) with families staying at the hotel coming in for dinner.
To start wife had the mixed green salad, as she is apt to do, and I had the soup special, which was a roasted garlic and onion puree with duck confit. Soup was very good; confit was tasty but perhaps a bit drier than I expect confit to be. I had the St. Supery Cabernet from Napa by-the-glass ($9.5) and it was a nice complement to the meal, a bit understated and not one of those fruit and/or oak bomb California cabs.
Wife had the penne with applewood smoked chicken, spinach, sundried tomatoes and a walnut cream sauce. I tell you, the smoke taste on the chicken was so intense that it tasted almost exactly like a smoked ham or pancetta. So much so that we had to check, and that it might merit a disclaimer from the server, something like, the chicken tastes like ham, a lot This wasnt to say the dish wasnt tasty; it was, just a bit confusing. I had the grilled lobster tail with farfalle in a truffled pumpkin butter sauce. Very tasty and generously truffled. In addition to the lobster tail, an also generous amount of some non-grilled knuckle and claw meat was in the pasta as well. The charred lobster went very nicely with the darker truffle taste, and the pumpkin pieces really made for an interesting flavor combination. I could definitely see that particular flavor medley failing in lesser hands, so thumbs up to the kitchen. In retrospect a syrah might have held up a bit better than the cab with the grilled lobster.
I dont know what the heck we were thinking ordering two desserts but the wife got the chocolate tart with a molten center, which came with a caramel ice cream and a little espresso cup of amaretto hot chocolate. The wife was infuriated that I ordered what, to her, sounded the least appetizing item, a polenta cake with grand marnier, currants and crème anglaise ice cream. And, ok, I agreed, not a great dessert and one I would not get again. The polenta cake was good but felt like it should have been part of another recipe, maybe a clever take on a strawberry shortcake. Wifes on the other hand was mighty tasty and more than enough that we could have shared it. I typically am a crème brulee fan and they werent offering any and my only other non-chocolate options included a currant streudel, some pears poached in wine, a slice of carrot cake, tiramisu, and some other chocolate concoction. Not that Im opposed to chocolate, I just felt like there wasnt a lot that was my style. In hindsight I wouldve gotten the tiramisu.
Service seemed to be almost intrusive but thats such a tough call to make as some people want to be checked on constantly. I was asked twice if I wanted pepper, our server switched though it wasnt really clear, I said I wanted my wine with my meal (as opposed to with my entrée), which to me means bring it out when my first course comes out, though I suppose thats debatable. Service wasnt bad so much, as perhaps just not to my taste. I didnt like that the server went over the menu and kept saying things like, carni are the meats... and, pesce are the fish dishes I didn't really feel like the menu needed explaining. Maybe its because its attached to a hotel that they get customers from all over, I dunno. To be fair, service did have a lot of nice touches as well. The soup is poured delicately from a tureen into your bowl to ensure hotness; the wines by the glass are decanted from individual-sized carafes that allow them to open up a bit, things like that.
A good meal all in all, and Id go back but there are so many other places I want try as well so it wont be anytime too soon. I was perhaps remiss in not ordering a piece of meat, as thats supposed to be their specialty and definitely what Id try next time. Bill came to $122 before tip with two glasses of wine and a cappuccino as well.