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Philadelphia Trip Report

Three Days Around Avenue of the Arts (Mostly) -- Trip Report (Part II)


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Three Days Around Avenue of the Arts (Mostly) -- Trip Report (Part II)

chowtraveler | Nov 19, 2012 02:15 PM

Part I, posted earlier today, discusses Amada and the Belgian Cafe. To continue (in alphabetical order):

Estia: Attractive setting, excellent Greek food, primarily fish said to be flown in daily from the Mediterranean. Our fish was outstanding, perfectly wood-grilled then drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil. The starters were equally good -- zucchini chips with a nice tomato-based dip, and grilled calamari. The Greek white wine (a bone-dry moschofilero) was excellent too, and relatively reasonably priced. The dessert called "ekmek" (pistachios layered with phyllo, custard, and whipped cream) was a perfect finish.

Service was another matter. It was more than an hour between our being seated and being served the main course. When the main course finally was served (a filleted whole fish, head and tail intact as expected), the server simply plunked it down on the table and left, seemingly leaving it up to us to move the fillets from the platter to our plates using only the single spatula provided. As it turned out, he was (or was acting) only as a food runner, but he made no attempt to alert our assigned server -- who eventually noticed us struggling and took over the task, helped by a second spatula that he said should have been supplied from the start.

The slow service was especially surprising, because we'd read on this board that Estia is known for speedy service, sometimes too speedy. And conversely, although the service at Sbraga has been described on this board as slow, for us it was as speedy as one could tolerate if not slightly too much so. (More on Sbraga later.)

Osteria: Noisy, as seems to be the preferred be these days, but quiet(er) in the solarium room adjoining the main hall. Several unusual dishes on the menu, such as a cardoon and truffle gratin; a ravioli-like pasta called "cialzon" with a braised-rabbit/porcini/potato stuffing; and "rabbit casalinga," small sections of bunny pan-seared and then braised with pancetta and sage and served over soft polenta. All were excellent, as was the salume assortment, attractively served on a cutting board, and a nicely priced valpolicella ripasso.

But there was a problem: On entering the restaurant, the air was odiferous (one of us thought cigarettes, the other thought from the kitchen). In the solarium room, things were better, but not completely. And when we returned home and unpacked two days later, the clothes we'd worn still reeked of the restaurant. Apparently the kitchen exhaust ventilation system either wasn't working properly, or is inadequate.

More to follow.

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