Disclaimer: One of the frequent posters to this Board, Barb Cohan-Saavedra, is the co-owner of Paloma. When we arrived at the restaurant, I introduced myself to her and we spoke for some time. After the meal, she graciously comped our desserts. While this generosity certainly enhanced our experience, I don't think it affected the overall review. At any rate, I thought I should put this up front.
My wife and I had an outstanding meal on Saturday night at Paloma, 6516 Castor Ave, Philadelphia, near the intersection of Castor and the Boulevard. The cuisine is an interesting blend of French and Mexican. The restaurant is on a non-descript block of Castor Ave across from the Drug Emporium. As we walked up to Paloma, we were welcomed by some preteen boys attempting to puff away at cigarettes.
Inside, the dining room is pretty though unremarkable. Surprisingly we were the only party of 2 in the whole place as there were three large parties of 6 or 8. Our server was of Hispanic origin and had a good command of the menu and wine list.
We started with the Two Bean Soup and the Mushroom Flan. The soup ($5) was served with a yin-yang effect: pureed black on the left and white bean soup on the right with a dollop of creme fresh in the middle. The flan ($8) was creamy and eggy with the strong earthy taste of mushroom.
The better of the two entrees that we ordered was the lobster chile relleno ($23.50). The relleno was traditional in that it was a charred poblano with the char removed dipped in egg batter and fried. The filling featured enormous chunks of lobster tossed with Mexican spices. The relleno sat atop whipped potatoes and three different sauces. Truly fantastic. In addition, we ordered an everyday special: a phyllo beggar's purse filled with huge pieces of jumbo lump crabmeat ($18?). Served with asparagus spears, carrots and the same whipped potatoes, this dish was great as well.
With the entrees, we sampled some of the chef's homemade habanero sauce. Made with fresh habaneros, it was powerful. To generate substantial heat, all I needed to do was to dunk my fork in the sauce, shake off the sauce and then eat a forkful of my entree. That was enough to create fire.
The numerous (10+) desserts all are homemade by Barb (except the creme brulee) and all looked wonderful. Lisa had the chocolate cake ($5), filled with a chocolate ganache and topped with coconut. At Barbara's suggestion, I had the sweet potato pie sorbet($5). Served with homemade sweet vanilla ice cream, the sorbet tasted like a sweet potato pie placed in a blender, liquified and frozen. The texture was more of a sweet potato puree than a sorbet, more full and less icy.
Without the discount and with 2 glasses of wine, the bill came to $95 before tip. Though not cheap, we did go all out. I definitely would return. Too bad we can't have a DDC there. Unless, we make it $40 or so per person. . .anyone up for it?