Just spent a whirlwind weekend in Philadelphia. Mostly, I had some amazing food and loved my too short trip.
First stop off the highway. We scored with parking near the convention center, right on Arch Street. I was shocked that parking was $3 an hour! I thought Boston was a rip at $1.25 an hour. Regardless, as we headed towards the convention center, I saw a street sign that had food from Xi'an. we decided to stop for a quick, small lunch before heading towards an early dinner.
Xi'an Sizzling Woks - there were a lot of tempting items on this item. But, it was only 2 hours before dinner so we showed some restraint. We got the chinese hamburger and the spicy sour pork noodles. The chinese "hamburger" was fantastic. Braised pieces of pork in just the right kind of chinese bun. Bread was much better then the bread at Gene's (Boston) and MDM (Bos), since it tasted fresher. The noodles also had a great flavor but the broth to noodle ratio was off. It could have used more noodles. The same chunks of braised pork in the burger was in the soup.
Zahav - we arrived at Zahav a few minutes before opening. We scored seats at the bar and proceeded to have the most amazing dinner. I was really glad I showed restraint at Xi'an. The bartender, Chris, was both knowledgeable and friendly. He also didn't hover, giving us a chance to catch up with friends. We went with the tasting menu and since there were four of us, we had one of everything other then the chicken and branzino grilled dishes. One friend was still in passover mode and Chris brought her homemade matzo to eat with the spreads.
I can't say what I loved the most, but the things that stuck in my head include the fennel salad, beet salad (it's roasted in salt, pureed with tehina), grilled duck hearts and the duck and foie kebab. That last dish was swoon worthy.
Desserts were also delicious. Not a weak link in the meal and it was topped off with happy hour priced drinks, a GREAT bartender and fun company.
The Dutch - thanks to Chris from the previous night on the lead to the Dutch. It was close to our lodging so we ambled on over. Once there, we had a hard time narrowing down our food choices. The room is very welcoming and the chef/owner was friendly and efficient. We split:
Uitsmijter - two sunny eggs, gouda, 1732 meats guanciale, grilled rye bread, salad, pickles
Grilled Vegetable omelette - market vegetables, goat cheese, lemon, herb
Roasted Mushroom omelette - taleggio cheese, truffle oil
Special italian hoagie.
We also really wanted to try one of the dutch babies as well as the special banana bread stuffed fried french toast. But, we barely could finish what we had ordered. The chef/owner told us he had only been open for a couple of weeks and tasting at the food and seeing the business of the place, he'll be successful.
Modo Mio - dinner here was another hit. I loved that it was BYO. Since we were a large party of six, we had to order the tasting menu. The starting bread boded well for the rest of the meal. Some standouts included:
Testaroli - Ligurian pancakes, sweet peas, basil pesto, house made ricotta, horseradish
Tagliatelle - Fresh pasta ribbons, truffled mushroom, chicken liver rage
Agnolotti - Piemontese ravioli with rabbit, almond and sage brown butter
Zuppe di Pesce - Roman seafood stew in the style of Caesar, seasonal fish, mussels, shrimp, spicy calamari, scallops, crab, coconut-tomato broth
Our last lunch was a let down. We all wanted to try a Philly cheesesteak. But, after being rained on all morning, I couldn't bear the thought of finding parking and walking in the rain. A couple of the friends had gotten breakfast subs at Rocco's Italian at the Home Depot so we decided to head there. What they neglected to say was that there was more then one and that the cart was outside. Anyway, we ended up ordering a couple of subs and ate them in the car. The first bite was good: I thought the meat was the perfect cut, chopped enough but not too much. I also really liked the bread. But, there wasn't enough cheese and it was woefully under seasoned. It didn't stop us from finishing it, but after the preceding amazing meals, this was a bit of a letdown.
All in all, I really liked Philadelphia. I did walk through the Reading International Terminal but I was still full from the Dutch and all the people made me a bit antsy. I would have liked to explore some of the stands there as well as the cookbook stall. Next visit.