Last week was restaurant week in Philadelphia. Great opportunity to try out a couple of places and not break the bank. On Thursday night I went to Philadelphia Fish and Company in Old City. A friend of mine had been taken there for her birthday and really enjoyed it, so she wanted me to try it. We had an eight-o-clock reservation and got there about 15 minutes early so we could have a drink at the bar. My first impression on walking in was that the space had been divided up in an odd manner. But it smelled good, and not fishy, which the Sansom Street Oyster House always does to me. The bar was small, as were the cocktails, but decently made. The hostess was extremely gracious. When we were seated at our table, I realized that there was hardly enough room on the table for our place settings, menus, candle and everything else. Just because there were only two of us hardly means we like to fight for space at the table. Fortunately none of the dishes were served on overly large plates. That always feels awkward and rather farcical to have a little tiny table and this enormous plate. Large, cartoonish, stainless steel fish sculptures and a subtle harlequin print on the walls lend towards a Mardi Gras undertone.
I started with the sea scallops in a brown butter and curry cauliflower puree, with baby arugula salad. They gave me three scallops and they were delicious and beautifully presented. It was the perfect number for a starter, and they were cooked perfectly, nothing rubbery. The puree was also quite tasty, I think it might have had some coconut milk in it. It had a little islandy flair thing going on. The arugula "salad" was about five sprigs of arugula, which was just the right amount, but I'm not sure it can constitute a salad. For my main dish I had the BBQed shrimp with Cheddar grits, collard greens, andouille sausage. I was underwhelmed. The presentation was sloppy, the grits were un-cheddary, the collard greens were overdone and sort of brownish which I could see even in the dim light, the sausage was just sort of there, and the shrimp were a bit overdone as well. The flavors, aside from the lack of cheddar were decent, spicy, and tangy, but not too. My friend got the Yellow Fin Tuna Seared rare, with sweet potato puree, ginger haricot verts, spiced red wine reduction. It was beautifully prepared and presented, and truly delicious.
Over all I would say that the Philadelphia Fish and Company is inconsistent. Some things are quite nice, while others leave something to be desired. I don't think I would go back for dinner, but it might be a nice place for lunch.