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Report: Weekend in Philadelphia with a side trip to Doylestown (long!)

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Report: Weekend in Philadelphia with a side trip to Doylestown (long!)

Louise | Sep 29, 2003 03:51 PM

I just returned from a first visit to Pennsylvania - Philadelphia and Doylestown, to be exact. My husband and my parents and I (we live in NY and NJ, respectively) drove down for the weekend. I spent a good bit of time on your boards researching food in preparation, and we had a great CH trip as a result.

One of my major goals was to eat four different types of cheese steak – Pat’s, Geno’s, Jim’s, and Dalessandro’s – but sadly my group wimped out and I only got to try Pat’s and Geno’s which I understand and the most touristy. However I really enjoyed both – we all preferred the chopped steak at Pat’s to sliced at Geno’s. But I preferred the Cheese Whiz, which I chose at Geno’s, versus the provolone, which I had at Pat’s. It just seems right with Cheese Whiz. The bread was better at Pat’s. We had onions at both.

From there it was on to Reading Terminal Market (we took a break, we’re not supermen). It’s a great place, but I think I may have enjoyed it more as a Philly resident than visitor since the most tempting things were what I’d take home for a dinner party – cheese, produce, meats, etc. I would kill for a place like it in Brooklyn! As an eater-on-the-go though I liked but did not love it. I’m not really big on sweets and bready stuff, so the recommended ice cream, chocolates and pretzel didn’t really tickle my fancy. Also I got a bit overwhelmed and failed to take good notes so I’m not really sure from where I ate the following – I’ll try to recall as best I can:
-Firework Grill? Some interesting sandwich – sliced leg of lamb, lettuce, tomato, brie and a Dijon mustard sauce. The “sauce” was in fact Dijon mustard from what I could tell, and there was way too much of it, but a good sandwich nonetheless.

-Seafood place: snapper soup and ½ dozen oysters. Oysters were decent and good value; soup was very tomato-y and not so great.

-Husband had an éclair from Termini ?) pastries – chocolate with custard inside. It was great, and he inhaled it.

-Florentine lace cookies – chocolate and vanilla – delish.

We also bought some mustard and, on a non-chow note, I bought some cucumber bath salts which smelled nice but dissolved into a thick green slime in the bath!! The Hulk takes Philadelphia….(well, my clothes were ripped after two cheese steaks and the market….).

For dinner, we went to La Castagne. It was very nice; not amazing but very good across the board. Everything was a nice portion size and presentation. We had:
-grilled vegetables with fresh mozzarella and balsamic reduction: decent mozz; lovely eggplant, decent zucchini and squash.
-puff pastry with mushrooms and four cheeses – two orders of this and it was delicious
-ravioli with shrimp in a saffron cream sauce – very unshrimpy but a lovely sauce and very nice, large, triangular handmade ravioli
-trofie with I’m afraid I can’t remember exactly what – pesto? – really tasty, once again perfect handmade pasta
-Cornish hen roasted with marsala and mushrooms – two of these – a real winner. Classic as opposed to innovative but really well done.
-a special rack of lamb – specifics of which I can’t recall. Once again not creative but really tasty. Very well-cooked and wonderful lamb was used.
-a special double-cut pork chop which was very interesting – stuffed with pecorino wrapped in pancetta, and then sauced with yellow pepperoncini and a kind of pickled pepperoncini glaze? This is once again tough to recall and also was by far the most unusual thing. The stuffing was a bit of a failure – good stuff but not really a stuffing so much as an insertion – a little rectangle of hard cheese in the middle with one layer of pancetta around it. It didn’t disperse within the chop enough to be considered stuffing. It made a nice side bite though. The pork chop was fine without any extras though – a very tasty chop, juicy and cooked to medium perfection.

My only complaint is the drinks – they have a very nice cocktail menu and wine list but were out of some things. E.g. mojitos could not be made due to lack of mint, and a very nice glass of CA Gewurtz was unable to be duplicated due to their running out. All in a all a great meal, nice service, a pretty place, and the prices really were quite fair for the quality and swankiness of surroundings. I saw a complaint on this board regarding the prices but I disagree – not cheap by any means but not a rip off at all.

Sunday morning we went to Carman’s, waylaid briefly by a bad flat tire but we changed it in the rain and proceeded immediately on the donut tire – a new tire could wait till after we tried this amazing place. And truly, it was amazing. Anyone who lives in Philadelphia must know so I won’t go on and on, but wow, what a place, food amazing, people amazing, to the controversial CH who was on here crabbing about the price, you are entitled to your opinion but this was worth every penny to me. But I think that guy was complaining about a $13 asparagus omelet – I had one with asparagus, chives, tomatoes and blue cheese which was $12, so maybe the prices have gone down? Regardless I would have paid $15 for it. And such sweet sweet people there.

We spent the rest of the day driving all over town to every tire shop, literally EVERY one, and wound up having to drive home to NJ on the donut without exceeding 50 mph. Fortunately this meant country roads, which meant an unexpected trip to Doylsetown. We had a late lunch (almost 4:00) at Paganinis – really cute Italian place with a full bar (GREAT cocktails, what a gin & tonic) and delish carbonara, bresaola, gorgonzola plate, and a special of the day pappardelle with pancetta in a spicy-ish creamy tomato sauce.

If we go back to Philadelphia, we’ll probably eat at Django – the menu looks amazing. There are a lot of great choices in that town though – you people know how to eat! (now if only I had planned ahead and found some good places to go out later and hear live music….someone sent us to South Street (the end by the water) and I think we would have had to have been in a fraternity or bachelorette party to enjoy ourselves – please correct me if I missed something!!!). Anyway there’s a lot more to see so we will go back someday…oh and will plan ahead for Studio Kitchen.

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