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Serrano in Old City

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Serrano in Old City

h. novalis | Sep 17, 2005 01:11 PM

If you’re in Philadelphia looking for an intimate, classy drinking and dining atmosphere with an eclectic continental menu to choose from you might want to try Serrano (the restaurant downstairs from the Tin Angel on 2nd Street between Market and Chestnut in Old City).
For a starter, I had bruschetta followed by the octopus salad as my entrée. The bruschetta came in abundance, artistically stacked on the plate and adorned with some yummy brown garlic sauce that looked very much like chocolate syrup. It’s a ridiculously good summer for tomatoes and there were plenty, drizzled with olive oil and laced with fresh basil piled over toasted baguette. The reggiano cheese was sliced into generous little strips and the proscuitto rolled into a tube was a nice touch.
The grilled octopus was a little startling at first because it came in its skin, which is not how I’ve had it in the past. Apparently, though, leaving its skin on protects the octopus from overcooking and adds an interesting flavor and texture to the meal even if it makes the dish look like something from Neptune (which being a fan of Japanese cuisine, I can really get into). It had a bite of red chili pepper which was both surprising and tasty and worked very well with the mild sweetness of the octopus.
The salad consisted of romaine lettuce hearts, red and orange grape tomatoes, kalamata olives and capers (of which there were so many that I thought initially they were peas). Also, the feta cheese was soft and sharp and offset the spiciness quite well. The “round” theme of this salad provided a nice visual and added to the unique strangeness of the dish. I’m not a huge fan of capers and would have preferred more variety in the olives but overall it was delicious and provided plenty of food. The rest of the menu offered a lot of options including New York strip steak, several seafood and chicken dishes, and a Mediterranean veggie tapas that caught my eye.
Serrano seems like it would be a good place for a date if you’re trying to impress someone who has a high level of cultural sophistication and it’s perfectly situated in proximity to the Ritz or Old City galleries if you’re looking for an arty evening out. The music was good and not annoying and the service was pleasant without being gratuitous. I also really enjoyed the red walls, mirrors, chandeliers and bedboard-styled bar which gives the place the feeling that it’s not in Philadelphia—and not really in America.

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