On my third recent trip to Philly, I finally struck out. I had a mostly unpleasant weekend of eating. It left a bad taste in my mouth.
The best thing we had was something of our own creation: we went to Franklin Fountain and ordered a phosphate with rose, lavender, and violet syrups. Wow, completely fantastic. The girl behind the counter cautioned us that it could be too floral, but it really hit the spot.
Our other attempts:
Down Home Diner, RTM.
We intended to eat DiNic's, but they were out of food. Had "Grandma's" Meat Loaf instead. I'm sorry, Grandma, but you'll have to pack up your knives and go home. Served broccoli that was a mixture of nearly raw and grossly overcooked florets. (reminds me of a Green Acres joke. Y'know how Lisa Douglas could only make hotcakes? Every episode she would fix a different variation. Hotcakes 'a la mode' was a cold hotcake on top of a hot one).
Our major disaster was at Amada. One good/great dish of grilled green onions. Large, plump, lightly charred, and caramelized. Gorgeous.
Pequillo pepper stuffed with crab meat. Overheated crab with a putrid flavor (the crab came out burning hot, we had to wait for a while to to dig in). Tasted like what happens when you reheat crab to death. I guess I'm one of those people who thinks crab, if eaten out of the shell, needs to be treated gently.
Lamb chop stuffed with goat cheese. This came out as a huge, breaded, deep fried ball. Four times the goat cheese as lamb, those poor little suckers didn't stand a chance. Little or no lamb flavor and a bit tough to boot.
The worst, though, was a shrimp and chorizo flatbread. Papery crust similar to thin-crust Dominos (but maybe not as good) with a small mound in the middle that tasted mostly of ketchup. I did not detect much in the way of shrimp, and any chorizo flavor was lost in the ketchup. These three were crimes against food.
The final dish we ordered was parmesan artichoke. Comically small portion. Nothing special about how it was done, and no artichoke flavor. As someone who has artichoke at home quite a bit, I very well understand how they can be tasteless or flavorful from one specimen to the next.
Amada was massively noisy. What a din! I can't see going back, although I imagine many of their simple dishes like patatas bravas and ham croquettes are outrageously good, judging from the green onions. If I had chosen better, maybe this could have been a good meal.... they were out of the roast pork. I detect a theme to my weekend......
John's Roast Pork.
Had the cheesesteak and the roast pork. Roast pork is awful. (if only they had run out!) Insanely peppery, completely masking any pork flavor. Threw half of it away. Cheesesteak 'innards' were a glorious mess. I was a bit disappointed with the roll, which was quite bready yet tough to tear. Maybe it's just my imagination, but no contest to the rolls at Nick's Cafe, Shank and Evelyn's, or Tony Luke's, to name just a few.
All three 'house' flavor of phosphates at Franklin Fountain are more interesting to watch being made than to drink. The Franklin Mint sundae is nice but nothing special. A traditional Philly Egg Cream is made with heavy cream and egg powder. Egg powder did not dissolve properly, yecch.
Turkish toast is an amateurish grilled cheese sandwich. Had it with pepperoni. Throw on some tomato sauce, and you might have eaten something like this in your dorm room when you were truly desperate. Turkish Hot dog is with a weak tomato sauce (Hunt's?) and a mayo based vegetable salad. Thoroughly disgusting. Chicken lemon soup was straight out of Campbell's, but they forgot to add the lemon.
Capogiro, tried nine flavors. Way better than anything we have in the DC area. Might be tempted to try all 327 flavors. Nothing as heavenly as Ottho in NYC, though, which boasts intense flavor on hazelnut, pistachio, and caramel on a head-to-head comparison.
Other things we tried:
Cannoli at Termini Brothers. Cheese filing is best of the lot. Still, nothing special.
Choc. peanut butter pretzels are very good at Mueller's.
Momma Mia cheese spread at Salumeria. For hotheads only. A bit aggravating to eat, maybe super spicy cheese is not my thing. Good sesame pretzel sticks.