The Palm in Philadelphia, PA

How many times do you have to try a restaurant before having a definite opinion about the food they serve? This is a good question for which I do not have the answer after my experience with The Palm. Imagine this: I first tried The Palm located Midtown New York for lunch, during restaurant week. It was not good at all: the quality of the meat was poor and they bathed the steak with a wine sauce that was not that great...The second time was in Vegas. We ordered the filet mignon: disappointing again! 
So, why did we end up at The Palm in Philadelphia? Simply because it was raining!!!

The restaurant had a warm atmosphere with its booths and leather seats. The service was efficient and very courteous.

Now, let's talk about food! Jodi ordered the filet mignon.
 It was a delicious 9 ounces piece of meat, that was at the perfect temperature. The meat was tender and juicy.

I ordered the boneless ribeye.
This was a big piece of steak: 18 ounces! The meat was incredibly good with a nice charr on each sides. It was tender and juicy too! No need to tell you that I finished it! We ordered a bearnaise sauce to eat with the steaks: it was fantastic. 

As sides, we picked the goat cheese whipped mashed potatoes and the roasted brussels sprouts.
The mashed potatoes were awesome! This is the first time I try a goat cheese one. It was delicious and light. They could have put some more cheese though! 
They were roasted with lemon brown butter. It was just ok for me. I prefer the brussels sprouts more cooked.

Although I did not really enjoy the brussels sprouts, I had a phenomenal dinner! But had no room for dessert unfortunately!!! I will have to go back...

Enjoy (I did)!

Palm on Urbanspoon

Salumeria, Amazing hoagie, in Philadelphia, PA

This year again, we went to the Reading Terminal Market and ended up at Salumeria, an Italian deli that serves cheeses and delicious sandwiches.

But we went back for the hoagies (or sub / Italian sandwich). We ordered the Italian Hoagie.
On the photo above, you see only half of this foot long sandwich, made with salad, provolone, ham, mortadella, capricola and salami.
That was a fantastic sandwich: delicious bread and divine meats! What else to ask? If you are in the Reading Terminal Market, stop there: you will not regret it!

Enjoy (I did)!

  Salumeria on Urbanspoon

The Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, PA

You cannot go to Philadelphia without visiting the Reading Terminal Market! This place has some incredible food! Not all the food is good, but they have some little gems there!

I love going to this kind of places where there are so many different merchants that you do not know where to go and what to eat! They serve: meat, fish, vegetables, ice cream, pastries... And then, you can eat French (crepes!), Thai, Italian, Middle Eastern...
Each time we went to Philly, we stopped there!

The variety of food is so amazing that just walking around will make you discover some incredible vendors such as Wan's seafood!
Their stand look amazing and fresh!
I saw these huge Wild Shrimp! Trust me, these, simply grilled on a BBQ must be fantastic!

There is also an Amish owned traditional deli, called The Riehl Deli.
Not only do they have a wide variety of cheeses, they have tons of meats!
But what caught my eyes was clearly on the sweet side...

First were the Termini Brothers with their Italian cookies!
And decadent cakes!
Then, the custom made Chocolate by Mueller:
They seem to have some amazing creation like the chocolate brain....
Pretty funny!

There is also the phenomenal Flying Monkey!
Look at that! If I did not have to go to the Franklin Fountain later on, I would have had some of their cakes!
They looked incredible!

So definitely, the Reading Terminal Market is the place to go for some surprising and decadent food! I will stop there next time again for sure! By the way, it is there that we found Salumeria, an authentic Italian hoagies joint!

If you go, before leaving, do not forget to make a donation to Philbert, the pig in the center of the market! It goes to charity for children of the community!

Enjoy (I did)!

The Franklin Fountain ice cream in Philadelphia, PA

image of The Franklin Fountain ice cream in Philadelphia, PA

Another spot we wanted to check after watching Man vs Food was The Franklin Fountain, an ice cream parlor serving homemade ice cream. The place is tiny! There is no table or seat inside, so the only choice is to eat outside. When it is more than 100 degrees, it is a bit brutal, even if the ice cream will cool you! I was just surprised as, watching the show, I did not imagine that it was so small.

The decor (ornate ceiling and porcelain mosaic tiles on the floor) and the uniform of the employees definitely give the old fashion feel that the Berley brothers wanted to give to the place when they opened in 2004.

image of The Franklin Fountain ice cream in Philadelphia, PA

In term of ice cream, they serve homemade ice creams with flavor like vanilla bean, peanut butter, cherry vanilla...So we tried the coconut one.
Image of coconut ice cream at The Franklin Fountain ice cream in Philadelphia, PA
For sure it was creamy, but it was a bit lacking the taste of coconut. Disappointing. The cone was good though...

Then, we tried the Mt Vesuvius.
Image of Mt Vesuvius ice cream at The Franklin Fountain ice cream in Philadelphia, PA
Imagine that: vanilla ice cream, homemade whipped cream, homemade brownies, chocolate fudge and malt powder. Seem pretty decadent! The brownies were delicious and they were pretty generous with the quantity! In fact, the brownies and the fudge were the only things I liked!!! The vanilla ice cream was bland as well as the whipped cream. Disappointing again!

So sad: on the show, it really looked phenomenal, but it was just insipid. I think next time I will go for gelato in the Italian market!

Enjoy (the post only)!
Franklin Fountain on Urbanspoon

Amazing dinner at Vetri in Philadelphia, PA

We went to the restaurant of Marc Vetri in Philadelphia, simply called Vetri, last year. Since then, I kept dreaming about it! It is a fantastic place! Although pricey, it is worth it considering the overall experience: not only the food, but also the plating and the service that were great! So, we decided to go back to celebrate our Wedding Anniversary.

Let start with the restaurant itself: it is a townhouse that has been transformed into a restaurant. So, it has some warmth in it that gives the impression you are dining at a friend (except when they bring the check). We only went there in the evening and each time, they dimmed the light, giving an intimate atmosphere to the experience. Unfortunately, it did not help for my photos that are quite dark as I refuse to use the flash (maybe I should revisit that one...). There are not that many tables, so make sure you reserve before going, especially around the Holidays! 

On the week end, they only serve the tasting menu (6 courses). It is composed of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. You either choose what you would like to eat or you let the Chef decide for you. Of course, you can mention anything you do not like at all from the menu or communicate any allergy you may have.
We decided to go with letting the Chef pick for us (except that we asked specifically for the sweet onion crepe and the almond tortellini)!

Before we ordered, they offered us some Prosecco (they did that last year) and brought us a tasting plate with some salumi and foie gras toasts that were delicious and perfect to open the appetite.

They also brought some veggies with a delicious balsamic vinegar reduction.
The last thing they brought before the dishes started to arrive was an amazing bread with olives (focaccia and semolina).

Now that we were in appetite, we started the plat de resistance! We started off with the salads: Jodi got the artichoke salad.

It was served with parmigiano reggiano and mache salad. It was very light and well seasoned. The sauce was simply made with lime, that added some freshness to the dish.

Then, we had the Dungeness crab salad with peaches and mache.

To my surprise, I loved it. I tried Dungeness crab in San Francisco few years ago and did not really liked it. The crab was perfectly cooked and the dish was light and fresh (again with a lime dressing, but also the peaches).

The next dish was the roasted squab with eggplant and cocoa vinaigrette.

It was very tasty and I thought that the eggplant complimented very well the squab. I did not really taste the cocoa vinaigrette though.

Then came the Sweet onion crepe with truffle fondue.

If you like caramelized onions, this is for you! We had a quick chat about this dish with the server and he told us that it takes more than 10 hours to caramelized the onions! Not sure I will try this at home! But the best part of the conversation was when he described the dish as a deconstruction of a French onion soup (onions = onions, crepe = croutons). I thought it was a perfect description for this amazing dish!

The next round of dishes was pasta.

Jodi got the Spinach gnocchi with brown butter.

What you do not want is a heavy gnocchi! These were light and although I am not a huge fan of spinach, I really enjoyed the dish. It was light and very tasty. The brown butter sauce was to die for!

Then came my long awaited Almond tortellini.

They are served with a truffle sauce incredibly good! This is the second dish to try if you go there! Imagine that all the pasta they serve are homemade; I can tell you that you can taste the difference! The tortellini were light and were melting in my mouth. You could definitely taste the almonds and the truffle sauce had this fantastic subtle taste.

The next pasta dishes were the Black pepper lamb sausage parpaddelle with pecorino cheese and the Chanterelle and corn doppio ravioli with scallion.

This was also outstanding! The lamb sausage reminded me of merguez that I talk about often on this blog. The paparddelle, that are large tagliatelle / fettuccinni, were also amazing! These homemade pasta rock! It was again light and the pasta were perfectly cooked.

The chanterelle and corn ravioli were outstanding too! In fact, they put next to each other a chanterelle ravioli and a corn ravioli. You can either taste them separately or together, giving to the dish a different dimension each time. Making the ravioli with chanterelle was a good choice as these mushrooms are phenomenal.

The last set of dishes before dessert were Polenta and zucchini flower beignets, and Maialino with zolfini beans and pickled asparagus.
The polenta and zucchini flower beignets was my least favorite dish. I did not think that all the elements worked together and it was a bit bland.
Maialino is pork meat. It was very tender with a crispy skin. The beans were a bit crunchy and the pickled asparagus surprisingly delicious. The elements of the dish worked perfectly together.

So that was it for the entrees. Then came the time for dessert. Or should I say pre-dessert! Yes, you read correctly: before eating our desserts, they brought us some ice cream and cookies!
The ice cream was a cherry sorbetto made with goose berries. The way they make it is by crushing the cherries and then make a sorbet. It had a clean taste and was perfect to freshen our palates.
They had brownies, shortbread...Hard to resist before dessert, that came few minutes later:
Jodi got the Raspberry clafoutis (a baked French dessert of usually black cherries arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter). I liked it, although I would consider that it was more an interpretation of a clafoutis than a traditional one.

I got the pistachio flan with white chocolate gelato.
That was an amazing dessert! I loved it. A bit warm, it had this buttery taste that was to die for and was not too sweet! Loved it! Eating the flan with the gelato was divine!

That was a lot of food! When you see the quantities, you would think that you would be hungry, but trust me: the walk back to the hotel was necessary!

Vetri is a favorite and I would not be surprised that we will go back each time we go back to Philadelphia! It is the perfect example of Italian food brought to the next level! A must try!

Enjoy (I surely did)!

Vetri on Urbanspoon

Pat's vs. Tony Luke's Cheesesteak in Philadephia, PA

I love Philadelphia: great city close to New York, with a fantastic food scene! Imagine that it is where there is the original Morimoto restaurant, where Marc Vetri has his amazing venue (review to come)! I will also mention the Reading Terminal Market, Sabrina's or Honey's for brunch!

But for sure, you cannot go to Philly without trying a Philly Cheesesteak! Now, there are many, many places serving this delicious sandwich, but not all of them are great. I remember that way back, we went to Philly with Jodi and a friend of mine from France, Malika. We found this amazing place close to the university that served us an amazing cheesesteak. It was not a popular joint and dinners were mainly students. Too bad that at that time I did not have the blog: no photo and no address! I then tried Geno's: this was fabulous! I remember the delicious bread and this incredibly tender meat. Then last year, we went to Geno's main competitor: Pat's King of Steaks.

Although the cheesesteak looked amazing, it was not good at all: not enough cheese when ordering something else than cheese whiz (provolone for instance), the meat was tough and the bread just ok. It left a sensation of dryness that was very disappointing!

This year, we went to Tony Luke's, thanks to the show Man vs Food (I always check where Adam goes). To be honest, I thought that Geno's was in fact Tony Luke's!!! But when we arrived there, after a 1h30 walk in a terrible heat, I realized it was not that! So, anyway, we ordered two foot long cheesesteaks. 

The first cheesesteak was with cheese whiz.
The second one with provolone.
Note that the color of the photo can be a bit greenish because of the lighting where we were sitting. 

So, let me tell you: this was amazing! I inhale mine and got part of Jodi's cheesesteak (no choice: it is solely for the blog - and yes: I am fully dedicated). First of all, not only were they generous on the meat portion, but it tasted amazingly good! It was made of ribeye and was tender, juicy and cooked to perfection. The bread was perfect too, very soft. Last but not least was the cheese: nice amount! It was the first time I tried cheese whiz and found that it was it was pretty good with the steak!

So definitely a good joint! A bit far from the center, but worth the trip!

Enjoy (I did)!

Tony Luke's on UrbanspoonPat's King of Steaks on Urbanspoon