Eatin’ in Philadelphia 2

May 4, 2013 at 11:14 PM Leave a comment

After a week eating in New Orleans, it was going to be a tough follow-up as Jeff traveled to Philadelphia. The last time he needed to work there, he had some excellent food at Chifa and Barbuzzo and was in-fact looking forward to the diversity. To make the change he decided to eat “as far from NOLA” as possible. This trip would be Greek and Italian. It was a good adventure.

Vetri has been called the best Italian restaurant in America. It is regularly listed as one of the top 20 restaurants in the country of any type. Jeff tried to dine there two years ago, but could not secure a table. This time, he was lucky…boy was he lucky!

Vetri offers only a multi-course Chef’s tasting menu. You arrive and are shown a list of the things being prepared that evening. Unless you have some dietary restrictions or are dying to try one specific offering, you are left in the Chef’s capable hands. Michele does not like this type of eating, inevitably feeling she’s consumed too much, or they deliver something she doesn’t like, but feels compelled to eat, so with Jeff alone, it was the perfect opportunity. Jeff told the waiter that he was glad the Chef was making the decisions, because he couldn’t! They also offer a wine pairing in two grades and a beer pairing. Wine by the bottle is also available.

While perusing the scrumptious list, a complementary glass of champagne is poured and an amuse buche of house made cheeses and house cured meats is served. Salumi, prociutto, foie gras and reggiano were each flawless. The fun then began!

First was Orata (a Mediterranean fish) in a beautiful green fava bisque. This was followed by a Sweet Onion Crepe with a truffle fondue. The Spinach Gnocchi with Brown Butter was about to be Jeff’s favorite course until the Setaro premium pasta) Porcini with Braised Snails arrived. Jeff argued with himself all the way back to the hotel trying to decide which was better. As of this writing, he is still arguing with no result in sight. The last dish was an unlisted goat entrée that may spoil him for goat forever into the future.

Dessert was perfect, dinner was perfect, the service was perfect, the evening was perfect. Jeff cannot imagine a restaurant being better and he thinks he know why. Chef Marc Vetri was ever present. The folks at the table next to him were acquaintances, on the other side, their children when to school with him. He asked Jeff if everything was as expected. (Of course it was!) Then back into the kitchen, not the food network or the airport. Vetri is not cheap, but then again, nothing this fabulous would, or could be. You get what you pay for and at Vetri, you get an avalanche.

The first evening in Philadelphia was spent in a crowded neighborhood corner eatery with the food of Greece and Cyprus. Kanella is an unassuming space, but the simple ends there. The Bureki appetizer was phillo filled with feta and thyme, drizzled with a luscious honey, tinted with thyme and beets. The dish did not leave the table without a finger drawn through the scented sweet drippings. Jeff’s entrée was Goat Stew with crispy okra and a lovely wheat barley-type grain (called “berries” in the menu.) A dollop of yogurt kept the Mediterranean spunk in check. This was an excellent dish. We could argue if this goat was better than Vetri’s, but really, who cares? Both were at the top of their game! Dessert was a Moroccan Orange Almond Tart with Cardamom ice cream, the perfect cool and creamy end to a wonderful meal.

Kanella is a BYOB restaurant. BYOB restaurants are apparently very popular in Philadelphia. If you enjoy wine with your meal, you may want to note this information on restaurant’s respective websites.

Before leaving town, Jeff couldn’t go without a turkey sandwich from The Original Turkey in the Reading Terminal Market. This is very good turkey, tender, juicy and flavorful piled on fresh baked bread. One of Jeff’s Philly favorites!

After a few trips to Philadelphia, Jeff has come to appreciate the culinary adventure. With Chinese-Peruvian food at Chifa, Cyprus cuisine at Kanella and flawless Italian at Vetri, Philadelphia is almost as cross-cultural as Cleveland.  1312 Spruce Street Philadelphia, PA 19107 215-732-3478  1001 Spruce Street Philadelphia, PA 19107 215-422-1773  45 North 12th Street Philadelphia, PA 19107 215-925-5598

Entry filed under: Eatin' Out of Town. Tags: , , , , .

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