Sunday, April 28, 2013

#6 Square 1682

Woo off to Square 1682. Located at 17th and Sansom this walk from the Palm wasn't bad at all. The best way to describe this place would be to use words like "trendy" or "hip". Perusing the website earlier that day, Square 1682 described themselves as "Modern American". To me that means dark lighting, weird menu items, and small portions. Dark lighting- check. 

We had 8pm dinner reservations and got there right at 8. Our table wasn't ready for another 10 minutes so we sat at the bar and had a drink. Great bar. The space was fairly small- couldn't have had more than 15 tables in it plus the bar. Square is connected to Hotel Palomar so there were a lot of people sitting and eating at the bar. Once we sat down we got a look at the "Modern American" menu. Weird menu items- check. I remember thinking that I wish my dad was there to help me understand what everything meant. We kept googling the definition of things like watercress, cavatelli, and charred fennel. Maybe we should know what these things are but we are only slightly on our way to being foodies. 

The service was sub par, I kind of felt a bit neglected. But after my 11oz chard at the Palm I didn't really care too much. I will attribute my stepping out of the box on my entree choice to that same glass of wine. Before I go into what meals we ordered, I have to start with our stable app: calamari. Earlier that day I was telling some of my coworkers about my plans for the night. One of them said: "Don't get calamari again". I know, it's over done. And I owe it to my blog followers to change it up a bit, but the woman I was sitting next to at the bar was RAVING about it. She may or may not have had too many vodka martinis but, it did look delicious, so we went with it. And it was delicious. More so because of the sweet chili aioli on the side. (Please ignore my 12 year old boyfriend's finger placement in the background of the picture)

Now on to entrees. We were pretty indecisive at this point in our night. We both thought we could go with anything really. So thats what we did. I ordered the Lamb Short Ribs and Brendan ordered the Spring Beef Ragu. Small portions- no check! I was expecting 2 tiny ribs and a small bowl of ragu, but we were happily disappointed! Also I should add that the food was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. My short ribs came in a stack of 4 overtop of Lancaster cheddar grits. On top of the ribs was a corn succotash and a bourbon BBQ glaze. The lamb was so tender it actually fell off the bone and I am not just saying that. My mouth is watering as I write this. Please if you go to Square, get the Lamb Short Ribs!

Brendan got the Spring Beef Ragu. Beef short ribs, cavatelli, & wild mushrooms. I was a little wary for him because when I think of beef short ribs, it brings back bad crock pot memories. When we would come home from school when I was younger and that crock pot smell hit our noses, we all let out "oh no not the crock pot!!!" (sorry, Mom). Luckily, these beef short ribs were nothing of the sort. 

We would happily come back to Square 1682! Just a warning though, there are no bathrooms in the restaurant. You have to go up this back flight of steps into the hotel to get to the closest restroom. I might suggest bringing a buddy up those back steps because they are a little frightening. They slightly remind of an Law and Order SVU crime scene. Luckily I made it through my bathroom trip safe and sound and can now say I am a fan of modern american food! 

46 to go! 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

#5 The Palm

DATE NIGHT! I get way too excited about date night. Especially when planning date night pre gift cards consisted of a Friday afternoon text from my boyfriend saying "Want to just get a case and crush beers here?". Post gift cards, we live large. Like we go to the Palm in the Bellevue Hotel for drinks before 8pm dinner reservations. The decision to do pre dinner drinks here was perfect. My gift card to the Palm expired May 1st, so I really wanted to get this one off my back. We walked into the Bellevue and found the restaurant pretty easily. 2 seats at the bar were open, just waiting there for us, the universe aligned.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous to go here. I mean, it's "The Palm" in "The Bellevue". I didn't know what to expect. I kind of figured that the rich people of Philadelphia would scoff at us while they drank their 16 year old scotch. But I was wrong. The atmosphere was really welcoming and low key in the bar area. We had an awesome bartender who ignored the fact that I said "Arrowhead" chardonnay instead of "Arrowood" while ordering our drinks. I get nervous when I order nice wine, okay! He asked 6oz or 9oz, and since it was Friday date night and we had to spend $50 in 45 minutes, I said "9!". He decided to finish off the bottle and gave me about 11oz glass of wine. Fine by me.

Brendan ordered a Kettle on the rocks with a twist. See we're getting there. Then we ordered bacon wrapped scallops as an appetizer. Brendan doesn't typically like seafood, but little by little I am getting him to try it. It doesn't hurt when said seafood is wrapped in bacon either. But these were DELICIOUS. Shout out to my CHC peeps- Chartwells has nothing on these. The scallops were tender and the balsamic reduction on the side was a perfect addition.

I gave our gift card to the bartender before we ordered, and after the scallops came out he said we were up to $49 dollars. So two drinks one app, another gift card down. Yes, good decision to come here for just a drink. Overall it was great food, atmosphere, and company. The bartender was really friendly and we had a great conversation. I typically don't tell the people working at the restaurant the story of my contest prize, but I felt like it was okay to tell him. He probably got a few tips from retelling the story to his customers later on in the night.  Really thankful we got a chance to experience the Palm! 

Okay guys on to the next!!

Friday, April 12, 2013

#4 Estia

Go Greek or go home. I  was really excited to try Estia because I am a fan of Greek food. And by that I mean that I like feta cheese and pitas. So to someone who is pretty clueless on what exactly Greek food is, I was looking forward to trying something new. Estia is located on Broad & Locust, right near the Avenue of the Arts. They seem to attract a lot of theater go-ers because they have a reduced price "Theater Menu" for $30 for an appetizer, entree, and dessert. I loved the inside of Estia. The lighting was dimmed and it had a cozy feel with wooden walls and stone tiled ceilings. The restaurant just made me feel like I was in Greece. We got a booth on a raised section of the restaurant, so that was cute.

The menu items might as well have been in Greek. Oh wait, they were. Thankfully I brought my friend Katey who started to rattle off Greek words in perfect pronunciation like she's been a native speaker since birth. Katey and I lived across the hall from each other our freshman year of college and since then its been history!

One thing I have to say about Estia is that it is expensive. If you don't go with the $30 Theater Menu, entrees are about $45. Both being 2 broke girls living in the city, we decided it was most economical to order 4 appetizers to share. We started with a Romaine Salad (aka Cesar Salad). This side salad was definitely enough for 2 people to share. It had a nice lemon kick to it which I loved. We also got the Spanakopita. Kateys recommendation. It was a phyllo dough stuffed with leeks, scallions, spinach, and feta. Spinach, feta, sounded good to me. And it was delicious, but a bit salty. Is that a Greek thing? I don't know, but I would get it again.
 Our other appetizer was the Spread Pikilia. We got to choose 3 out of 4 spreads to have with pitas and some veggies. We decided on the Tzatziki which was yogurt, cucumber and dill. A little different than the Yogurt and Chive dip I usually get from Trader Joe's. Definitely my favorite of the 3. Next we got Htipiti which was roasted red peppers and feta cheese. This had a little spice to it but still really good. Finally, the Melitzano Salata which was basically roasted eggplant. My least favorite of the 3 and probably the healthiest (typical).
Finally, our last piece to the puzzle was the Yemista Kalamarakia. I was super excited about this because it was calamari stuffed with Greek cheeses. Two of my favorite things! But I guess I didn't read the menu well enough because much to my dismay the calamari was not fried. It was still very good, but we only ate 2 of 3, so we clearly didn't like it too much.  
I am happy to say that I am now obsessed with Greek food. Even though I just lightly dipped my foot into all that Greek food has to offer, next time I think I will dive in. Overall, Estia was great. The waiter was fantastic, Katey thinks he had a crush on us (she would.) which might have contributed to our wonderful service. I was a bit nervous to order just appetizers (sometimes places get annoyed if you do that) but our waiter was great about it and told us that our choices would definitely fill us up. And if not, we could always order something else (thankfully it didn't come to that).

1 salad + 3 apps + 2 glasses of wine= $79. Imagine if we got entrees? EEK! I guess the prices are well worth the food, the atmosphere, and the service. Thanks Estia for making my first Greek food experience so worthwhile! 

Friday, April 5, 2013

#3 Friday Saturday Sunday

Friday Saturday Sunday. On a Thursday night. I absolutely LOVED this place. Hidden on 21st and Spruce, I've passed this placed a million times and wondered what it was all about. We had an 8:30 dinner reservation and when we walked in there was only one other couple in the place. The space was fairly small and had a cozy vibe. There was light jazz playing in the background which really added to the peaceful feel of the place. The walls were adorned with huge paintings and mirrors. We sat in a corner booth so that Brendan and I were actually sitting next to each other rather than across. Kind of romantic. But, not so conducive for a 6'6 guy, but he sucked it up.

Okay food time. I read some reviews online about the cream of mushroom soup, so I had to try. In a word, perfect. Those gray specks in the soup were actually mushrooms. Huge fan!

Bren got a Cesar salad (bores). Deciding on the meal wasn't too difficult. There was only about 8 choices of dinner entrées. I should point out that on the menu there were two categories: small dishes and entrées. The small dishes were about $18-23, and the entrées had basically all of the same menu items as the small dishes, but they were about $27-30. If you wanted to split an entrée it was going to be $4 extra. I had never seen this on a menu before so I was slightly confused, but we made it through. I figured since I had the soup, I would go with a small dish. Brendan obviously went with an entrée. I got butternut squash ravioli. Again, perfect. It was the perfect combination of savory and sweet and the sauce was delicious. It even had pine nuts mixed in which really added to the dish. Brendan went with the dijon chicken which was also fabulous. The chicken was breaded and layed on top of mashed potatoes.

As if that wasn't enough food we had to get dessert. I have to say I was not full after my soup and my small plate. That is probably just me because the amount of food that would fill a normal person usually isn't enough for me. Plus I had just run 6 miles before dinner so I really built up my appetite (lame excuse? yep.) The second I saw cheesecake with chocolate crust, that was it. Had to get it. It was probably my favorite part of the meal. Nice in size and the perfect amount of chocolate chips in the cheesecake. When Brendan took the last bite I was actually angry. Next time I'm getting my own. 

Friday Saturday Sunday was the perfect date night spot. I would definitely go back. 2 drinks + 2 apps + 2 dinners + 1 dessert= $87! That was a huge surprise to me, but just reaffirms my statement to get back there. 

3 down, where to next?!