Wednesday, September 25, 2013

#18 Ristorante Panorama

Post 1 of 2 of my restaurant week series of 52 first meals. I figure this is where I can really make the most out of my gift cards. Contributing $50 towards a 3 course $35 meal gives me a little wiggle room.

Ristorante Panorama (already annoyed that I will have to continuously type that out during this post, by the way) was located in the Penns View Hotel on the corner of Front & Market streets. Sounds easy enough to find, right? Nope. I already add at least 10 more minutes to my drive when I am going anywhere in Old City because I never know where the hell I am. 10 minutes extra was just not enough for us. Next time remind me not to use Siri to direct me. Once we finally parked and made our way through the foreign land that is Old City, we arrived at the Penns View Hotel which houses Ristorante Panorama. It was beautiful. It overlooked the river and had an amazing view of the lights of the Ben Franklin Bridge. There was some seating outside and I thought it would be a great place to go in the summer.

Regan & I met our friend Colleen at Panorama. We entered through the lobby of the hotel and then made our way back through a hallway to the restaurant. Of all the empty tables in the place, they sat us directly next to a couple. Why do they always do that, by the way? It has to be some restaurant formality that I am not aware of.

The cool thing about Panorama was that they included their entire menu in the restaurant week special. This was great because you knew you were going to get a good portion size
and that the food was going to be well prepared because they weren't just cranking out orders after orders of the same few dishes all night.

The waiter took our wine orders almost simultaneously as we sat down. Typically, I like to get my wine order in fast, but I didn't get a second to think about what I wanted. When we all ordered glasses of their house wines, we got a bit of a look. Clearly, people who eat here don't typically order the house merlot. I wanted to peruse the wine list to act like I knew what I was ordering, but frankly I would've ordered the cheapest glass anyways.

They started off some crackers on our table. We were all starved and annoyed that the only thing they were giving us was these pellets of dog food. It wasn't 30 seconds after I said "I'm putting this in my blog" did they come out with warm bread rolls with a delicious pesto dipping sauce. Touché Ristorante Panorama, touché.

We put in 3 apps that we could all share. We went with clams, calamari (duh) and the  'Mozzarella al Limone'. We were happily surprised that the mozzarella dish was basically fried cheese. All of the appetizers were great. Typical Italian restaurant apps, but I loved every second of them.

After much, much deliberation we finally chose what we wanted to order for our entrées. Regan got the Gnocchi con Provola Affumicata, homemade potato and ricotta gnocchi with fresh basil and fresh & smoked mozzarella in a light San Marzano tomato sauce. Colleen ordered the Pappardelle al Sugo d’Anatra, which was slow cooked duck over noodles. Saving the best for last, obviously, I got the Tagliatelle con Funghi e Granchio homemade pasta tossed with  mixed mushrooms in olive oil with chives topped with lump crabmeat. Regan's gnocchi was perfect. It was light and fluffy, not too thick. Colleen didn't love her duck (duck, though?), but she also didn't love most of her meal. Being from Scranton, PA and experiencing all of the fine dining establishments NEPA has to offer, I can understand her pickiness. I love love loved my meal! The fact that it was only tossed with olive oil and not a thick sauce made it easy to taste the flavors of the mushrooms and crab.
Now on to the dessert. After having a lot of appetizers and a pretty big entrée, none of us really wanted dessert, but since it is restaurant week and it is included, you can't not. Regan and Colleen both got the Profiteroli, or in English,  Italian creampuffs filled with vanilla pastry, served with dark chocolate sauce. The reason that my sister ordered this was because it was basically the only thing on the menu that didn't have fruit in it or on it. Yes, Regan refuses to eat fruit. And whenever telling someone that she doesn't like fruit, without fail, someone always asks, "But what about_________" or "Not even _______". I still do it. I once told Regan I would pay her $20 to eat one blueberry. She said no. My dad made her eat an orange once when we were younger, she gagged uncontrollably.
I ordered the cheesecake special. I thought it was great, but Colleen was like "that is great to you?!" So maybe it wasn't that good. I guess I was feeling weirdly optimistic that night.

So the bill comes. It's restaurant week, I am expecting this to be a breeze of a bill. Wrong, wrong, wrong. With tip, $180. Luckily, I only had to pay with my gift card and then add $10, but Regan and Colleen had to drop $60 on dinner on a Tuesday night which hurts my heart.  But great time, great laughs, great friends, lots of food. Can't wait to venture back in the summer for happy hour!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

#17 R2L

R2L to follow dinner at Sampan. I've been wanting to experience R2L, mostly for it's infamous views. I figured going here for just dessert and drinks would be a good way to end the night and a great way to not spend more than $50. R2L is located on the 37th floor of 2 Liberty Place. As we were walking there, we looked up to the top of the building and said "Is that where we're going?". It just looked amazing to be able to be up that high.

After 2 wrong door entrances into Liberty Place (after a year of living in the city I still feel like I never know where I am going), we finally made it to the elevator that had only two stops- the lobby & floor 37.

Once we entered the 37th floor we realized R2L was a pretty lavish place. The lighting was dimmed and everyone was dressed to the nines. We had made a reservation, but decided to sit in the lounge area to be able to get the best view of the city. The dining room was pretty empty (as to be expected at 9pm on a Tuesday), but the lounge was almost fully occupied. Consequently, we did not get a seat right by the window. We were facing a somewhat awkward group people who looked like they could have been on a blind group date.  Not exactly what I wanted to look at or listen to, but we made the most of it.

Our waiter brought us two glasses of champagne to start, which was pretty amazing. With all of the free food we were getting at Sampan, plus this, we were starting to feel kind of important. R2L had an extensive wine list, so I just chose a random glass of Pinot Noir. Typically, I go with the cheapest glass, but since we had $50 so spend on 2 drinks and dessert I chose a mid-priced glass. After much debate about the dessert, we decided to go with  the Toasted Cinnamon Crunch, which was donut ice cream with hazelnut and cinnamon crackers. It was one of the most beautiful desserts I had ever seen. I didn't know how to go about eating it a first, but we definitely figured it out. It wasn't a huge portion, but it was fine since we were pretty full from dinner. The dessert menu also suggests a drink to pair with the dessert. This is something that I wish we tried. If it wasn't a Tuesday quickly approaching my bed time, we probably would have.

Then the check came.. $36. In such a debacle. I texted all of my friends to see if it was appropriate to leave the tip on the gift card. Most of them said no. This annoyed me because $14.00 on a gift card at a place like R2L doesn't really entice me to come back. So the waiter processed our bill and came back and said "If you would like to leave the tip on the gift card, I will need the card back" I could've kissed him- problem solved. I didn't have to spend any extra money and the waiter got a pretty nice $14.00 tip.

R2L was the definition of a romantic and intimate restaurant with its ambiance, lighting, service, and spectacular views of the Philadelphia. We also enjoyed the chance to take selfies on the elevator ride...