The Philly Report

Sep 15, 2009 by

The Philly Report

So I know that I just posted my Phoenix Report and I should save this a bit really, but I just can’t do that.  I need to share.  Plus I am sure I will go somewhere else soon.  So Peeps here it is:

Philly is a really nice weekend getaway.  There is enough to do besides the Independence googly-gook that you leave with plans for next time, but you aren’t like pining to stay like at the beach where really can’t you have just a few more days?  I like that in a weekend vacation, finality with a reason to come back.

Where to stay:  Right now you can score pretty good deal at even the nicest hotels in Philly.  Splurge on the Ritz, which is centrally located centrally and has all the normal luxuries of the Ritz.  Another perk is that their restaurant 10Arts is run by a very capable Top Chef contender.

Friday we went up early so I could have a special birthday lunch date at Morimoto with my Hubby who had been gone for my birthday.  I love the ambiance of Morimoto, the wood walls with uber modern white furniture and the not overbearing neon lighting was cool- not cold and very crisp.  Like a better designed version of the downtown location of Cafe Asia.  But can I comment that the chairs while modern were really comfortable, which I really was happy about.

morimoto outside

morimoto

I really loved the basic omakase ($40) menu. All the fish was very fresh, the opening Toro Tartare with with Caviar, Tempura, Scallions, Ponzu and Fresh Wasabi, and finished with a Japanese fruit was a highlight. It was crispy and salty, but also refreshing and smooth and fatty.  We then had an assortment of sushi with toro, red snapper and others that were all perfectly fresh, they had a wonderful texture and taste in the mouth, never being fishy. We also had a whitefish caparcio with microgreens, with a very tasty vinaigrette with hot oil, we had black cod with miso served with a mustard sauce and pickled peppers that was cooked perfectly, the textural difference between the crispy crust on the cod, the flaky inside and the very smooth pickled peppers created a nice taste. Everything had very good balanced flavors and we were happy with each course. We ended with a chocolate cake with blueberry sauce that was very good. It was just enough food for lunch without being heavy. I wish I lived nearby so I could eat here more often all of the lunch specials coming out looked great.

That night we had a family dinner with the in laws and family in the area at Distrito.  This place was so much fun. I want to go back and eat in the bug. I was worried when I booked it that it would be a little too eccentric for everyone, but it is done in a tasteful over the top way (take the tour on the website- it’s pretty awesome).  A way that doesn’t make you uncomfortable, but makes you laugh at the whimsicality of it.  Personally, I loved the eccentric decorating.

distrito4

distrito3

distrito

The drinks were good, I was impressed with the Tequila selection. I had a grapefruit soda with tequila mixture.  They served the soda separately so you could make it your own preferred strength.

We ordered way too much food, they say to order 3-4 dishes per person, but at 2-3 each we were stuffed. I had the short rib flatbread which was very good, the meat was tender and savory and melded well with the BBQ sauce, the carnitas tacos were one of the best dishes of the evening, the pork was so tender and flavorful, they had bits that were a little bit more well done and crunchy mixed in for a great ratio of pork texture. The Amarillo (rabbit mole) was excellent, as well, the rabbit was tender and very flavorful it wasn’t overwhelmed by the sauce a rich almost creamy mole which wasn’t spicy, but very homey and comforting,  served on rice in a small hot pot. The whole dish came together really well. The duck fundido was another big hit, spicy and cheesy with tender as can be duck it would be the perfect after bar food. We wrapped the goey, deliciousness in fresh tortillas and it was heaven.  The guacamole was also good, the salsa was decent- very fresh red tomatoes just rather normal. I also had a bit of the tres leches cake which was quite good, much like a very small Smith Island cake. This was one of my favorite meals. I also had some of the salads which were a big portion, but a tad bit bitter (which may have been the cilantro which I don’t really care for).  Especially coming from an area with poor choices for Mexican this was a favorite.  It is so good with all the other choices in Philadelphia I still will be going back.

On our first full day in Philly we checked out the foodie mecca that is the Reading Terminal Market.  Located in what used to be the Reading Railroad Terminal (Yes, Monopoly is based on Philadelphia) this market has fresh produce that is just amazing, fish and meats, cheese and other dairy, Amish baked goods, other pastries, candy, pretzels and lots of food stalls.   The best day to go is Saturday when the market is in full swing.  Sundays the Amish vendors won’t be there.  It could take days and days to eat through all the goodness held within, but I think that a fresh doughnut from the Amish stand in the center of the market is a must eat.  So is a roast pork sandwich at DiNic’s, in my opinion this puts a cheesesteak to shame (although I recommend eating it right then and there as it can get quite soupy if it sits).  Also while here it is essential to get a good soft pretzel.  Although we passed vendors selling boxes of fresh pretzels on the streets the ones at Miller’s in the market where nice and warm with a good bread, salt, butter ratio.  There were also some very tempting sticky buns.  I would have liked to go back on Sunday before we left to get some things to take home, but we had a full agenda.

reading

After exploring the market and taking in a lot of calories we decided to burn some off by walking  down to the Constitution Center, which is a fun interactive museum in the heart of Constitution madness.  We then walked along Arch Street, which has some neat shops and takes you by Benjamin Franklin’s gravesite.  We ran into the First Lady and Obama girls on our walk which caused quite a scene,  but luckily it meant that the Franklin Fountain was without a line.

franklin_fountain_1

franklin_fountain_2

franklin2

Another calorie splurger the Franklin Fountain is a really fun stop.  I got the ladies choice which is a float of raspberry soda with peach ice cream. It was fruity refreshing, but still nice and creamy. The ambiance is the main draw though.  Men in daper fountain boy clothing with handlebar mustaches prepare your concoction on the marble in big glass cups, and that is a big temptation.

Then we walked around a bit more and just enjoyed the sites.

We ended up at Fork for the FIL’s big 6-0 birthday dinner. Our meal there was excellent.  We started with a Soellner, Wogerain, Grüner Veltliner, 2007, Austria that was lovely after a hot day, it was crisp and fruity, but not too oaky or sweet and paired very well with my food. Followed by a choice of multigrain, french or other bread, I had the french which had a great taste to it, crusty on the outside, tender within. They had a nice cow butter which was soft and had good flavor.

fork

4.Fork-B.KristG

For dinner I started with the baby lettuce salad with croquette and balsamic. It was very fresh, nicely dressed and the croquette was was warm and crisp on the outside while almost, but not quite gooey on the inside. Hubby had the fish provencale soup with crouton and that was very good, it had a lovely fish broth thickened with cream that was very light I really enjoyed the couple bites I got. For entree I had the citrus cured salmon that was then seared on carmelized shallots, potatoes and a lovely spinach sauce. The citrus with the shallots and spinach sauce balanced very nicely. The fish was cooked with a nice sear and had great flavor. It was seasoned just right. The potatoes were a nice bit size, but in a rustic style that blended nicely with the bold flavor of the fish. Hubby had a duck dish that was very good as well. The duck itself was incredibly juicy, again not overcooked at all, a perfect medium rare. We split the chevre cheesecake with oatmeal crisp and champagne pear. The pear was a bit hard to cut you had to use both fork and spoon but was very juicy and had a nice texture, almost like a plum in texture. The chevre cheesecake was rich and tangy and the crisp was sweet and crunchy so the flavors and the textures were nicely varied. All in all another nice meal.

The next day we visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Textiles Museum. The art deco building that the textiles museum is in is beautiful, and the exhibitions were a girls dream with one room of fashions from the 1800s to 1930s the next vivid modern household objects.  What I really enjoyed was the interior of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  They have transplanted whole rooms that show vivid architecture from many countries and cultures.  The Japanese temple and tea house are stunning, while the Moorish and Arabian rooms showcase the amazing attention to detail those cultures places in each piece of design.  A walk down to the beautiful river would have been nicer without the humidity, but it offers a beautiful view of what has become a really great river.

water

We then headed back to the city making one last stop at Pat’s King of Steaks for a cheesesteak.  I had a “Wit Provolone, mushroom and pepper steak” which was a little too drippy for me.  Next time I think I will stick with the basics.  And the steak really doesn’t have a ton of flavor so I can see why the saltyness of the whiz is needed.  I will admit fries with cheezwhiz was the favorite of mine for the stop.  But I will have to try again- they can’t be a legend for nothing.

pats

2 Comments

  1. This is an amazing weekend in Philadelphia! Seriously, we (Philly Tourism) might not have been able to put together a better itinerary.

    And I love that you said it left you wanting to come back. Please do!

    (Now you have me craving Morimoto…)

  2. Suzanne

    Based on your recommendation, I took two dear friends to Distrito when I was staying with them in Philly for a conference. We had a blast and LOVED the guacamole and quesadillas. We sat in the cantina part and enjoyed the fun set up. Thanks for the recomendation!

    Oh, and by the way, the guy in the picture holding the soda fountain drink looks exactly like Mac from “Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” which is perfectly fitting!

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