after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Meme: totally 70% worth it!

with 2 comments

t says:  A long time ago, was running this promotion where you could make reservations at any of their affiliated restaurants for free (normally $10 a pop).  So I did!  At every restaurant I could see myself ever going to!  One of the restaurants was Meme, a small New American place that’s so close to where we live that it takes me literally (yes, literally) less than 3 minutes to walk there.  And yet, it was the one place that I felt I’d have to push g the hardest to go to …

Why?  We went once a long time ago (pre-blog), when they first opened after kicking Melograno out.  We brought drb along with some ’05 Bordeaux.  While the food was “good” (drb had his first skate wing), we got the feeling that they were still finding their way.  Overall, our meals were promising, but pricey.  Then we heard that they were only BYO while waiting for their liquor license to come through, which was a bummer, because when it did, g and I never returned because then the food definitely wouldn’t justify the bill … well, that’s not completely true … we returned once … for brunch … and it was yucky.  We don’t care what phillymag says, it was not good.

So now enter the new Meme.  No, nothing’s changed in terms of who’s running it, rather, this Meme emanates a little whiff of despair – or at least I think it does.  I feel this way for a few reasons.  First, it’s often empty on weekday evenings (maybe a few tables occupied – or maybe we’re just not looking through the windows at the right time).  Second, they returned to BYO.  And finally, most recently, they’re now on Savored.  Yikes!  On the bright side, they do get a lot of PhillyMag press, so maybe that’ll keep ’em afloat.

After much pushing and pushing (g still had that horrid brunch on her brain), g finally acquiesced to a Thursday date night.  It was 30% off, so we were looking forward to eating more cheaply than a “normal” date night.

April 2012, Thursday Dinner, Party of 2.  We entered and the place was pretty much empty.  There was one occupied table and that was it; it wasn’t particularly confidence-inspiring.  Nevertheless, the hostess/waitress/server was very pleasant and offered us our choice of seats.  We chose wisely and got the party started.  Their menu is small, with  something like 5 appetizers and 5 entrees, but it covers a wide range of offerings, from meats and fish to salads and bone marrow.

g and I made our selections: g went with the lambchop (whoa!  g went with the lambchop?  no “tuna crudo” or wimpy salad for her this time!) and I opted for the bone marrow.  The waitress told us that it’d be 15 minutes for the bone marrow, and not to worry that we’d be “forgotten”.  I appreciated that – I don’t like feeling forgotten.

We chomped on some bread and passed the time with the usual mix of chit-chat and gossip that married couples enjoy.  Good times.  Not too long later (I didn’t time them), our appetizers landed.

g’s app:  lambchop, eggplant, cucumber concoction

I have to say that I was impressed with the size of g’s lambchop.  Normally, when I think of lambchops as appetizers (or even as entrees!), I think of little dinky, wussy, lollipop-sized teasers.  This one was quite substantial.  I’ll let g say a few words …

g says:  It was way bigger than I thought, and it was quite good!

back to t:  g’s a little pressed for time right now (i.e. she has a real job, and I [kind of] don’t) so she’s a little short on words.  She ate it all – so take that as evidence of its goodness.  Moving on, allow me to present my appetizer:

t’s app: roasted bone barrow, herb concoction

I hadn’t had bone marrow since eating at Ad Hoc with k and cm some time ago.  I was happy to get back on the wagon.  Result: it was great!!  It had good texture to it, spreading like bitter but still capable of holding together in your mouth.  It tasted unctuous (as bone marrow should), with a smoky/roasted overtones.  The accompanying herb mixture rounded out the flavors quite nicely.  I also liked how Meme didn’t muck around with the bread, letting me focus on the subtleties of the bone marrow, itself.  And for a measly $8 (pre-30%0off), I was more than satisfied with the size.  Actually, I’m glad it wasn’t cheaper because then I might have ordered two …

After a nice showing on appetizers, g and I got down to business on the entrees.  The first thing we noticed when they landed was the quantity: they weren’t holding back!  These were legitimately sized portions!  I thought maybe for Savored reservations they’d skimp on the entrees, but no, they pulled no punches.

t’s main: NY strip, salad with belu cheese, lentils, roasted onion

As I prepared myself mentally for my cow, I went to the lentils first.  They were prepared well with a nice mix of bite and give.  It definitely wasn’t the pig-infused bomb that Bibou serves, but at the very least had a good spice that I can’t put my finger on and a meatiness about it to make it seem like the lentils weren’t “just” an afterthought.  Good for them!  Then I went in for the steak.  It was perfectly medium, had good seasoning (some might find it a little heavy-handed with the salt, but I liked it!), and possessed just the right amount of caramelization on the outside to give it some oomph.  Once again – it’s not the profoundly-sauced masterpiece that Bibou has, but I was impressed none-the-less, as it was definitely a step above Parc and probably a hair (a very small, very fine hair) better than Cochon.  The salad was a little cumbersome to eat (the leaves could have used one or two more passes with the knife), but added some nice bitterness and blue cheese funk to play with the steak.  The onion was a little superfluous, but at the very least brought in some sweetness.

g’s main: pork, greenes, polenta, tomato

Now on to g’s dish, which I sampled extensively.  I need to give you some backstory before continuing.  You see, whenever we go to restaurants, I get the pork and she gets the steak.  And very often, I end up wishing I had the cow.  This time, we played the game a bit differently: g went with the pork so I went with  steak.  Now, keeping in mind that I was actually pretty happy with my dish, I was very envious of g’s dish.  Her pork was a sizeable portion of well-cooked, well-seasoned (not as salty as my steak) pig that played oh-so-nicely with swiss chard.  But the key was that tomato on top.  It’s funny because g offered me some tomato and I turned it down, thinking “oh, it’s just another roasted tomato”.  She persisted.  She was right.  This was no boring ol’ “gee-we-should-add-some-red-to-the-dish” tomato.  This tomato meant business.  The flavor was concentrated punch to the face that really brought out the pig.  For me, the polenta was a little boring, but g seemed satisfied with its texture (I wanted a little more flavor … I don’t know of what, but something).  Darn.  I went with the steak and g still won.

And then there was dessert:

g & t dessert: strawberry shortcake

For dessert, we finished with the strawberry shortcake.  Unfortunately, this dessert wasn’t as great as the rest of the food,  but it wasn’t bad, either.  The biscuit had nice texure, but little-to-no flavor.  The strawberries were a bit mushy, reminding me more of the strawberry topping that ice cream shops have for ice cream than real strawberries.  We did like the whipped cream, with a nice solid vanilla, creamy flavor.  But don’t get me wrong – we did eat it all, so it’s not like we hated it.

In the end, g and I feel that Meme did a surprisingly good job.  The food was simple – nothing we had was all that unusual or fussy or novel, but it was well-done for the most part, with some very tasty highlights.  Furthermore, by the end of the meal, we were STUFFED.  I’m glad we live so close because I could quickly get home and put on some pajamas.  Also – the cost wasn’t bad.  In total, the pre-Savored bill was around $77.  After savored, it’s low 50’s, and then tack on a pre-Savored tip, and you’re mid-60’s.  That’s cheaper than restaurant week!  (And bonus savings: no cab fare!  and BYO!!).

It was such a good deal that we returned two weeks later with dz and smn.

April 2012, Tuesday Dinner, Party of 4.  I went with the bone marrow and pork T-bone and they were once again spot-on.  It wasn’t a fluke the first time – chef can cook!  (The T-bone was a little smaller this time around, but I was still stuffed by the end of the meal).  g went with the salad appetizer (which was massive and had some potatoes in it, so it was very filling – dz had to help her out!) along with the pork T-bone.  I was shocked when dz put forth some praise for the cod oregenata main that he had (dz isn’t picky, but I feel like for him to suggest that something tastes good without being prompted to do so should be considered an accolade).  I don’t know if the beet salad or the salmon that smn had rocked her socks or anything (in the past, she and dz have only been “meh” on Meme), but maybe she’ll share an opinion when she reads this post.

In this humble writer’s opinion, Meme is absolutely worth the Savored price – we can see ourselves going back for weeknight dinner, easily.  Now, is it worth the un-Savored price (i.e. going on the weekend)?  That’s tough.  Looking at only French and New American places, Meme is definitely not going to threaten Bibou.  It’s not going to replace Fond.  And the list of great BYO’s keeps going if we expand the scope to include other cuisines: Melograno, Koo Zee Doo, Modo Mio, etc.  I think that the “fight” really comes down to Marigold Kitchen vs. Meme.  It’s funny because I think the entrees are better here than at Marigold, but Marigold has all of those cool amuse bouches, so it’s more like an adventure! So weekend dinners will still be up in the air for us to consider going to Meme.  Maybe it’ll be our go-to for some kind of “super-simple” nights?  Maybe one of those Fridays when g and I are exhausted, we don’t have plans, we’re wearing boring clothes, and all we really want to do is drink good wine, but we want some properly cooked food to go with it (e.g. why drink a $30 bottle of wine with a $10 pizza?)?  I guess that potentially could make Meme our “neighborhood joint”?  Hmmmm … we’ll think about it …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

27 April 2012 at 5:50pm

2 Responses

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  1. Don’t you ever have spaghetti and meat balls anymore?


    27 April 2012 at 6:45pm

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