after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

a.nother chance for a.kitchen

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t says:  It’s been a long while since we’ve gone to a.kitchen, and we’ve received some email suggesting that we try out the place again.  So we put it on our list … and there it stayed for quite a while – we just never got around to it!  Nevertheless, we still recommended that others give it a whirl and let us know how it was … and now – someone actually has!  Welcome to the blog, bw!

bw says:  The main problem with a.kitchen is that it doesn’t really know whether it wants to be a regular restaurant or a tapas restaurant. You sit down to a menu of “plates”–no appetizers, no mains, “plates”. The dishes are all described like mains (a central item plus a side with a second taste), but priced suspiciously reasonably (i.e., in the high teens) for a fancy restaurant right on Rittenhouse. The fact that some items (e.g., lobster and steak) are priced much higher somewhat relieves you of your doubt. The service was very prompt and friendly, but they didn’t really guide you through the menu. Specifically, no “Is this your first time dining with us? Our menu is organized in [such-and-such] a manner.” Or, when each of us ordered one item, they didn’t say “maybe you want some more food as the plates are [blank]-size”. The “plates” live on that schizophrenic border between main and tapas. They definitely weren’t small, but they left you wanting just a little more food. Probably for the two of us, we should have had three items, which would have been at a price I would have expected for a main at a Rittenhouse restaurant. But three is an odd number. If you’re going for tapas, you’d generally probably get four or five items for two people. Who thinks to themselves “I really want to eat one-and-a-half things”? No one. In case you were wondering if there was a Goldilocks-style dish-size in between “too small” tapas and “too large” mains, there isn’t–it’s just awkward.

So, how did the food actually taste? I got the “blue crab salad with Sardinian couscous and summer pesto”. (Again, sounds like a main, right? OK, I made that point.) It was really good. The crab “salad” was mostly crab, with some crème fraiche and a few green sprouts. The flavors were nice together, although it could have used a little more greens to balance the crab. The couscous was also really interesting (going in I didn’t know what Sardinian couscous was): it was very large couscous, about the size of barley with the same toothsome quality as al dente barley. It was a good texture and a welcome contrast to the crab. My friend got the black bass (I can’t remember the side), and she said it was really good. The rest of the menu seemed interesting. It had a seafood predominance, which I’m a fan of, being in seafood-withdrawal after the midwest.

On to dessert, which we mostly got because we simultaneously said “that wasn’t a lot of food.” We both got the apple cobbler, so no ability to review the variety here (although the options generally all sounded tasty). As you know, my dessert-out-at-a-restuarant judgement criterion is “can I make a better version of this at home?” And here, I would have to say the answer is “yes”. The cobbler just wasn’t that good. The apple-filling and the streusel topping seemed disjointed and weren’t magical together.  The apples were just baked apples–nothing special. And the topping was too dry in texture without any real flavor too it. Making a good streusel isn’t all that hard; so I was pretty disappointed. The caramel ice cream that topped it was, however, really good. Unfortunately, it melted so fast that I couldn’t enjoy it with the apples–I essentially had to eat it quickly right at the start.

So, I would definitely go back. Knowing what I now know about the menu, I would either order more, or go for something like a late dinner after having appetizers at a bar somewhere. But I would look elsewhere for dessert, although I guess I could give their pastry chef one more chance.

t says:  It’s cool – Capogiro’s close by … so when we goin?

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Written by afterdinnersneeze

8 October 2012 at 5:15pm

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