after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

kanella kwietly kicking ass

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t says:  There are some restaurants that we here at adsz have done a disservice.  How?  Well, there are some really great ones out there, and, while we tell people about them all the time, we have so few reviews!  Furthermore, press like Philly Mag (a suggests: in an attempt to be relevant?) disses them by placing them somewhere on the back 25 of their top 50 list, behind snooze-fests like Stateside, Il Pittore, Le Virtu, and Jamonera … I’m talking about Kanella.  Helmed by crazy-piercing-eyed Chef Konstantinos Pitsillides, Kanella has, over the years, cranked out some super-delightful dinners with flavor combinations that are still interesting and novel.  And while the servers all seem to have a dash of  weirdness, we at least appreciate their enthusiasm/energy.  As a matter of fact, g and I ate there with v and another friend (a was MIA) just the other night …

February 2013, Friday Dinner, Party of 4.  We arrived to an all-too-familiar experience when visiting Kanella: the wait.  It seems that dinner reservation times are always met with some kind of wait.  This time wasn’t too bad – about 5-10 minutes.  Fortunately, we were allowed to wait inside and not in that super-dinky-ante-room-thingee where we would have surely frozen.  Is a wait forgivable?  No, not really, but I did see the patrons hanging out at the soon-to-be-ours table, with the check paid, just lingering, so I can’t really blame the restaurant (can I?), rather, other people.  But what was cool was the opportunity to greet Chef as he walked around the room, as for all the press he gets for his crazy memos outside his kitchen window, I had never once heard him actually talk.  He was a little stiff, but I can’t say I was much better at trying to get a conversation to flow – it’s just his piercing blue eyes!

After we sat, we were greeted by our server, who, also typical of the Kanella experience, was just a little weird.  There was something in his verbosity that had us all chuckling, albeit a little uncomfortably – but that’s ok because we warmed up to him nicely.  Furthermore, he was very attentive, well-informed, and made everything sound wonderful, so he gets an A+ for the evening.

Now on to the food …

If you eat at Kanella, the “Dips of the Day” are pretty much obligatory.  Made of whatever vegetables they happen to have on hand, the spreads are always so lively and fresh that you wish you could just pull out an ampule of dip at work to spruce up your ho-hum lunch (it’d make “baked potato day” a whole lot more interesting … that’s right – some of you know what I’m talking about).  The octopus and [free] salad (Kanella very frequently realizes diners are waiting and will send out food) were both nice starters to the meal, waking up our palates with smoky tentacles and bright greens.  And after that, Kanella churned out three ridiculously good dishes of food (it was actually four dishes, but two of us got the same thing), just the kind to warm you up on a frickin-freezing-cold night.

oxtail

oxtail

What you see above you is a LOT of [most-likely-braised-and-then-]shredded oxtail, with a few dumplings and a lot of cilantro.  And it was AWESOME.  It was the most uplifted/bright/agile dish of braised meat I have ever had (imagine if you will a cow doing gymnastics), most likely courtesy of lemon and cilantro and one other unidentified green stalk (?celery? ?rhubarb?? chard?).  My mouth was so sad when it was over (but my tummy was full).  I would have liked a few more dumplings to balance against the meat (there were only ~4), but our server graciously gave us more bread (his idea!  we didn’t even ask for it!), so I was happily starched for the evening.

I did not get a chance to snap pics of the goat stew, which I’m told was a winner last night (I was so “in” to my dish I didn’t bother tasting anyone elses).  While I don’t quite have specifics about their experiences, I can say that with nothing left on their plates, they were very much satisfied.  g went for their porkchop which, as she had once before, was scrumptious.  Really, I have  a lack of words here because no one had an ill word to say – and I think that‘s saying something.  Everything had this feeling of warmth and home and comfort that you’d almost forget you’re in a very-busy, loud Philly BYO …

creme brulee

pistachio creme brulee and lemon ice cream in the foreground, baklava and something else in the background

The desserts at Kanella are often in the head-nod-and-say-“pretty good” realm.  And that night was no different.  The pistachio creme brulee was perfectly executed, and when pit against the lemon ice cream that was dynamite (no, really – their ice creams are always wonderful), it was a fantastic combination.  The baklava was chocked full of nuts, which some people might enjoy (I prefer a little more sweet and layers in my baklava), and that other thing (the thing that looks like it’s covered with cheese in the photo), while interesting, was just a little dry.  It’s hard because I am probably completely unqualified to judge these desserts (maybe these are exactly how they’re supposed to be? I’m no Greek), so I guess you’ll just have to try it, yourself!

And the bill?  It was $42/pp (with tax and tip).  That’s not bad at all!  We did bring our own wine, so that was wonderful (thanks, a, for the Riesling!).  It’s a little pricey for a weeknight, but well worth the tariff on the weekend.  So go to Kanella!  I don’t know if it’s “cool” or not, but it’s reliably tasty!

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Written by afterdinnersneeze

12 February 2013 at 9:14am

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