after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘a.kitchen

all i wanted was a.salad …

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t says:  g and I wanted to go to Parc the other weekend for our favorite “Warm Shrimp Salad” brunch.  Sadly, they had no space.  Rouge similarly had no space.  Day-by-day had a half-hour wait.  g and I were hungry-verging-on-hangry and getting rained on, so I suggested visiting a.kitchen, as opentable assured me they had space.  Here’s our review in a slightly different style than we normally go for: a list-lover’s review!

December 2012, Sunday Brunch, Party of 2.

1)  Your hostess made us wait for a table … when there was only one occupied table in the entire restaurant (i.e. at least 8 unoccupied tables, not including the seats at the chef’s counter) – that was weird.  I took a photo of it (but won’t post it because you can see patrons’ faces very well … which is creepers).  She didn’t move to attempt to assist in the turning over of another table (which I’m not exactly sure anyone did anything to – no one was clearing anything!).  She didn’t offer us a seat at the empty bar.  She didn’t smile at all.  After five minutes had passed, g and I began looking through opentable for seats at Dandelion.  Meanwhile, we were subjected to inane chit-chat between the hostess and the patrons who were leaving the restaurant (they apparently knew each other from somewhere).   During this time, your bartender, having noted that we were standing off to the side, seemingly exiled to limbo, came over to us and asked, “She’s the hostess – you should talk to her if you want a seat.”  To which we replied that we had …

2)  … your bartender, upon hearing that we were stuck in the very peculiar predicament of waiting for a table in a restaurant with no dearth of open spaces proceeded to do nothing to help the situation: no offer to get us started with drinks, no assistance in pushing along the seating process, no nothing … just silence … Aawwkkwwaarrdd …

3)  Your server was excellent.  Fire the hostess and bartender and clone your server twice.  She was polite and prompt and was able to answer my queries by confessing that your pastries are not made on-site (no big deal!) and that your “Namaste tea” was “just black tea”.

4)  “Namaste” black tea?  For real?  Is that different from “Bonjour tea”?

5)  Cava bar?  For real!

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cava bar!

Why are you not publicizing the hell out this?  This is awesome!

5)  Your pancakes could use a little something …

asdf

Super-simple pancakes

They’re not as good as Cochon’s (which are twice as thick and moreso fluffy … by the way – why did Cochon take it off their menu?), not as good as Parc (which has better, but definitely between the golden brown outside and pillowy inside), but still better than ones I can make at home using Bisquick or Aunt Jemima … but for $10/plate I should hope so!  My feeble-minded suggestions are either add an interesting topping (?bruleed banana?) or flavor (? lemon ? orange ?) or something!  You could charge a buck or two more!

6)  The “mushroom scrapple” (pictured above) is more like a fried polenta/grits cake with mushrooms interspersed throughout.  I don’t know what the composition actually is, but in my mouth, that’s what it reminded me of.  Personally, I feel that this is not very scrapple-like, but moreso disappointing because it was quite bland from a salt/pepper perspective and a lacking-mushroom-flavor perspective.  Give me more mushrooms!

7)  g applauds your use of the English muffin on your burger, but wishes it was just a little fluffier in the middle and a little less burned on the outside (it’s hard to eat a burger if the “bun” part is crunchy like this.

asdf

burger attack!

The meat was well-seasoned and nicely-cooked, so definite props for that!  And the sauce was a nice addition!

8)  Why on Earth do you insist on the tiniest plates possible to fit the food?  Maybe to make it seem like you have more food?  But a problem arises in that there’s no real space to create a puddle of syrup or for your burger to drip its medium-rare blood without soggifying your chips.  And forget trying to rest a utensil on them …  Add like 1 inch to the radius – what youll give up in “artistry” you’ll make up for in utility – I promise …

In all, it was an “ok” brunch.  As good as Parc?  Not really … but surely better than falling prey to hanger on a Sunday when all the other places on Rittenhouse are packed – and that cava bar is definitely worth checking out.  I think the better question is why is it not so packed?  g pointed out that on one hand, a.kitchen is kinda-sorta-lika hotel restaurant, so they don’t really have to push any boundaries and that it might even be safer not to.  I disagree – if they want the street cred (as clearly this blog is the ultimate bestower of “cred”), I just need a bit more “oomph”, be it in innovation or just straight-up flavor.  I’m glad we got to go to a.kitchen for brunch, but I only wish that it would have sidled its way into my heart …  Maybe next time …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

16 December 2012 at 10:46pm

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?

Written by afterdinnersneeze

8 October 2012 at 5:15pm

g’s happy dance

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g says: Today, I jumped out of my chair and did my happy dance.

Why, you ask? Because I CALLED IT.

t and I dined at Talula’s Garden on Sunday evening, rumored to be their first weekend since the announced departure of former executive chef Michael Santoro. As we sat in the garden, I sipped my beekeeper cocktail (t stared longingly at it, sad that he could not partake in its bubbly goodness), and we discussed possible next moves for The Garden. I said that I hoped Matt Moon would come since he just left Talula’s Table – since his food is the closest thing to having Bryan Sikora’s (back when it was sprinkled with magic) and because Bryan doesn’t seem to be cooking in a super-creative manner at a.kitchen, Matt and Talula’s Garden could really bring something special from the ‘burbs back here.

t claimed that this would never happen. Unfortunately for his ego (but very fortunately for his stomach), my wish has come true.

Boo-yah.

t says: I wonder what the new menu will look like …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

9 August 2011 at 8:18pm

a.kitchen review is up!

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t says:  I wrote a little review on a.kitchen for Penn Appetit.  I was going to put up a little teaser or something, but I didn’t want to stop you from going to read it on their website.  So instead I’ve decided to put up a completely uninformative picture that won’t make ANY sense until you read it on their blog.

Happy reading!

This photo intrigues you, no?

Written by afterdinnersneeze

25 July 2011 at 9:10pm