after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Amis

amis, it’s been too long!

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t says:  We were lucky enough to have come into an gift certificate for a Vetri restaurant (except not Vetri), so g and I had to figure out which restaurant to go to.  We love Osteria, but it is kinda-sorta-out-of-the-way.  Alla Spina had great food, but we were in more of a date-y mood.  We knew what had to be done: Amis.

April 2014, Friday Dinner, Party of 2.  As documented in one of the rare phenomena of adsz (an entire post written by g!), we did like the food overall at Amis, but not so much as to make it back … at all … over the past 4 years.  Yikes!  Well, we were about to see how much has changed since then:

First off, lets just say that the server was fantastic.  He didn’t over-sell us on food, he memorized our order to perfection, and checked in with us frequently to make sure we were happy with everything.  Also, as we had brought our own wine, he was very courteous with refilling our glasses, making for a very happy, buzz-filled evening.  He gets thumbs-up all the way.


crudo: special of the evening was a crudo of some sort of bass that was superbly executed.  minimally treated with salt, pepper, olive oil, and a few garnishes, the fish really sang through.  probably some of the best crudo i’ve had from an Italian restaurant!


sal’s meatballs were fascintating.  the meatballs, in combination with a tomato-potato sauce (well, less “sauce” and more “stewed tomato and potato”) came across more like a breakfast dish than anything else.  if i closed my eyes and savored the moment, it did taste more like home fries, stewed tomato, and a piece of Italian beef-pork meatloaf.  it’s not a bad thing at all, as the meatballs were moist and homely, just unexpected.


We ate other foods, too, but the pictures were all darker than this one.  As we had hinted at before, the atmosphere in Amis can be very date-y, which is great, as it has those darker woods, dim lights, etc.  Be that as it may, it is incredibly loud in there – even at the octogenarian time slot at which we ate (~6pm), the evening din was more like a cacophony … which was peculiar because indeed the restaurant was full older patrons.  Fortunately, g and i were up to the challenge and easily matched the volume of our surroundings.  But back to the food: the escarole salad hit g in all the right places – how can you say no to fresh greens, fruit, and cheese?  As far as the pastas, we went for the cacio e pepe (above) and the spinach-and-meat lasagna.  The lasagna was good and homey – g dug the spinach aspect.  But to be honest, i’ve seen g’s mom (and g!) throw together a better lasagna, with a firmer noodle and more flavorful meat (g sometimes likes to brown the whole meatball first, and then break it up for the lasagna).  As for the cacio e pepe, it was very cacio, and not very pepe.  I preferred melograno’s cacio e pepe, which has a nicely salty cheese and a pronounced pepper bite.  But, what I will say is that Amis’s noodles were perfectly al dente and the sauce’s texture was luxuriously rich due to the cheese.  Nevertheless … I felt like maybe they could do better … (more to come below).  But you know what they could not do better with is the Brussels sprouts.  Those bad boys were fried.  Not pan-fried – they were fried-fried.  And they. were. incredible.  Now of course, Brussels sprouts were supposed to have gone out of style about 2 years ago (along with pork belly, to make way for kale, which has already come and gone) … but you just can’t keep a good sprout down.


what dinner would be complete without dessert?  Here is the nutella covered waffle with some ice cream.  Bam – now that is a dessert.  A perfectly crisp waffle, luscious nutella, and a creamy ice cream.  Is it a $10 dessert?  No way.  But it sure is a great one.

While I did complain about Amis’s pastas some, g and I were plenty enough impressed with the food as a whole that we had a wonderful time.  Amis’s service and pacing were spot on (oh, and did I mention that their bread was off the hook?) so it’s probably one of the best date nights out we’ve had in a while.  The damages ended up being comparable to eating at Talula’s Garden, but of course … if you’ve got a totally bawler gift card in your wallet, every bite tastes better, every sip tastes sweeter.  Three cheers to the gifters!  Oh – and there was the morning after, too:


g and I had some leftovers: the cacio e pepe and the fried sprouts.  this got me thinking: why not have a dish with both?  you could still get a rich cheesey pasta, mixed with a hit of pepper (I added more), and the sweetness of fried sprouts?  it probably isn’t “traditional” or whatever, but you bet your bunsen burner that it was a dynamite leftovers lunch.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

4 May 2014 at 12:55pm

Posted in in Philadelphia, Restaurant Reviews

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Kanella Steps it Up; Amis Steps Down

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t says:  g and I went to Kanella some time ago and found that although the food was good, the service was weird and it just wasn’t blow-us-away enough to pop into our heads every time we went looking for a BYO.  k, having to work in the area this past week, suggested that we re-try it.  So we set out for a weekday dinner …

5/2010, Thursday 7:30pm, Party of 4.  The four of us sat down, broke out a bottle of a particularly smooth Australian shiraz, and buckled in for an exciting ride.  One of the things that Kanella has in its favor is the element of surprise – well, at least for us it did.  As we scoured the menu, we realized that the descriptions really didn’t help us envision what the final product would be.  There were ingredients we clearly didn’t recognize, and surely how they were put together would be a mystery up until the very end when they hit the table.  Of course, had we had a Greek (or maybe “Cypriot” to be more exact), perhaps they would have been able to give us a hint of what was to come.  Nevertheless, we each made our selections and patiently waited for whatever the waiter was going to bring us.  We amused ourselves by playing such games as, “how much money would it take for you to change your name?” and “look at the chef’s crazy eyes!”.  (FYI, the chef has these piercing blue eyes that are super-intense – he make a marble statue cower in fear.)

I went for the goat with “wheat berries”, eggplant, and yogurt.  It was fantastic!  I can’t remember the last time I had goat, however, this was a stunning example of a well-braised meat served on top of a homy bed of “wheat berries” (it’s like the lentils of grains … hmmm … that makes no sense and will probably cause some people to laugh – but that’s what it was like in my head!).  It was the kind of food you want to have a family-style plate of to share with … family (duh).  That said, it was rivaled by k and cm’s “brick chicken”.  The flaw of the brick chicken?  As vague as my description of the goat was, my description of the brick chicken is even vaguer.  I have no idea what the spices were, I have no idea what the sauce was – all I know is that it was so good that I might actually order the chicken the next time I go there.

I’ll let cm, master of cutting straight to the point, chime in:

cm says: chicken in a brick was very good also, interesting cooking method for the potatoes they were like little crunchy nuggets of potato.  chicken very juicy.  i remember scooping up as much of the sauce as i could.  and the flat bread was very good and an interesting mix of flavors, especially the dried apricot, good balance of salty and sweet.

back to t:  oh yea!  the flatbread was indeed delicious!  oh, and g went for the the “stuffed vegetable of the day”, which was bell pepper which she liked it very much – it played a major role in de-funking her evening.  And then … there was dessert.  We went for the date-and-chocolate cake (with vanilla ice cream) and the pistachio-olive-oil cake (with ouzo ice cream).  And I must say that Kanella finished the meal quite well with these.  Actually, the table was fairly evenly split on which aspects of which desserts we liked better (some liked one cake with the other’s ice cream, and vice versa).  Personally, I would have been happy with a gigantic date-and-chocolate cake, as the “cake” was almost like a bread pudding in texture with a little punch of date and the mouth-coating rich chocolate – beautiful.  So in the end, we really have no complaints.  Kanella did a great job with food, our server was excellent, and the prices were reasonable.

NOW … for the bad news … as you can see from the title of this post, we also went to Amis this past weekend, and they did not fare so well.  When we went to Amis for dinner some time ago, it was fantastic.  They did such a great job of taking dishes that we already knew and loved and making them even better.  Unfortunately, its price and lack of BYO-ness made it hard to go back … until we heard they did brunch.  Surely they could work their magic on some eggs and breads, right?  Wrong.

5/2010, Sunday 12:30, Party of 5.  I won’t dwell on the negatives of this meal because nobody wants to read too much of a Debbie-downer post.  So the positives: service was attentive, the decor is top-notch (would be a great date-place in the evening – lots of rich, dark-colored woods).  The negatives: the food.  w’s boyfriend and I went for a polenta scrapple with eggs and “peperonata” (i.e. stewed peppers).  Darn – what a letdown!  The eggs were fluffy (yay!) but lacked seasoning (boo!).  I liked the texture that the polenta added to the scrapple (yay!), but the scrapple was a bit anemic in terms of flavor (boo!), and the stewed peppers didn’t have much to bring to the table aside from … peppers … and tomato (more boos!).  The dish wasn’t inedible or anything – quite the contrary, as I cleaned up the plate – but it wasn’t something I’d ever order again.  The bread basket was “ok”, but nowhere near Parc’s bread basket, as the muffins were a bit dry and the zuchini bread was a bit crumbly.  g had the braised tomatoes and eggs, and, while she liked it “ok”, it’s not like they rocked her socks.  This leads us to the final nail in the coffin: the price.  I think w’s boyfriend summed it up nicely when he said, “we paid $12 for a $8-9 dish”.  And if you’re thinking “oh, that’s not too bad”, I feel like a 30-50% markup is a bit much.  In the grand scheme, I’d say that Amis out-performs Farmicia and Meme but is a notch below Supper for brunch.  Darn.  We were hoping that Amis would have been the place to take g’s parents because they strike us as the kind of people who’d be up for a savory brunch.  Alas, if you crave a savory brunch, forget Amis – go straight to Kanella (their brunches are awesome – and not just the Cyprus breakfast).

Written by afterdinnersneeze

18 May 2011 at 9:15pm

Amis: We Mees You Already

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g says: our finer things club skipped the month of may (gasp!)  there was just too much going on between graduations and moving apartments, holidays, and vacations. okay, so maybe kp was just doing all of those things, but we couldn’t have a meeting without him. (kp is worth waiting for – a stupendous dining partner, for sure! hear that, ladies?) anyway, so we held off until june, and made this month really count by trying a new restaurant that all 3 of us have been talking about visiting  since its opening: amis.

this is marc vetri’s newest venture in center city, and all of us had fabulous previous experiences with vetri restos (t and i had a spectacular dinner at vetri for my birthday last year, then kp highly recommended osteria to us, and we confirmed his suspicions of there being some of the best gnocchi in town there). we had been looking for the perfect opportunity to try what promised to be a more rustic, casual version of vetri, but not quite as casual as osteria. the only negative we heard was that although the prices on the menu looked reasonable, the portions were smaller than one would expect, therefore nullifying a seemingly great value. oh, and it’s not byo — which is a negative by our standards, but none of vetri’s restaurants are byo, so we weren’t expecting anything different.

6/2010, 9pm, Party of 3. it was a perfect friday evening — warm, yet comfortable — and kp was not working (hooray!) we cruised in to the restaurant right on time for our reservation to find the nice-sized, yet cozy restaurant completely abuzz with diners. there is a full bar with an interesting selection of cocktails, round tables for groups, and also a large sort of communal table where they seat smaller parties together. although we had a reservation, there was no table ready for our party of 3 — we could either wait for a regular table or sit at the communal. i suggested we sit outside at one of the patio tables instead, which turned out to be a great idea. we were seated immediately, and got to work crafting our wish list of items to order.

it was the moment of truth — we heard that plates are small at amis, yet as we looked around at other people’s food, some dishes looked fairly generous. we decided be cautious and to order 4 dishes and share them all; if we were still hungry, we could always order more. our server was professional and friendly, answering all of our questions with ease. i appreciated her calm much more than the hostess, who seemed frazzled when we showed up for our reservation and did not have an open table for us.

when our server showed up with our drink order, i knew it would be a good night. my prosecco came not in a champagne flute as i would have expected, but in a white wine glass, generously filled at that. there’s that value i was looking for!

our “imported bufala ricotta and black pepper” bruschetta came out first. it was so simple – just a small bowl of fresh ricotta, olive oil, and black pepper served alongside thick slices of grilled italian bread with sesame seeds. holy. crap. i don’t know what they did to that bread, but it was fantastic! it was really flavorful, and a great pairing with the cool ricotta that we smeared on top. AND they would bring us unlimited amounts of this deliciously rustic bread, which enabled us to try it with the rest of our dishes as well.

following the bruschetta, we had 2 pastas (“gnocchi alla romana with oxtail ragu” and  “bucatini alla “matriciana” with pork jowl, chili flake and pecorino”) and a “mixed vegetable grill with seasonal vegetables and balsamic vinegar.” i’ll break it down by dish for you:

oxtail gnocchi – as you know from t’s posts, we have to try anything with oxtail or gnocchi everywhere, to satisfy his need to know who truly makes the best of these items. with both ingredients bring presented in one dish, we thought this would be a home run. the oxtail ragu was tasty, but the gnocchi was texturally challenging. they were shaped unlike any other gnocchi i have tried, and instead reminded me of sliced korean rice cakes called “ddeok” (not sure of that spelling), which i don’t particularly care for. spooning it out of its baking dish reminded me of scooping lasagna that had not properly set — i wasn’t spooning separate gnocchis onto my plate, which was strange. they were a little soft and mushy, and of course, diplomatic as we are, the three of us launched into conversation of how difficult it is to make perfect gnocchi.

bucatini – this was a more generously sized portion of pasta than i was expecting, but we made short work of it. the pork jowl bits were soft, but not too mushy, and had a great flavor. the dish was just spicy enough, and the pasta was a great al dente texture. thumbs up!

grilled veggies – a great call if i do say so myself (this was my pick, as i thought i spied another table with this dish earlier). there was eggplant, zucchini, peppers, fennel, and polenta, sweetened by the balsamic and all grilled to perfection. again, not a fancy preparation, but it was a great foil to the other rich pastas we ordered and lightened our meal considerably.

afterwards, we all split the dessert special tiramisu (how could we pass up tiramisu at a yummy italian restaurant? you gotta test them with the classics, ya know!) the tiramisu was delicious, not unlike other homemade tiramisu that family and friends have made for us. but certainly not a bad rendition, even though there wasn’t anything too different about it. there are a couple other dessert items on their regular menu that we would probably try on a return visit, and there is also an ice cream shop called philly flavors about a block away…

all in all, we had a lovely time. the service was pleasant, we were all quite full after sharing the 4 plates plus dessert, and the tab wasn’t too bad, either. we will definitely be returning, especially on a nice evening, as the outdoor seating did make the night for us, i think. if there are any volunteers to go with us for round two, please do let us know, as i can definitely see amis in our near dining future.

t says: Amis was quite delicious.  I feel that its bucatini was on par with those from Melograno, which says a lot in my book.  I agree that the gnocchi and oxtail dish was not the best I’ve ever had (i.e. at Babbo), but it was also drastically different than gnocchi I was expecting.  I normally expect gnocchi to be soft and pillowy, but still with just a bit of bite.  I think that Babbo and Osteria probably have had the most texturally pleasing gnocchi ever.  Vetri’s gnocchi is far softer than either of these; almost like a stiff mousse (I think they call it a “volatile” gnocchi).  It was still good, but just very different.  I think the gnocchi at Amis was similar i texture to that Vetri, except that unlike large pillows, these were served as very large discs hiding underneath the oxtail and cheese.  As a result, it was kind of like a lasagna, but the “pasta” was a little on the mushy side (overcooked?  too much liquid in the dough?).  We still ate it.  Also, I don’t think it was like “duk” at all, as duk normally has more bite (i.e. stiffer) than any gnocchi should have, but to each their own (I love duk).

Written by afterdinnersneeze

28 June 2010 at 1:57pm