after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘BYOB

Post #500: Return to “The Table”

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t says:  This is our 500th post.  That’s a huge milestone for us!  And boy do we have a food experience for it: Talula’s Table!  This little psuedo-restaurant in Kennett Square needs no introduction, as we’ve been there several times before, so let’s just roll with the pictures:


The Menu for the Evening!


Bluefish, toter tot, green onion: a surprisingly strong (but delightful) fish flavor atop a wonderfully salty, crispy tater tot.  After demolishing the plate, we tried to pretend that we hadn’t received any … surprise – they were not fooled … so I guess we do have a criticism of this dish: it needs to be about 17 times larger …


golden beet ravioli with goat cheese, romaine salad on top: this was my favorite hors d’oeuvre – it starts off with a very vivid romaine that then has a palate-coating goat cheese and ends with the distinct crisp golden beet flavor – what a roller-coaster of flavors and textures!  nice!


soup of cauliflower, salmon roe, cucumber, chevre: most found this to be a refreshing start to the meal.  I found the cauliflower to be interesting because it tasted like straight-up cauliflower, but not roasted or anything.


Chesapeake blue crab omelette: holy crap – this dish totally blew people’s faces off.  I suspect it was because it had a benign name: “omelette”.  Seriously – when’s the last time an “omelette” ever did anything surprising?  Well this one was like a ninja to your palate because you take a bite expecting “egg”, but instead get rocked by crab and greens and herbs, with the egg plays some mellow background music – v’s favorite of the night!


foie, turnips, radishes: a fun combination: an impressive demonstration of foie married nicely to its accompaniments.  I think that foie-lovers would have gravitated more towards this dish, while I tend to prefer my foie darkly seared and deeper (this one was more light-and-springy)


pea ravioli with pork belly surprise (hiding underneath!): this was my favorite of the night – and for the record, it was not just because there was a hiding mass of pork underneath (many attested to the greatness of the ravioli sans pork).  I can’t even begin to describe what made this dish so remarkable other than to admit that “pea ravioli” as I’ve called it does it a tremendous disservice.


blue fish: this dish probably had the most fans – I give it props for having just the right balance of novelty (garlic flan … no, it’s not the next generation of cooking, but when’s the last time you had garlic flan?) and integration (putting the fennel and the fava beans and the perfectly cooked fish and the flan and the sauce together resulted in a symphony that forced you to stop and ponder the meaning of life …).  a’s mom just couldn’t get enough!


chicken: perhaps the weakest dish of the evening – the chicken was nicely-done, as were the curried carrots, but ultimately it didn’t quite come together in the end as we would have liked.  v felt that this flavoring of this dish didn’t quite “fit” with the progression of the rest of the meal, and I tend to agree.  Sorry chicken – every meal is going to have its weakest link, and that’s you (even though technically, every single item was indeed perfectly cooked).


steak 2 ways: this was a’s favorite dish of the evening, and he’s not a guy to just give props to meat for the sake of being meat.  Maybe it was the squash blossoms?  Maybe it was the perfect seasoning?  Maybe it because the main character was given an opportunity to shine, and shine it did, with a tenderness I have never seen in a skirt steak?  Or maybe it was because a brought out his 2004 Opus One that was drinking beautifully, with aromas of cigar box and dark fruit and a palate of cola, raisins, and tea?  Whatever it was, it was an appropriate finale to the steady crescendo the meal had been trending towards.


cheese: cows: gouda, parm reg, cheddar, something else, and a local blue.  All in all, a nice cheese plate.  Personally, I would have preferred a variety of milks on a cheese plate, but the point of the plate was there to be all cows, so I understand why they did it.  I think I was most surprised by the pickled asparagus and pickled cauliflower – they really reset your palate between cheeses, which I appreciated (especially because I was getting full by this point).

lining up

and now the final course …


dessert!  pancakes!  yay!  nuff said …


double-dessert: chocolate truffles: because every meal needs a little chocolate, otherwise, it’s not really a meal …

This was one of the best Table experiences we’ve had!  With really only the chicken being a little snooze-y, it’s safe to say that Chef is doing a wonderful job – I haven’t had this good a food there since Sikora’s time.  The Table still delivers amazing flavor combinations despite unassuming ingredients and simplistic plating – it never fails to surprise me.  The service was top-notch and the staff was very approachable, not hesitating to allow us to get up from our seats and watch them cook up and plate the dishes (even though we clearly were a few glasses of wine into dinner).  The kitchen table is a fabulous experience – we [still] highly recommend it and feel that it’s totally worth the price of admission (e.g. go to Vetri once, but go to Talula’s Table as many times as you can).  And so, I went to end by thanking sr and ha for their generosity that allows us to eat out like this – thanks guys!  Thanks to a and v, as this event would not have been as much fun without them – we love having friends with a similar love of and priority for fine dining.  And, of course, thanks to a’s parents – it’s always a pleasure to eat [and drink] with them.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

2 July 2013 at 9:41pm

little fish dominates summer sundays

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t says:  So I had to work the night shift for a week.  I have to say that it was the weirdest experience because to me, it felt like one extremely long day with some short naps interspersed throughout (i.e. I’d wake up and there’d be light outside, and I’d go to sleep and there’d be light outside).  I did well on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights.  Friday night was the hardest – I just couldn’t keep up my usual enthusiasm and focus.  But Saturday … Saturday I was gung-ho.  Why, you might ask?  Because Saturday night shift meant that I was going to leave work on Sunday morning … and Sunday was date night!  To celebrate, g and I went to Little Fish, one of our favorite places to go for seafood.  Armed with a chilled bottle of Alexana Riesling we had picked up from Oregon, we hopped into a cab and rode off to 6th and South-ish …

July 2012, Sunday Dinner, Party of 2.  Oh Little Fish.  Your restaurant is so cute and quaint.  It’s not quite Bibou-small, but it’s pretty darn small.  And it’s relaxed, too.  The servers donned their tattoos and strutted about with an air of “home” (and they were on top of their shiznit, too!) – it’s just what I needed to make me feel at ease after the week.  I glanced at the menu (i.e. the chalkboard on the farm wall) and prepared myself for the series of dishes.  OH – I forgot to mention – when you go to Little Fish on Sundays, there’s only one option: a 5-course, $33 fixed price meal.  If you don’t like it, then get out.  They have two seatings – 5:30 and 8 (?or is it 8:30?  I forget).  Even if there was something on the menu that I didn’t particularly want to eat, I’m pretty sure I would have lacked the oomph to get out of my seat and seek out another last-minute Sunday dinner option.  Fortunately, the menu looked pretty good:

And now, on to the food:

My first leafy green in weeks …

So we started with a pretty simple salad.  On one hand, it was a simple as simple could be (arugala, tomato, cheese), but on the other, it was really the first green thing I had eaten in at least a week, if not longer – so for me, it was like a plate of some sort of exotic vegetable I had never seen.  So yes, it was tasty (plus, arugula tends to have that pepperiness to it – so it is more exotic than romaine after all).  Was it blow-your-face-off-good?  No.  But when’s the last time arugala+cheese+tomato blew your face off?


Now THIS dish, on the other hand, blew my face off.  Seriously.  I was not expecting it.  I figured, “ok, well, they’re going to have to have some sort of raw fish preparation, and chances are that it’s going to be whatever leftover fish they had from the week (from what Kitchen Confidential has told me, Sunday fish in restaurants are suspect because no one delivers “fresh fish” on the weekends), so I set my expectations pretty low … but this was magic.  It was sweet (watermelon), spicy (tamari), fresh/zippy (scallion), savory (brown sauce … soy?), and it was all perfectly balanced with the briney essence in raw fluke.  Wonderful.  As I sipped our Riesling (which was also wonderful), I remembered how Little Fish doesn’t screw around with namby-pamby flavors.  Thank goodness.


This was the second dish to blow my face off (i.e. if I still had some remnants of a face after the first dish).  So it started with a perfectly cooked scallop (an absolute requirement for any place trying to bill itself as seafood-centric).  Check.  Add a richly flavored corn-essenced gravy.  Check.  Toss in some mushrooms that were so good that even g ate them.  Check.  Add some green beans that were cooked-yet-crisp-yet-deeply-flavored as well as some cornbread croutons.  Check.  The result was this weird concoction were something as light as a scallop was made to feel so rich and earthy that it almost made me wonder what sort of mysterious grass-fed, hoofed beast these scallops must have come from.  To borrow some language from some of my favorite people [of which to poke fun]: amaze!


But alas … the meal wasn’t perfect – but not because chef failed at cookery – quite the opposite, actually  Above you see a perfectly cooked piece of tuna … and nearly-perfectly cooked chickpeas (I prefer them a little softer) …  and a perfect mix of cucumber/onion/some-kinda-sauce … but they were assembled in such a way that for the life of me I could not taste the tuna at all.  GASP!  Nooooooo!  <Ok, I’ll stop being over-dramatic.>  I think that after the previous two courses, this one came out the weakest – and it really had to do with the balance.  Despite the size of that healthy slab of tuna – it just couldn’t lend enough flavor to compete with the quantity of sauce and other stuff on the plate; it got lost in the jumble.  I’m sorry Little Fish.  You were so close!

chocolate cake

So, after we remembered out experiences with the coffee cake the last time we were here, g and I knew that we shouldn’t underestimate their dessert prowess.  But unlike “coffee cake”, this dessert seemed like it was going to bring in a new twist: chocolate and beets.  I was skeptical.  Don’t mess with my chocolate by putting crap in it it doesn’t need (citrus, berries, and bacon are acceptable).  I am glad to report that this dessert was awesome.  Not – it wasn’t as sensational as the coffee cake, but it was a nice, filling dessert with moist chocolate cake (as moist and fluffy as a boxed cake, but not as sweet), with some creamy whipped topping (I forget what it was flavored with) and that beet sauce that turned out to be a wonderful accompaniment (kinda like how raspberry+chocolate works – this works in the same way – the beets came off as kinda-fruity, which was great!).  So in the future I might flirt with chocolate+beets some more.

In the end, g and I had a superb meal.  Sure, there were a few mis-steps, but when you consider consider how reasonably priced it was, it’s one helluva-deal!  Our mouths were happy.  Our stomachs were happy.  Our wine was empty.  It was a great night.  Thanks Little Fish!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

28 July 2012 at 5:38pm

Russet rustles up some good dishes

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t says:  Two of our friends wanted to go to dinner with us – but the question was, “where?”.  We pulled up our list of usual suspects but wanted something a little more exciting/new.  And then I remembered a little new place that I saw while walking home the other day – Russet!  After some googlage, we found that they had availability, so off we went!

May 2012, Sunday Dinner, Party of 4.  We walked in and the first thing we noticed was just how small a place it was.  The dining area was kind of like a large living room of a row-house (with tall ceilings).  Cute!  There wasn’t a whole lot of stuff decorating the walls/ceiling/tables, so the place was kind of bare – but at least there wouldn’t be any distractions from the food …

their app = grilled asparagus + egg + bacon

Our friends ordered up this app.  From what I can tell, the execution seemed spot-on, however, it was pretty small for costing close to $10.  I only sampled the bacon, which in my book was perfectly crisped.  Sorry – I can’t comment past that.  Overall, it seems that our friends were happy to taste/eat the food, but I still wonder whether even the most perfect of preparations of an egg, some asparagus, and bacon could ever warrant so high a tariff?  Maybe if there was some gold leaf and truffle and cavier and foie in there?

our app = ramp ravioli

When we first got there, we told the server that it was our first time and asked for recommendations.  She explained that “anything pasta” was bound to be good, as all the pasta was made fresh in-house.  Immediately, I eyed a shortrib ?pappardelle? – as I’m a sucker for shortrib.  But that’d be too normal – I wanted to see chef’s chops.  So I changed tunes at the last second and went with the ramp ravioli in what I think was a lemon-butter sauce adorned with some sort of petals (I should have read the menu more closely – they’ve since changed the menu so I can’t even look it up).  Whatever it was, this dish was FANTASTIC.  All four of us agreed that the combo of flavors made for a ravioli that was bright and summery – there’s just something about the way the ramps came through on the palate, presumably unleashed from the filling.  Splendid ravioli texture, too!  Someone knows how to make some pasta!

bacon wrapped halibut

One of our friends opted for bacon-wrapped <insert fish here>.  As you can see, I forgot what the original fish was, but I know that after she had ordered, they informed her that they were instead wrapping halibut in bacon that night.  She agreed to the change, and this is what emerged.  And you know what?  She won dinner.  This fish was wonderful.  It reminded me exactly of the kind of fish that would come out had we been eating at Little Fish.  The vivid bacon flavor absolutely blew me away.  And if that wasn’t enough, the fish cookery was other-worldly-amazing.  I don’t know if it was a fluke or something to have cooked fish so perfectly (we only had one fish dish at the table), but I’d definitely try out a fish dish the next time I go.

t’s main = chicken + veggies

This was my dish – I unfortunately don’t have much to report here.  The chicken was cooked ok.  The jus was a a bit boring.  The vegetables were plain.  But technically, nothing on the dish was actually “bad”, it’s just that on the whole I found the flavors underwhelming.  Is it weird that I’m dinging a dish for tasting like its visible components?  I don’t know – maybe I’m just suffering food-envy, as I was coming off the ramp ravioli and had just tasted the bacon-wrapped halibut.  I’ll leave it as “It was a “good chicken dish”.  But that’s it.

g’s main = gnocchi + ricotta + tomato gravy

This dish came out a little weird.  g ordered gnocchi.  I saw it on the menu.  I heard her order it.  But this was more like rectangles of polenta in texture – very weird.  I guess for polenta, it wasn’t bad, but when I think of gnocchi, I think of soft pillows of homogenous dough – not grainy/gritty pasta.  It was accompanied by globs of ricotta and a tomato sauce and laid over a bed of something [that I didn’t taste], but I just couldn’t get over the gnocchi.  g’s not one to complain [unless some really egregious error has been made], so she let it slide.  I think that this was probably the biggest “pass” for me of the night – maybe someone doesn’t know their pasta?  Or maybe they know their pasta too well, so that meager mortals like ourselves don’t know real gnocchi if it punched us in the face …

Ok, so there were some highs and some lows.  I think Russet deserves a second chance, as I think the times when they got to play with not-boring ingredients (ramps, fish), they really shine.  The prices are a little inflated – their steak was $34!!  At the same time, they are BYO, so that helps, but I have serious doubts if their cow is going to be able to topple other $30 cows (like Bibou’s).   We’ll just have to see!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

17 May 2012 at 9:04am

Posted in Happenings

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Fond … “A Hundred and Fifty Thousand Percent Right!”

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t says:  In a mini-FTC (any gathering of 4 of the five of us: g, t, a, v, and/or kp), all but kp headed to Fond.  It was a meal that started at around 9:30 I think.  It ended after 1am.  I’m sure it could have gone longer had we had more wine.  Here’s a picture-show of what happened …

8/2011.  Friday Dinner.  Party of 4.  We arrived with quite a few bottles of wine that night.  Riesling, Champagne (the ‘good stuff’), 1.5 bottles of red.  There may have been one other.  I can’t remember – a might remember, but the details are not as important as the fact that we offered some to our server, who happened to be one of the owners, Tory.  Brilliant move.

A liquid amuse bouche ...

We started the meal off with a “Spicy Watermelon Gazpacho”.  It was refreshing, cleansing, sweet, spicy, awesome.  Someone remarked, “hey! it’s like a Bloody Mary … but with watermelon.”  Upon informing Tory of our opinion (no idea why we felt it was necessary to do so), he chuckled with us and agreed.  “It only needs vodka.”  This amuse was so good that it inspired g and d to try and concoct one at home.  While not as successful as the original, messing around with pureeing watermelons was good fun and we’ll give it another whirl for everyone at a brunch one day.  I hope everyone’s ready for “Blushing Mary”.

The veal breast and sweetbreads and broccoli rabe terrine.

I ventured the “special” terrine appetizer.  I will say simply that this is the best thing I ate that night and easily the best terrine I’ve ever had.  Of course, it has the distinct advantage of being a warm dish, whereas most terrines I’ve had have been cold (I like warm dishes).  For some reason, my notes indicate that someone said, “The heat is broughten”.  Apparently, the terrine was so good that we felt obliged to violate some fairly basic rules of grammar …  It actually defies description, so I’m moving on …

g got the yellow fin tuna crudo.  She always gets the yellow fin tuna crudo.  It’s that good.  I have nothing else to report …

v had the corn risotto, for which I lack a picture.  Her response consisted of “Wow!” followed by unintelligible sounds/noises/silence.  Eventually, she said something about how “it was like Mexican food” or “a high class cream corn” or “a fancy Thanksgiving”.  She agreed with g’s assessment: “I feel like i can make this at home … but I know I can’t”.  At this point, someone was declared by v to be “a hundred and fifty thousand percent right”, but the context is unclear – g thinks it might have been something she said … so all we know is that something about Fond’s corn risotto is “a hundred and fifty thousand percent right”.

Something v got? Foie?

v also ventured the Foie.  I have no notes – I assume she liked it.  Either that, or this dish, too, strickened her with silence.

a's wing of skate and gnocchi

a’s lone comment regarding his skate was: “This is some badass skate”.  Upon further inquiry, we’ve decided that this skate had been donning tattoos and riding a motorcycle (without a helmet, of course) immediately before being caught …

Harpoon-caught Swordfish

The harpoon-caught swordfish was my entree.  Actually, it was perhaps the weakest of the entrees at the table.  But that’s not to say it was “bad”.  On the contrary – much was very delicious.  The fish was superbly cooked, retaining some its fish-like qualities in terms of texture, not the least bit resembling those thick, steak-tough swordfish pieces I’ve seen elsewhere.  But unfortunately, in terms of flavor, it wasn’t really pushing an envelope.  The angel hair cake was intriguing as an accompaniment – it reminded everyone of ramen – I guess due to the umami from the mushroom and salt of the broth?  End result: superb cookery in the dish, but more subtle than I was expecting.

Skirt Steak

g got steak.  Big surprise.  Her response: “You guys, i’m so happy right now”.  And that cheese concoction in the upper-left, something that g normally shies away from, she enjoyed very much.  Once again – so close to overtaking Bibou – her fave for steak – it’s only missing that reduction that Pierre makes that’s so intoxicating …

chocolate dessert (guess who ordered it?)

For dessert, I went with a dark chocolate mousse (surprised?), accompanied by candied ginger, coconut, and that wafer which I believe was cocoa nibs (but I could be wrong).  While I’m no stranger to chocolate-ginger combo, I enjoyed the twist of coconut in the dish.

The other chocolate dessert ...

Unfortunately, a ordered the real chocolate winner for dessert – I was extremely jealous.  Lucky for me, he was sharing …  Oh – I forgot to tell you what it was: malt chocolate ice cream accompanied by peanut brittle and a peanut butter ganache.  It was like the best kandy kake I’ve ever had.

The non-chooclate dessert of the evening ..., fig, pistachio tart, some kind of ice cream

g and v ventured the fig and pistachio tart dessert. “It’s kind of like baklava … but better”.  I still don’t understand why someone would want to eat that over chocolate.

a had the final food-related quote of the night: “Oh SHIT that was good.”

Ok, so you realize now that we were light on descriptions, mostly because you’d get tired of the superlatives we’d be using.  Take our word for it: Fond delivered truly great food.  It’s not the kind of food coming out of some fancy-shmancy restaurant (there were no foams or mists or crazy-looking food vessels) – it’s homey and it’s tasty.  It’s the stuff that we imagine chefs would make at home, even though we fully realize that this is most certainly not a reality.  Better yet: it’s the stuff we wish we could make at home.

What rivaled the food that night was the service.  We shared a glass or two of our liquors with Tory, who we didn’t realize was a co-owner.  End result: he was really nice to us.  He didn’t give us free food or anything, but he took us to the back patio and showed off their “chef’s table” space.  For around $100/head, you get some insane meal for you and 7 guests.  Immediately, we had flashbacks of Talula’s Table.  We’ve got to do that.

Later, as the other patrons left, the staff and Tory visited our table and started chatting with us.  We met the famous “Steve” – PhillyMag’s “Best Waiter of 2011”.  We’ve had him once before – before his fame/fortune.  He’s good.  But this night, we got to know him – he is funny.  Select quotes include:

-“Stop touching my hair it’s Friday night.”
-“I’m trying to get two years in a row.”
-“Yea, the foie – its a nice piece you could share it… but I wouldn’t – it’s too damn good.”
-“Not because I work here but it’s the best swordfish I ever had.”

There were other quotes but either included more expletives or were surrounded by a controversial/racy context (this is a family-friendly blog!), so I can’t put them here.  Trust us – he actually is funny.

Then Omar, a server from Lacroix came in and chatted with us some.  Topics ranged from countries in central and South America, how surprisingly tall a is, and why v hates Lacroix.  Hilarious.  Time flew and before you knew it, some members of the party were enjoying a shot of some sort of unidentified alcohol and we were being invited to a happy hour celebrating their second anniversary.

In summary, the food was excellent.  The service was friendly.  We’ll be going back, guaranteed.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

23 September 2011 at 2:51pm

Bibou with Friends

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t says:  We checked out Bibou as our official June FTC meeting.  (We missed May).  I posted my experiences over at the Penn blog, Penn Appetit.  I figured that I’ve showered Bibou with so much praise on this blog already that it was time to expose it to a broader audience.  That said – there are some funnier things that occurred that I’ll mention here (adsz exclusive!).

First off, let’s re-cap some food (and wines available at PLCB) from a’s and v’s perspectives, as I omitted them from the Penn Appetit review.

a says:  I was extremely impressed with the food, service, and ambiance at Bibou – I’m not surprised t has a crush. The title of “favorite BYO” goes a little too far for me as I can’t say any one dish blew-me-away. [full disclosure: The french lentils served with the pig foot may be the best medium I have ever tasted.] v’s escargot were prepared flawlessly and my guinea hen terrine, accompanied by a corn bread waffle, was a very interesting dish. I feel the waffle could have been better and seemed disjointed from the terrine, which lacked big flavor. My hanger steak was cooked to perfection and matched well with the potatoes and asparagus (and Bordeaux), but nothing on my plate took my palate to another level. I’ve had very good steak before and Bibou’s was right there, however, it was nothing I haven’t tasted. The cheese plate and desserts were on par with the rest of the meal, not one misstep. Oh, and as should be requisite for a French restaurant, the bread ‘n’ butter was the bomb. I look forward to returning to Bibou and trying more risky menu items as the overall experience is one of the best in Philadelphia. [super-full disclosure: I arrived at dinner directly from the International Great Beer Expo… where I had enjoyed great beer… a lot of great beer. My dinner experience may have been colored by the fact that I had malt and hops coursing through my veins.] I thought the wines went extremely well with the meal (especially sans any pre-meal pairing) and would have been made even better with serious decanting. More detailed descriptions below.

Re: wines … These are highly recommended, perfect for French(ish) cuisine, under $30, and available at PLCB stores in CC:
1)  Lillet (blanc) [France] – serve this aperitif chilled, on ice, with orange peel garnish.  This is the quintessential (French) summertime palate-awakener. Light, citrusy, and refreshing.
2)  Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Clos Hauserer Riesling 2007 [Alsace].  A luscious white with great mouthfeel, focused acidity, and pleasant minerality. The nose of honey and grapefruit continued on the tongue accompanied by a perfectly balanced citrusy-sweetness [read: not a sweet wine].”
3)  Chateau Vignot Saint-Emilion 2003 [Bordeaux].  I think this was a wonderful example of how a cheaper Bordeaux can be approachable and quite good. Merlot based, the nose was barnyard, but not funky, with a
hint of caramel. In the mouth, it tasted of lovely dark fruits and had light tobacco and leather undertones. This is drinking well right now, and with its enjoyable tannins, will probably continue to for a few more years.

t says:  g and I brought a Quintessa and a bottle of Champagne (actually from Champagne).  But we love our wine guru who’s always able to pull out some of the less-than-obvious-to-most-people choices.  I hope he posts more about his random wine finds in the future (*wink wink*)!

As you can see, Bibou put up another great meal, and when combined with great wines and great friends, it’s a great time.  I can’t wait to do it again.  Shall we change our venue to Fond next month for FTC to start up a French BYO throwdown??

And … as promised … some funny conversations:

1)  Our awesome server, a Mexican who had worked at Le Bec-fin before Bibou:  “And here is your creme caramel …”
someone from our party:  “Wow – it looks like Flan”
server:  “Yea, you’re right, it is a fancy Flan.”

2)  Pierre came around and we offered him a glass of wine.  Pierre: “I don’t drink while I am working – I know too many chefs who drink too early into service.”

3)  a was a little boisterous at the end of the meal.  He professed his love for the lentils out loud.  Repeatedly.  Someothing to the extent of (although not verbatim) “OMFG, those lentils were !#@$ amazing – if i had some more I’d <insert creative explicit action here>…”.  I swear that right after he said this, our server went back into the kitchen and started mentioning “lentils”.  Immediately, g and I looked at eachother and knew we had to do something – we were like, “ok … so it’s time to go …”.  If we were there for a second longer I bet you a dollar that a plate of lentils would have appeared …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

13 June 2011 at 7:56pm

One Fish, Two Fish, Tile Fish, Coffee Cake …

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t says: g and I celebrated her bday with a trip to Little Fish.  Why Little Fish?  Well, we were looking for a place that was new to us and BYO.  Technically, we had gone to Little Fish once before, BUT, we hadn’t gone since it closed and re-opened in its new digs – so it was kind of like a new restaurant!!!  We also had a bottle of Illumination from Quintessa that we acquired during our visit to Napa – and what better way to make it the star of the evening than to have a bunch of fish!?  Finally, when we saw the pricepoint of the menu, we knew that Little Fish is a little expensive to make it just a random-weekend-dinner – at nearly $30 per entree, there needs to be a little something special worth eating for.

As you prepare yourself for the rest of this post, you can stare at yet another poorly-taken iPhone photo of our dessert and wonder if it was good or not!

"Chocolate crunch" ice cream atop coffee cake atop a puddle of banana-esque shmutz.

2/2010, Saturday 8:30pm, Party of 2. When we arrived the place was kind of small … and empty.  Only one table had guests, and another was clearly getting up to leave.  I think we were the first of a second wave of diners or something because they were definitely packed by the time we were halfway through our meal.  As usual, we were quite hungry (we like to make sure we don’t wuss out and get full after the appetizer when we go to restaurants) and wasted no time and got down to business.  The menu was written on a board that we turned our heads to stare at.  There’s got to be some way to put the menu in a more accessible place, but I guess not.  In any case, as we read each item, we couldn’t quite decide what to do.  Do we get two entrees and two apps?  Or do we go 3 apps and 1 entree?  So many things sounded good!  Then we decided … we’d go three entrees for two people and skip the apps entirely.  Genius.  This meant we got a “three course tasting menu” of sorts (and they split each dish into two plates for us – so we wouldn’t have to dribble sauces onto the table – that was quite nice of them!).  I let g choose two of the entrees, and I chose a third.

First course was “golden spot tilefish, shrimp and grits, tomato consomme, andouille”.  Holy bejesus this was awesome.  The tomato consomme was deep and flavorful – a beautiful harmony upon which the fish and andouille played a gorgeous melody (I think I used those terms right – maybe I got them backwards …).  The way the flavors played with eachother totally reminded me of the kind of flavor adventure that we got when we first ate at Talula’s Table.  I don’t know how they subdued the andouille (or amplified the tilefish), but one did not overtake the other – instead you got a beautiful fish and that savory/salty meat that worked so well together.  And the shrimp and grits were perfect – a worthy challenger for kp (a shrimp and grits showdown, kp?).

Next up was “striped bass with braised romaine, bagna caude, crouton”.  You know – it’s kind of weird, but for me the star of the dish was the braised romaine.  Yes, the fish was delightful, and the crouton and ?sauce?/?liquid? was amazing.  But that romaine … that romaine was awesome.  And I have a personal vendetta against romaine … soooo … my endorsement means something.  I don’t know how they got such flavor into the lettuce while having it keep some consistency, but they did, and I have thought about braising some romaine on my own … (haven’t gotten around to it yet).

The last course was the “sturgeon with pork belly, gigande beans, spinach, mustard”.  I was psyched.  Fish and pork belly.  Bring it on.  It arrived and it looked and smelled delicious.  I was even more psyched.  And then I tasted it.  And you know what, I was a little disappointed.  The dish was rather one-note, with the mustard taking over and masking everything.  Don’t get me wrong – I like mustard – but I couldn’t get a whole lot more than it, which kind of bummed me out.  The texture of the fish and pork belly suggested that they were both executed well – and tasting them on their revealed … surprise … fish and pork belly.  But the one thing that was supposed to bring them together kind of trumped them both.  It wasn’t a “bad” dish, but after the first two, it was kind of a let-down.  Especially because this one was my choice – just goes to show you that my wife is a good picker (after all, she did pick me, right?).

And finally … the dessert.  I let g choose the dessert (she gets a lot of power on her birthday).  She asked for the coffee cake.  To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled.  Coffee cake?  I mean, come on.  On what planet is coffee cake an acceptable dessert at a restaurant … after eating fish and fine wine?  Interestingly, neither g nor I even drink coffee, either!  But, her birthday, her choice … She totally made me eat my thoughts.  That dessert, which we showed you a crappy picture of above, was frickin’ delicious.  The chocolate ice cream brought some sweat creaminess (?and I guess some crunch – but there wasn’t that much), and that coffee cake was perfect.  And then there was the banana shmutz.  It was like someone made some bananas foster and then blended it smooth.  It was ridiculous.  If they put it in a jar and charged $8 a piece a-la-Barbuzzo, I’d buy a dozen and take them home to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  And then I realized that this was the best dessert I’ve had at a Philly restaurant.  Better than Zahav.  Better than Barbuzzo.  I kind of want to try it again just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke …

So, the overall picture …  The food is quite good at Little Fish.  However, the prices are a little on the steep side, approaching $30 per entree.  While in my personal price-point, the first dish (i.e. the tile fish) was “worth” it, the second was more like a $25 dish, and the last was more of a $20 dish (in terms of flavor – I realize that as soon as you put pork belly on something, you’re allowed to charge $5 more for it).  I think g and I will keep the place in mind for special (e.g. Birthdays, holidays) and semi-special (e.g. V-day) events … or just when we need to show some fish-fanatic friends of ours a good time …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

13 March 2011 at 11:32pm

Hog Heaven: Cochon’s Pork Belly and GTC’s Bacon Maple Apple Pie

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t says: We went to Cochon for dinner this past weekend, and it was great! I’m not in the mood to do a proper full-on post which includes the context of the visit and super-long descriptions, so let’s go straight to the restaurant and get to the good stuff…

December 2010, Fri Dinner, Party of 6. The atmosphere was very nice – dark tables and little candles reminded me a bit of Audrey Claire – but I hoped the food would be better than Audrey Claire. It did get louder as the evening went on, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle.

The food was amazing … I had the pork belly for the first course. It was the best cookery of pork belly I’ve ever experienced. Better than Talula’s. Better than Morimoto. Morimoto might still have an edge for sneaking in those Asian flavors, but damn this was so silky smooth it was unbelievable. And I believe that an appetizer is a great size for pork belly, because I think it would have precipitated a heart attack had I eaten any more (and if I was given more … I would have eaten it without a doubt). I thank them for saving me from myself. There were some Brussels sprouts and bacon underneath the pork belly – they were also quite good. Hell – they could have spun that into a whole ‘other appetizer had they given me more of it. I will say, however, that maybe if they snuck in some sort of something to cut through some of the fat and refresh the palate every now and then (?citrus? veggie? I don’t know) then I’m pretty sure I would have cancelled my second course and ordered another of the pork belly …

For my second course I had the “lamb steak” special. I’m actually blanking on what the cut of lamb was. Maybe I should call them and ask. Nah – what’s the fun in that? In any case, the mystery cut of lamb was surprisingly not “lamby”.

g says: pardon the interruption… it was lamb sirloin. continue!

t says: It really was like eating super tender steak (think of the shape and done-ness of a medium-rare hanger steak with the tenderness of a braised short rib) that had a hint of lamb. It was wonderful. Yes, there was some delicious Israeli couscous underneath it, but who cares? The lamb was the hero.

Everyone else seemed to enjoy their food as well (g and I went with our parents). sr totally cleaned up his bouillabaisse, and ha did the same with her suckling pig dish. g and her mom had no qualms with the pork loin, and g’s dad dispatched with the scallop dish (we spoiled his appetite beforehand with stromboli and meat and cheese from DiBruno Bros. so he was quite content with a single order of scallops).

The desserts were also pretty tasty – I had the “molten” chocolate cake and was satisfied because the chocolate didn’t just ooze onto the plate after you sliced into it. It was a thick molten chocolate cake. Woohoo! I hate stabbing into a molten chocolate cake and having to chase after the precious oozing liquid all over the plate. This dessert needed but a single scoop of bacon-vanilla ice cream and it would have been perfect …

There were two problems with the evening, though: no parking in the area on a Friday night (which is not really their fault), and there was some poor timing with the scallop dish – it came out a good 5 minutes after everyone else’s. g’s dad didn’t mind – he said that they were handicapping him so he wouldn’t finish his scallops faster than everyone else finished their meal …

Overall, I found this to be a fantastic dinner. The price was reasonable, the food was great. It’s up there near Bibou for our favorite BYO dinner. And it was so much fun to see Cochon at night when it has a bit of “swank” in its atmosphere vs. what we normally see for Sunday brunch (which, btw, is still unbelievable).


The next day, g and I were throwing a party, so I picked up a bacon maple apple pie. That’s right. Bacon … in your apple pie … Who would do something like this? The same people that brought you bacon maple cinnamon rolls. I now wonder why would anyone NOT put bacon in their apple pie? I dare say that to NOT put bacon into your apple pie would be un-American! You know – I have no pictures even though I wanted so badly to take one. How’d it taste? Well, I felt that it was very well-executed apple pie with a hint of smoky, salty bacon – it was superb. Not the absolute best pie I’ve ever had, but definitely a step up from ordinary apple pies. g felt the bacon was quite pronounced – I’m still not sure if she felt if that was a good thing or not. Our friends … well … they really didn’t say anything about it in particular – but they did go back for multiple pieces and demolished it … sooooo … I think it was good!

Here’s the question though … Penza’s crumb apple pie vs. GTC’s bacon maple apple pie … On one hand, you have my favorite maker of fruit pies ever (go ahead and google Penza’s pies) … but on the other hand, you have bacon … We have GOT to do this showdown …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

13 December 2010 at 12:53am