after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Jamonera

Jamonera Jappiness

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t says:  In case you were wondering, yes, that’s pronounced “Happiness” (I know, my attempt at humor was not a success – do I get points for trying?).  g, a, v, a friend, and I went to Jamonera just recently, and all I can say is “wow”.  Since the first time we went, two years ago, until now, there has been such refinement in the offerings that we were all uber-impressed this time around.  It was the gang’s first meal together like this since coming back from Spain (so obviously, we chose to go to a Spanish restaurant), and it was like we never left.  The jamon iberico was acorny.  The veggies were spot-on.  Every fish was done beautifully.  The meats had a simplicity about them but were full of flavor.  In all, it was a splendid evening of food, made even more splendid by Jamonera’s wonderful hostess that evening.  While we were the recipients of some preferential treatment (a, v, and the hostess are friends), I refuse to believe that this somehow translated into Jamonera’s chefs to do anything different with their food – I think the food is just that good.  It’s a shame that I wasn’t fast enough with the camera for the multi-course event – this is what I got:

August 2014, Friday Dinner, Party of 5.

shisito

first course of a peculiar mixture of jamon, shisito peppers, some pickles, and then on the right, a pile of smoked salmon atop tomato and goat cheese, which was the biggest “bam” of the dish (i never would have put those together – but now I might!).  And yes, shisito peppers are like new “it” vegetable, seemingly found anywhere that wants to char a vegetable, but I can’t fault them for doing it well.

date

dates+bacon+cheese=happiness.  there really is no other way to solve that equation.  It did remind us of Mercato’s bacon-wrapped figs, and if the two got into a monkey-knife-fight, I would have no idea who’d win.  I will say that this was a wonderful bite overall, and I’m thankful there weren’t more because I would have definitely have eaten all of them.  The background had these eggplant-fries that also made me wonder, “why had I not thought of this?”.  Answer: I’m not as smart as Jamonera.

steak

steak. potatoes.  ’nuff said.

dessert

you have to do the doughnuts for dessert.  Now, the doughnuts by themselves are “ok” – but when you dunk them in the heaven-sauce above, you realize just how lucky you are to be able to finish a meal with this amazing mix of fat and sugar.  sad will be the day i have to start a statin.

Jamonera did a fabulous job, but I’m afraid that no one’s noticing.  All too often, I even catch myself zipping through those 13th street emails (the ones with the “special dinners” at Jamonera, Barbuzzo, and Little Nonna’s) without even noting Jamonera’s offering.  Shame on me!  Is it because everyone’s “over” Spanish food?  Is it because there’s already Amada and Tinto in town, along with the Mediterranean likes of Barbuzzo?  Or maybe we’re now just too stuck on “plant-friendly” (if I hear or read another thing about Charlie was a Sinner or “the new Vedge place”, I might savagely poke someone with the blunt end of a carrot), so richness and decadence in animal form is so “last year”?  Regardless, I will say that the flavors were quite good in this meal – don’t believe me? Ask a.  a states:  the dates, the branzino, and the desserts crushed it (including our double secret desserts that you can’t mention here).  t comes back on: Oh – did I mention the Branzino was to die for? It was. We ate it so fast there were no pictures.  So yes, the food is good – like “almost Zahav” good; I think Jamonera is one hummus plate away from winning that battle (unlike others, I don’t give Zahav extra points for using “off” cuts of meat like duck heart, ground lamb, etc – if it tastes good, it tastes good – I don’t care about what it was).  The difference, however, might come down to price.  While the preferential treatment we had thrown our way did result in a meal that was cheaper than Zahav, we know that technically Zahav is the better “deal”.  Be that as it may, while Zahav’s desserts are quite good, Jamonera’s doughnuts put such a smile on my face that when it comes time for the bill, I’d sign almost anything …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

10 August 2014 at 4:21pm

you had me at … “cheese dinner”

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t says: Jamonera is a tough subject here at adsz because we had one bad experience with g, kp, and me, followed by two good experiences with a and v. And with how strong Barbuzzo and Lolita are/were, the bar is set pretty high.

g and I waited for a revisit, and boy did the opportunity present itself:

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With a menu like that, featuring cheese in multiple preparations, this was obviously just baiting me to come and try. Now, because there are so many dishes, a blow-by-blow account would be far too tedious, so let’s cut to the highs and lows …

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The three dishes for the first course were a pretty solid way to start us off, with the salad being the healthiest thing we had the entire night. Fortunately, it was a well constructed salad with enough acid and fruit to reset the palate after what was essentially the best fried mozzarella stick (n.b. not mozzarella) I’ve ever had. The cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped date, however, was just too much – I couldn’t handle more than one due to the sheer richness (I never thought I’d want mmoorree date). It really broke my spirit to know that I was going to let that one get away … Do note that we did bring our own wine and suffer the agony of a corkage fee, but for Dan Petroski’s absolutely sublime blend of Italian grapes (with a smidge of Chardonnay), it was sooo worth it. It’s floral edge and fist of electric citrus was exactly what we needed to cut the cheese …

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This was the best item of course number two – it was a mix of stupidly simple and flavor-filled brilliance that kept us oscillating between “we could do this at home” and “omg, this is soooooo good”.

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The third course would probably split the gang. g liked the pork flatbread thingee. The shortrib was probably my favorite, but I sensed that a really enjoyed the rice. No matter which way you cut it, the bottom line is that if anyone was “pacing” themselves through the courses to ensure they would have room for everything, it all came to an end as all of us filled our bellies to within a micron of bursting … And we still had leftovers … AND the cheese/dessert course!

Now I have to say that I felt the cheese course, ironically, was the weakest course. While that cheese+Nutella was the absolute most perfect combo of flavor so had all night, the cheese with the berry compote was lackluster and had a weird texture, and the third cheese was pretty much an afterthought. It’s ok though – we were full so we weren’t sad to leave some cheese behind!

So, in summary, Jamonera did a wonderful job with a large majority of the plates.  And even the ones that weren’t-as-good were not actually at all that bad.  The meat cookery was top notch.  The service was attentive.  Really, outside of the corkage fee, the Jamonera has totally redeemed itself in our eyes.  Now I’m not sure if they’re going to go toe-to-toe against Amada, but I’m sure they’d give Amada a run for its money.  Good job Jamonera.  Keep up the good work!  (And ditch the cheese course … and keep the Nutella).

Written by afterdinnersneeze

29 October 2013 at 1:04pm

jamonera redemption

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t says: Some time ago, g and kp and I went to Jamonera and were quite unhappy with it.  Apparently, I had criticized one of their dishes by calling it a snoozefest (much like driving a Kia Cadenza) – yikes – I totally forgot about that – it’s a good thing we have this blog to remind us!  Undeterred by my “cute hyperboles”, a and v journeyed out to 13th street to sample Jamonera’s vegetarian tasting menu … and were blown away!  Check out their tasting menu for $40

men

t says: they took no pictures, but when we crashed their dinner (literally … we knew they were at dinner, we walked over to the restaurant, and then we invited ourselves over to their table before they had finished eating … I apparently have no manners …), but their summary is “it was the best vegetables we’ve had in Philly!”  When I inquired as to which dish was their favorite, they named very nearly every dish – but I suspect that the setas et juevos was their decided favorite.

men

t says: when we went last time, we didn’t get dessert.  Wow – we missed out on the best part!  We sampled some of a & v’s this time, and they were out of this world.  In the foreground above were some of the best fried dough I’ve had in Philly (with some beautiful caramel + ?chocolate? dipping sauce) …

men

… and this cake was absolutely delicious.  Thumbs WAY up.  Sure, both of these desserts are filling/hearty/heart-artery-clogging as all hell (i.e. these are not frilly itsy-bitsy desserts that’ll just slide in to an already full stomach – you need some space at the end of your meal otherwise you’ll be hurtin’!) but boy were they great!

Ok … so I guess the sneeze will have to lift its internal ban on Jamonera and give it another shot … eventually …  I think the biggest thing that stops us from visiting now is the wine program.  Much like Barbuzzo, it’s not the wine selection that’s a [big] problem, so much as the wine service: the red wine is served at warmer-than-room-temp!  We just don’t understand!  And this isn’t me just being hoidy-toidy about “correct” temperatures – it’s about cheap Spanish and Italian wines tasting like burning hellfire when consumed at too warm of a temperature – especially during summer!  At this point, I’d recommend they just stick all their wine in the walk-in and serve it super-cold … at least that way it’ll pass through an acceptable temperature range as it slowly warms up in the glass.  Geez!  *gets off his soapbox*.  Ok – I feel better.  Summary: Go to jamonera.  Eat the vegetables.  Try a meat or two.  Avoid their wine.

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16 August 2013 at 9:25pm

sadface dinners …

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t says:  g and I have hit up two dinner recently that left us a little … wanting …  I’m going to consolidate their stories here so we can minimize the number of negative posts …

Brick American Eatery.  It’s no wonder there seems to be a “deal” like a Groupon going on here every time we turn around … the food is a miss!  I don’t want to harp on every dish we got (actually, dz’s dinner, the Asian noodles and the Fish-n-Chips, looked pretty darned tasty! … nevermind they were the least “American” items on the menu), so I’ll pick the worst of the ones we had (i.e. out of 4 appetizers and 3 mains).  It was mine.  Check it:

the food was so bad that the picture didn’t even warrant a proper Snapdish quick-fix.

The sprouts: pale, no char, no texture.  The steak: pale, minimal Maillard, no flavor.  The jus: insipid, no salt, no pepper.  People!  It’s a steak!  It’s a steak and Brussels sprouts!  It was popular in 2009!  If the $25 all-you-can-eat steak is better than yours,  you should just take steak off the menu so you can stop breaking the hearts of customers.  No matter how good dz’s entrees looked, nothing can save a restaurant from a bad steak … the mediocre salmon and stale duck nachos didn’t help either.  Consequently, I have no choice but to withhold adsz’s stamp of approval (actually … it makes me wish we had a stamp of dismissal … can I do that?).  Fortunately, the company was good, and the glass of wine was deep …

Jamonera.  So, going in, I imagined that Jamonera would have been like Amada with the feel of Barbuzzo …  Man-o-man was I disappointed.  And it wasn’t just me!  It was g and kp, too!  (And kp is perhaps the second-nicest-guy-in-the-world!)  The dish the best encapsulates our frustration:

Papa Frita Snoozefest!

So … the papa frita …  It’s normally a deliciously fried seasoned potato.  And the one thing jamonera did superbly was frying it – I have never had so wonderfully-a-crisped potato.  But they were missing one very important aspect of the dish … flavor.  What was that weak aioli they had going on?  Where’s the seasoning?  Where’s the oomph?  I wanted it to hit my mouth and make me go “wow”, and then follow it up with a warm, soothing hug of fried-potato-comfort … and this did neither (I don’t find that quantity of aioli comforting … clog-inducing, yes, comforting, no).  The other items we sampled that night were similarly lacking in flavor.  Their albondigas made me wish I was at Barbuzzo.  Their charcuterie made me wish I was at Amada or GTC.  The were definitely not winning any adsz awards that night!  Oh well – I guess even the mighty Val and Marcie can disappoint once in a while!  I suspect that Jamongera may go the way of the Bindi.  It’s ok – there’s always Lolita and Barbuzzo …

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12 November 2012 at 8:01pm