after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Little Fish

just keep winning, just keep winning … just keep winning, winning, winning …

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t says:  g and I, having had multiple great experiences at Little Fish, especially for their Sunday fixed price menus, decided it was time to crack the whip and demand that a and v and kp accompany us on our next visit.  kp couldn’t make it, but that didn’t stop the four of us from seeing the task to its end … for the sake of the blog! …

May 2013, Sunday Dinner, Party of 4.

starting off with alexana and bread

Sunday dinners work like this: for $35, you get 5 courses, no choices (they can entertain some dietary restrictions), and that’s it.  There are two seatings, and they’re typically booked a few weeks in advance.  But I tell you this here and now: this is the absolute best way to eat at Little Fish and one of the best deals in all of Philadelphia.  Do it.  We usually go to the later seating so we can bide our time, but if you go to the early one, you can catch a glimpse out the window (and get actually reasonable lighting for photos of food and wine!).  We brought along 4 bottles of wine that night – one of which was a 2011 Alexana Revana Vineyard pinot noir (arguably the wine of the night …)

Salad with rhubarb

Course #1: salad with rhubarb: Little Fish’s first course always rides the line between “simple” and “fancy”.  There really isn’t a lot of extra super-cool stuff in the salad.  No weird things foraged by an anarchist farmer.  No super-exotic fruits.  No special plating.  Just a clump of fresh, bright greens and a touch of ?pickled? rhubarb, some nuts, a light toss, and bam – first course done!  Our palates were energized and ready to go!

Campachi radish cashew

The second course of hamachi, radish, and cashews was so beautifully balanced that my mouth simply could not believe it.  Well – I take that back – that ?buttermilk? smear was a bit overwhelming, but I just cut back on it and the other flavors came out like a rays of sun through clouds.  The salinity of the fish, the meatiness of the nuts, the unique crunch and flavor of radish – ah, beautiful.

Speck scallop ramp purée

Welcome to v’s and my favorite dish: speck, scallop, and ramp purée.  This scallop was so beautifully seared that v and I could do no more than sit back and wonder exactly how a mortal man accomplishes such a feat.  We didn’t ponder for too long, though, as before we knew it, the scallop was gone.  Once again – the balance between the seafood and the speck and hauntingly smooth ramp flavor was a beautiful thing.

Swordfish spinach purée fave beans asparagus

g and a’s favorite was the swordfish with spinach purée, fava beans, and asparagus.  Maybe I just don’t appreciate swordfish – if I wanted something that was this meaty, I’d just eat cow or pig!  But g and a enjoyed how the denser, richer texture stood up to the dense, rich puree and sauce.  Personally, I woulda gone for another scallop, but whatever!

strawberry shortcake

This was perhaps Little Fish’s weakest dessert ever.  Which is shocking because it’s strawberry shortcake!  I guess I was expecting more.  The cake was a little on the dry side – and I half-expected there to be some sort of small twist – maybe a ribbon of cinnamon in the cake or a dash of mint or basil in the whipped cream.  Nevertheless, it was a comforting ending to a wonderful meal (g loves strawberry shortcake!)  When all was said and done, we had enjoyed 5 courses and 3 good bottles of wine (and 1 disappointment – that stupid rose from Moore Brothers that was hawked as “the finest rose in Provence” – what a load of crap).  What a wonderful Sunday night!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

16 May 2013 at 11:38pm

little fish justs keep swimming …

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t says:  g and I hit up Little Fish the other day.  It was amazing.  Rather than harp, allow me to just say that it continues to be awesome … and taunt you with a photo … of lamb and fish:

photo 4(88)

Written by afterdinnersneeze

20 January 2013 at 9:22pm

Posted in Happenings

Tagged with , ,

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?

fluke

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.

scallop

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!

tuna

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

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

Oh the places we’ve gone …

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We were trying to become foodies long before deciding to start a blog.  We kept track of our experiences at a lot of restaurants through the reservation-making website opentable.com.  Unfortunately, they impose a very low character limit (which actually was one of the primary reasons we started this blog – limitless space!).  We’ve copy-pasted these reviews (actually, they’re mostly t’s impressions) below so both we and readers will be able to remember and know the places we went in the pre-blog era.

Some of the more recent visits will migrate into actual posts.  We’ll also try to add on several other reviews of restaurants we’ve visited for which we did not provide an opentable review – our memories will likely be fuzzy, which is most definitely a shame, as we kind of wished we had recorded those experiences to revisit.  It’s funny how sometimes we even forget the things we swore we’d never forget …

29 Jan 2010.  Tinto. Fri, 8:30pm, Party of 4, Restaurant week. I find that Jose Garces restaurants are among the only ones that perform very well during restaurant week in Philadelphia; go with a group ready to share and you’re guaranteed a fun time.  There were too many dishes for me to evaluate – highlights included sea bass (cooked perfectly), mussels, and the cheeses.  Meats were done well – nothing extraordinary, but good.  While not every dish was mind-blowing, everything was consistent; I still prefer Amada (guess I’m a sucker for flat bread and bolder flavors).  Also, the red sangria was better than usual!

20 Nov 2009.  Supper. Fri, Dinner, Party of 2.  We were searching specifically for an excellent burger, especially after visiting Devil’s Alley the weekend before.  The hostess, waitress, and support staff were all excellent: prompt and pleasant.  We started off with the deviled eggs of the day, a sampler including one each of truffled, sriracha, tandoori, and bacon.  While all were unique, well-executed, and tasty, the siracha one was AMAZING.  The charcuterie plate wasn’t to-die-for like at Vetri, but respectable.  We each had the Supper Burger (which ended up being a mistake – we only needed one to satiate us).  For only $14 we got perhaps the best burger I had ever had!  It was fancy, but not too fancy; it still had soul.  It’s our new standard by which to measure all other burgers.  Now if only their charcuterie plate was better and they started being BYO …

13 Sep 2009.  Chifa. Sun, Dinner, Party of 4, Restaurant Week.  Unfortunately, for me, this is the weakest of the Garces restaurants that I’ve visited (Amada, Tinto, Distrito, Chifa).  If Asian flavors are new to you, then this place may pack enough novelty to warrant a visit.  It’s tough to do soups and curries as sharable food items, which is supposed to be the theme of this small plates restaurant.  That said, Chifa does a dynamite ceviche – perhaps the best I’ve had in the city – somehow the super-bright citrus comes out just enough to balance, and not overtake the fish – amazing.  My second favorite dish was the fabled pork buns – I think they’re a little overhyped (I’m sure Momofuku will blow these out of the water – I’ll let you know if/when I ever get to go), but they are at least “very tasty”, with a good amount of salt and sweet and savory, in a package you hold in your hands.

01 Aug 2009.  Zahav. Sat, Dinner, Party of 3.  We opted for the tasting menu x 3.  The multiple course “salads” (a variety of pickled and lightly sauced vegetables) and choice of hummus were an excellent way to start the meal – a multitude of unfamiliar but delicious tastes.  The rest of the dishes were all very good, but nothing was really mind-blowing with either big/unexpected flavors (which is surprising given how unfamiliar I am with this cuisine), rather, a lot of subtle flavors.  The raw ground lamb was only “ok”, while the standouts were the lamb kibbe and some sort of melted cheese concoction (sorry, I forgot which meat was featured).  My dessert which featured baklava and panne cotta was dynamite – I wish the whole meal went like that one dessert.  The service was adequate, but our waiter wasn’t personable and didn’t look me in the eyes once, almost exuding arrogance.  The wine list was ok, but I’d like it more if it were BYO or offered more Israeli wines by the glass.  Because it’s not, and the food by itself wasn’t consistently mind-blowing, I’d really only go back with good company.  (N.B.  I did go back for lunch in January 2010 and the food and service were much improved.)

28 Jul 2009.  Distrito. Tue, Dinner, Party of 4, Restaurant Week. This was my second visit to Distrito, and it was even better than I remember.  However, I advise that you order a nice mix of super-tasty dishes with others that will provide more ‘filling’. For instance, we ordered ceviches and scallops (which were executed perfectly), but foiled it with orders of guacomole and short rib flatbread (which were also delicious but had larger portions).  The rosemary orange margarita was delicious.  (I apparently forgot what I had for dessert, but I’m sure it was as good as the rest of the meal.)

09 Jul 2009.  Fig & Olive – Meatpacking.  NYC. Thu, Dinner, Party of 2.  They have a great selection of olive oils (they offer three when you first sit down).  The wine list was not huge, but the wines they did offer were VERY good.  The charcuterie plate was delicious and worked well with the included fig-olive tapenade (I find some tapenades a little too strong).  For dinner, we had filet and lamb (with sides of spinach and olive oil mash) – they were good, but definitely did NOT shine through as the best ever entrees we’ve had – the seasoning was a little off (some too salty, others bland).  Service was excellent.  I would say that this would be an EXCELLENT place to go if you made a meal of the wine, appetizers, and smaller plates – pass on the entrees.  From where we sat, it seemed like they have a great bar scene (and a nice open space) given the location and excellent snack-esque offerings.

21 Jun 2009.  Little Fish. Sun, Dinner, Party of 3 (FTC), $28 5-course meal.  Food was tasty – everything was superbly executed – the chef knows how to cook seafood.  However, I would have appreciated it had they pushed the creative boundaries a little more, which I’m not sure is the goal of Little Fish.  For them, it’s more ’safe’, (although is cooking seafood really “safe” given the slim margin of error?)  g thinks that I’m being too harsh and that every dish she had was superb.  Service was top-notch. As critical as I was, I must admit that a 5-course, $28 meal is a superb value!

24 May 2009.  The Melting Pot.  Atlantic City. Sat, Lunch, Party of 2.  We went during memorial day weekend – it was empty.  Service was very good – it has to be given that the format of the restaurant.  I feel that the price of the food was a bit higher than warranted – however, the price of the food is in line with the polished interior design and well-stocked wine list (including half-bottles).  So, either the food needs to be better, or everything else needs to come down.  Keep in mind that the food wasn’t bad.  We had the swiss cheese fondu which was tasty, however, the vegetable assortment was a little bare, and adding some fruits as well as toasting the bread (for a little more flavor than plain bread) would have been nice.  The ‘French quarter’ entree fondu was ok – but the spices overpowered the meat.  I guess for a gimicky chain, it was “not bad”.

25 Apr 2009.  Cochon. Sat, Dinner, Party of 3 (FTC).  We went to Cochon before it joined opentable.com, thus I have no written review.  I’m trying to piece together what we had from emails in order to capture why it was SUCH a great meal. Cochon is small and cozy.  We were seated close to the “kitchen” and were intrigued by the aromas that came forth.  The appetizer I remember the most is the escargots – they were tender and full of flavor; the sauce was the most delicious garlic-based sauce I have ever had.  We ordered three different pork dishes, 2 of which came from the menu (one was a tenderloin), and one of which was a special (24-hour Berkshire Pork Shoulder with a Mushroom Madeira Sauce).  I actually remember asking the waitress if she preferred the pork shoulder or some lamb special – she recommended the pork without hesitation.  This pork was the best pork I had ever had.  The tender texture of the meat and silky texture of the sauce was a one-two punch that completely overshadowed the two other dishes.  Part of the reason why I can’t remember what else we ate is likely due to how strong a memory I have of just that pork shoulder.  (N.B. Even by the time we started afterdinnersneeze, it’s STILL the best pork I’ve ever had).

17 Apr 2009.  Chifa. Fri, Dinner, Party of 4.  For anyone who is already familiar with Asian-fusion dishes, the cuisine at Chifa will not blow you away with uniqueness.  So, while the dishes were all “good”, nothing really made me sit up and take note.  Service and ambiance were as they should be for a Garces restaurant.  Unfortunately, of the four that I’ve been to (Amada, Tinto, Distrito), this one is my least favorite (but it’s not “bad”).  Interestingly, the noise level was low, but that might have been because the restaurant was surprisingly empty!  Maybe it’ll be louder for you!  (N.B.  I revisited Chifa in September 2009 and, while the food was better, it still can’t outdo the other three small plate Garces joints.)

21 Mar 2009.  Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Philly.  Sat, Dinner, Party of 2.  This Ruth’s Chris is rather stuffy (vs the one in AC) with the diners being either older or families.  The food was tasty – nothing special or earth-shattering (I still stand by the lamb as their best dish) – very nearly on par with Morton’s in taste/texture (although inferior in presentation and service).  Although the waiter was intially far too eager to ‘help’ with our drink order – he stopped after we demonstrated our wine knowledge (all you have to do is pimp them on Bordeaux vintages).  All in all, the food is good for a steak-house chain, but maybe not worth the price, as I’d probably choose an inventive Philly BYOB to it any day.  But if you want a no-frills steak (or lamb!), I have no beef with Ruth’s Chris.

13 Feb 2009.  Bistro St. Tropez. Fri, Dinner, Party of 2.  We were hoping that this restaurant would be a hidden gem among Philadelphia restaurants.  It was not.  The menu mentioned reasonably priced entrees that sounded very good, however, when the food arrived at the table, I was completely underwhelmed.  Technically, the dishes included all of the ingredients listed in the menu, and everything seemed like it was cooked ok, but there was no soul in the food.  For instance, meat can taste like meat or it can taste like meat.  When I eat out, every dish MUST be better than what I can make at home if given access to those ingredients.  This expectation was not met.  I do want to mention that its location is both weird (it’s in a building of showrooms) and cool (the views of the river at night are phenomenal).  The decor was ridiculous (in a bad way).  Why can’t a good restaurant (preferably BYO) move in here?

Ancient History:

Morimoto. Great food, although pricey for what it was.  The fish was superb.  The atmosphere is unique and definitely is a place to go at least once (or more if someone else is paying).

Morton’s. I’ve been here a number of times throughout high school and college, and it’ll stand in my mind as having the best “classic” steak.  Nowadays, I’m more into “unique” foods, so I don’t know when the next time I’ll go will be.  Their flourless Godiva chocolate lava cake still stands as the best lava cake I have ever had.

Django. When I first came to Philadelphia, this BYO was tauted as “the best” in the city, having received four bells from Craig LaBan.  By the time I got there, it was supposedly “on its way out” as the owners Sikora and Olexy had moved on (I had just missed them!).  Nevertheless, those meals we had at Django in 2005 and early 2006 were some of the best we had ever had in Philadelphia (on par with the best dishes we’ve had at Bibou and Cochon).  That said, Django did slowly decline over time, eventually closing its doors in either late 2008 or early 2009.  May it rest in peace.

The Helmand. Having spent some time in Baltimore (early 2000’s), I had the great fortunate of visiting some of the best restaurants (with the exception of the Charleston – the one that got away).  In the end, the Helmand is the one that I remember the most fondly.  Completely unpretentious (no fancy plating, no weird cuts of meat, no bizarre techniques), it served the best food in Baltimore.  It’s been several years since I left, but I hope it’s still going strong.

Towson Best and Sushi Hana. In Towson, MD are these two Asian restaurants.  One is a chinese takeout joint that also does sushi, while the other specializes primarily in sushi.  Towson Best has some of the best fake Chinese food you’ll ever have (this is not being sarcastic at all – it really does taste delicious!).  Go for the “Veal Mimosas with Orange Lest” (a funny typo on their menu) or any of the fried chickens (e.g. General Tso’s, Orange, or Sesame), and I’d like to see you try and stop yourself from eating yourself into a food coma.  Couple this with some nice rolls (Dragon Roll, Red Phoenix Roll, Birthday Roll), and what you have is a very satisfying meal.  I mention Sushi Hana only because some might criticize Towson Best as maybe not having enough turnover to consistently have the freshest sushi (although I’ve never had a problem).  For these critics, I suggest Sushi Hana around the corner – but you won’t get the awesome fake Chinese food!