Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Top 5 Philly Restaurants

Over the last ten and a half years, even though I've been away, I've had many occasions to dine in Philadelphia.  I've eaten at some of the fine dining establishments this city has to offer, and I finally feel like I can give a solid top-something list.  Note that these are all fine dining establishments -- places like John's Roast Pork, Paesano's, and the Nanzhou Hand Drawn Noodle House really belong in a different conversation, though you could argue they are every bit as awesome.

1. Vetri: I said pretty much everything I wanted to say in my blog post.
2. Morimoto: I have been there three times, once for lunch, twice for dinner, and I always had the omakase.  The cool decor, the fact that I loved watching Masaharu Morimoto on Iron Chef (the original Japanese series), and fusion-style Japanese cuisine really made this restaurant for me.  Memorable dishes include Kobe beef served atop foie gras, amazing yellowtail sashimi drizzled with hot oil and soy sauce, and some sort of crazy addictive chocolate malt sauce (I can't even remember the rest of the dessert).
3. Fountain: Visited once with my brother, contemporary French cuisine prepared and served with care.  The one dish I remember involved salsify cream, and since then I have been obsessed with salsify.
4. Zahav: Israeli haute cuisine?  Yes please!  The pomegranate-marinated lamb shank was killer.  So were the salatim and hummus.
5. Tinto: I've not been to Amada, but Tinto had amazing tapas.  Most recently, I really enjoyed their duck montadido.

Some of my favorites that finish just outside the top 5 and probably could be exchanged with Tinto or even Zahav: Osteria, Amis (Marc Vetri's other two Philadelphia joints), Distrito, JG Domestic (two other Jose Garces restaurants), and the reinvented Philadelphia institution Fork.

I am looking forward to trying Amada in June, and hopefully Bibou and/or Barbuzzo (Philadelphia's current restaurant darlings) in July, so this list may change -- or expand.

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