(Updated Philadelphia Restaurant Week on January 31st, 2017)
Happy New Year, everyone!
January is always my favorite month of the year. It’s a new beginning, and Chinese New Year is also right around the corner. Late January is the best: It is time for two Restaurant Weeks in the Center City District of Philadelphia, not to mention my birthday (age of Aquarius). A shout-out to fellow Aquarians! So here’s the scoop on Restaurant Week: It takes place from January 22nd through the 27th and January 29 through February 3rd, when participating restaurants offer a prefixed three-course lunch for $20 a person and a three-course dinner for $35 a person. Restaurant Week is the perfect chance to taste the best of Philadelphia at a reasonable price.
Here are a few tips: Look for restaurants with multiple menu options for each course. Some tend to skimp out on selections, portion sizes, or both. Make sure to make reservations on OpenTable.com, as the restaurants book up rather quickly. We booked openings at three different restaurants this year! 🙂
Barbuzzo Mediterranean Kitchen & Bar
Our 1st restaurant is Barbuzzo, located at 110 S 13th and Samson. Our reservation is on a Monday night at 9:30pm, a cold, rainy, windy night; finding parking was definitely easy. Despite all that, the restaurant is still jam-packed. The dining area consists of a long and narrow table setting with the cook’s station on one side. The lights are dimmed so low that we could barely see the menu. Luckily, our waiter gave us a bright light pointer (shout out to our waiter). I was able to snap a few photos with my iPhone. Now on with the food…
A delightful complementary appetizer from the Chef; a Sheep’s Milk Ricotta topped with extra virgin olive oil, dark sweet wine reduction, herbs & spices served with slices of perfectly grilled French county bread. The ricotta is very creamy and smooth with a hint of sweetness from the vincotto and a bit of smokiness from the herbs. The bread is slightly charred, perfectly crunchy on the outside, and soft on the inside. Once you dip the bread into the ricotta, your taste-buds will be asking for more of the creamy goodness.
The Tiramisu is insanely good– maybe the best tiramisu I’ve have ever tried! It is very light and not too sweet. The fresh whipped cream gives it a fluffy texture, while the nuttiness from the almonds complements a light coffee flavor from the espresso-soaked lady fingers.
The Salted Caramel Budino consists of a dark chocolate crust and frothy vanilla bean caramel with sea salt; the rich sweetness contrasted with a slightly-tangy whipped cream on top.
La Peg @Fringe Art
La Peg, located inside of Fringearts on 140 North Columbus Blvd by Penns Landing, is our 2nd destination for Restaurant Week. Exquisite French dinning and a theater experience awaits along with a cozy atmosphere and delectable dishes..
A large selection for the dinner menu is what enticed us to come here. The item that stood out to me is the Grilled Quail, and it is on the money!
The magnificent bird is perfectly succulent, juicy, and tender. Accompanying the quail is an array of sweet diced butternut squash, a ball of stuffing, caramelized cranberries, sauteed black trumpet mushrooms, and crunchy pieces of toasted almonds topped with au jus sauce. I guarantee you will be licking your fingers after ever the last bite. It is like Thanksgiving, all over again!
Harp & Crown
For my birthday, we made reservations at one of Philadelphia’s hottest spots: Harp & Crown, located on 15th and Samson. The atmosphere at the restaurant resembles an old Western bar saloon with a rustic look and feel. The combination of wood furniture, vintage paintings and metal decor gives a homely hint of Cheers, where everybody knows your name.
Harp & Crown offers a wide range of six delicious prefixed courses, tapas style. You choose 1 item from each course and share with one another. For starters, the Mushroom Farro: The salad was a light, tangy, crispy creation with mushroom, farro, escarole, parmigiana was topped with a poached egg with vinegar or balsamic dressing. I’m not a salad guy, but this dish is absolutely amazing!
Spanish Octopus followed, served with olives, preserved fennel, a sweet salsa sauce called guajillo, and a garnish of greens. The super tender octopus is insanely good– perhaps the best we have ever tried! The Octopus is grilled to perfection; therefore, the meat is tender and not overly chewy. Pick up your fork and knife, cut a piece of octopus, scoop up some mashed up fennel, and smother it all over the guajillo sauce; before long, you’ll have a party in your mouth, your tastebuds asking for more.
Hanger Steak with charred shishito peppers, shitake mushrooms, and lime leaf butter was a delightful third course. The slightly-salty, tender cut of steak balanced perfectly with the tartness of lime butter, flavorsome shiitake mushrooms, and a bit a heat from the long-finger shishito peppers. A steak salad for our main course? Can’t go wrong with that.
Medium rare, please!
Happy Birthday to me! A fluffy Chocolate cake with graham cracker cream, shaped like miniature marshmallows. Surprisingly, it is very light and not overly sweet.
Take advantage of Restaurant Week, if you’re in Philadelphia during the last two weeks of January. It offers a taste of Philly’s finest at a reasonable price, as well as allowing locals to try new restaurants and dishes outside their comfort zone.