Oct 2006

Farmicia – Philadelphia

October 7, 2006
Cuisine: American (New), Bistro

15 S 3rd St, Philadelphia 19106
Btwn Market St & Chestnut St

Phone: 215-627-6274
Website: www.farmiciarestaurant.com

Appetizer I: French Lentil Salad – baked goat cheese, greens, sherry dressing

Appetizer II: Crispy Fried Shrimp – sweet corn fritters, lemon horseradish sauce, and microgreens

Entree I: Duck Breast – crisped skin, raspberry basil sauce, steamed carrots & fennel, wild rice w/almonds

Entree II: Roasted Eggplant – Cannelloni Italian grain & home-made ricotta filling, roasted tomato sauce, spinach

At Farmacia the emphasis is on “great tasting food crafted from local, organic, and artisanal producers.” The Astronomer and I dined at Farmicia before the Built to Spill show and found it to be a wonderful eatery.

Farmicia’s pre-meal bread is from the Metropolitan Bakery and is served with a fantastic butter with chives. On the evening that we dined we were offered three types of bread: New York Rye, White, and Baguette. We tried all three. My favorites were the baguette (crisp outside and soft inside) and the Rye (great contrast to the butter). We asked for seconds and thirds.

Appetizer I:
Gastronomer: I picked out the salad appetizer and left the second appetizer up to the Astronomer. For the salad appetizer I chose the French Lentil Salad because goat cheese, greens and lentils are a few of my favorite things. The sherry dressing was perfectly tart and not too sour as vinaigrettes sometimes tend to be. The goat cheese made the dish spectacular because of its intrinsic rich creaminess. The lentils were mixed with small diced vegetables such as carrot and zucchini. Very tasty.

Astronomer: Our meal got off to a fantastic start with a French Lentil Salad. My mom began incorporating lentils into her cooking sometime during high school, and I used to look scornfully upon them. However, they have grown on me, particularly when they are accompanied by massive quantities of goat cheese. All in all, the combination of flavors in the Farmicia salad was delightful.

Appetizer II:
Gastronomer: The shrimp appetizer came with five good-sized crispy shrimp (perhaps they were dusted with cornmeal), placed on a “corn fritter” (more like a pancake), drizzled with a lemon horseradish sauce and topped off with greens. I loved the flavor of the horseradish sauce, especially paired with the pancake. The shrimp were warm from the deep fryer. Oh boy!

Astronomer: The crispy fried shrimp were delicious. I made a split-second decision to order them, and for a second afterwards I was scared I might actually not like horseradish sauce, but they turned out to be as tasty as I had hoped. The sauce was good enough to warrant sponging up with bread.

Entree I:
Astronomer: Despite the success of the appetizers, the true highlight of the meal was my entree: duck breast with raspberry basil sauce. It was some of the most delicious meat I have ever enjoyed. It was somewhat questionable how much it actually tasted like raspberry, but whatever it was, it was good. The duck came with carrots and fennel and wild rice with almonds. All of them were well executed, and I even enjoyed the wild rice. In all honesty, however, during the time I was eating the side dishes I was usually anticipating my next bite of duck. Needless to say, at the end of the meal, bread was a good vehicle for raspberry sauce.

Gastronomer: I had one bite of the duck (prepared medium rare) and found it moist, tender and down right perfect! The wild rice was nothing special, but to be fair, it is pretty much impossible to compete with an amazing duck.

Entree II:
Gastronomer: I chose the eggplant cannelloni for my entree. The dish was served in a TV dinner like platter. The side dishes were in little compartments on the “tray,” which is perfect for a girl who hates “contaminated” food. The cannelloni was fantastic! The filling really made the dish; the ricotta cheese was mixed with spelt and had the most wonderful texture. The eggplant and marinara sauce were pretty basic, which let the filling shine. I was served three cannelloni, but could only finish two. The cannelloni came with three side dishes: firstly a carrot, mushroom and onion mixture, secondly some white beans in a vinaigrette, and thirdly some sauteed broccoli rabe. I adored the mushroom dish the most, even though it was on the oily side. I hated the broccoli rabe because it was extremely bitter. Two for three isn’t terrible.

Astronomer: The Gastronomer ordered roasted eggplant cannelloni. I steered clear, as I am afraid of eggplants and tomato sauce. Perhaps I should have helped her out–there were leftovers, but unfortunately the last cannelloni was eaten by Chinatown.

The food at Farmicia is very delicious, well thought out, and presented beautifully. Our only complaint was the pacing of the meal. The appetizers were brought out quickly and our entrees soon followed. As a result, I couldn’t finish my entree and had no room for desert. What a shame.

Farmicia on Urbanspoon

Oct 2006

Smile Cafe – Philadelphia

October 6, 2006
Cuisine: Thai

105 S 22nd St, Philadelphia 19103
Btwn Chestnut St & Sansom St

Phone: 215-564-2502
Website: http://www.thaismilecafe.com/

Appetizer I: Lemongrass Soup

Appetizer II: Steamed Dumpling – Shrimp and corn with garlic Thai spice with sweet soy vinegar

Entree: Pad Thai – Stir-fried rice noodle w/ shrimp, bean sprouts, tofu, egg and peanuts.

Smile Cafe is a quaint (read: small) restaurant around the corner from my apartment. I’ve wanted to try it for sometime but am generally hesitant about Thai food in Philly. I went for lunch with some co-workers and had a surpisingly pleasant experience.

The restaurant has an incredible lunch special – two small appetizers and an entree for $7.95. Whatta steal! The appetizer choices I didn’t pick were the salad and spring roll. One of my co-workers ordered the salad and it looked great. No sign of iceberg anywhere; just lovely greens and other vegetables. A few co-workers opted for the “spring roll” option. It was deep fried and therefore an egg roll, but they seemed to dig it just fine.

My lemongrass soup was flavorful and mild. There were veggies in the soup including broccoli, yellow squash, and mushrooms. Very tasty, but could’ve been more spicy. I was served two good-sized dumplings. They were steamed to perfection and quite yummy especially with the sweet soy vinegar. The dumplings reminded me of dim sum, which is somewhat troubling because I was in a Thai restaurant. That’s the problem with Thai restaurants in Philadelphia; they cater to the white man’s love for Chinese food.

My Pad Thai entree was very good and the portion was quite large. I was a bit disappointed that I had to ask for limes (there should ALWAYS be limes on the side) and the waitress brought out lemons! South East Asian cuisine does not use lemons.

Overall, I found the food to be very tasty, but questionably Thai.

Smile Cafe on Urbanspoon

Oct 2006

Irish Pub – Philadelphia

October 5, 2006
Cuisine: American (Traditional), Bar Food, Irish

2007 Walnut St, At S 20th St
Philadelphia 19103 At S 20th St

Phone: 215-568-5603
Website: www.irishpubphilly.com

Entree I: Old World Meatloaf Melt – Thick slices of original recipe sirloin served on a Brick Oven Steak Roll with smokehouse bacon, melted FarmHouse Cheddar, and Caramelized Onion Bourginone sauce. Served with our house fries and crisp dill pickle slices.

Entree II: Crab Cake Sandwich – A Maryland style crab cake served on a pub roll served with tartar sauce and Honey Dijon Garden slaw. Served with our house fries and crisp dill pickle slices.

I love bar food. I really do. I think I adore it because my everyday fare lacks hardcore greasy and salty goodness. As I watched the Cardinals bury the poor Padres during game two of the national league division series, I enjoyed the crab cake sandwich. The Astronomer went for my old favorite, the meatloaf melt.

Both sandwiches were super salty, super greasy and thus, super tasty. First up, the crab cake sandwich. I smeared ketchup on my sandwich rather than tartar sauce because I prefer tangy straight up over tangy and creamy. The sandwich was piled high with lettuce, pickles, and a tomato. The “pub roll” was perfectly moist and held the contents well. A regular hamburger bun would not have been able to hold all the fixins nicely. The pub roll came through like a champ. All of the flavors melded together beautifully and I scarfed it down pretty quickly. The fries were thickly cut and decent. I gave most of them to the carb-seeking Astronomer.

The meatloaf melt is a lot like the Double Double from In and Out and maybe even a little better because it comes with BACON! There really isn’t much to say about this gem except that it’s really delicious and hits the spot like few can. Yah, it’s not all that healthy, but who cares? I’m in a pub and red meat rules (and cheese too)!

The “IP” is a three minute walk from my apartment. I’ll be returning the next time the Astronomer wants to watch some cable-only sports and my greasy spot needs its fill.

Irish Pub on Urbanspoon