Sunday, September 13, 2009

Philadelphia, ps. I love you.

Growing up with a view of the NYC skyline, Manhattan will always be a special place for me, but over the years another city has found a place in my heart - Philadelphia. Like NYC, Philly has great sports, restaurants, museums, art, music, and public transportation, but there's something sweeter about this town. Even in the heart of downtown there are trees and green space, most things are walk-able (as PE would say, "it's just another block"), beautiful architecture, dogs EVEYWHERE and just an overall family friendly vibe.

(yes, yes NYC rules when it comes to fashion, but once you move to South Carolina, you automatically lose the right to speak of fashion)

Anywho, two weeks ago C and I flew up to Philly to visit his bro who just bought an amazing condo downtown. We quickly took him up on the offer to come stay for a few days, catch a Phillies game, and eat our way across town.

While there were many highlights (and memorable meals), this post will focus on one breakfast, one cocktail spot, and one swank dinner.

Our first morning in PHL started with breakfast at Mixto (1141 Pine St)

This cuban and latin american inpired restaurant is located amongst antique shops on an unassuming street. The interior is beautiful dark woods, exposed brick, and the front wall is made entirely of glass doors, which to my delight were wide open when we arrived.

While we sipped on mango bellini's and mimosas, PE pulled out the agenda... literally. (note the patented Sipala-finger-point)

You can check out Mixto's menu online, but a few highlights included Argentinean Steak and Eggs (grilled outside skirt steak with two eggs any style, homefries, and mixed greens, $11.00); Huevos Rancheros (two eggs any style topped with a creole sauce served with refried beans and tortilla chips $8.00); Colombian Breakfast (top round steak served with white rice mixed with red beans, corn meal patty and two eggs any style $9.00).

Now on to one of my favorite meals of the day - late night cocktails. For this we headed to a fairly new spot,The Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company (112 S 18th St)

I can't describe this watering hole any better than they have...

"In the late 1920's, The Franklin Mortgage And Investment Company served as the front for the largest alcohol ring in the country... The Franklin celebrates both the golden age barrooms of the pre-prohibition era, and the skilled bartenders who fled their homes to pursue a noble craft banned and demonized in its country of origin.

We welcome back to our shores the art of a fine mixed drink. The franklin is a place where a stiff drink and a tuneful horn co-mingle, and where bartenders are artists. above all, the Franklin is a beacon for those who feel that a dram of alcohol is not meant as merely a vessel for intoxication, but a sensory experience all its own."

I highly recommend the Southside, centered in photo (gin, fresh lemon juice, mint, and Angostura bitters), but everything is artfully crafted, and from what we ordered, delicious. While the drinks may be a of a different era, don't fear, this isn't a gimmicky room full of girls in flapper dresses.

Last, but not least, dinner at James (824 S. 8th Street)

For a weekend trip, you only have one shot at a "fine dining" restaurant experience. Upon stepping foot inside James, I knew we had chosen correctly. Modern decor, crisp lines, rich earth tones (the female waitstaff even wore sleek warm green dresses), delicate glassware, and candles candles everywhere.

As my photos illustrate, the restaurant is extremely dark. Bad for photography, great for an intimate dinner to talk sports, politics, office politics, life and love.

I started the evening with a glass of bubbles... their Cava Cocktail '88' to be exact (dry sparkling spanish wine, rivesaltes 1988, & peach bitters).

We ordered three starters for the table.

In order of awesomeness...
(1) salt roasted beets, leek-black walnut fonduta, grapefruit & duck crackling. (For me, this was hands down the best of the three... but then again, how can you beat duck cracklins.)
(2) hand cut tagliatelle, duck ragu, shaved chocolate & orange. (Sounds like a strange combo, but it really worked.)
(3) pasta e fagiole. (Disappointing for two reasons... this was really just a play on pasta e fagiole - think chicken broth with mini wontons and white beans - then to make matters worse, someone was heavy handed on the salt.)

For our main plates, we savored (again, in order)...
-grass fed veal loin (This was a special, and I can't remember what it was served with... but it doesn't matter, the veal itself was the star and out of this world)
-wild striped bass, barely warmed heirloom tomatoes & chick peas
-slow roasted poularde, tender spinach, porcini mushrooms & apple scented pan sauce

Dessert -- make your own cheese plate:

Well, there you have it folks. Sorry for the lack of photos. Will hopefully be back north soon and will happily make up for it then :)

PE, thanks again for the hospitality.