La Scala on 7th and Chestnut

Hello My Foodie Followers….tonight we dined at La Scala, located at 7th and Chestnut, on the outskirts of the gayborhood and almost in Olde City/Society Hill.  Although a touristy area, I enjoy the local restaurants in the neighborhood.  We arrived around 7pm with a reservation and were seated immediately by the host.  Our server, Christian, was quick to bring us water and to take our cocktail order.  I, in usual fashion, had my usual martini.  Al ordered a Samuel Adams – Winter Lager.  A  bread basket with accompaniments arrived moments later. Warm bread, olive oil/balsamic with a wad of butter.   My cocktail arrived, at best luke warm.  The server seeing my disdain with my beverage, graciously, took it back for a heartier shake.  It arrived back, chilled properly.  Christian, then took our order.  A variety of menus were offered.  I chose the chef’s menu – Three options, pre fixe…I started with the cheeseboard (mahon reserve, a smokey blue, and an asiago) served with a quince jam and spiced apples. For my entree, I had the petite filet with a mushroom and demi glaze and a gnocchi in a light marinara. For dessert, I had the lemon creme Italian cake.  Let’s take each item individually….the cheeseboard was nicely created, though, lacking a crunch factor..no breads, crostinis, or crackers.  Our server did bring over a few slices of grilled bread.   The entree – the filet was beautiful, although over cooked.  I ordered a medium rare and got medium, at best.  It was tender and tasty, but still over cooked. I will say the steak had a wonderful smoked flavor one would receive from an open grill.  Added to that was a healthy helping of gnocchi in a light marinara.  I don’t understand how the two items connected..One had a brown demi glaze with grilled mushrooms and the other was in a marinara.  The dessert was tasty and sweet, but had a raspberry drizzle over it.  Being the cake was a lemon creme, I was unsure why they would put a raspberry drizzle.  A lemon drizzle would have been more appealing to magnify the lemon creme in the cake.  Al had for his menu – the restaurant week menu.  He started with a eggplant rolotini, followed by a salmon over wilted spinach and roasted potatoes and for dessert he had the nocello, which was a sunday style ice cream treat.  We will take each of these items individually, too.  The eggplant rolotini was delightful.  Delicate and cheesy with a light marinara.  For his entree, the salmon was a tad overcooked, the spinach was tasty and bold, the potatoes were potatoes.  For his dessert, he had the Nocello, traditionally an Italian walnut liquoure, this was served as an ice cream dessert with brownie chunks and walnuts with a chocolate and nocello drizzle.  I will admit each item was good in their own way, but as a dish, I feel it missed the goal. I am not positive about this, but maybe due to restaurant week, the menu was a tad less than exciting.  Although one would think a restaurant would put it’s best foot first for a dining week.  I award La Scala 3 out of 5 Diva Crowns…Bon Appetit!  

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An addition to The Foodie Follower…..it’s 5 0’clock somewhere!

Salutations My Foodie Followers….I am contemplating adding a new chapter to The Foodie Follower.  Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a lot of attention is given to the “bar menu” vs the “restaurant menu”.  Also, in that observation, I became aware of the many fabulous gastropubs the city has to offer.  Now, I am not saying we have not dined at Gastropubs, but in addition to them, there are an amazing selection of “happy hour” bars with tasty menus.  I think it would be an injustice to leave them out.  So as I ponder this new addition…please feel free to add your comments and suggestions.  I think adding in a Happy Hour quality eatery would be a welcome addition to The Foodie Follower….

Cheers~

FF

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Happy New Year 2014

Happy New Year, my Foodie Followers…now that the holidays are behind us and we are slowing unfreezing from the polar vortex, we will be back to tasting and reviewing some of Philadelphia’s finest eateries.  Look for a new post in the near future!

Until then….we will dine one bite at a time!

FF

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A night at Han Dynasty…..

Hello my Foodie Followers…tonight we dined at Han Dynasty – Olde City (www.handynasty.net) located in the beautiful corn exchange building on Chestnut Street at 2nd Street.  We arrived a tad early and went to the bar to wait for our table.  The Jordan’s (Al’s sister and brother in law) joined us for dinner.  The hostess told us our table would be ready in a few minutes.  Sadly, she was quite mistaken and our wait, with a reservation, was much longer than expected.  Finally, we were seated and our server, Ryan, was quick to greet us.  He took our drink order and water was brought over.  I had the usual.  Al and Paul both had beers, dogfish 60 and an Allagash white draft.  Stacy sipped a pinot grigio.  We ordered our appetizers and entrees.  Ryan informed us of the Han Dynasty heat index and guided us through our selections.  Stacy and Paul shared a Dan Dan noodle dish.  I ordered the pickled vegetables and pork soup and Al ordered the wontons in chile oil.  All the items had a good heat index but Stacy and Paul’s appetizer was the hottest.  Next our entrees arrived.  A second round of cocktails were served.  I had the beef in garlic sauce with a medium heat index.  Stacy had the fish in a hot broth mild index.  Paul and Al both had dry pot dishes.  One was lamb and one was shrimp.  Al went 10 on heat index.  I tried one of his shrimp, delicious and quite spicy, but not overwhelming.  Everyone tasted each other’s dishes and all of them were good.  Each had a different heat index and each index affected us differently.  No desserts were available.  The entire meal was scrumptious and inviting.  Each heat index had it’s own level of heat and spice.  I strongly recommend talking to your server about the heat index before ordering.  Ryan was incredibly knowledgeable on the heat index and kept us where we needed to be.  He was great with his suggestions and explained each item as we ordered it.  Outside of the snooty hostess, the dining experience was excellent.  I award Han Dynasty 4 out of 5 Diva Crowns!  Bon Appetit!  

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Stella Rossa…..A new Philadelphia Star!

Hello my Foodie Followers…tonight we dined at Stella Rossa (www.stellarossaristorante.com) located in the gayborhood area on Walnut Street at 10th Street.  We arrived a few minutes before our reservation and met a large group of people waiting for tables.  Luckily, we did have a reservation.  The host took our name and had to repeat my full name twice…being flirty.  We were seated in the main room across from the bar and were greeted by Jackie, our server.  She took our drink order and served us a bread basket with olive oil and spices for dipping.  I had the usual and Al had a Pint of Allagash White Beer.  Water was also brought over.  Jackie returned to take our food order.  For appetizers, I had the pear salad with candied walnuts, gorgonzola, mixed bitter greens and fresh slices of pear dressed with a balsamic reduction.  The greens were amazing, the pear was sweet and crisp and the gorgonzola was creamy and delicious.  Al had an antipasta with mozzarella and tomatoes, olives, greens and flatbreads.  His appetizer was large in size and could have fed two persons.  He took the balance home.  A second round of drinks were ordered and our entrees arrived.  I had the gnocchi with a vodka rosa gravy instead of the bolognese that it was supposed to come with….not fond of bolognese.  Al had the eggplant parm over spaghetti.  I loved the gnocchi and the gravy was light and full flavored.  The gnocchis were airy and delicate. The portion was great.  Al thought the eggplant parm was good.  He thought the spaghetti was overkill, as did I.  For desserts, Al had a glass of port and I had a limoncello.  We also ordered a nutella cup and a tiramisu cup.  Served in double shot glasses..just enough dessert to feel good without feeling overly filled.  We had this type at another restaurant and was very impressed by the size.  The space was great, the room was full of energy.  Our server, Jackie, was delightful, although a little overwhelmed at times.  My entree ordered originally came out wrong and was quickly replaced and brought back out.  I think the food, drinks and ambiance was better than average.  I think the place being new needs to tighten up on service, although we really liked our server.  I award Stella Rossa 4 out of 5 Diva Crowns.  Bon Appetit!

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Mertitage….a dining experience off Rittenhouse Square

Hello my Foodie Followers….Tonight we dined at Meritage Restaurant (www.meritagephiladelphia.com).  We arrived on time after walking through Rittenhouse Square for a 7pm reservation.  Our host was quick to seat us and our server, Kuanie, arrived only a moment later.  The ambiance was different with a dance style music playing in the background.  The room was too dark for my taste.  Our server, Kuanie, had a good understanding of the menu and offered her favorite items for assistance.  Choice of water was offered and our drink order was taken.  Al had a Victory Hopdevil and I had the usual.  Homemade bread was served and our order was taken.  For starters, I had the Foie Gras Ravioli, Maitake mushrooms, butternut squash, pickled apple, burgundy truffle butter.  Al had the Kimichi fritters.  We shared both items.  The ravoli was tasty, but being fried, I think it lost something with the foie gras.  The kimichi fritters were deep fried and tasty.  I think it needed a little something more…more spice?  a sauce?  something….  A second round of drinks arrived.  For entrees, I had a very unexpected item. I had the kobe meatloaf, served with a sauteed spinach and mashed potatoes.  Not a big fan of mashed potatoes, I gave them to Al and he gave me his cheddar polenta.   The meatloaf was delicious and the spinach was cooked perfectly.  Al had the Kaffir lime Curry KFC (Korean fried chicken), smoked cheddar polenta.  As I stated earlier, we swapped our starches.  Also, Al did not get the sesame slaw.  It was substituted for a sauteed kale.  For dessert, we opted for savory over sweet and ordered the cheese plate. An assortment of 3 Cheeses, grilled baguette, truffled honey, pickled beets, and slices of crisp apples.  I had a grappa with the cheese plate.  Overall the food items were tasty and creative.  The plates were small and you did not feel stuffed after eating.  I suggest a couple of small plates or one bite items along with your entree.  I award Meritage 3.75 Diva Crowns out of 5.  Bon Appetit! 

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Winfield’s – in the heart of Millville’s Art District

Hello my Foodie Followers….Tonight we traveled outside of our center city Philadelphia comfort zone and journeyed to Millville located in South Jersey.  With a rebirth in the arts, Millville’s downtown art district is busy with activities.  We dined at Winfield’s Restaurant (www.winfieldsrestaurant.com) located in the heart of the downtown.  We arrived around 7pm, to a full restaurant, and were seated by Jackie, who also was our server.  She took our drink order, brought a homemade bread basket (with creamy butter and an olive oil/balsamic herb dipping bowl), and told us the specials for the evening.  Winfield’s menu is not huge, but offers something for everyone, from pasta or seafood to beef, veal or chicken.  They also have a risotto menu.  We started with cocktails.  I had the usual, of course, and Al had a GLS Peroni beer.  The bread was delicious.  Soft center, chewy crust…doesn’t get much better.  For an appetizer, we shared the bacon wrapped shrimp.  It arrived on a large rectangular plate, although thin, but seemed a tad too large for the serving.  Three delicious wrapped shrimp in crispy bacon, wedges of avocado?? and two strips of sesame seeded bacon??.  Not sure how they all connected…every bite was tasty, but it didn’t make sense to me. Basically it looked kind of silly.   Our entrees came with a salad choice (house garden or caesar).  We both opted for the caesar salad.  They were fresh, served with parmesan cheese slivers and crunchy croutons.  The dressing was homemade.  It was good, although we couldn’t taste anchovy in the dressing and it did need salt.  Again, caesar salad is caesar salad.  Next, we had our entrees.  Al had the Shrimp and Swordfish with a side of house risotto.  It was served with a light sauce.  It was a full dish and certainly not leaving one hungry.  I had the crab cake with seasonal grilled veggies and a side of rice pilaf instead of the potato.  The dark wild rice was good but a bit over the top.  Large chunks of butternut squash, onion and mushrooms seemed to overtake the rice.  I would have preferred a tad less of the veggies a little more rice, nonetheless, it was tasty.  The crab cakes were round and had the image of a hockey puck, lots of crab and broiled.  No stuffing or breading made for a very crabby cake.  The seasonal veggies were quickly sauteed in olive oil and garlic and served al dente.  For desserts, I had the tartufo and Al had the house gelato.  The desserts were a bit of a disappointment to me.  The tartufo was very generic tasting and I would definitely not order it again.  The house gelato was more like ice cream then gelato, although it did taste good.  The atmosphere was pleasant.  and our server, Jackie, was delightful. We finished dinner and walked out an hour and 45 minutes later.  The place was empty when we left.  The experience was pleasant, the food was satisfactory, not delicious and certainly not unappetizing.  The most disappointing part of the meal was the desserts.  I think they fell very short of that perfect sweetness needed at the end of a good meal.  I award Winfield’s 3.25 out of 5 Diva Crowns.  Bon Appetit! 

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