To quote my brother: “This is the single best restaurant you have ever taken us to.” We don’t get back to philly that often, but he is comparing it to Vetri, Morimoto, and the like. I have to say I completely agree. (And I rarely agree with my brother.
I believe this place could even thrive in Los Angeles. The formula is perfect; lovingly prepared small dishes that are complex but not fussy; flavorful but not overpowering. (This is in distinct contrast to Ansill, another tapas place we went to the prior night that was mediocre at best.) Ingredients are local and sustainable where possible, although certainly there are many imported accents. Everything tastes of freshness and quality and is clearly made to order. Corkage was approachable at $15; and they decanted my brunello with no complaint. We supplemented the brunello with a lovely cava off the wine list and it perfectly paired with much of the courses.
There were four of us and we managed to order more than half of the menu.
We started with a jamon (ham) from Iberia that was on special. I did not even know it was legal to get that stuff here. I was so excited I eagerly paid the $16 for a nice-sized order. We supplemented it with two cheeses: Epoisses (not exactly spanish (it’s burgundian) but one of my favorites and it did not let me down) and Leonara (my mother’s name is Lenora so I told her it was “her” cheese.) Both were very much appreciated. We also had some marcona almonds. Next we moved to “mariscos” (shellfish) and ordered:
Pulpo – Spanish octopus, potatoes, piquillo pepper paint, lemon powder. (loved the lemon powder as a “dip;” very molecular gastronomy)
REVUELTO DE LANGOSTA – lobster & asparagus shirred eggs, oyster cava cream
CHIPIRONES EN SU TINTA baby squid, crab bomba rice, squid ink (I am allergic to squid and did not have any, but everyone else said it was one of the favorites of the night)
MOULES BASQUAISE – mussels & chorizo in sauce basquaise, lemon aioli, frites
RODABALLO A LA PLANCHA – turbot, sauce pastis, baby fennel, citrus (the quality and preparation of the turbot was spot on)
Vieiras con Pancetta – sea scallops, benton’s bacon, cider emulsion, green apple
Moving on to “Salados” we ordered:
Patatas Tinto – house-made chips and smoked paprika cream
Almendras – marcona almonds
Next came Bocadillos (sandwiches); we chose one:
DE SALMÓN – cured salmon, caviar, croissant, queso de cabra, crispy shallots (this was fought over)
and then moved right to Carnes (meat) and ordered:
CORDERO – roasted rack of lamb, artichoke puree & lemon
My brother is a vegetarian (but eats fish) so we did not linger long in meats and instead moved on to Verduras (veggies)
Alcachofas con Trufas – Purple tulip baby artichokes, black truffle, lemon, idiazabal (the novice truffle oil eaters at the table who thought they hated truffle found they adored it after this course)
JUDIAS VERDES – haricot vert, almonds, dates, orange segments, paprika sherry vinaigrette
We skipped over Brochetas (bruschetta) onto Montaditos (canapes):
De Panceta – pork belly, honey laquer, shaved apples
They brought us some complimentary cookies for dessert as we did not order any. But these were so good we went ahead and ordered the Bananas Y Azfran (chocolate cake, carmelized bananas, saffron crema) which amazed us all.
If you are ever in philly, I thoroughly recommend you try this restaurant. Next time I want to try their parent restaurant, Amada.
114 S 20th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103