A return to the old, yet it’s new…

I had a chance to eat at an old favorite recently – “Friday Saturday Sunday” in Philadelphia.  I have many memories at this place over the years, from dinners with old friends and family, to running into co-workers while there with friends and family.  The restaurant closed about a year ago, changed ownership, and underwent a transformative renovation.

I was nervous to return for fear that it wouldn’t compare to prior visits.  Boy was I wrong!  First of all, the space itself looks terrific.  It’s warm and inviting, but it still feels classy and special.

Second of all, the food was great.  I can even say I think that the food now is better than before.  The prior menu contained a lot of old favorites, which were great.  However, the new menu is food-forward but in a good way.

Fellow eater and I decided to indulge in the pasta special of the day, which was a lamb and goat cheese ravioli with sorrel mushrooms and pecorino cheese.  I’m not a lamb fan but this was delicious.  The pastas are made on premises and you can definitely tell.

FE had the escargot which he really enjoyed (I ate most of the pasta, sorry FE).  FE had filet mignon and I had the grilled shrimp with grits.  Both were excellent.  The shrimp was so flavorful that it didn’t even need the sauce that came with it.

We didn’t try dessert.  I wasn’t in love with any of the choices so I didn’t want to waste the calories.  The homemade ice cream sounded intriguing but I wasn’t wild about any of the daily flavors that were offered when I was there.  Definitely next time!

Finally, the service was stellar as usual.  I was happy to see that Mr. Connelly is still working there, and we were fortunate enough that he took care of us on this particular night.

I’m happy to highly recommend this restaurant, but please don’t swarm it so I can still get a reservation!

A return to the old, yet it’s new…

What I’ve been eating…

I have to confess, I was lucky enough to eat at Barclay Prime yet again recently.  I ate my usual and it was excellent (again).  I did have the coffee ice cream with chocolate brownie chunks this time, which was the special flavor of the day.  Wow.

I was also lucky enough to have a chance to eat at a brand new “fast casual” place called “Verts”.  Verts is on 16th Street between Market and Chestnut Streets in Philly (side of the 1601 Market building).  It just opened on 3/10.  I was walking by around lunchtime so I decided to stop in.  Apparently, half of the Philly lunch crowd had the same idea!  I was about the 25th person in line.  I decided to stick it out to see if it was worth it.  It was.  And p.s. the line moved quickly.

I ordered a rice bowl with falafel, cucumber and tomato salad, cabbage, pickled jalapeños, chickpeas, and red pepper seasoning.  I also had a side of pita chips and hummus.  I decided to go conservative since this was my first time here.  It was delicious.  The falafel was comparable to Naf Naf up the street (also very good).  The toppings were fresh and flavorful.  The jalapeños were so hot that my mouth was numb (also a good sign).

I can’t wait to go back and try the turkey and mushroom meatballs!

What I’ve been eating…

Another excellent meal at Barclay Prime

We had an impromptu “family party” at Barclay Prime in Philadelphia recently.  Fortunately, we were able to snag a last minute reservation in the lounge for our party of five.  Matt took care of us and as always, he went above and beyond in ensuring our comfort and satisfaction.

We had wagyu sliders, truffle mac and cheese, butterball potatoes, kale salad, roasted cauliflower, brussels sprouts, filet mignon, salmon, and ribeye.  Everything tasted great and the pace of the meal was perfect.

We ended the meal with two of the warm deep dish cookies, one with mint oreo ice cream and the other with chocolate chip ice cream.  Delicious!

Fortunately I’m going back with colleagues soon.

FYI the Patriot Parking garage around the corner on Chancellor Street offers validated parking for $17.

Another excellent meal at Barclay Prime

Great eats in Fort Lauderdale

Fellow eater and I spent some time in Fort Lauderdale recently.  We had some great meals so I wanted to share them with you.  I also wanted to memorialize them for the next time we visit.  Here they are in no particular order:

1.Asia Bay – This was our second visit to this Asian gem on a canal on Las Olas.  Las Olas is the main drag in the town.  There are many high end shops, bars, and restaurants.  We were lucky enough to sit outside at a table right on the canal.  We split the spicy tuna sushi and spring rolls, both of which were out of this world.  I had the shrimp fried rice, which had a nice kick to it.  I went with the medium spice level and that was plenty hot.  I was hoping to return for another meal but we ran out of time.

2.Steak 954 – We had both breakfast and dinner here.  This is a Stephen Starr place, somewhat similar to his Barclay Prime in Philadelphia.  The only discernible difference is the weather!  We sat outside overlooking A1A for both meals.  As with all Starr establishments I’ve been to, the service was impeccable and the ingredients were high quality.

I had the wagyu sliders and the scallops as my entree.  FE had a 22 0z. ribeye.  Everything was great.  We shared the ice cream sandwiches for dessert.  OK, OK, I ate most of them.  The red velvet cookies with cream cheese gelato and the gingersnaps with green tea were my favorites.

3.Hoffman’s Chocolates – This is an ice cream place and a chocolatier, also on Las Olas.  The stellar coffee ice cream was great.  I would go back just for that.

4.Kilwin’s – Another ice cream place and chocolatier, also on Las Olas.  The cookies n’cream on a homemade waffle cone was delicious.  FE had a chocolate-covered twinkie which FE thought was great.

5.Seasons 52 – Although this is a chain, we love this location.  The food is always terrific and the place has a great vibe because of the weather.  You can’t go wrong with any of the items here, especially the mini desserts!  I recommend the chocolate peanut butter one.

6.Serafina by the Water – This is an Italian restaurant located on a canal.  The setting is perfect – right on the canal along a row of docked yachts.  The portions are large so we didn’t order an appetizer.  I had the pappardelle bolognese and FE had king crab with squid ink pasta.  This was FE’s favorite dish of the week.  For dessert, we had chocolate mousse and tiramisu.

7.Angelo Elia Pizza – This appears to be a local chain.  We visited the Federal Highway location.  The pizza is fantastic and we shared the arancini appetizer.  We were too full for dessert there so we stopped at Whole Foods for cookies.

Great eats in Fort Lauderdale

Dining out in South Jersey…

I recently had a terrific meal at a newish Italian restaurant in Medford, NJ.  Shout out to my co-worker for the recommendation!  It is ITA 101 at 20 S. Main Street.  Fellow eater is an excellent cook and VERY particular about his Italian food, so I was nervous.  I’m happy to report that he was pleased as well.

The restaurant itself is a very pretty space, with exposed brick and a rustic feel.  Our waiter was friendly without being obtrusive, and he was very knowledgeable about the menu.  On this particular visit, the restaurant was featuring specials from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

We started with eggplant parmesan and tuna tartare.  The tartare was paired with fennel which made for a nice flavor.  The sauce on the eggplant was light and tasted just like the sauce does in Italy.  That’s how you know you’re in a real Italian restaurant.  The bread was delicious – crusty and soft at the same time – another sign of authentic Italian.

FE had pappardelle with wild boar ragu, which he really enjoyed.  I had a half serving of the cacio e pepe, and a half serving of a ravioli special with ricotta cheese, swiss chard, beets, and pistachios.  All of the pasta is homemade, and it was delicious.  We had the perfect amount of food but we didn’t want to push it with dessert.  Maybe next time.

ITA 101 accepts reservations and is BYOB.

Dining out in South Jersey…