Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dinner in the City of Brotherly Love

by Erin and Xani

Last weekend, our cousin Karen was in Philadelphia for a conference, so we drove up from Baltimore to spend some time with her and of course, do some eating.

On a suggestion from Jenny (former resident of Philly/NJ), we went to Washington Square, a hip restaurant in...Washington Square (shocking, I know).

The first thing we noticed about WS was its interesting decor. We ate outside, but the outside seating area was covered by tent-like contraptions, and the walls and nearby bar had an art deco feel, which was very cool.

To start, we ordered a pitcher of Watermelon Lemonade, which consisted of vodka, fresh watermelon, and lemonade. It was delicious and refreshing, but with that nice little jolt from the vodka.

Then our waiter brought us some delicious bread, which was like a ciabatta (crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside, with lots of big air pockets), which was served with two kinds of butter: regular and garlic and herb. Yum!

We decided that the game plan for the meal would be for us to order a bunch of appetizers (since they all looked fantastic) and one main dish, and share everything. That way we could try more things (the ultimate goal of any foodie!) and also have room for something sweet at the end of the meal.

Our plan worked brilliantly, if we do say so ourselves. We ordered four appetizers:

  • Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare, with pickled ginger, lychee nut granite, and sesame flat bread
  • Panzanella Salad, with heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese, and garlic crostini
  • Spicy Crisp Calamari, with tobiko and lemon
  • Proscuitto Pizza, with olive tapenade and parmesan cheese

The tartare was Karen's pick and it was fabulous - clean, crisp flavors and fresh tuna, and yummy sesame crackers to boot.

The Panzanella was also excellent - it was sort of deconstructed and modern-looking, and the heirloom tomatoes were wonderful. The garlic crostini were super-flavorful and added a punch to the salad.

The calamari was good and spicy, though not terribly creative. It also could have been crispier. But, the squid was perfectly cooked and the serving was generous.

Lastly, the Proscuitto Pizza: this had a lovely crust and lots and lots of flavor, though EP thought it was a bit salty with both the proscuitto and the tapenade.

For our main dish, we ordered the Grilled Branzino, which was served with fingerling potatoes, lemon confit, and a brown-butter pine nut vinaigrette. YUM. (Unfortunately our camera was in a mood and none of the pictures came out right - sorry!) This was the best dish of the night! First, the chef here is a genius because he took the fingerling potatoes (one of the cutest and most delicious of the potato family) and he cut them into rounds (or as BCD Dad would call them, "potato money"). This resulted in the fish being layed upon a bed of crispy, delicious, tiny potato rounds! Um...anyway, got a little carried away there. The fish itself was also delicious - it was perfectly cooked and had a mild flavor, and the flavors from the lemon and the pine nuts were fantastic. Bravo!

As planned, we had room for some dessert and coffee/espresso. We decided on the Ricotta Beignets, which were served with huckleberry, vanilla cream cheese, and white peach sorbet. While these were not traditional beignets (see BCD opening photo above, taken when Xani and Erin went to the home of beignets, Cafe du Monde in New Orleans), they were still delicious and beautifully presented. They were still warm from the fryer, and the toppings were delicious and interesting. The vanilla cream cheese was sweet and thick, the huckleberry mash was bright and puckery, and the peach sorbet was AMAZING. It was clean and sweet and refreshing, and wonderful against the hot richness of the beignet. Yummm!

Overall, we totally loved Washington Square. The service and decor were fabulous, and the food was great and so beautifully presented. It was GREAT to see Karen and catch up with her - we usually see her but once a year at Passover so it was wonderful to spend some QT with her. We love you, Karen!

Happy eating,

E & X

3 comments:

  1. oh what a lovely picture of you all!

    I gotta say, you gals have a gift at this food blogging. This is a lovely entry.

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  2. I miss Steven Starr!!!
    MMM....potato money & huckleberry! Erin, I'm going BACK to Toast today. That makes three trips in one week. I think I have a problem. Cant wait to take you there Xani. XOXO

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