So it’s a good thing that I was in the gym on the elliptical at 6am, because at 7pm, I was enjoying a great Sazerac at the bar at Village Whiskey (118 South 20th Street, Philadelphia) and dinner too. The wife had the Commodore (Bourbon, lime, Sugar, Orange bitters, Mezc al Rinse) to start and I, the Sazerac as mentioned (rye whiskey, sugar, peychaud bitters, absinthe rinse). Both first drinks were outstanding, but it was noisy and the bartender had some challenges hearing our orders. Nonetheless, we had dinner too, the village burger (maine farm raised angus) and the pulled pork…and yes, the duck fat fries too (they’re as good as you think). We washed our dinner down with an old fashioned [me] (bottle in bond bourbon, house-made bitters, sugar, Lemon) and the wife had the duck rabbit milk stout. The old fashioned was a bit on the strong side and they used Old Grand Dad instead of the bottle in bond, but still enjoyable.
As I write this, I’m thinking about the fact that I’m still full and that the bourbon is helping me digest.
I didn’t realized how much my wine was overpriced until I was at the PA State Store yesterday. On Friday, I had the Crios 2008 Rose of Malbec at Chifa and it was $10 for a glass. At the state store, the entire bottle is $10.99. I picked up the bottle too and will enjoy it with a more detailed review soon. This is beyond gouging; restaurants get a 10% break on bottles from the state as they are the only distributor (everyone has to buy from PLCB), so it’s a known that wine prices are marked up in PA and the reason behind so many BYOB restaurants.
However, with that all said, this means that GRG paid $9.90 for the bottle of wine and broke even on the sale of one glass! Everything else in that bottle goes to cover operating costs and then directly to the bottom line. If it were $7 or $8, that would have been a little more reasonable.
From now on, I will only order mixed drinks and beer in PA restaurants and if I want wine, I’ll go to a place where I can bring my own.
Last night, we had a fun dinner at Chifa, part of the Jose Garces (Iron Chef) food empire growing in Philadelphia. We really enjoy the small plates/tapas experience as you can try lots of things rather than having to decide on just an appetizer and main course.
We both had mixed drinks from the bar to start our meal:
-Spicy Margarita (Tequila, Passion Fruit, Thai Chiles) & Chinese 5 Spice Manhattan (Rye Whiskey, 5 Spice Infused Simple Syrup). The margarita had some kick from the Thai Chilis and the Manhattan was nice and smooth. I’ve been on a bourbon kick recently since attending a Bourbon tasting last year.
Wine during dinner:
- Crios “Rose of malbec ” 2008 Mendoza, Argentina: This was in the deep rose family and had enough body to stand up to the spices in my dinner, but also some dry fruitiness to round it out.
- Riesling: SCHLOSS VOLLRADS 2007 Rheingau, Germany: No doubt a very sweet Riesling that we enjoyed. I found some pineapple and peach in the wine which might have been better with dessert (which we didn’t have) than dinner.
Then the food arrived…
As if we hadn’t ordered enough, the chef sent out these manchego cheese stuffed breads, almost savory donuts which were light and cheesy! From there, here’s what we ate and my impressions of each item:
- Peruvian Ceviche (corvina, sweet potato, pickled pearl onions): There was a good amount of fish in the dish and it had solid, citrus flavor. My only thought is that it was more of a citrus soup with fish and other good stuff and might have benefited from a more shallow dish. This was served with corn nuts which we really enjoyed snacking on throughout the meal.
- Kobe Tartar (sriracha, pear, wasabi mayo): If I see tartar on the menu, I’m ordering it. The overall flavor of this was ok, but I felt that the steak didn’t shine as there was too much salt. My wife, who loves salt enjoyed it but could see how I felt that way.
- Chifa Pickles (melon & cucumber, cauliflower & apple, spicy greens): These are not Jewish deli pickles! A very interesting set of flavors. The spicy greens had a sesame oil in addition to the pickling spices and were good; I could have eaten a bowl of that with some tiradito.
- Pork Belly Bao Buns (hoisin glaze, pickled daikon & carrot, togarashi mayo): Melt in your mouth pork belly goodness sandwiched between rice dough pancakes. Can’t miss this which can also come with Duck, Tofu, or Lobster)
- Soup Dumplings (heritage pork, sesame, black vinegar): I’ve had the soup dumplings in NYC, specifically at Joe’s Shanghai which are the best, so this was enticing, but had a lot to live up to. The noodle and filling were fresh, the pork filling had a pungent ginger and scallion flavor, but there wasn’t much in the way of soup in the dumpling. Overall good flavor, especially when mixed with the dipping sauce, but more of a steamed bun than a soup dumpling.
- Pork Bowl (ramen noodles, braised pork, egg, spicy greens): Some of the best ramen noodles I’ve ever had and the broth had a richness to it that was so appealing. The pork itself was almost a throw in, I could have just enjoyed the noodles and broth. This too, like the Tartar had a bit too much salt for my taste.
- Humita (charred corn, bacon, mushrooms, aji cream): This was a real earthy (umami?) dish with the grilled corn cake, almost polenta-like and thinly sliced mushrooms and bacon. Luckily, this was our first hot dish and we were able to taste it all.
We didn’t eat dessert as we were so full, but the check came with 2 small rice crispy treats with the Chef’s logo on it and that was a nice end to the meal. Service was fluid, efficient, and educating. Overall, this was a fun and filling experience and I look forward to returning.