One of my biggest pet peeves as a frequenter of restaurants is leaving hungry. Sounds obvious, right, absurd even, but it happens all the same. Not only do you enter an eating establishment with the notion that you will leave fed, you hope to leave satisfied on certain levels, those being different for every person. For me, those levels include: quality, service, taste, and the obvious one, filling of your belly. Seems reasonable I think. Although, I will admit the average American’s idea of portions ie what will constitute full borders on disgusting. That being said, I don’t consider myself an average American in this way (and most ways, but that’s another story).
There are other factors that I’d consider icing on the dining-out cake, the things that make an establishment sparkle, so to speak. Ambiance, good water service (I’m freakishly thirsty, as is Mike), BYOB, reasonably-priced, enough to take home. These are not required, however, to make an impression; I’ve eaten at many a fine restaurant that lacked in one area or another. But, oh how these things help!
So, tonight’s venture led me to Rittenhouse Square, where my beautifully food-obsessed girlfriend had selected a dining experience for the girls to partake in. Location, location, location. Mike was left home, to fend for himself meaning he would be eating peanut butter crackers for dinner.
The Rittenhouse address alone knocks several of my usual factors off the list instantly, before even walking through the doors. Out goes reasonably priced & BYOB. No biggie, some of the other big guys promise to stand up in their place. It’s almost guaranteed there will be ambiance, good service, quality. I don’t like to assume, but like to go in with an open-minded dinner’s palette.
Rittenhouse Tavern, located at 251 South 18th Street, dazzled with its ambiance, and we sat out in the lovely courtyard, despite the scorching heat.
The service, impeccable, with our waiter promptly bringing water and giving us just enough time to decide on things. Quick & plentiful water service, our cups never dry. So, there’s always that. Now, onto the most important things…the food & drink!
My girl had researched the cocktail list and ensured me they were worth ordering. All three of us ordered the Tavern lemonade, a quenching homemade tartness with rum & mint. The reputation proceeded the beverage! Delicious!
The menu (littered with delectable goodies) boasted extremely high prices which I tried to skim over, as I had brought my appetite. I tried to set my frugalness aside. Bar snacks & starters were selected:
White Bean Toast
Roasted and Fresh Baby Beets
The taste, delicious. Perfect blend of select ingredients that were fresh, prepared with care and beautifully presented. The portion to price ratio, however, left much to be desired. For even one person, these meager portions would have been questionable. I’ve had dishes elsewhere that rivaled, if not out-ranked, for half the price and twice the portion. Just leaves you wondering if the location really overshadows it all.
For entrees, both girlfriends got the chilled soup, while I ordered something I thought would be more substantial; the Arctic Char. Once again, the meals tasted great, and I noted the presentation and art of preparation; it just left our wallets quite a bit lighter than when we waltzed into the beautiful space. In this quaint garden, in one of the highest-priced neighborhoods in Philly, I paid the check, got up to walk to the train, and tried to visualize what I could make for dinner when I got home.
I’m a firm believer in paying for quality, creation, good food. I don’t believe they need to be synonymous.
Next time, I’m picking the restaurant!