Philly Foodapalooza

23 May

So in the past few months, I’ve been able to hit up a few Philly favorites– the Franklin Fountain, Percy Street Barbecue, and 1862 by Martin Hamann.

Franklin Fountain: DELICIOUS handmade ice cream served in a turn-of-the-20th-century style establishment with servers dressed in candy stripes and paper cone hats (a bit like Disney World).  I ordered a scoop each of banana and peanut butter ice cream crowned with a fluffy cloud of whipped cream.  Usually, banana ice cream (à la Bassets) tastes more like banana flavoring, but FF’s had the trademark banana dots usually found in banana bread.  My only gripe is the mile-long line that inches out the door, making your yearning for ice cream that much more intense. Otherwise, the line is worth it.

Percy Street Barbecue:  The saga of how Percy Street came to create the “perfect” barbecue had been highlighted by The Inquirer about a year ago, making the idea of visiting this South Street outpost seem fairly intriguing.  By chance, a few of my friends and I meandered by this barbecue stop one night around grub time, thinking, “Wouldn’t barbecue taste so good?”  So we plopped down our weary feat and prepared for a BBQ feast.  We started off with two cast-iron skillets of cheddar jalapeno cornbread that we spooned into our mouths, oozes of cheese trailing our spoons.  Followed by the cornbread, I uncharacteristically ordered the PST sandwich, which is composed of coleslaw, fried green tomatoes, and pork belly sandwiched between an oven-warmed hoagie roll.  Slightly hesitant about the idea of ordering pork belly, I can now say that I have been converted– pork belly surpasses both foie gras and good cheese in my pantheon of decadent foods.  Rather than wax poetical about it, I would advise just trying it yourself– you will die from deliciousness.

1862: Located in the prestigious members-only Union League of Philadelphia, 1862 is the League’s answer to the overall trend towards fine dining and food in Philly.  Doing away with the dark paneling and crushed velvet that is found elsewhere in the League, the creators of 1862 lent a tasteful hand to the dining room, even going so far as to separate the diners from the chef with only a see-through panel of glass.  Chef Hamann’s menu changes daily and depends on the availability of food in local markets.  As typical of League fare, there was plenty of steak and deep musty merlots, but Hamann was able to brighten them up with beautiful presentation and a deft hand.  I had the opportunity to dine and celebrate at 1862 for my grandma’s birthday and took full advantage of the experience.  I ordered the 5 course chef tasting menu, which consisted of pea soup with a crab ceviche, followed by a fish course, then duck, then a cheese plate, then a lemon souffle topped with raspberry coulis (and birthday cake of course)  While I have to say that all dishes were well prepared and well displayed, dessert was my favorite by far.  We’ve already decided that we’re going back– in our fancy clothes and all– just to try the dessert.

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