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Tir_na_nOg's Profile

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The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Philly Edition

Best bread: Modo Mio

Best cholesterol: breaded bone marrow, seared foie gras and sweatbreads at Bibou

Best BBQ: Carolina-cut pork ribs at Smoke Daddy's

Best crab cake: Smith Island crab cake at Capt'n Chucky's

Best dessert: goat cheese cake at Le Bec Fin

Best offal (my definition): deep-fried shrimp heads at Bluefin

Best pasta: Elysian Fields lamb papardelle at Blackfish

Best pork: Berkshire Pork Belly with Okinawan sweet potatoes at Fond

Best steak: Grilled 31 oz bone-on prime rib at The Prime Rib

Best tasting menu bargain: Monday-Thursday prix fixe Matyson

Best sandwich: burnt ends sandwich at Smoke Daddy's

Mar 26, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Mica Chestnut Hill

Good luck with that reservation if you make fun of Mickael!

Mar 26, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Mica Chestnut Hill

When I was at Mica, our 5-top table definitely had a white tablecloth. Also, when one of my companions dropped their napkin, they were give a new folded one from a basket using a pair of serving forks!

Mar 25, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Shami kebab in Philly area?

Anybody? I'm desperate!

Mar 16, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Shami kebab in Philly area?

Does anyone know a Indian, Pakistani or Afghani restaurant that serves Shami Kebab?

Mar 13, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Chip Roman's MICA in Chestnut Hill is opening Friday March 18

Chip Roman's (of Blackfish) new restaurant MICA (I believe it is pronounced like the mineral: "my-kuh") is opening Friday March 18th, and reservations are available through OpenTable. I'm going to their soft opening this week and will report back...

Apparently, it will be byob until they get a liquor license, probably in a few weeks.

Mar 12, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Great meal at Fond in South Philly

Everyone was served separate small portions of the pre-dessert and each of the 2 desserts as part of the 7-course tasting menu (the amuse-bouche, palate cleanser and pre-dessert were not counted as courses, and the meringues were a small after-dinner treat that every table got).

Mar 12, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Great meal at Fond in South Philly

Three of us enjoyed a great byob meal recently at Fond in South Philly (not far from Pat’s and Geno’s). A very small menu, and we had a good cross-section of it with the $65 tasting menu. Unfortunately, it was too dark to take any photos.

~Amuse-bouche: roasted mushroom soup shooter…as good as Blackfish’s

~Beet & fennel-cured arctic char with celery root, trout roe and caraway…lovely dish

~Wild boar pate with sourdough bread and Dijon mustard…a large slice of rustic pate, and interestingly the mustard/pate was a great match for the orange wine

~Escargot with bell peppers, garlic foam and toasted baguette…smelled amazing

~Seared skate wing, Meyer lemon risotto, edamame, soy brown butter…the delicate crisp on the skate was amazing, but the risotto wasn’t very lemony and a bit over-cooked

~Palate cleanser: Campari and pink grapefruit sorbet

~Braised Berkshire pork belly, Okinawa sweet potatoes, escarole and Dijon jus…this had the most crispy skin I’ve ever tasted on a piece of pork (Amada eat your heart out)

~Pre-dessert: Meyer lemon layer cake with poppy seed genoise, pistachio sauce and crispy rosemary meringue

~Brown butter cheesecake

~Malted milk chocolate ice cream, peanut brittle, chocolate crumble and peanut butter ganache

~Ginger meringues

~’06 Dönnhoff Schloßböckelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Spätlese (a fantastic wine, available at PCLB)

~’00 Marcel Deiss Altenberg de Bergheim Grand Vin

~’04 Massa Vecchia Bianco Maremma Toscana IGT

~’96 Domaine Arlaud Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Les Ruchots Cuvée Unique

~’00 Domaine Michel Lafarge Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chênes

~’90 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses

~’07 Seghesio Family Vineyards Zinfandel Sonoma County

~’05 Château Haut-Bergeron Sauternes (375 mL)

~’01 Feiler-Artinger Ruster Ausbruch Pinot Cuvée (375 mL)

Some of the previous posts on Fond complained about the noise level, but frankly, I really don’t know what they were talking about. The atmosphere and service were great, parking wasn’t to bad (there’s street meters, a lot a block away, or try the Acme lot 3 blocks away), and the three owners visited every table. I wish I had been half that talented when I was <25 years old!

A tiny neighborhood gem.

Mar 11, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

I am loving Olce in Cedars !

Hey lansdalian, any pizza of note around Lansdale?

Feb 28, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Chicago Style Pizza in Philly??

Chicago is round, Sicilian is square. Chicago has cheese/toppings under the sauce, Sicilian has them over the sauce. Chicago can have crust up to 3" inches deep, Sicilian is more like a thin Chicago. Chicago crust is more on the buttier/flakier side than Sicilian.

One Chicago-style pizza I'm sure you can't find in Philly is the "triple-decker". I'll leave that one to your imagination...

Feb 26, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Chicago Style Pizza in Philly??

Good point, I'd forgotten that. Wonder what his favorite Chicago pizzeria was growing up?

I went to GTC for the first time a couple of weeks ago and was very impressed with the food. It has to be the ultimate evolution of the byob concept: bring your own if you like, or buy it at the in-house PLCB shop (which is more like a walk-in wine cellar than a strip-mall liquor store), or buy it off the restaurant's own list (which is completely different from the wine shop's), enjoy your dinner, and then buy some cheese and another bottle of wine on the way out to enjoy later...

What's not to like?

Feb 26, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Chicago Style Pizza in Philly??

Please, please don't send anyone to the Pizzaria Uno chain!

Chicago-style, and most particularly the "stuffed" pizza, is the pinnacle of pizza-making art (don't argue, just accept!), but one visit to that place will put you off it for life. And a life of nothing but NY-style pizza, well to quote Hudson & Landry: "Boy, I couldn't live like that!"

Once, I was suffering from an insurmountable hankering for some Giordano's or Edwardo's stuffed pizza and ordered their half-cooked, frozen versions online and shipped to my home. The most expensive pizzas of my life (I should have just bought a JetBlue round trip ticket instead), and a big mistake. Nothing matches the real thing.

I hear Garces Trading Company makes a good rendition of the stuffed pizza, but I'll see it when I believe it (or something like that)...

Feb 26, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Signup for Blackfish byob chowdown, Sun 30 January (Conshohocken)

There isn't a secret mailing list, this was just a one-time event!

Anyone who wants to can organize a chowdown on this board, just put out an announcement. However, Chowhound asks that you then post an e-mail address and organize the details by e-mail, not in a long boring thread on the board.

This was my second chowdown in Philly (and the first I've ever personally organized). The first was the now-infamous (at least to those who attended or saw the mostly now deleted soap opera-like posts in the aftermath) sucking pig chowdown at Amada a few months ago!

Looking forward to someone stepping up and organizing the next one...

Feb 14, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Can you bring your own bottle to Garces Trading Company

Can you bring your own bottle of wine (not purchased at the onsite PCLB store) to dinner at Garces Trading Company?

Feb 14, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

BYOB Ranting

Modo Mio is a bargain.

Feb 08, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Chip Roman and Jason Cichonskis - Stone House in Chestnut Hill

The article says "Stone House", but apparently it's "Mica" ("my-kuh" not "mee-kuh", as in the transparent mineral).

Pity it's not BYOB.

Feb 07, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Signup for Blackfish byob chowdown, Sun 30 January (Conshohocken)

I didn't think to take photos of the other dishes, but I do have some from previous dinners that are probably pretty similar to what we had Sunday.

~Yellowtail kingfish, yuzu kosho, radish, cilantro (our dish was smaller, with some different ingredients from the pictured one, but similar)

~Baked chatham bay cod, cauliflower, golden raisins, pink peppercorn

~Beef short ribs, carrots, turnips, beef jus

~Fourme d’ambert (bleu), beet membrillo, elixir (100 year old sherry vinegar)

Feb 01, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Signup for Blackfish byob chowdown, Sun 30 January (Conshohocken)

This past Sunday evening, 14 eager Chowhounds journeyed out to the 'burbs to met for a wonderful byob dinner at Blackfish.

When we arrived, we were shown to the rear of the restaurant’s two rooms, which as it turned out we had entirely to ourselves (two large tables). This gave us, and our wines, a lot of space, although the rest of the restaurant was clearly packed. I think this was very generous on the part of the restaurant, since I'm sure they could have taken more total reservations for the evening if we had not been there (I arrived at 5:30PM left at 9:45PM, so we had the room to ourselves for the entire evening). Clearly they went out of their way for us.

I've posted before how much I love Chef "Chip" Roman's cooking, and we were not disappointed with the wonderful menu he put together for us (posted above). Although Chip was away on business that evening, the food was ably prepared by XXX (someone help me out here, I’m completely blanking on his name) and Jason, both of whom came out to chat with us at the end of the meal. Interestingly, Jason is the former executive chef at Lacroix, and is working with Chip on his upcoming second restaurant, as well as his own restaurant. As usual, Harold and the other servers did a great job as well (despite our best attempts to impede their movement by standing and chatting in front of the kitchen door before we sat down at our tables).

Each course had two choices, and since I previously had enjoyed several of the featured dishes, I decided to select dishes that were completely new to me (photos below).

We started off with a mushroom soup shooter as an amuse bouche, and as I’ve said before, Blackfish’s soups are always remarkably flavorful. The only issue is whether your tongue is long enough to lick the bottom of the glass!

I particularly enjoyed the deep fried egg wrapped in house-smoked salmon, which is apparently one of Chip’s classic dishes (I’m beginning to realize he loves whole eggs!).

The striped bass had a wonderfully crispy skin and delicious burgundy sauce, which paired very well with an ’09 Brun cru Beaujolais.

The poularde (a fattened, spayed hen) was perfectly cooked in an amazing seamless, skin-wrapped roll that was so flawless, it didn’t seem as if human hands could have formed it (I’m not sure what this technique is called, but it surely harkens back to Chip’s days at Le Bec Fin).

The cheese course is always something that Blackfish does well, simple, elegant, with well-matched flavors, and I heard several comments about how wonderful the membrillo was (atypically made from beets, not quince).

And finally, I couldn’t resist going with Blackfish’s famous beignets, in this case filled with a caramel sauce.

I won’t comment on the many excellent wines that everyone brought (ranging from sparkling, to a magnum of Australian shiraz, and a unusual Heitz “port” for dessert), other than to say I particularly loved the ’06 Mount Eden Santa Cruze Mountains “Estate” Chardonnay, which is a remarkable wine for the price.

Overall, a wonderful, creative, satisfying meal, served at a languid pace that encouraged long conversations over our wines (I suppose some might consider it slow, but to me this is what fine dining should be like), in a casual atmosphere with smooth, unobtrusive service. This is exactly why I love this restaurant!

One of the best chowdown’s I’ve ever attended, and as usual, a great way to meet a diverse, fun group of people who share a common interest in great food. Thank you Blackfish for putting on a great show, and thanks also to my fellow organizer RocketJSquirrel for taking care of all the planning with the restaurant.

Feb 01, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Signup for Blackfish byob chowdown, Sun 30 January (Conshohocken)

Bumping to the top for the last time. Just had 2 drop out...

Jan 28, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Signup for Blackfish byob chowdown, Sun 30 January (Conshohocken)

Last update before the big chowdown at Blackfish next Sunday! As you can see from the menu below, it should be a wonderful meal, with options to please everyone (thanks to RocketJSquirrel for working with Chef Chip Roman on this).

Due to some cancelations, we still have 4 seats/22 remaining for this event. But if you are interested, I need to know soon, since the chef needs to special order items for this dinner. Contact me at the address in my profile...

If you have already signed up, and didn't receive my email update yesterday, please contact me ASAP to confirm.

RocketJSquirrel and I dined at Blackfish last night with a group of 9, and Chip was in rare form. The rare (no pun intended) roasted squab with seared foie gras, Jerusalem artichokes and Honshimeji mushrooms was an wonderful dish (picture below). I don't think I've ever seen that much foie gras sitting on one plate before!

Hope you can join us...


6PM, 1/30/11
$70 plus tax and tip

Choices (choose 1 of 2 options for each course):

1st Course
Smoked salmon, deep fried egg, sour cream
Yellowtail kingfish, yuzu kosho, radish, cilantro

2nd Course
Baked chatham bay cod, cauliflower, golden raisins, pink peppercorn
Striped bass, trumpet royale mushrooms, burgundy jus

3rd Course
Poularde, delicate squash, cippolini onions, sour cherry
Beef short ribs, carrots, turnips, beef jus

Cheese Course
Fourme d’ambert (bleu), beet membrillo, elixir (100 year old sherry vinegar)
Handmade Brie, beet membrillo, elixir

Dessert Course
Carmel beignets
Chocolate fondant, malt, gelato, pistachio

Jan 24, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

RECS for excellent byo for 8?

Modo Mio for excellent Italian at a great price.

Jan 19, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

unfriendly service leaves bad taste in Ambler

I agree too! Although the customer is obviously not always right, a well-run restaurant, whatever it's price range, should do it's level best to honor any reasonable request (and if possible the unreasonable ones). And wiping down a table is hardly an unreasonable request. I wouldn't automatically expect it at a typical ethnic restaurant, but I would be surprised if my request wasn't honored. That's just good business.

In my review of our chowdown at Han Dynasty last week, I forgot to mention a very good example of this. We were byob'ing, and personally I hate to drink good wine out of mediocre glasses (which for breakage reasons is what many byobs offer their customers). So I brought my own Schott Zwiesels in a velvet lined carrying case (OK, make fun of me, I'm a wino!).

During the course of the dinner, we managed to spill one of our dishes, which had a particularly oily and sticky sauce, right in front of my plate and all over the bases of my wine glasses. At the end of the meal, not wanting to get all that oil in my carrying case (and after trying to remove it with some paper napkins), I asked our excellent waiter if he would ask their dishwasher to give them a quick rinse. Without batting an eye (I did assure him they were titanium crystal and virtually unbreakable), my glasses were whisked off, and returned a few minutes later washed and dried.

This was a $15 meal.

I've never before asked a restaurant to wash my glasses, and I'm sure it's a rare occurrence at Han. But that's the kind of customer service that leads to customer loyalty. Which is always good business.

By the way, I was just at a well-known Sichuan restaurant in a famous Chinese food meca (Flushing NY), and Han Dynasty was way, way better.

Jan 16, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Where's your "regular" spot?

Blackfish on Tuesday and Smoke Daddy's on Friday or Saturday. I guess that comes as no surprise to anyone who reads this board. Clearly I need to get out more and find some restaurants for the other nights of the week.

Come to think of it, Sunday is usually leftovers from Smoke Daddy's, so I just need to fill in Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday...

Jan 13, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Wine to bring to Blackfish

aburkavage, the reason for requesting $25+ wines was not that there isn't any good wine available for less (I have many fine bottles that cost less, and many crappy ones that cost more!).

But for what will probably be mixed group of non-drinkers, wine newbies and wine snobies, we thought it best to apply some sort of simple standard. Otherwise we might end up with bottles of 2-buck Chuck next to classified Bordeaux, and inevitably some people would get bent out of shape because they had come with different expectations.

I also think it is appropriate to show some modest degree of respect for Chip's fine cuisine and the special meal he's putting together for us.

I really hope no one is scared off because of the wine thing. If someone doesn't know much about wine, I would think this is exactly the sort of dinner to sign up for. You will get to try a bunch of different wines (which is how you learn about wine) with a fun, non-judgmental group of people.

But, really, the point is to focus on the food, not the wine (and non-drinkers don't have to bring anything), and to meet some cool people in the process.

Jan 12, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Han Dynasty

And I think they have an Americanized menu too? At least it sound like they do at the other locations. So maybe I shouldn't be scaring off his non-spice-loving customers. I'm sure Han will guide diners to whatever will please them most.

Great meeting you, and looking forward to that Matyson chowdown (hint!)...

Jan 12, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Signup for Blackfish byob chowdown, Sun 30 January (Conshohocken)

Now that the holidays are over, we can turn our attention to our next food feast:


RocketJSquirrel is speaking with the chef today about the menu and we should have an update on that shortly. We will be doing a 5-course tasting menu put together just for us for $84 (tip is already included). This event is BYOB, but non-drinkers are also encouraged to attend.

Currently, there are 18 Chowhounds signed up, with space for ~4 more. So if you are interested in attending, please let me know at the e-mail address listed in my profile (please don't reply to this thread to signup, since that violates Chowhound posting rules). For those of you who have already signed up through myself or mitchh, I'll be sending you a confirmatory e-mail in the next day or so.

FInally, in case you missed the news, Philadelphia Magazine just declared Blackfish the #1 restaurant in Philly:

(If I'm not mistaken, that look's like Chip's papparadelle ragout on the cover, one of my favorite dishes).

Jan 11, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Smoke Daddy's Barbecue fridays and saturdays at the Lansdale Eagles Club

Michael continues to explore the deep end of the BBQ pool. I had to post this bizarre creation he was serving free samples of last weekend:

Spam, spice rubbed & smoked, then dunked in his BBQ sauce and served on a saltine. Actually, not bad (but only if you are from Hawaii)!

No issues with his burnt ends (or ribs). His sauce is pretty good by itself, but once it caramelizes on the meat, it turns into something truly remarkable (I wouldn't even recognize it as the same sauce if I didn't know it was).

Jan 10, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

Han Dynasty

It was great meeting Delucacheesemonger, Seeker19104, InSearchOfTacos and six other Chowhound padawans for a BYOB chowdown Friday night at Han Dynasty (Old City location)!

Since this was the first visit to Han for nine of us, we put ourselves in owner Han Chiang’s capable hands (an interesting and informative host, he visited our table several times to chat), with only a few specific requests for highly recommended dishes and Sichuan classics. Interestingly, Han is originally from Mainland China, but grew in Taiwan. His father also works in the restaurant. But the chefs are apparently Sichuan.

Menu (in order of service and photos):
Beef and tripe in chili oil (fuqui feipian)
Quick stir-fried cucumbers
Pork belly with fresh garlic sauce
Dan Dan noodles
Sesame cold noodles
Lamb in cumin
Dried chicken in chili sauce (not sure what it is called on the menu)
Some sort of leafy green vegetable with garlic
Twice-fried fish
Eggplant in Garlic Sae
Some sort of beef stew

IMO, the standout dish was the amazing dried chicken in chili sauce (a dry dish, so I presume the "sauce" is coating the crispy fried meat). I’ve had this very spicy dish 100s of times elsewhere, and this was the most tender, succulent, and yet still very crispy version that I’ve ever had. It was so tender; at first I thought it was fish.

The rustically sliced version of cold fuqui feipian (my all time favorite Sichuan dish) was rated a screaming 9/10 on the spiciness scale, but really only deserved a 6/10. On the one hand, I am impressed with the Old City crowds flocking to Han, given the serious spiciness of most dishes. If you don’t like spicy food, this is not the place for you. But on the other hand, if you are a real spice-nick like me, Han doesn’t remotely push your limits (Lai Lai Brothers in North Wales is much hotter). However, this judiciousness (and I thought unusually modest use of Sichuan peppercorns) has the advantage of letting the unique flavors of each dish come through better without being pummeled to submission by overpowering heat. But it may also be recognition that you are not going to get a mostly native Chinese clientele in Old City, unlike most of the truly authentic Sichuan restaurants I've been too.

Other dishes of note were the Dan Dan noodles and twice-fried fish. But I expected something more interesting from the cumin lamb, given how many reviews mention it.

I’ve had a fair bit of authentic Sichuan in my life, and I think Han is very, very good. Not remotely as hot or as mala as it could be, but their strength is in well-balanced flavors. And the ringer was the remarkable price: $15/person + tip. Add in that it is BYOB, and what is not to like? I anticipate many repeat visits…

Speaking of the wines, not surprisingly the most successful pairings were on the spicy, sweeter side. The standout of the night was the Barmes-Buecher (which is $26 at Moore Brothers), which was an excellent wine by itself, and a good pairing for the food. This isn’t a place or cuisine for something rare and expensive, but a well-matched wine definitely enhances the overall experience.

2007 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Gewurztraminer Herrenweg de Turckheim
2009 Familie Bauer "Grun" Gruner/Malvasier
2009 Domaine des Aubuisières Vouvray Cuvée de Silex
1999 Herbert Messmer Gewürztraminer Spätlese Pfalz Burrweiler Altenforst
2009 Château de Manissy Tavel Cuvée des Lys
2009 Beni di Batasiolo Moscato d'Asti Bosc dla Rei
2009 Weingut Hirsch Grüner Veltliner Kammern / Kamptal Zöbinger Heiligenstein
2001 Domaine Guindon Muscadet des Coteaux de la Loire
2007 Château Bélingard Monbazillac

Jan 10, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia

How do I add someone to "People I'm Reading"?

How do I add someone to "People I'm Reading"?

Jan 06, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Site Talk

Le Bec-Fin NOT Closing: I Knew It!!!!

LOL, you heard it first here on Chowhound 5 or 6 months ago!

Jan 05, 2011
Tir_na_nOg in Philadelphia