Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Check Out This Neat Place I Found #2 - Amada Restaurant

I may be a foodie. Maybe.
When the chance comes up for me to have access to a new section of the world wherein new restaurants might lie, I do get extremely excited about it. The chance to try something I've never had before is too exciting to be passed up.
Case in point - on my day off this past weekend I managed to talk my poor, beleaguered spouse in to going in to the glorious metropolis of Philadelphia to hit up a movie theater there that only plays indie/art house films. I absolutely utterly and unequivocally had to see Safety Not Guaranteed, as it takes place in my old stomping grounds of Seattle and the surrounding environs. I needed my Pacific NW fix to cure myself of the wicked and recurring bout of homesickness I've had since April.
The upside to this was that the theater was 2 blocks away from Chestnut Street, which is basically Restaurant Row in the Old City. It was pretty much establishment after establishment of whatever you might possibly like (mostly Italian stuff and pub stuff, but hey, done Philly-style) and a lot of really nice places had gone in there.
I did an internet search beforehand and decided on one of two places to try once we were finally out of the movie and out in to the bright 95 degree sun.
That place was Amada Restaurant.

I have no idea who these people are, they just made a good shot.

It had tapas and drinks and vaguely trendy music faintly playing and a rather austere interior like you expect in an urban environment. Dark wood with dark rush-reed placemats and chocolate brown pleather seats to sit on. All white dishes in unique and fun shapes like you see at every other upscale restaurant these days.
We ordered two beers (yours truly desperately wanted to try the Sangria but was in 2 inch platforms. That plus the heat outside didn't bode well for the whole Not Taking a Header Into the Sidewalk. Alas.) and after viewing the Sunday brunch menu with confusion, decided on the Chef's tasting on the menu. It was just a sample of a little bit of everything they made.
Now, in the past we'd done tapas but it was in a local place that brought out a plate of sliced cheddar cheese, apples and grapes. I was unimpressed and guessed they were doing their best in an area that probably wouldn't pay premium prices for the good stuff but still wanted to have the chance to say "We're going out for tapas and wine! Wheee!" Because this area is rife with yuppies.
When the first plate came out and it was borcego cheese, sliced apples and little slices of baguette, I immediately realized the degree to which our FIRST trip to a tapas place might not have been so far off in offering us fruits. But after acquiring the cheese (which I'm pretty sure I spelled wrong) and the apples and dipping them in the truffled honey.... oh my god. It didn't even compare.
Let me repeat that phrase, btw, because it is now my favorite food in the world .Truffled honey. Like it's honey, and they imparted it heavily with the essence of truffles. It was AMAZING. And it kept getting better from there!
We were presented with a second plate that was a mixture of marinated olives and hot peppers, followed by their famous ensalata verde... light, amazing, and made of chopped greens that you might not expect. I saw escarole, nasturtium leaf sprouts, haricot verts and a few other things you might expect to see in a fancy salad plate. They had dressed it with a very light vinegar and oil so it was tart, but it complimented the food. Topped with some thinly shaved provolone and herbs, and it was amazing. I probably could've taken that whole plate out on my own and asked for seconds.
That was followed by so much stuff it blurs in my head. Biscuits with chorizo sausage and a light cheese sauce, a Spanish tortilla with eggs and potatoes and topped with saffron aioli (very salty, best used sparingly but amazingly flavored nonetheless), a small fried bit of Spanish ham and some sort of cheese almost like a ham-tot -pardon my lack of verbage to describe this stuff- nested on a bed of jalapeno and red bell pepper spread piped directly on to the plate. The flavors together were amazing. Then following that was lamb meatballs and peas in a sauce, thinly sliced steak with different sauces, and grilled garlic shrimp prepared with the heads still on. A Fava bean soup rounded out the entire thing. Each one tasted drastically different than the one before it, and I can honestly say I've never had anything that tasted anything like this. It was my first truly unique food experience in a long time. I was grinning like an idiot for it.
Although each thing brought out was very small, by the time they brought the shrimp out we were quite full. Dessert wasn't even entertained as an option.
If you find yourself in downtown Philly with a yen for something unique and unusual and $40 burning a hole in your pocket, I would recommend doing the Chef's taste menu at Amada. It was expensive, but probably the first time I have truly felt the money was worth it for the food in a long, long time. If you go, as always, share your own experiences here! And enjoy!

Biscuits with chorizo sausage and cheese sauce. Delicious!

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