We enjoyed a relaxing last-minute overnight in Philadelphia last weekend. I love living in Bucks County, PA. We live less than an hour from Center City Philly and less than 90 minutes from NYC. Fantastic! In need of a little getaway, we stayed at the Hotel Sofitel on 17th Street. The Sofitel is always a pleasure. Great service, friendly staff and the rooms are really nice. The room was a bargain at $156 for the night. The best rate we could find in New York for the same night in a comparable hotel was over $300. The Sofitel is located in Rittenhouse Square, so you can walk to lots of shops and restaurants.
Saturday night dinner at Tinto, a Chef Jose Garces restaurant, was excellent. This is our favorite kind of eating, small plates. I’d always prefer to eat a little bit of everything, rather than just one entrée. Tinto’s menu offers delicious Spanish cuisine from the Basque Country. We shared at least 8 dishes (I lost count), heavy on the meat. Alan couldn’t resist ordering the Jambón Imbérico. This is the fancy ham… kind of like a Spanish version of prosciutto. We were told by our server that the pigs are fed a diet of acorns and the meat is cured for more than 2 years. The market price for Imbérico was $35.00. It was our splurge and well worth it.
We also ordered the mixed cheese plate that included two of my favorites, Petit Basque and Manchego. There was a decadent rice dish with white asparagus and manchego, lamb skewers with bacon and sherry, a canapé of duck confit with serrano ham and cherry, and the two small plates below. It might seem like a lot of food, but it was perfect. I loved tasting all the flavors, like a trip through Spain.
Albóndigos served with a poached egg…
My favorite of the night, a canapé with berkshire pork belly, honey lacquer and shaved apples…
TINTO * 114 SOUTH 20TH STREET PHILADELPHIA, PA (215) 665-9150
Chef Garces owns several well-regarded restaurants around Philly. Next door to Tinto is Village Whiskey, also owned by Garces. We were told they have the best burger in town. We’ll have to try that next time.
What would a trip to Philly be without a cheese steak? Sunday lunch at Jim’s Steaks on South Street was in order. After trying most of the well-known cheese steak joints in the city, we’ve decided Jim’s is our favorite. People from the Philadelphia area take their cheese steaks very seriously. If someone has a different opinion, I’d love to hear it. We were trying to figure out why the cheese steaks in Philly are so much better than anywhere else in the country. Alan has even had one at a place in Los Angeles that is owned by a guy from Philadelphia, but they’re just not the same. If you know the secret, please share.
It warrants mentioning that in my humble opinion a proper Philly cheese steak should have “whiz,” not provolone or American cheese, and fried onions. That’s it!
JIM’S STEAKS * 400 SOUTH STREET PHILADELPHIA, PA (215) 928-1911