Philly Restaurant - Dandelion

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Dandelion on Urbanspoon

 I really figured my next Stephen Starr experience would be at Granite Hill because my Friday evenings are mostly spent checking out the Art Museum scene at Art After 5, but as it turns out, I had a ladies luncheon at The Dandelion (18th & Sansom) last week. This large, multi-roomed English Pub is phenomenal! 4 Tines for atmosphere (* Excellent - 4 Tines / * Great - 3 Tines / * Good - 2 Tines / * Fair - 1 Tine * Poor - Tarnished).

Too bad the lovely fire in the wait to be seated area was wasted on us, as it was a sunny 75 degree afternoon; but I'd love to go back on a cold, rainy evening and order the LAMB SHEPHERD'S PIE (mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese,wintry vegetables) $16.  
 The many dining rooms and some of the decor reminds me of my very favorite Philly restaurant, The White Dog Cafe.

  Photo Credit Denine Gorniak - The Bicycle Chef

I was actually in the mood for WARM ROAST BEEF (watercress salad, horseradish mayonnaise, beef gravy, sourdough bread) $12. However, it's more fun to try something more adventurous when sampling a new restaurant, so I went with the DUCK BOLOGNESE (strozzapreti, fried duck egg) $16. This was very savory, only I would not have been able to discern it was duck, it tasted like a very good, lean and tender beef sauce. I was not familiar with the noodle, it was a cross between a loose fusilli and spaetzle, very good and filling. I'm not normally a fan of fried eggs, but I have to admit, mixing that yolk into the sauce really added to its richness!  3 Tines (* Excellent - 4 Tines / * Great - 3 Tines / * Good - 2 Tines / * Fair - 1 Tine * Poor - Tarnished

My one luncheon companion is watching her weight so she went with the BUTTER LETTUCE SALAD (Honey Crisp apples, pomegranate seeds, spiced walnuts, Tuxford and Tebbutt stilton, honey vinaigrette) $9 and the Fish Cakes (poached cod, peekytoe crab, smoked whitefish) $7. The salad was a perfect mixture of ingredients and freshness and look how beautiful. 3 Tines. But we all agreed the fish cakes - eh, not so great, we thought the smoked whitefish puts them in an overly fishy category. 1 Tine.

 My other luncheon companion decided to go with all side dishes Sautéed Swiss Chard $5, Welsh Rarebit $5 and also had the Fish Cakes. I'd never tried Chard before, I know I don't like Broccoli Rabe and feared it would have that same bitter quality, but it's buttery like spinach, only more hearty. 3 Tines. The Welsh Rarebit is like an open-faced grille cheese sandwich made under the broiler. 3 Tines (Tastes a lot like the delicious bacon cheddar spread from DiBruno Bros).

  Photo Credit Denine Gorniak - The Bicycle Chef

 Normally, we share a dessert, but as this was our first outing at Dandelion we each tried something different: Sticky Toffee Pudding (toffee-rum sauce, date ice cream), Carrot Cake (cream cheese frosting, caramel-pecan ice cream) and I had the Apple Crumble (almond streusel topping, vanilla custard) $7  2 Tines.

 My meal was topped off with something even better than dessert - an interview with the Assistant GM and Beverage Manager, Jay Willard, in beer terms - his spicy, swarthy-ness contrasts nicely with his pleasant sweetness.

We chatted about his rise up the Starr Restaurant food chain, starting 3 years ago at the ever popular El Vez, 6 months later he moved over to Jones, (given the financing, I'd love to eat there at least 3 times a week). And then to the celebrity sighting, Parc. Coming from a family of bar owners in Easton PA, he was actually sought after and recruited into the Starr family, which is always so much more desirable than having to knock on doors. I asked him which was his favorite Starr dining establishment, to which he replied the former Tangerine, because it reminded him of his mother's Lebanese home cooking. But when talk of a London Pub was on tap for the next Starr venture, Jay knew this was the ultimate spot to develop the beverage program of his dreams.

 In just 11 short weeks, Dandelion has become quite the watering hole; in terms of wine and spirits, but particularly for beer. Jay has authentic ales, meads, stouts etc... shipped here from the UK; well, at least between the months of Oct - April. The summer months are too hot to ship beer successfully; but don't worry, local breweries are already in the brew-houses creating specialty beers exclusively for Dandelion. In fact, be sure to follow Dandelion on Twitter as the menu changes daily and a cast of something special can sell out in under 4 hours.

  Photo Credit Denine Gorniak - The Bicycle Chef

By the way, did you know the name for a Beer Sommelier is a Cicerone? Jay is in the process of getting his cicerone certification, privately from one of the few cicerones in this part of the country. It's always a joy to speak to someone who is not just doing a job, but rather making a living at something they truly love. We discussed early Egyptian beer recipes and the benefits of manually pumped beer engines and casks over CO2 pressurized kegs. These beer engines are part of what makes Dandelion an authentic UK pub. That, along with of course, British born chef, Robert Aiken's London countryside, comfort food menu.

The restaurant has gotten the seal of approval from several British transplants that frequent the establishment, particularly the Traditional Roast served every Sunday and the English Tea Service (a la cart sweet & savory menu) served daily between 3-5pm.

What may be the next Starr on the horizon? Jay's been included in talk of a Beer Garden in Northern Liberties- Cheers!

The Dandelion on Foodio54

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Cathy March 23, 2011 at 9:52 AM  

You're making me want to move back to Philly, LeAnne.

Denine March 23, 2011 at 2:11 PM  

Wonderful full review of our meal together! I love your photos and thanks for using a few of mine! We really did have a great time. What an nice inside-view of the restaurant and the background of this new eatery! March 24, 2011 at 11:34 AM  

Cathy, I know. I love Center City Philly, there was a job in NYC that I was hoping to get because it was a great job, but a big part of me was glad it didn't come through cause I really don't want to leave Philadelphia. March 24, 2011 at 11:37 AM  


Thanks! I forgot to do two thing before posting this review. 1) add the urbanspoon crawler
2) Give you credit on your photos!
I've remedied both things.

IntenseMellow March 24, 2011 at 1:20 PM  

Nicely done, will have to try next time we're in Philadelphia. We're really into beer lately.

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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