Friday, May 9, 2014
Yes, it's true, I do love comfort food and diners and Harrahs Casino buffet, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate upscale, trendy dining and I know those two adjectives = $$$.
I also know you shouldn't just walk up on a small, boutique type dining establishment when you're looking to just catch a bite to eat; these types of restaurants are for a dining experience of at least two courses. However, because we wanted to dine alfresco and happened to be in the vicinity of Filter Dining Room (owned by Pub & Kitchen’s Dan Clark & Ed Hackett) and saw open tables outside, we decided to stop for a nosh.
Immediately upon perusing Chef Robert Marzinsky intentionally sparse, gastronomic menu, I felt we should leave, actually it was before that, when I saw the snooty waitress eyeing my bright orange WalkMS t-shirt and matching sneakers with obvious disapproval. But due to time constraints and hunger, we stayed. I thought, I'll just order a salad, but I had burned off a lot of calories on the 4 mile walk from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, almost to Falls Bridge, and back, so I decided I deserved a little pasta dinner.
And a very little pasta is what I received. The $14 Semolina Gnocchi - Lamb Shoulder Ragu *Soffrito Valley Shepard **Pepato is the most ridiculously sized, Emperors New Clothes portion of food I've ever eaten! How can anyone, no matter how pretentious, serve a mouthful of pasta, able to be eaten in 3 bites flat and charge $14!?! I understand when a menu has dinner portion and small portion and the small portion is like $8, but we had no way of knowing this dish was going to amount to what could only be considered tapas for 1.
It may have been delicious, I don't know... OK, not true...the morsel melted in my mouth, but I was so disgusted by the sheer pomposity of the dish, I couldn't enjoy it. And I blame the snooty waitress for not giving us a heads up, she knew it was all we ordered (both of us ordered the same meal). She could have said, Ladies, I should warn you that's not going to be satisfying alone, it's a very small dish. Instead, I could tell she delighted in our fleecing. I wanted to send my Gnocchi back, but was asked by my dining companion not to make a scene. Well, I'm making a scene now. I know there will always be French bistros serving a sliver of goose pâté on a bed of greens - the sparse plate is nothing new. I think it's just that rather then this type of thing being de rigueur, I feel it's indicative of our still flailing economy - businesses have to be unfair to meet their bottom line, and those of us who used to enjoy dining out frequently, now want to be sure we're getting our monies worth when we decide to occasionally splurge.
At any rate, I read close to 10 reviews from patrons and food critics who had nothing but praise for Fitler Dining Room, so go and enjoy, just don't go hungry.
*Soffritto is the base of many Italian recipes and can be used to make sauces and risotto.
**Pepato is a semi-hard sheep milk cheese with peppercorns. Pepato has its main origin in Sicily where is part of the regional cooking.
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