Top Chef in Philadelphia

So I just got back from Philadelphia. My girlfriends and I went away for a long weekend, and it was filled with fun and food, cocktails and a ballgame. (Irene at Ruth’s Chris at the Rittenhouse Square Sonata makes the best Salted Caramel Martinis!). Of course the first thing I’ll do when traveling out of town, is check if there are any restaurants in town that have affiiliations with any of my beloved Top Chef contestants, and there are plenty in Philadelphia. I only had the time to visit two of them, and of course I will let you know all about them!

Dos Tacos

Sylva Senat is from Philadelphia, he competed in Top Chef season 14, and he came in at an impressive 6th place. He has run and worked in several kitchens in Philadelphia and New York. This talented chef from Haiti has also been nominated for the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic James Beard Award, and he seems to have so much more in store for us. But before he grew into this national powerhouse, he conceptualized a little taqueria in Philadelphia, and you already know I had to go.

Of course the menu contains more than tacos, like Nachos, Quesadillas, Chips and Guacamole, the usual taqueria yummies, but we concentrated on tacos on this visit (yes, I’ll be back). We chose Shredded Pork Carnitas with salsa verde, queso fresco and cilantro; Pollo Loco, which is chipotle and tomato braised chicken with refried black beans, pickled red onions, queso fresco and cilantro; Baja Fish containing blackened Mahi Mahi, savoy cabbage slaw, pico de Gallo, cilantro and lime crema; Carne Asada, which is spice rubbed steak with scallions, roasted poblano peppers, queso fresco, and salsa roja. I cannot stress how delicious each and every one of them was, and we so appreciated that each taco had its individual toppings, as opposed to different proteins with general toppings. We loved this place!

For more info on Dos Tacos click here

Royal Boucherie

Nicholas Elmi owns this fabulous spot. Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef’s season 11, nominated for James Beard Awards several times, owner of two restaurants in Philadelphia, has resided in Philly for over a decade, and we’re the better for it. On this weekend with my girlfriends, we only had time to visit one of his restaurants, the Royal Boucherie, and we picked brunch. We ended up getting a lovely table on the patio on a beautiful late summer day.

The menu is surprisingly inexpensive (at least for New York standards), and at first glance I could tell a Top Chef was at work here. Nothing on the brunch menu is what you would expect, every usual breakfast item is amped up and elevated with items not many would think of. I was very intrigued, and my friend Wen and I opted to start out with the Champagne Braised Escargot with Chartreuse Hazelnut Butter and a crisp Baguette. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved this, it was exquisite. My friend Fawn is a vegetarian, so she chose the Cheese Plate with Jam, Fresh Fruit and Toast, she loved it, and I stole a little piece of Brie, which was like butter, so soft and so good. Denise chose the Royal Breakfast Sandwich with a breakfast patty, a folded omelette and Comte, accompanied by crispy hashbrowns and Espelette Spread. Wen had Eggs en Cocotte, which was Pork Belly and Cheek, Oyster mushrooms, topped with Béchamel and cheddar cheese. Jean had the Quiche consisting of Kale, Gruyère, herbs and bacon, served with a petite salad. I had Shaved Veal and Porkbelly on seeded rye bread with garlic aioli, anchovies and the most delicious sliced cornichons, accompanied by Frites. We all agreed that this was the most sophisticated brunch we ever had, and quite possibly the best….

For more info about Royal Boucherie click here

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