As we dig into SuperBowl Sunday and Philly Restaurant Week 2015 winds down, I can't help but think back on my favorite OpenTable picks from 2014. OpenTable has been the staple to my reservation game. What better way to find out what dates and times are available? You can also become a VIP, which lets the restaurants know that you're not a fickle diner that misses reservations. So let's take a look at some of my favorite eats booked through OpenTable, in no particular order.
Percy Street BBQ was one of my first meals in 2014 - and it was a great one. There's no place better in the Center City area to get good BBQ. In fact, you may have seen Chef Erin O'Shea showing off her pit master skills on some Food Network shows. The BBQ was obviously on point, but the pork belly stew? I would eat that for every meal, every day of the week. The best part? They were able to offer me a vertical tasting of Pappy - pretty much a once in a life time opportunity!
2014 was clearly a good year for Top Chef winner Nicholas Elmi. Not to make light of the win, but Laurel was the highlight and the culmination of years of effort. The prix fixe was stellar - technique was evident in the foie gras and torn scallop noodles. The walu was the most moist piece of fish I've had in recent memory. And the ricotta gnocchi with pancetta? Ethereal.
Without a doubt Vetri Ristorante is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. But a meal there can set you back - and then some. But if you're looking for well-priced hand-crafted pasta and well-constructed dishes, Vetri's Amis has got you covered. Helmed by Chef Brad Spence, who has an incredible staff, there are plenty of small plates are on offer here - designed to share. I can't think of a dish I wouldn't recommend, but do get the spinach lasagna if it's available. I didn't order it, but the kitchen knew better and sent it out. Easily my favorite. Stop by to check out Beast of Amis as well - where they create three dishes from the protein butchered that day!
13th Street in Midtown Village is definitely Marcie Turney / Valerie Safran territory (read: Barbuzzo, Little Nonna's, Jamonera, and Lolita. But Indeblue definitely made its presence known last year with incredible flavors and unique twists on Indian classics. The drums of heaven should be on your SuperBowl platter if possible. The spinach chaat had great texture and makes great use of chickpea flour. The thali also provides great value and offers a selection of more than a few tastes!
And if you're looking for a British gastropub experience with some finesse, look no further than Stephen Starr's The Dandelion. Chef Joe Minnich and his staff elevates classic pub fare without pretension. The flavors of the crab risotto pop in your mouth and the drinks are dangerously quaffable. The burger? There's a reason it won Philly Magazine's Best Gastropub Burger!
OpenTable also provides you the opportunity to rack up points to redeem for checks that can be used towards future meals. Depending on the date, time, and restaurant you choose - you can get a $20 check with only 2 reservations! So as you're looking to up your dining game in 2015, look to book through OpenTable. And don't forget - Restaurant Week was extended through February 4th. So why wait?