Monday, August 5, 2013

Pennsylvania 6: Philly Review

I recently took the GF to go see Grease at the Walnut Street Theatre. So anticipating that we might need pre-theater grub, we stopped by Pennsylvania 6, which was only a few blocks away. The original outpost is located by Madison Square Garden in NYC and is supposedly named after the oldest continuing phone number in NYC (PE6-5000).

While I've never tried the original outpost in NYC, being a transplant from the Big Apple, I was excited to try Philly's Penn 6. Offering a great space that seems perfect for Happy Hour, Penn 6 opened in late April of this year

With a slightly different menu than its counterpart, Penn 6 offers unique and balanced flavors that are pretty much on point. And with Chef Marc Plessis (formerly of XIX) at the helm, that's no surprise.

Southern Belle ($10)
Champagne, strawberry, peach, fresh mint

The GF started off with one of Penn 6's champagne-based cocktails. This was nicely light and effervescent, with the mint providing an herbal note to the sweetness of the strawberry and peach.

Crudo Sampler ($18)
Yellowfin - roasted red bell peppers, beldi olives, parsley-caper vinaigrette   
Fluke -pine nuts, sea bean, breakfast radish, curry oil 
Kampachi - gooseberry, lime, cumin salt, cilantro

Knowing that the Chef has a deft hand with fish, I had to try the crudo sampler. I started off with the Kampachi on the bottom - fresh and light with the lime and cilantro providing brightness. The cumin salt came through on the finish. Next up was the fluke, which emanated Middle Eastern flavors thanks to the pine nuts and curry oil. Last was the Yellowfin tuna up top. Unfortunately, the saltiness of the caper vinaigrette only accentuated the fishiness of this crudo. And after reading Craig La Ban's review of Penn 6 today, it was nice to know that my palate was on par with what he experienced as well - apparently there may have been anchovy in the vinaigrette. Still, I'd prefer the freshness of the tuna rather than muddling the flavors with the fishiness of anchovies. 

Burrata ($14)
Sundried tomato tapenade, grilled bread

But no fear - you can never go wrong with burrata. Deliciously creamy and clearly freshly made, the orb of cheese opened up to a pillowy spread. For texture, the buttered toast points were nicely grilled and were the perfect vessel for the cheese. The sundried tomato tapenade added a salty, yet bright counterpoint.

Roasted Bone Marrow ($12)
Garlic herb crust, red onion jam 

Despite what I knew would result in a look of horror from the GF, I had to order the bone marrow. The beefy essence was on point and nicely accentuated by the garlic herb mixture. There's nothing better to spread on some more of that toast.

But what really makes this dish? The red onion jam, which is the perfect counterpoint to cut the heaviness of the marrow spread. Nice. 

Woodford Reserve Luge ($7)

And if Anthony Bourdain can ignore the snobs who sniff at bourbon luge, who am I to ignore the opportunity at hand here at Penn 6. This being my second time around with a bone marrow luge, no waiter assistance was necessary.

Full-bodied with some spice on the finish, the smooth richness of the bourbon melded perfectly with the umami of the marrow. Make sure to let the bourbon seep into the nooks and crannies to get a proper luge going. 

Lobster Roll ($25)
Poached lobster, celery, green onion, mayonnaise, buttered roll, duck fat fries

After being properly aghast while watching me luge it up, the GF was back in the game with her entree. The lobster roll was a nice iteration - perfectly cooked with no filler and a light basting of mayo. This was all housed in a buttered roll and topped with julienned celery strips. Unfortunately, we did find a little bit of shell. Still, this was a good lobster roll, with the salty duck fat fries providing a nice accompaniment, especially dipped in the smoky aioli. 

Duroc Pork Collar ($18)
Logan turnpike cheddar grits, spring onions, smoked paprika, breakfast radish, pork jus 

If I see cheeks or collar on a menu, it's usually a must order for me. And especially with Duroc-quality pork on hand, this dish was a done deal. The pork was fall apart tender and accentuated by the rich jus.

The spring onions and the breakfast radishes added some freshness to the dish. The cheesy grits were near perfect - mostly creamy with a slight grittiness for texture. A spicy kick on the finish to boot. 

Even with all of the food we had, thanks to our exceptional server Jonah and the efficient kitchen, the GF and I were able to get out in about an hour to get to the Walnut Street Theater. And despite slight execution issues with the lobster roll and the fishiness of the tuna crudo, most dishes were well balanced and simply delicious. Considering the number of restaurants that have folded at this location, I would bet a luge or two that Penn 6 will be the one to finally turn this spot around.

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