Sunday, September 29, 2013

Supper Review

When I moved to Philly from NYC a few years back, one of the first restaurants I tried was Supper. More importantly, it was one of several that sold me on the Philly dining scene. While I'm not the biggest fan of Restaurant Week's crowds and condensed menus, ten of us made reservations and had dinner upstairs in the private dining room. Since then, I haven't been back as I've been exploring the rest of Philly. But when I saw a Living Social deal for a four-course dinner at Supper, I knew I had to finally return to try Chef Mitch Prensky's cuisine. His tantalizing tweets showcasing PB&J pork belly provided added incentive too!

Chef Prensky showcases seasonal, upscale modern American cuisine - essentially comfort food with an elevated twist. It was clearly evident in his four-course tasting, which did not scrimp on quality or quantity, despite being an absolute steal at $89 for two! Dinner comes with a jar of homemade preserves to boot!

The vibe is relaxed and emanates a hip farmhouse, set to deliver great drinks and even better food. Supper provides spacious seating - you're not as packed in as you might be with some of the restaurants on 13th Street. You know the ones I mean - great food, yet you're literally sitting on other diners.

Round About Midnight ($13)
Old Overholt rye whiskey, Cinzano Rosso, Shladerer Kirschwasser, Agnostura bitters

But let's get back to Supper. I started off the night with their whiskey-based cocktail. With a foundation of one of the few straight rye whiskeys available, this drink was smooth on the palate, emanating light spice. The vermouth and bitters helped to add herbaceousness, with the cherry brandy providing the fruit. Delicious.

Bread Service

A pet peeve of mine is ice cold pats of butter during bread service. Luckily that's not a problem here! The fresh country wheat bread was straight out of the oven and was served with a pat of room temp butter, lightly salted.

Tasting Menu ($89 for 2)

The Living Social deal allowed the GF and I to indulge in a 4-course tasting for two for only $89. But I'll provide the a la carte pricing as well.

Deviled Eggs ($6)
Daily selection 

When you think of Southern comfort food, deviled eggs comes to mind after fried chicken. So I was excited to try Supper's take on these classics. A duo was served, with the left emanating truffle, topped with chive. Creamy, earthy, and subtly tart. The right was a blend of tomato and mozzarella, topped with basil. I appreciated the smoke in this, which imparted a nice flavor to go with the "caprese."

Tamale Fries ($8)
Crisp masa fries, red and green salsas, queso fresco, cilantro, crema

The GF went with the tamale fries, which are lauded on Yelp. Not surprising, in the least. Crispy on the outside, with a nice creamy smokiness within, the salty queso fresco and the fresh salsa complemented the fries nicely.

Pork Belly PB&J ($12) 
Pork belly skewers, peanut butter BBQ, root pepper jelly, fried green onions 

Now onto the dish I was looking most forward to. I ordered the pork belly PB&J as a supplement on top of our other 8 courses and was not disappointed. The pork belly was incredibly tender and unctuous. The weight of this cut may be a bit much for some, but was on point for the belly of this pig. The sweetness of the root pepper jelly was a natural complement to the peanut butter BBQ that studded the pork belly. Texture was provided by the peanut butter chunks, but also by the fried green onions and accompanying slaw. In fact, as much as I liked the skewers, I think my favorite component of the dish was the tempura-fried green onions. They offered a surprising lightness - I could easily eat a bucket of these. Forget peanuts - this should be the new bar snack! A must order in my mind - salty, sweet, savory, crunchy, unctuous - Chef Prensky's got it all covered here.

At this point in the meal, the Chef stopped by to say hello and revealed his thought process behind his dishes, which we appreciated. Full disclaimer: he also kindly took care of this supplemental dish for us.

BE Farm Greens and Herbs Salad ($12)
Ben's apples, cornbread, buttermilk

Moving on to the second course, the GF went with the salad, which showcased exactly the "farm to table" mentality that underscores Supper's M.O. The cornbread showcased creamy innards and an almost fried texture on the exterior. The apples and buttermilk were a nice foil and complement to the lettuce, tying it all together.

Buffalo Grits ($15 | $19)
Anson Mills grits, smoked chicken cracklins, hot sauce, buttermilk blue, pickled celery 

Think buffalo wings and then elevate it. You'll have this dish. You can never go wrong with Anson Mills grits and these were delicious - smooth, yet still maintaining a subtle graininess. Blue cheese was folded into the grits creating a luxurious spread. But what is blue cheese without the buffalo wings? The latter was embodied by the deliciously smoked chicken cracklins and the surrounding hot sauce. The pickled celery brought forth the acid needed in the dish. Nice.

Wood Smoked Farm Chicken ($24)
Scratch biscuit panzanella, charred green onions, basil buttermilk dressing

The GF went with the chicken dish for her main and was not disappointed. The lemon-accented chicken had a nice crispy sear and was perfectly moist and juicy inside. The bread salad was made from Supper's famed scratch biscuits and soaked up the basil buttermilk nicely. The charred green onions tied the smokiness in this dish together and offered a bit more herbaceousness.

Duck and Waffles ($26)
Crispy confit duck leg, pecan sage waffles, BE Farm cabbage, maple bourbon jus

Excited to try Supper's take on an oft enjoyed dish, after a few bites, it was clear that duck has a place with waffles as well. While the waffles could have been a bit more crusty, the flavors were all there. The duck confit had a nice crisp skin, with the meat falling right off the bone. The sage brought forth some savoriness to the waffles, while the vinegary and very peppery cabbage slaw was the perfect counterpoint to the richness of the maple bourbon jus and duck.

Coconut Banana Cream Pie ($8)
Coconut sorbet

The airy sweetness of the banana coconut cream pie contrasted nicely with the subtle flavors of the icy coconut sorbet. 

Blueberry Brown Betty ($8)
Buttermilk ice cream

But this was definitely our favorite dessert. A toasted, buttery cinnamon bread crust covered a warm berry compote hidden within. And with sweet buttermilk ice cream providing a subtly tangy foil - it was a perfect way to end the meal.

This repeat dinner at Supper easily reminded me why I fell in love with Philly's food scene. At Supper, you'll encounter familiar and comforting tastes, with a creative twist provided by Chef Prensky. Offering a convivial and surprisingly elegant atmosphere, there's no pretension to be had here. Just some great cooking - and perhaps some tomato jam to go!

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