Saturday, November 16, 2013

Route 6 Review *NOW CLOSED*

This is for a series of posts for Stephen Starr restaurants including:
Alma de Cuba, Barclay Prime, Butcher and Singer, Continental Midtown & Martini Bar, The Dandelion, El Rey, El Vez, Jones, Parc, Pizzeria Stella, Route 6 [1], Route 6 [2], & Square Burger.

Lauded, and at times maligned (haters gonna hate), restaurateur Stephen Starr opened Route 6 in the latter half of 2011. Following in the steps of Marc Vetri's Osteria and Alla Spina, Stephen Starr's Cape Cod-themed restaurant adds to the boom of life north of Callowhill Street. The restaurant is named after the famed highway that runs through the coastal towns of the East Coast and offers a wide variety of seafood options to tempt you with traditional shoreline cuisine.

The 150-seat restaurant even has picnic tables to add to a somewhat relaxed outdoor vibe.

Or perhaps you'd like to take a seat at the bar?

The inside is certainly trendy and pristine - boat shoes and navy blazers anyone? 

Stephen Starr is the master at getting his restaurants just right - even down the the minutest of details. Check out the candle holder - isn't it reminiscent of a sandy beach with a half shell on top?

Now with the lobster surplus what it is, October at Route 6 was Lobster Month! What does that entail? Half-off all lobster dishes! At such prices, it would have been a shame not to order almost everything that had lobster (we came back the following month to tackle a few 3 pounders). 

Cape Codder [$12] 
Stolichnaya Vodka, cranberry ginger compote

To start though, the GF and I ordered a pair of cocktails. She had the Cape Codder, which was not overly tart and had a subtle sweetness from the cranberry, with the ginger providing the kick. Easy drinking here! 

Nor' Easter [$10]
Maker's Mark, maple, lime, ginger beer

I had the bourbon-based tipple. The maple provided a nice counterpart to the bourbon - a mellow sweetness that was balanced by the tartness of the lime and a bit of effervescence from the ginger beer.

At this point, I was hoping for the oyster crackers and horseradish to show - essentially the 'bread service' at Route 6. No such luck on this night (perhaps they did away with it for Lobster Month). We were fine regardless, because it was on to the lobster parade! 

Chilled Half Lobster [$16] [$8]
Green tabasco aioli

We started with the chilled half lobster - essentially the GF's first taste of lobster whole. Consider her converted and my bank account proportionally diminished! The sweetness of the lobster meat was apparent here. In fact, the green tabasco aioli was superfluous - yet also genius. So simple and delicious. Not gonna lie - the fact that we knew we had the ingredients to make the aioli at home made our night.

Crispy Fried Little Lobster Tails [$22] [$11]

I would say that the crispy fried lobster tails are a must order at Route 6 (especially at these prices!). Three nicely sized tails are fried in a thick, yet crispy batter. The batter was seasoned nicely and I imagine the "famous" fried chicken at Route 6 is similarly fried. The tails were slightly overcooked but were still nicely succulent and sweet. The aioli made a reappearance and we had no problem dunking these tails in the liquid gold (move along Velveeta).

Lobster Roll [$24] [$12]

We couldn't leave Route 6 without trying their take on the lobster roll. This was a classic take on this oft-enjoyed dish. It seems small at first, but there is a ton of fresh lobster meat on the buttery bun. Not overly dressed in mayo and lightly sprinkled with herbs, this is how it should be done. The fries were seasoned in some Old Bay and were, for the most part, nicely crispy (there were a few stray limp ones here and there). 

New England Clam Bake for 2 [$55] [$27.50]
1 1/2 lb lobster, steam clams, mussels, sausage, potatoes, corn on the cob

The lobsters at Route 6 are prepared in two ways - classically steamed and wood-grilled. The latter imparts a sweetness from the cherry wood and some smoke as well. But I saved that for the following month. On this night, I went for the New England Clam Bake. Yes, it was for 2 and I ate it for one - go big or go home, right? The mussels were plump, the clams were succulent and briny, and the sausage was slightly spicy, offering a hefty counterpoint to these delicate bivalves. And the lobster - sweet, succulent - perfect to dunk in the drawn butter. The corn on the cob was a nice clam-bake-esque touch, though I didn't particularly enjoy the potatoes - a bit too starchy and almost underdone for my taste.

The hot towels and lemons (spritz/rub on your hands for you novices) at the end of the meal are a nice touch. A great way to do away with the inevitable mess on your fingers. 

Our server Christina was incredibly friendly and certainly informative - typical of Stephen Starr's restaurants whether it's El Vez, Butcher and Singer, or Continental Restaurant (of course, there are a million others). Still, when the prices are not half off - it seems a bit steep, even with the Starr upcharge. I can definitely see myself coming back here for the raw bar and perhaps to try the fried chicken, but the 3 pound lobster will likely have to wait until Lobster Month come by again. So be sure to take advantage for the rest of November - it's currently "almost" half-off all lobster dishes.

Route 6
600 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 391-4600  

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