Monday, January 5, 2015

Square 1682 Review

Restaurant Week's first pass for 2015 starts on January 18th. One place to consider is Square 1682. Under the helm of Chef Caitlyn Mateo, the restaurant underwent a bit of an overhaul over the past 2 years.

Square 1682 is located in Rittenhouse, within the swanky Hotel Palomar. The atmosphere is sleek, with several high-top tables throughout, as well as a 2nd floor that is slightly more formal.

For January 2014's RW, the GF and I stopped by along with one of our friends.

Texan's Mule [$10]
Tito's vodka, ginger beer, gingery syrup, lime juice

This take on the Moscow mule was served with one of my favorite small batch vodkas - Tito's. This iteration of the drink was perfect for the GF, not overly sweet, with great ginger essence.

Classic Bizzy Izzy Highball [$11]
Rittenhouse rye, Dios Baco amontillado, pineapple juice, lemon juice, Agnostura aromatic bitters

Rittenhouse Rye whiskey tends to speak to me and this didn't disappoint. The whiskey was nicely balanced by the sherry. With the bitters on the forefront and the drink had a nice citrus finish, this was easy drinking.

Bread Service

Dinner started off with a nice spread of crispy, salty sesame lovash, sourdough, and rosemary focaccia. A big pet peeve of mine though? Cold butter - what is the point if you can't spread it?

Restaurant Week Dinner [$35 pp]

As is usually the case - restaurant week dinners are on offer for $35 per person - usually for 3-4 courses. 
Carrot Soup 

The GF and our friend both ordered the carrot soup, which had nice depth and sweetness. The charred brussels sprouts and bacon brought forth balance and created a wonderful spoonful.

Lancaster Duck Toast 
Lingonberry mustard, buttermilk toast 

I went with the duck dish, which featured shredded Lancaster duck and frisee on a toast point. The ligonberry mustard sauce brought out some brightness to each bite, though I wished for some more of the duck flavor.

Bacon Wrapped Dates [$9]
Local goat cheese, piquillo peppers, stone ground mustard vinaigrette  

Feeling a bit peckish despite the first course and two more to come, I ordered the ubiquitous bacon-wrapped dates an a la carte. The bacon was nicely crisp, with the tang of the goat cheese balanced nicely by the sweetness of the dates. The piquillo peppers and mustard vinaigrette offered some acidity and brightness through the heft of the bacon.

Truffle Popcorn [$4]
Truffle butter, citric salt 

The oft-lauded truffle popcorn here had to be tried. The truffle essence definitely emanated through, though the citric salt added the sour salt taste that really made it for me.

Amish Chicken Breast
Beet fettuccine, cauliflower, autumn apples 

For mains, the GF and our friend opted for the tender chicken breast, which was well-seasoned. The beet fettuccine was interesting and had a subtle sweetness. The crisp apples brought fresh tartness that was balanced by the bitter greens and the lightly charred cauliflower.

Custom Blend Burger + Quail Egg [$1 supp]
Smoked portabella, Lancaster cheddar, garlic Parmesan fries

I had the burger and added a quail egg for a dollar supplement. I requested it medium-rare, though it came out medium and overall, the beef was a bit dry and lacked seasoning.

The tomato was a bit mealy as well. The fries were decent, though the chipotle aioli was a bit watery. Disappointing overall - should've went with the lamb short ribs. 

Chef's Selection of Sorbet

Desserts fared better though. Left to right, we had a great selection of sorbets including apple cider, raspberry honey, and hazelnut espresso served with strawberries and blueberries interspersed between. A light and refreshing palate cleanser. 

Butterscotch Cake 
Mascarpone cream, apple caramel

The cake was buttery, with rich butterscotch essence. The mascarone cream was nicely light and the apple caramel brought some sweetness to each bite.

White Chocolate Bread Pudding 
Dark chocolate gelato

The bread pudding was nicely moist and oozing with sweet intensity. The white chocolate seemed a bit lost, but combined with the dark chocolate gelato, each bite was a sweet ending indeed.

Service was alright, but seemed a bit aloof and uninformed. In fact, they took our bread basket and plates a few minutes after dropping it on our table. We had to flag down the staff to figure out what sorbets were on offer as well.

Still, the food at Square 1682 has definitely become more creative 3 years back. While a few dishes could have been executed better, I'll chalk that up to the perils of restaurant week.

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