Taste: Where We’re Eating
Brasserie Perrier When Georges Perrier and chef Chris Scarduzio recently scaled back this posh (and expensive) Philly standby, ostensibly to reflect more traditional, accessible brasserie fare (and prices), we couldn’t help but be excited about the change. (Less pomp and more frites! Fantastique!) And there are things to rejoice over: a tempting lineup of blue-plate specials that tops out at $38; a pile of mussels swimming in garlic butter, paired with a cone of frites; a succulent gruyère burger on toasted brioche. Though a few innovations fall flat (a ho-hum Caesar salad; run-of-the-mill wines by the glass), it’s hard not to be charmed by that telltale Perrier decadence: Anyone for the foie gras du jour? Or perhaps the $29 burger with black truffle cheese?
The Centennial Café The sturdy stone facade of the Ohio House stood here long before this corner of Fairmount Park became a backed-up shortcut between City Line and Center City. Built for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, the structure has served as clubhouse, residence, office, information center — and now it’s serving breakfast and lunch. The house-smoked brisket, sliced thin, on a kaiser, is the star of the casual order-at-the-counter menu that includes both classic (turkey club, grilled chicken Caesar) and playful. While the Centennial BLT, with its hickory-smoked bacon and smoked gouda, is a flavor overload, the Centennial PBH — peanut butter with thick slices of banana painted with honey — is a delicious diversion from the everyday.
Little Fish A deep little bowl of calamari steeps in pastina-flecked Sicilian marinara. Three marshmallow-y scallops wade in a sweet slick of raisin emulsion alongside a dollop of rich cauliflower gratin. Tender, meaty monkfish tops a heap of beet risotto touched with vanilla brown butter. Under the months-old direction of chef-owner Mike Stollenwerk, this belovedly cramped, seafood-centric corner BYOB is no longer a plain Jane neighborhood stalwart. Nope. These nights — all seven, including Sundays, when a five-course dinner costs $28 — Little Fish’s 22 seats are downright in demand. Thank goodness for warm weather, when sidewalk tables will increase capacity by almost 50 percent.
Max & David’s Those who keep kosher live with limited options for dining out: a few falafel stands and the vegan spots in Chinatown. But this warm-hued, well-lit dining room upholds the highest standards of Jewish dietary laws. The Elkins Park BYOB is understandably crowded during the dinner rush. Retirees talk vacations to Israel and the latest trends in kosher winemaking while waiting for tables. The menu has global aspirations, but dishes rooted in Jewish traditions (brisket, Middle Eastern mezze) fare better than the questionable green curry.