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- Neighborhood: University City
- 501 South 45th Street, Philadelphia, PA
- Phone: 215-222-3699
- Website | Facebook
- Cuisine: New American
- Alcohol: BYOB
- Price: $$$
- Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
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Craig LaBan reviews the modernist cuisine of Marigold Kitchen in West Philadelphia, where chef Robert Halpern is turning out vivid avant garde dishes.
The most memorable course, though, unfolded before us in a multistage presentation that teased several senses. A jam jar filled with a dried porcini, red chile, a bay leaf, and a Japanese orchid petal was covered tableside in warm mushroom dashi and set to steep. Two aromatic minutes later, it was poured like a woodsy tea over a bowl of soy-cured hamachi sashimi. With a “forest” of exotic mushrooms perched like a still life on the bowl’s rim for extra-earthy punch, the entire composition was a deeply layered umami bath – but also remarkably light. The sensation that lingered most was still the luxurious snap of the succulent raw fish.
Three Bells – Excellent
50 Best Restaurants – Marigold Kitchen, #2 [Philadelphia Magazine]
So last week, before all the madness of the Thanksgiving holiday (and all its attendant drinking and regrets), we threw a little party of our own. It was just us, twenty or so of our nearest and dearest, and two of the best sous chefs in the city who’d come together for one night only at COOK to battle it out for Thanksgiving supremacy.
Our competitors were Chuck Formoso who possesses a formidable Ron Swanson mustache and will soon be behind the stoves at the forthcoming Petruce et al and Keith Krajewski, who was once kicked out of the CIA (the cooking one, not the other one) but didn’t let that stop him from becoming sous chef at Marigold Kitchen. Despite us saddling them with all manner of questionable Turkey Day staples (like bagged stuffing, fried onions and canned cranberry sauce), and, at one point, making the chefs stop cooking entirely so that their assistants had to finish dishes in their stead, both teams came up with some spectacular plates. Granted, a liberal application of pumpkin vodka and mystery beers to the crowd might’ve helped a little, but if you click through the jump and check out some of what we got to eat last week, I think you’ll agree that both sides handled themselves with skill and brought honor to their houses.
Of course, at the end, only one man could claim victory...
Marigold Kitchen is doing away with menus. Now the only choice to make when you sit down to dinner at chef/owner Robert Halpern’s West Philadelphia BYOB is seafood, meat or vegetarian for the main entree. Beyond that, you’re in the chef’s hands.
The $85 prix fixe dinner includes up to fifteen courses consisting of bite-sized amuse bouches, small plates and an entree. Vegetarian options are available and other dietary considerations can be accommodated with notice.
Halpern says “this was always the plan” but he was still nervous about how customers would react. But three weeks in and customers tell Halpern, “that decision-free dining is more fun and that’s what Marigold is all about.”
Marigold Kitchen [Official Site]
Photo by Samuel Markey