My Austin friends might not be aware, but the food scene is Philadelphia is serious. I usually politely smile when people mention the Philly cheesesteak. I can count on my hands how many I’ve eaten cheesesteaks in my life. Philly is so much more than the cheesesteak and it makes me sad that people don’t know better. I mean, Philadelphia is a big city. Of course there is a huge culinary scene.
What I miss most are the gastropubs and casual Italian places with really good food. The stuff Austin doesn’t have. A lot of people here like the Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale, which I’m happy to see in Austin. Not my cup of tea, but the actual Monk’s Cafe? My favorite bar in Philly. It has an enormous Belgian beer selection, but I am in it for the mussels and frites. Are those chicken wings? Nope. Frog legs. Just a regular ole dark bar with crazy good food. Par for the course in Philly.
But we’re not here to drool over Monk’s. Today’s post is about Jose Garces, Iron Chef and Philadelphia chef royalty. When I left almost five years ago he had two incredibly popular restaurants in the city and I think now there are eight. People just can’t get enough. The last time I went home Mr. Betty and I met two other couples at Garces Trading Co. The European style cafe also has a fabulous market with cheeses, meats and an outrageous selection of vinegars and oils.
The menu contains a mouthwatering selection of charcuterie, cheeses, pizzas, salads, sides, and a whole bunch of other stuff. We opted for the tasting menu so we could try a chef’s selection of everything. And plenty of wine and sangria, too. The delicious cheeses were accompanied by lavender honey, jams, and other condiments. I don’t remember what the meats were, only that they were spectacular. Everyone was knocked out by the Potted Duck, a beautiful presentation of duck rillette, foie gras mousse, and elderflower caramel.
Crisp breakfast radishes sat atop goat’s butter, olive oil and fleur de sel.
The next two courses might have been my favorite. The famous Lyonnaise Duck Salad did not disappoint. Look at that exquisite duck egg yolk pouring down on the duck confit, bacon lardons and frizzy frisee. The pizza with serrano ham and whipped ricotta was heightened by a pear balsamic reduction.
Pan Roasted Scallops, which would have been perfectly delicious on their own, were brought to life by a cauliflower puree, chanterelles, and an aged sherry glaze. Oh my.
I’m not sure what this is. But it looks yummy, right?
When we were already quite full, the most succulent organic roasted chicken came out with two sides: whipped Yukon gold potatoes with mozzarella curd and beluga lentils and in a harissa vinaigrette. Comfort food straight from your mother’s kitchen. Well, if your mother is Jose Garces.
Cappuccinos and macarons finished off perfect meal.
Have you been to Garces Trading Co.? What are your favorites?