A friend and I went out to celebrate my very belated birthday with dinner this weekend and found ourselves at Rittenhouse Tavern, which is very much un-tavern-like and very underrated. It’s located inside the Philadelphia Art Alliance building, so if you blink you’ll miss it if you’re walking down the street. I joked that I was going to get the burger (a special LaFrieda dry-aged blend, topped with Ed’s special sauce and sharp provolone on a brioche roll), but since my friend knew the chef (the very talented Nick Elmi), we got a little bit of VIP service.
Chef Elmi put together an amazing tasting featuring a few of their menu items, as well as some special treats (like a rosemary smoked marshmallow for the dessert course!). I didn’t want to take pictures of everything and distract my dining companion or the other patrons since the lighting was pretty low, but once the table next to us cleared, I was able to capture some of my favorite dishes from the tasting.
Amuse Bouche: Truffled jelly-crema duck egg. It was rich with truffle flavor, great texture, and it came in an adorable, hollowed out egg! This was sinfully delicious and produced the quote of the evening: “I’m a slut for truffles.”
Main course: Sweetbreads – It was my first time having sweetbreads so I didn’t have anything to compare them to. But they were amazing, beautifully plated (accented with cute little flowers!) and delicious; buttery smooth. They are not currently on the menu but hopefully the Chef will bring them back soon!
Dessert: Panna cotta – OMFG. This was ridiculous. So rich and velvety. I wanted to basically stick my face in the cup and lick it clean. That’s how much I loved it.
There was also a chocolate marbled foie gras that was part of the terrine plate that was out of this world. (Who would have thought that foie and chocolate pair so well together?) A veal and shrimp ceviche -part of the amuse bouche – brought back memories of my ex-bf’s love of fried veal cutlets, but this dish was certainly above his “refined” culinary palate. A chilled soup with salmon roe was tasty, but not really my cup of tea. (Although the roe was much on par with roe I’ve had in Japan and far less salty than the kind they use in local sushi joints.)
In a city rife with top chefs and award winning restaurants, Rittenhouse Tavern is definitely an overlooked gem. Why they didn’t make any “Best Of” lists was something we spent a good while speculating over in between courses (money and favoritism being some pretty obvious factors), but I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for an amazing tasting menu experience. Every dish was elegantly prepared and wonderfully delicious.
Five courses will run you $60/pp, with an additional $40 wine pairing option.