Thursday, February 19, 2009
Philadelphia, PA 19127
You should knowI'm not all that into Valentine's Day. Sure, I'm not going to turn down an opportunity for a romantic evening with Chris, but I don't find overpriced, overcrowded situations to be all that romantic.
So since Valentine's Day fell two days before Presidents' Day, we decided to go out Sunday the 15th, avoiding the crowds.
Lately, we've been using Restaurant.com when we try new places, and Derek's came up as sufficiently romantic, with a good menu. It's also fairly close to where I live.
So?Now, we managed to find pretty good parking, which for Main Street on a weekend is kind of a treat. Prepare to park on a side street or pay for parking.
We were seated in the downstairs dining room, which was pleasant but sort of cramped. There were moments when it felt like the parties on either side of us were part of our party, instead. Also, we were a few tables in from a door, so since it was cold out, when the large party between us and the door left, the draft swept in and I froze for the rest of my meal.
Chris and I both decided to order the three-course meal ($32.99), which includes soup or a salad, one of several select entrees, and a dessert. We both ordered the hearts of romaine Caesar salad ("the traditional with handcut croutons & grated Romano cheese," $8.99), and pan seared flatiron steak ("whipped Parmesan potatoes, caramelized onions & roasted pepper jus," $22.99), while Chris planned on ordering the chocolate baby bundt cake ("totally rich and warm with Chantilly cream") and I had my eye on the carnival style funnel cake ("dusted with the traditional powdered sugar cloud over fresh strawberry sauce with vanilla ice cream").
The salad was good, and the bread was excellent. The steaks were also very tasty, and the leftovers I had for lunch the other day reheated very nicely, as well. I had a glass of Merlot ("Canyon Road [California 2006], medium bodied with crisp cherry and jammy blackberry flavors," $8 glass/$40 bottle), while Chris had a Victory Prima Pils ("[pilsner] Pennsylvania, craft brewer’s chart topping version of the popular blond style chosen by the NY Times as the world's best pilsner," $5.50), with which we were both satisfied.
Then came dessert. The three-course menu has a few choices of dessert. By the time we ordered, the only listed dessert left was the creme brule -- not a deal-breaker for me, but our server was nice enough to offer us any dessert as part of our meal -- not unreasonable, since all desserts were the same price a la carte ($7.99). Our second choices had limited quantities as well; I ended up getting the daily fruit cobbler (apple, "served warm with cinnamon ice cream") and Chris got the cheesecake of the day (classic). They were both good, if not what we were hoping for; I'm not convinced I got cinnamon ice cream, actually, but it's possible it was so mild that the cinnamon in the cobbler overpowered it.
The couple sitting next to us had a similar problem with some of their orders. Even though the shortages were disappointing, they were not altogether surprising. We did go the day after a major dining-out holiday, and the evening after a fairly major brunch morning. Even so, they should have accounted for this, either by ordering sufficient materials in advance, or coming up with substitutions in the face of shortages.
My biggest complaint, though, was with the bathrooms. There were two unisex powder rooms on the second floor (which was somewhat problematic in itself, as Chris was on crutches from a sprained ankle). One was locked; we do not know if it was occupied or out of service. The one that was open was dirty (there was a fairly ominous puddle on the floor by the toilet), devoid of toilet paper, and featured a non-functioning lock -- not fun when you're using the facilities and the next person doesn't realize it's occupied.
RatingSeriously consider it
You'll want a game plan for parking, and to dress appropriate for the weather of the moment, and definitely have an open mind about your order if you go during or right after a high-traffic time, but the food was great and the cocktails were sufficiently appealing-looking that I'm tempted to go back for drinks and either appetizers or desserts. The bad things were bad, but the good things were very, very good.
The rest of the InternetChuru Autumn at Churu was displeased with the service.
Check out the Zagat rating.