Sunday, October 14, 2012

Restaurant Week Dinner c/o R2L

The last two weeks have been Philadelphia's Center City Fall Restaurant weeks. This means that a whole slew of dining establishments in Center City are offering three course meals for $35. People in the foodie world have different perspectives on these weeks. A lot of industry folk grumble about it: folks come into a restaurant where an entree is usually $20 and expect the same level of service/food at quite the discounted rate, don't tip enough, etc etc. Which is all fair and good to note. But for those of us who aren't made of money but appreciate good food, restaurant week gives us the opportunity to at least get a sense of what these finer dining destinations have to offer, and whether we'd like to come back for a special occasion and pay full price. So when it came to choosing a spot or two to try out for the first time, I aimed at places I thought were pretty interesting but definitely outside of my normal budget. In previous years this led me to meals at Buddakan, Tequilas, and Union Trust. This time around I scheduled two outings. The first was to R2L with LW. I had been to R2L ever so briefly when my Childhood Friend, K. and I had dinner at Alma de Cuba and then K. suggested we at least take a look at R2l...even though they were very much closing for the night. But this time around they were in the swing of things. When we arrived and took the elevator to the 37th floor, we were quickly greeted and ushered to the bar while a table was set for us. There I ordered a dirty Stoli martini and requested three olives, which were happily provided by our friendly and attractive bartender. LW ordered a drink that involved those fancy marinated cherries, of which she requested extras and, again, the bartender was happy to oblige. Soon after our cocktails were in hand, we were seated. I was pleased that we were given a window seat, which allowed us to determine just which direction we were looking in: west. We kept trying to find landmarks and for the longest time really couldn't. Then after finally saying, yes, that is west, we realized that the most obvious landmark - 30th Street Station - was most clearly visible and in front of us. It was a 'duh' moment.
R2L's lighting is dim and moody, which made getting decent photographs a bit of a challenge, so forgive the rather less than perfect quality of the photographs that follow. I chose to go with the shrimp cocktail for my appetizer. They were plump shrimp with a nice spicy cocktail sauce to go along with them. LW chose the chicken liver and foie gras mousse, which was delicious.
For my main course I chose the "R2L Style" veal stew, which was veal three ways: meatloaf, breast and tenderloin. I'd never heard of veal/cow having a 'breast' before, but I was quite pleased with the presentation and taste of this dish, especially the tenderloin.  LW ordered the flounder fluke paella, which also seemed to be a hit.
We both chose the roasted pears with concord grape reduction and buttermilk panna cotta. I wish one of my wider shots had come through so you could better see the presentation, but lighting conditions prevented a decent shot. My favorite part was most certainly the bites of panna cotta with concord grape essence. I could have gone for just a bowl of that grape stuff. Yes indeed.
The place seemed to be doing a brisk night of business for a Sunday, but no server seemed totally overworked or harried.

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