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Friday, May 24, 2013

Scallops and jello with a little head and shoulders here and there

The summer weather hasn't been kind to the northeast corridor this year.  Rain seems to be the new norm, with a couple days of sunshine in between as the exceptions.  It was thus on Thursday when I came back to Philly.  The rain had just stopped and a light breeze rolled into the city, blowing away what was a very humid evening.  The respite didn't last for long, as the weather dropped twenty degrees on Friday, with strong wind gusts forcing droplets of rain to the ground. But, that was Friday.  Back to Thursday night at Pumpkin.

Pumpkin, a local establishment located in the heart of South Street, uses locally sourced ingredients to craft beautifully plated dishes.

The bread came with roasted garlic olive oil, which was a nice twist.  We started off with the barenegat light scallops with chorizo and squid ink ragout, as well as the cured king salmon with sweet potato, corn, and habanero.  The scallops were tenderly cooked and paired with what tasted and looked like jello!  That was a total surprise.

The cured king salmon was delicious - in a mouthful there were the salmon, popcorn, and sweet potato in a sorbet format.  I was expecting the sweet potato to be warm and mushy, but the second the bite hit my taste buds, the cold and sweetness of the sorbet lit me up and I didn't want to share the rest.

For the entree portion, we both had the arctic char - a freshwater fish found way north - with a lobster vinaigrette.  The fish was cooked perfectly, and being true to the fish's name, the chef left a nice char on it. There is quite a bit of oil on this plate, and perhaps could be made a bit less greasy / heavy.  For dessert, we had the lemon chiffon cake and warm chocolate cake.  Both were blah.  The savory dishes were definitely on a different playing field as the desserts.

Onto non-food elements...Pumpkin is a small little joint, with the seating area no bigger than my Philly apartment.  I was told that the restaurant had reconfigured the seating arrangements, taking out a couple tables to give more space in between each table.  Despite the good intentions, the spacing is still a little tight.  As a result, our waiter alternated between bumping into my head and my shoulders (insert shampoo advertisement) several times throughout the night.  Since the restaurant is so small, that means there's a lot of loud conversations packed into a very confined space.  So, be prepared to scream all night.

The waiter himself wasn't that stellar either.  He lacked grace - aside from bumping into me, he just didn't know how to gracefully interrupt a conversation. Instead, he just started talking and expected us to shift our attention to him. Further, when he brought out our two desserts (and without any indication from us that we cared), he started talking to us like we were children, explaining that he couldn't put both dishes in the center because the plates combined were wider than the width of the table. Yeah, thanks for the geometry lesson.

Pumpkin is also a cash-only joint.  For a restaurant where the cost per head can be ~$70, it's a little absurd they can't eat the credit card fees or pass it on to the consumers.  It was even worse when the waiter came back to tell us he had to go across the street to break a twenty. Urgh, Pumpkin!

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