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Friday, May 24, 2013

Giant french toasts, a whole lot of Italians plus one Brit

It was festival weekend in Philly - from Fairmount to Rittenhouse to the Italian Market, there were festivities going all around.  I was otherwise preoccupied with a bottle of permethrin (another post, another time), so I missed out on the Saturday festivals, but made it to the Italian festival last Sunday.

Not surprisingly, the weather was doom and gloom.  Nimbostratus clouds hovered over Philly with the threat of enough rain and humidity to ruin any outside festival.  Luckily for us, it drizzled a little bit here and there and then petered out.

Honey, anyone?
I don't know who these folks are, but they do not look very happy for a festival

We stopped by Sabrina's during the Italian festival.  It was crowded and definitely had a wait.  Since I'll soon be leaving Philly, I had to make sure that I at least try Sabrina's once and see what everyone is raving about.  After a little bit short of an hour, we were finally seated.  It was surprisingly spaced out pretty well inside.  We didn't feel crowded or pushed up against other customers despite the relatively small size of the joint.

I had Meek's Mexi Special, which consisted of scrambled eggs with seasoned grilled chicken, queso fresco and pepper jack cheeses tossed with fried bell and jalapeno peppers.  The dish was topped with refried beans, pico de gallo, lime sour cream and sliced avocadoand served with corn tortillas.  Sounds delicious?  Well...it was good, but not great.  I felt the dish lacked the firepower I expected.  I was looking for big bold flavors, but found something that was slightly better than ordinary.

However, the "NOTORIOUSLY B.I.G STUFFED FRENCH TOAST" was definitely worth the wait.  We had ordered the half sized version of the dish, which is more than enough for two.  The challah French toast stuffed with cream cheese and mascarpone with roasted peanuts, peanut butter,apricot jelly and red grapes were all topped with a berry-orange syrup.  One bite of it and I was ready to pounce for another, and another, and another.

It was poor planning of me, because after stuffing myself silly at Sabrina's, it was time to head to Audrey Claire only a couple hours later.  I had high expectations for Audrey Claire - high enough that I was willing to try it even though it is a cash only joint (why when some of its other establishments take credit??).

We started off with the antipasti for two, which had a bit of everything - seared brussel sprouts with shaved parm, grilled portabellow mushrooms, grilled baby artichokes, roasted asparagus with feta, olives, beets, and more.  This was a great dish, and the grilled baby artichokes were the stars for us.

We also split the seared haloumi with candied dates and sesame fig compote, and the jumbo crab with granny smith apple terrine and avocado.  It may just be me, but the haloumi had an aftertaste that tasted very much like goat cheese.  As I'm not a fan of goat cheese, I was not a fan of the seared haloumi.  The jumbo crab, on the other hand, was very light and refreshing.  The apple mixed in it offered a nice sweet balance to the crab.

It took quite a bit of effort for us to get the attention of our British waiter.  The place isn't large so even if it's packed, it should not be difficult for customers to get a hold of their waiters.  There was a strange moment when we asked the waiter for tap water in a cup (because their standard is lemon water in a cup).  Instead of bringing back tap water, our waiter brought back the same lemon water in a mug.  Wolfgang Tango Foxtrot?


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