Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Field Trip to 10 Arts: Where the Fries Never End

Since the economy's in the crapper, Philadelphia restaurant week was extended through this Friday. As such, BW and I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to visit Eric Ripert's lovely restaurant, 10 Arts in said Philadelphia. Unfortunately, as we soon realized, Saturday nights aren't part of restaurant week at 10 Arts, but since it worked out (shockingly) that BW, PW, BMG, and I could get together on such short notice, we decided to go anyway. Hooray for stimulating the economy! Sadly, due to excessive drinking in the dive bars of Trenton, BMG was unable to join us, so I had to make the drive to PA alone, dressed in my hot outfit for dinner. However, the lack of BMG gave me the chance to sit at the table with an empty seat next to me, in the hopes that Eric Ripert would actually be in his restaurant and want to join us for dinner - it didn't happen. But, I think that's because he wasn't at the restaurant, I mean, come on, if he had seen us, with the empty chair, there's no way he'd be able to refuse an invitation to dinner.

Our reservation was for 8:30 pm, we arrived almost exactly on time, the hostess took our coats, and we were ushered to our table. The restaurant is in the Ritz Carlton hotel, right by City Hall, and the space is awesome. It' basically the lobby of the hotel, so it's huge expanse, great high ceilings, columns, the works. I was especially enamored of the chandeliers, which are pretty much bigger than my apartment. We were all pretty hungry, and also excited to be there, so it took a while to order, luckily we were able to decide on a wine quickly, so we had a nice splash while deciding what to order...

And, oh, did we order. To start, we shared the fried calamari, which was awesome. So NOT rubbery and gross like most calamari that has been fried and not at all greasy. Plus, it came with a delicious remoulade which I would have eaten straight from the ramekin if it was socially acceptable. Next, for our first courses, BW got the heirloom corn chowder, PW got the chicken soup (it had alphabets!!!), and I had the warm goat cheese salad. All were awesome. The corn soup had smoked sea salt in it, which gave it a delicious, smoky, rich flavor (seriously, though, it was great).

The chicken soup was so, so good! The alphabets were great, a whimsical touch for an old classic. My salad was amazing, too; with a big hunk of goat cheese, baby beets, and greens you really can't go wrong.

Next came the entrees (I should also mention that PW order a scotch part way through the meal, because, you know, if we're all going to lose our jobs soon, we might as well go all out while we can. I mean, we'd already committed to an expensive meal, why not just throw some delicious, alcoholic frosting on top?). For her main course, BW got the fish burger, which (as the waitress informed us) was basically a crabcake made with striped bass instead of crab. It came with delicious (and crispy) fries and a fantastic saffron aioli. Better than the remoulade. I would bathe in it.

PW ordered the filet - it was perfectly cooked and had a great, thick reduction poured over it

and he also ordered a ""side" of French fries (the same as the ones that came with BW's food - crispy and all seasoned, mostly rosemary and salt...some other stuff, too). Now, I say "side" because it was basically another entree. And, we can eat, let me tell you. But that bitch kicked our asses - the more we ate, the more full the cone of fries seemed to become. See for yourself - here's the before:

And here's the after (don't worry, I'll get to the mac and cheese in a second:

The only way you can tell it's a different picture is that some of the mac and cheese is missing. Oh, and that mac and cheese was awesome. Lots of great cheesy flavor, but the crispy top really made it.

I had the striped bass "Grand Mere," which was a difficult decision, as I was also extremely interested in the rabbit paillard, but, ultimately decided that I should honor Ripert's skills and go with the seafood. It was a good choice. The bass was cooked perfectly and came with an assortment of great vegetables (potatoes, green beans, mushrooms, pearl onions) in a light, very flavorful broth. Unfortunately, due to the block of goat cheese and mac and cheese and trying everyone else's food, I wasn't able to eat it all. That's the only time I wished I has gotten the paillard, so I could bring it home and eat it later - reheated striped bass would not be right.

I should also add that our waitress was awesome. At some point during the entrees she brought us a free glass of champagne that was an extra from some other table at the restaurant (free liquor - sold!!). She also, very nicely, brought us a scoop of the coconut-avocado sorbet to taste, as there was no way in F any of us was eating dessert after that meal. But, when she explained the sorbet to us, we were all so intrigues, she brought us a taste - what did I tell you? Awesome.

After that, the night was spent recovering from eating too much and watching "Saturday Night Live" while realizing it will never be as good as it once was.

Provided we all still have jobs shortly, more restaurants are coming soon - I've set a goal of one new restaurant a month...let's see if I can keep it up. That's what she said.

(Also, I would like to thank BW for her pictures of the food - it was so dark in there and we didn't want to use the flash and look like complete hick-degenerates, so that's why the pictures are somewhat dark. However, if I had taken them, they would have been dark AND blurry, as I have the shaky hands. So, strong work, BW! I'm glad you have steady hands and like to stalk chefs, too!)


jp said...

Seriously. I want to attend an Andy Bernard concert. I might implode though.

Also loved the "I Will Survive" falsetto singing and freaking :)

Beth said...

I would go back to 10 Arts in a heartbeat. The decor, the delicious food (fries!) and the best waitress ever! I still can't believe how those fries re-heated; they were SUPER AMAZING fries. I'd even just chill in the gorgeous lobby area, sipping free champagne and snacking on fries. Classy.

I need to get some kind of mini-lighting tool for discreet restaurant photography.