July 2, 2012

Around the World in Philadelphia: 12 Hours in Rittenhouse Square

Do you know what Philadelphia is the land of? Yes, it's the land of colonial American History, crazed sports fans and greasy cheesesteaks. But I recently learned that it's also the mecca of well-executed theme restaurants and bars that enable you to travel the world in no time at all.

I didn't think I'd go there and feel transported to Italy, the Prohibition era, London and Paris. But during a recent girls' weekend to visit a friend that lives in Rittenhouse Square, in the span of 12 hours, we traveled through time and traversed the globe.  Here's our itinerary and the places we stopped into thanks to the planning skillz of my Philly-dwelling friend Mellie.

2pm: Capogiro Gelato

This place is THE REAL DEAL, unlike the crappy gelato I've had in NYC's Little Italy and elsewhere. This gelato rivals authentic Italian gelato eaten whilst in Italy. I'm certainly not an expert, but during a 10 day visit to Italy, I ate gelato twice a day, often more than one scoop at a time. That's a LOT of ice cream! This was many years ago, but nothing has compared to the concentrated flavors and soft, creamy texture until going to Capogiro. I combined Banana Rum and Baccio (chocolate hazelnut) and it was honestly divine. Go there. Immediately. The only American gelato I've had that comes close is from Sucre in New Orleans.

2:30pm: Buffalo Exchange

We impulse purchased dresses at this second hand shop, then continued window shopping along Chestnut Street where they have weird eco-friendly trash cans that act as mini trash compactors and are only picked up by the garbage trucks when full to save on fuel or something.

3:30pm: Tria Cafe

This is the kind of place that makes me question why I live in such an expensive city. The cuisine and wine was so good. And SO reasonably priced. Artisan bruschetta for $4. Cured meats for $6. The quality was high but there was no pretense here. It was bright, with no in-your-face decor. Just a sleek vibe and an amazing menu. Not sure how it came up, but we ended up talking with the bartender about encapsulating placentas, so yeah, it's not stuffy!

4:45pm: The Dandelion Restaurant

Welcome to London! This gastropub transports you to the London of an old-world era. They nail it here, from the decor to the cocktails. I debated between a can of Strongbow or a fancy cocktail and the cocktail won. Muddled to perfection.

5:30pm: Home for Skinny Girl White Peach Margaritas

Took some time to relax on Mellie's the shady patio, observe some scary hornets congregating by the fence, and make ourselves look cute before dinner.

8:30pm: Parc

This sprawling French
brasserie on Rittenhouse Square is the perfect dinner spot for a Saturday night. It's so huge that you're pretty much guaranteed a reservation, you can dress to impress or go casual without anyone batting an eye, the staff is professional and above-and-beyond attentive, and there's something on the menu for every budget.  This place nails the Paris feel, with an "everything is bigger in America" execution.

10pm: The Farmers' Cabinet


From the waiter with the curled mustache, to the menu that includes heavily spiked champagne punch, and the legit house jazz band and cocktail menu that reads like a mixology encyclopedia, The Farmers' Cabinet transports you to the 1920s. The only thing separating The Farmers' Cabinet from a place with a true speakeasy vibe is that it isn't hidden. The muted trumpet of the house jazz band can be heard from across the street, there isn't a tough entry policy, and the large sign outside and wide windows are inviting.

After Midnight: Karaoke in Chinatown


My expired driver's license got us denied entry at a supposedly awesome karaoke spot in Philly's Chinatown despite my friends and I proclaiming that I'm a 30 year old MOM. Lame! So we walked Sarah to the train station and holed up in a pub with the post-college crowd until close to last call.

This trip marked my first night away from Savannah! She had such a fun weekend with her father and only asked for me once. I'm glad I waited as long as I did before leaving her and this was the perfect way to rejoin the world of wining and dining with great friends.

The ladies in blue. We also met up with Sarah of Made in USA Challenge
but didn't get a group shot! She wore navy. T'was a blue Saturday apparently.


David M said...

If you didn't get hit on by a 60 year old with a ferrari at parc, you didn't get the full experience. I'll have to try that gelato place.

john said...

Wow, great article, I really appreciate your thought process and having it explained properly, thank you!


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