MsL-Foodie and her significant other, MrR-Foodie, have made the transition from NYC to Philly. This is a wonderful happening for The Serious Foodie, as it will give us a presence in one of the more interesting, and growing, foodie scenes in the Northeast.
Steven Starr has had a big hand in changing the Philly dining scene, and his collaboration with Serpico may even begin to transform South Street, too. The subtly marked “SERPICO” sign and a tiny menu box are fixed to a dark brick facade with a dark porthole door, so it’s easy to miss – our taxi driver did. The DinnerDoctor and MrSeriousFoodie were in Philly when South Street was THE hot restaurant scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s – but it is now hard to imagine a fine dining establishment among the head-shops, t-shirt stores, pawnshops, and hookah cafes that now line this once-iconic stretch. Serpico has begun to change this impression.
We’re big on open kitchens’ and this one was very captivating, where guests can sit by the chefs at counters lining the kitchen to watch Serpico’s team assemble their artful dishes with deft precision.
Serpico worked with famed chef David Chang at his highly touted Ko, and was acclaimed for his unique style and beautiful presentation. For this night at Serpico, we chose the tasting menu, although we were intrigued by his specials list written out on a chalk board.
There were far too many dishes to describe here – but suffice it say that the meal was outstanding. We were full at the end, but not uncomfortable. His dashi soup, a clear smoked-bonito broth poured tableside over a landscape of perfect greens and lightly gelled cubes of rich crème fraîche, was a stunning display of delicacy and deception. Each dish showed a perfect balance of one key ingredient, matched with a sauce, a broth, and seasonal vegetables.
Serpico scallops and truffles
There was the unusual match of slivers of raw diver scallop with freshly shaved truffles sitting on a sauce of buttermilk, poppy seeds, green yuzu kosho, white soy, and chives. But it was one of the many surprises of the evening.
Serpico pigs head
We were happy to see the addition of the exceptional pig’s head on our tasting selection – a thinly sliced silky sheet that was used to wrap a combination of water chestnuts, pork, and onion. This was a masterful use of an uncommon ingredient.
The desserts were also a pleasant surprise, both in quality and quantity. There were four courses of dessert, from sorbet through to the home-made candies served with the check.
There was a bit of savory in a few of the desserts (rosemary, yuzu, etc.), but not so much to make it wierd – again, a deft touch of balance.
The wine list has some notably interesting wines, including the Ameztoi Rubentis Getariako Txakolina we had – which matched perfectly with most dishes on the tasting menu (except for the lamb). But don’t miss the cocktails – they are crazy/fun.
We’ll definitely do a return trip to this Star(r).