Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hoof + Fin

617 S. Third Street, Philadelphia

We went against our own rule of waiting to dine at a restaurant until it's been open at least a month. You know, so they can work out the kinks. But, the Girlfriends and I just didn't want to wait to get to Hoof + Fin in Queen Village. Three weeks opened is close enough.

If you've read anything about it already, then you know it's in the old Gayle space and has outdoor seating in a small courtyard. Bonus!

Overall the ambiance was intimate and cozy, thanks to the very dim lighting. If you have old eyes, bring your flashlight for the menu. It's farmhouse style with a touch of rustic, dish towel-esque napkins, butcher block tables, coat hooks on the wall and vintage paint-by-number artwork (clearly scavanged from someone's grandmother's basement) hanging awry on the walls. The noise level wasn't an issue as the restaurant never fully filled up.

Complimentary skinny breadsticks arrive first in a mason jar with basil cream dipping sauce, heavy on the basil. We heard the couple specials, one of which was a suckling pig. Interesting, I thought. The Girlfriends opted with the calamari and truffle aioli which also came with some grilled vegetables. It was very lightly breaded and mild. A nice starter. We also tried the cheese and corn empanadas. The empanada had a very thick crust, which when you cut into caused the sweet manchego cheese to ooze out. It also came with a small side salad. We liked the calamari better.

Roz had the pappardelle with braised short ribs in a putanesca sauce. It was not a heavy dish, slightly sweet sauce, and a good portion (meaning, not a ridiculous amount). She was very happy with it. Mo had the butternut squash risotto with mushrooms and soy beans, lightly flavored, not overcooked (as I find risotto so often is) and the beans were firm. It was also a good portion. You can order small or large plates of the pasta. While we didn't order a salad, we saw on another table that it comes in a metal bowl - the exact same bowl I use at home for mixing. The consensus at our table was that it was taking the rustic theme a little too far.

Because I don't eat red meat or pork, I had a hard time finding something on the menu. I selected "From the Grill" which has a small variety of seafood and meat. You have the option to pair it with one starch and one vegetable from a list of sides. I had the Mahi Mahi with grilled vegetables and buttermilk mashed potatoes. I hate to say that I was horribly disappointed. There was no description of the fish other than "grilled." I wrongly assumed it would be lightly seasoned and would taste mainly like mahi mahi. Big mistake. One bite in and I had a mouthful of Old Bay. And that's about all I could taste. So much Old Bay in fact, that I couldn't even eat it. Mo didn't have an issue with it so we ended up switching plates. The mashed potatoes were good, but the vegetables were saturated in balsamic vinegar. If you order something From the Grill, do yourself a solid and ask how it's seasoned.

Desserts were limited in selection. I'm always disappointed when there isn't something in chocolate, so we had bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and tres leches. Both were very good.

We had no problems getting same day reservations. Service was excellent and attentive but not overly so.

Check out the menu.


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