The Food of Restaurant Week: Philadelphia Edition

Up until this past summer, I never truly had an appreciation for food. So whenever restaurant week came to town, I lacked the desire to go, to taste unique and rather expensive foods for a more affordable price. I thankfully now appreciate restaurant week for what it is, a time dedicated to not only exploring new foods, but also restaurants in the city you might have never considered trying before. I was lucky enough to take advantage of restaurant week more than once, and had wonderful experiences with appetizing foods.

The Cambridge

The first restaurant I went to was The Cambridge. The Cambridge is a self described “cozy bar on South Street,” but I think that description is lacking. When my mom and I went we had outstanding weather so were able to eat out on their back patio, which is a beautiful little area surrounded by twinkling lights and rustic furnishing. While the interior was nice, I felt as though the outside is what truly made The Cambridge beautiful.

The Cambridge in PhiladelphiaThe Cambridge in PhiladelphiaThe Cambridge in Philadelphia

The food was absolutely superb as well. It was a four coursed meal for only $35.00, and each course managed to be just the right amount of food I wanted at the time.

The first course was a ratatouille tart, which was delicious. The only reason I’ve actually hard of ratatouille is because of the Disney movie, so it seemed like an optimal time to finally be able to experience what it tastes like. I’m glad I did, because I want to continue to push myself to try new things constantly, to make sure I don’t slide back into being a picky eater.

Ratatouille at the Cambridge in Philadelphia

I’m sure there is a technical name for the course between the appetizer and main meal, but regardless of what it’s technically called, the second course was good as well. I had the braised beef cheek ravioli, which was good also. I didn’t really know what I was expecting when I ordered it, but it was the most exotic of the three options so I figured it was worth the risk. It was a little too spicy for my liking, but it was still good, I just now know that if I were to come back not to order a larger serving of it.

Braised Beef Cheek Ravioli at the Cambridge in Philadelphia

For the main entree I had a smoked bone in heritage pork chop, and my mom had pan roasted summer trout, but we were both a little too hungry at this point to remember to stop and take a picture, but irregardless they were spectacular. Although I had ordered the pork chop and I’m not usually a fish person, I felt as though Mom’s trout was the better of the two meals, although they were both excellent.

Dessert could have potentially been my favorite part. I ordered a budino, in part because it was the chocolate dish and I love chocolate, but also because it was made with Valrhona chocolate. Valrhona chocolate is a premiere chocolate brand from France, but the reason I love it so much isn’t even because of the taste, but because while I was studying abroad in France this summer our marketing final project was to present on a chocolate brand, and my friends and I worked on Valrhona chocolate. The budino The Cambridge served was absolutely phenomenal, and while I couldn’t finish it all at the time, the waiter was kind enough let me take the rest home so I could enjoy it over the course of the next few days.

Budino from The Cambridge in Philadelphia

The Cambridge was the first restaurant I went to for any restaurant week, and I am thankful I had such a wonderful time because it only made me more excited to explore future restaurants.

Chops

The second restaurant I went to during restaurant week was Chops, described as “a high-end steakhouse with plush decor, including a dramatic bar, fireplace and outdoor pavilion.” I wasn’t able to see the bar, fireplace or outdoor pavilion, but the area inside that I was seating at was pleasant. This time I went not only with my mom but with my brother, his girlfriend, and my grandmother while she was in town.

Chops in PhiladelphiaChops in PhiladelphiaChops in Philadelphia

The food here was good as well, although it was less ‘let’s explore new foods’ and more ‘here’s a fantastically made meal for cheap,’ which although different, is no worse than The Cambridge.

For an appetizer I decided to stick with a traditional Caesar salad, which was good, although I don’t usually like too much dressing and I forgot to ask for it on the side. Truthfully, the best part of the appetizer wasn’t even the appetizer itself, but the bread. It tasted similar to a pretzel, but whatever the bread was made of, it was delicious.

Caesar Salad from Chops in Philadelphia

For the main dish I ordered the 7oz filet, which was mouthwatering. I’m not one to go on about how easy it is to cut a piece of meat, but this steak was honestly just like cutting butter. It was delicious as well, and the potatoes served with were appetizing, even though mashed potatoes aren’t my favorite type of potato.

Caesar Salad from Chops in Philadelphia

Dessert was magnificent also, I ordered the chocolate cake with bourbon ice-cream, and although I adore chocolate, the ice-cream is what really won me over with this dish. What I found even more interesting however is that while I usually prefer chocolate cake to pie, my brother’s girlfriend ended up getting the apple pie with cinnamon ice-cream, and hers was so good I wish I had ordered that instead. Both were fantastic though, and I would highly recommend staying for dessert when dining at Chops.

Chocolate Cake with Bourbon Ice Cream at Chops in PhiladelphiaApple Pie with Cinnamon Ice Cream at Chops in Philadelphia

Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar

Although I didn’t eat at Cuba Libre during restaurant week, I enjoyed it so much when I visited Philadelphia to see my friend Angela it’s worth a quick mention, as it was an option during the week as well.

The pair of us initially had no desire to go to the restaurant, we were actually on our way to a completely different restaurant, but as we passed and looked through the open windows we had to stop. The interior is absolutely stunning, with two floors, trees all over, and a definite exotic, Spanish feel. Once we saw it was Cuban food we decided we needed to try it out, as neither of us had ever tried Cuban food before, nor did we have an idea of what it entailed either.

Cuba Libre in Philadelphia

After stressing over the menu, because everything looked good, I ended up ordering the El Cubano, a sandwich that has sour orange marinated pork loin, Genoa salami, ham, provolone, and Swiss cheese. It came with a dipping sauce, as well as salsa and traditional chips (which looked like fried banana peels, and were surprisingly good regardless of what they were). Angela ended up getting rápidos, a triad of flatbreads with different food on top. I’m pretty sure she went with the vegetarian option, and having tried hers I can say that while I preferred mine, I would be up for trying some rápidos next time I go!

El Cubano and Rápidos at Cuba Libre in Philadelphia

Discovering different types of foods these past few weeks was a ton of fun, especially since I was able to turn each dinner into a fun experience with friends and family. I would highly recommend participating in restaurant week when available, no matter what city it is, in order to try out restaurants you might not have even considered before, and at a reasonable price.

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