So, I'm back. To be honest, I really haven't been anywhere out of pocket, but for some reason I haven't posted in what feels like ages. I promise I'm back...with a vengeance (although against what I'm not entirely sure). I've decided to write about events dating back to a month ago up to the present, and if I hadn't told you that, you wouldn't have cared...I just respect you enough to make you party to the fact that I didn't innovate the hell out of poached fruit and caramel, eat out at a handful of restaurants, and read about a hundred new ways to prepare food in one day. So, here goes.
My most recent new restaurant experience was one of Steven Starr's Tangerine. Nestled amidst coffee shops and independent art galleries, this Moroccan fusion venture sits on the cusp of Philadelphia's homeless chic Old City neighborhood. For those of you out there unfamiliar with Philly, this is a place where you can sample a thousand and one delicious beers at Eulogy (reviewed previously), eat your fill of quasi-Filipino goodness and maybe catch a glimpse of the local hiphoperatti (I just coined that term; watch for it in People magazine shortly) at Cebu, and get picked up by sketchy cougars in any of manifold dive bars...all within two blocks. Good times, right? Anyway, back to Tangerine.
As with most of Starr's locations, Tangerine is very much pro-sharing. In fact, I'm not sure it's possible to order independently, since dishes arrive as they come up. So, unless you like teasing your date by taking bite after bite of sumptuous comestibles in front of him/her, I suggest you start to love sharing as well. Dim lighting, low tables, and comfy, quicksand-like leather chairs make Tangerine an excellent lounge spot. It's also great people-watching; my date quipped, "Everybody looks good in 15 watts," which I'd like to believe.
Bucking my usual pre-dinner cocktail trend (Tanqueray and tonic in summer, Belvie white Russian in winter), I went for the special Rum Crush - an, um, interesting blend of crushed ice (not my favorite), rum, pulverized kumquat, simple syrup, and cloves. It was a nice idea, but it was mostly just rum with some kumquat and clove taste. I mean, duh.
We started with a grilled octopus salad, which unfortunately turned out to be heavy on a caesar-like dressing and light on the tasty, flame-kissed octopus (which was yummy - I love anything that, when grown to monstrous proportions, could make for a riveting deep-sea thriller a la Jaws or The Deep. A quick note: the bread basket was filled with delicious, heavy slices of a whole-grain sweet brown bread with sunflower seeds and large pieces of fig, as well as a novel take on a minature sesame soft pretzel (presumably as homage to Philadelphia's lasting pretzel heritage).
After the octo came the grilled za'atar chicken with white bean and mascarpone puree. Although truly delectable, my only complaint was that the half a chicken breast was hardly enough to satisfy my voracious craving for blackened poultry (which is pretty epic by most standards). From there was a rather uninspired shrimp and scallop dish with the seemingly out-of-place serrano ham ravioletti. It wasn't bad, but I admit I've been off scallops since my friend Morgan ate some raw ones in my presence and ended up in the hospital...
No dessert, just an espresso, but that decision was mostly out of my hands (those who know me know I never skip dessert...if only for research purposes). All in all, Tangerine was yummy, and I'd like to go back when I have a larger group, so as to sample a wider variety and maybe knock off a couple bottles of wine and loosen my tie a little.
Recommended. Look for more Starr restaurant reviews to come.
232 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106