Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Philadelphia Vegetarian

Philadelphia may not seem like a city on the forefront of the dining scene, but a new restaurant there, Square 1682 begs to differ. Chef Guillermo Tellez, a Charlie Trotter and Stephen Starr veteran, emphasizes sustainable and organic ingredients, using seasonal produce, free-range meats and ocean-friendly seafood. No taking out your little sustainable seafood watch card to see if the fish meets eco-standards.

The chef puts the same care into his vegetarian dishes as he does the signature short ribs. A vegetable lasagna consists of layers of portabellas, squash and peppers; no pasta at all, with aged balsamic and brown butter. It is utterly delicious. Even better, the decadently rich mushroom tart has a hauntingly earthy sauce, under a puff pastry crust. A line of miniature vegetables alongside had beets, roasted onions and micro-greens. These entrees make vegetarians feel like full members at the table, not afterthoughts.

Since the chef prepares everything to order, you can also customize other dishes. Black Cod in Porchetta comes with a fantastic creamy polenta, leek confit and caramelized fennel. Ask for it without the pork if you eat fish, or without either port or black cod if you don’t. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

The LEED-registered restaurant, in the LEED Hotel Palomar also uses eco-friendly materials, including a bar of walnut, sourced from a Forest Stewardship Council certified forest. From the bar, the signature Bell Pepper Smash, with vodka, peppers, ginger and raspberry is a must.

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