Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Philly: Amada

There was a time when tapas was a fairly new concept as far as the American dining public was concerned. Chances are, if you asked most people what the word meant - they wouldn't have been able to tell you. The truth is, until the wife and I went to Amada way back in 2006, we didn't really know what it was either.

The experience we got from Jose Garces' restaurant back then was both a blessing and a curse.

It was a blessing because it gave us a true sense of what it meant to eat Spanish style small plates. The decor matched the simple yet high qualiy offerings. Little touches such as the live flamenco dancers on Saturday nights (good luck getting one of those rezzies, they come on at around 10), or uber cool hand cranked meat slicer, are many of the smalls details that create an overall experience you don't get just anywhere.

The curse - like anything that happens to be the best you've ever had, while also being your first time - is that the notion of tapas was so clearly  defined by our Amada visit. Many of the places you see today simply place food on a small plate and call it a day. I see these 'tapas' places and say to myself, "You call this tapas? Sheeee-yit!" (To quote Clay Davis.)

Long before Garces was an Iron Chef, the people of Philadelphia have been filing into this restaurant to enjoy the cheeses, cured meats, Spanish specialties. One item that sits squarely on my wishlist - and will most likely stay there - is the Suckling Pig (must order ahead and have a slew of people to share it with). This man cooked what was probably one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I've ever had at the Alex's Lemonade Stand Great Chef's Event

Amada is what I would consider a moderately priced restaurant. As long as your eyes aren't 10x the size of your stomach and you don't plan on binge drinking, your check with tip will probably hover around the $100-120 range (depending on what you order drink wise).

The Garces empire has steadily been growing since he became an Iron Chef, but take comfort in knowing that the people of Philly have been crowding into this spot way before any of that went down. If you're like us, you'll probably want to walk off dinner before you dive into dessert. Franklin Fountain is just a stone's throw away up on Market Street.

217 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 625-2450

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