A Visit to Philadelphia’s Fork Restaurant

Oct 2013

Foodies take notice.  The City of Brotherly Love can be called a destination for dining in and of itself.  The timing of my dinner atPhiladelphia’s Fork Restaurant could not have been better.  After a beautiful fall day, the autumnal atmosphere of the restaurant was a great way to make the feeling linger.  The colors are warm, the restaurant cozy and inviting.  There is a bar area in the front, so as you pass, you feel like your walking into a a friend’s dining space with an open kitchen in the back. On the walls, impressive murals continue my stroll in the woods feeling, and an artful, hand painted touch is found on much of the decor.   Comfy banquets line the edges;  I am happy to be seated there.  Twinkling fairy lights, when not overdone, always make me smile.

Praise has been given to Ellen Yin for reviving the restaurant boom in Philadelphia’s Old City.  Judging from the busy crowd, the spot continues to be a popular area destination.  The menu is focused on seasonal and local ingredients from the surrounding Pennsylvania and New Jersey Farms.  I hope you’re hungry!
Service immediately set the tone, and remained personable and really well informed throughout our visit.  The amuse-bouche started the evening by giving us a small taste to tease the palate. Served in a Brussel sprout leaf, I made a mental note to add the idea to my cocktail appetizer repertoire for the approaching holiday season.
  A playful riff on the pretzels Philadelphia is known for.

The breads were a clever riff on the Philadelphia favorites: a house made bialy with the city’s famed cream cheese, and soft pretzels with a bite of cheese wiz, a fun beginning and strong indication that the house doesn’t take itself too seriously. We selected the house menu which gave us a choice of four courses.

Starters were indeed pleasing to the eye.  I’m a carrot lover, and when they are given the opportunity to caramelize on the grill, well, let’s just say I was a happy camper.  The combination of yogurt and pickled shallots gave a pleasing contrast tot he sweetness of the carrots.

Charred octopus was fork tender, glazed with a sweet and sour sauce. Thrice cooked potatoes soaked up said glaze perfectly.

Grilled corn gnudi {pronounced noo-dee} lets the kitchen’s pasta makers shine.  I would describe gnudi  as very dumpling like. These are made with cloumage {the curd from cow’s milk} from Shy Brothers Farm in Westport, MA.  Thank goodness this was the portion for two of us.  While light and fluffy, and graced with my favorite succotash ingredients, corn and lima beans, they were incredibly rich.  A little went a very long way.

Another bread course was interesting, if perhaps better appreciated by a superhuman with a larger appetites than ours.  Still, I couldn’t resist tasting the beet flavored spread and healthy kale infused snacks. I almost felt like I needed to walk the block before the main event.
Our main courses were from the sea.  Roasted skate was accompanied by clams and smoked fingerling potatoes.  The bright green parsley sauce was an interesting base for the delicate fish, and added lots of bright flavor to the potatoes.

A highlight of the evening was the Branzino “en croute” which came with a crisp wafer like covering;  I though a clever adaption of the wrapped pastry usually meant by the term. The fish was perfectly cooked, moist and tender, accompanied with roasted peppers and artichokes in a tamarind flavored sauce. The spice gives a sweet and sour nod to the dish, a flavor reminiscent of chutneys in India.

And just when we thought we couldn’t possibly eat any more, along comes heavenly sweets.  The perfect finish to an over the top meal, a raspberry soup flavored with a rose scent that immediately transported me to Morocco.  Meringue, rice milk sorbet, all the better to drink up every last taste of this heady concoction.

Calling Fork a bistro, is a bit of an understatement.  When I think of bistro, simple and classic comes to mind.  Obviously, this cuisine is anything but simple.  While the main ingredients shine in each dish, and sauces compliment and are impossibly creative, simple?  I think not. The focus of seasonal, local ingredients raised the bar even higher.
The adjacent space has recently been transformed into High Street on Market and presents a casual eat in/take out concept to compliment the sophisticated cuisine of Fork.  The new menu will feature pastries, sandwiches and salads, all with I’m sure the signature inventiveness chef Eli Kulp is known for.  It’s exciting to hear they will use locally milled flour and grains in the house made baked goods and continue to promote the local food movement.

The next day on the train, I couldn’t have been happier to find this little forgotten treasure tucked away in my bag.  A reminder of the beautiful farm to table experience from the previous evening, an orange flavored treat to tide me over on the ride home.

Pinnable Image-Philadelphia’s Fork Restaurant

Farm to table Goodness at Philadelphia's Fork Restaurant

Green With Renvy partnered with Visit Philly for this experience.

  1. Wow, mouth-watering photos! Great care evident in preparing every dish! The breads look awesome. I always say, the breads mark a restaurant!

  2. Janice Chung says:

    That was a lot of (delicious) food. I have to admit I was not familiar with a lot of the names of the dishes but they certainly looked good. I’ll be checking it out if I happen to visit in August!

  3. noel says:

    There’s a lot of good eating there, I wish this was a scratch and sniff post because I would be licking every dish you posted!

  4. Looks great! Last time in Philadelphia we went with traditional fare at City Tavern. Now we know where to go next time.

  5. I have never been tempted to have octopus, but I just might give it a try at Fork. Looks like an awesome dish. The food all looks amazing and the ambiance sounds wonderful. Now I just have to find a way to get to Philly.