Fall—and Food—Is in the Air
By Dawn E. Warden
Eat till you drop:
If you haven't noticed, it's Main Line Restaurant Week, and practically every restaurant up and down Lancaster Avenue – and plenty off the Line – are pushing discounted lunch and dinner menus, drink specials and food-themed events. Some look at these organized price cuts as a bargain, while others feel like the more-common-than-not smaller portions for grand slam appetizer, entree & desserts at $15, $20, $30 and $40 are not "such a deal."
It's probably a little bit surprising that I've never participated in any Restaurant Week, but I have always assumed that it would be a mediocre dining experience, which is surely a very unfair vantage point. So, I would love to hear from any of you who are taking advantage of this seemingly well-organized – and thus far, well-received—dining extravaganza. Looking for scoop on service, quality of offerings, portion size, coordinating drink deals, and overall perceived value. Leave your comments here so that we can strike up a meaningful conversation. Main Line Restaurant Week continues through Oct. 3. Trust me, if you're on Facebook, you've heard about it. If not, go to mainlinerestaurantweek.com.
In return, I will give you the full report on my experience at Philadelphia's LaScala's, where I am headed tonight. I have never eaten here, but it is a media invite, so I figured, what the heck? And, it was hard to turn down an invitation that came as a wine label and lovely bottle of Tuscan remole (reh-moe-leh) that was surprisingly tasty. The meal is hosted by chef Joseph Nocella, who I am not familiar with. I do, however, like the sound of his surname, which loosely translated by Babylon means a kernel, or grain (of wheat, corn, etc.); or a wrist bone. Obviously, I prefer the first definition as it relates to food/cooking. Just peeked at the regular menu, and from looks alone, Italian-American homestyle is indeed what they seem to be serving. I am envisioning heaping plates of richly-sauced, handmade pastas; thin-crust, crispy pizzas and overly abundant platters of veal and seafood entrées—probably the kind of place my father would love and that could feed the Eagles the night before game day. Good thing I don't have anything too tempting in the fridge for lunch today; a little self-control on the eating seems to be in order. Crossing my fingers that the meal lives up to my own hype! lascalasphilly.com
Chocolate and wine lovers should hit up Wayne this Friday, where the local shops and restaurants will be showing off a little hometown pride for First Friday. I have taken particular note of Aux Petites Delices chocolate and wine tasting, pairing its sweet, semi-sweet and downright decadent house-made chocolates with wines from Chaddsford Winery. Best of all it's free, but donations are welcome, as they'll benefit PSPCA and the upcoming Good Dog Gala – of which Aux Petites Delices is the official sponsor. A couple bucks for a good cause and the luxury of nibbling on silky chocolates seems worth it to me.
Looking ahead to next week, Yangming and Alberton's Cooking School will be getting into the Oktoberfest spirit with a beer and cheese tasting on Wednesday, Oct. 13, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. It's not always the easiest time to get out of the house, especially if you have kids, but it could be a good reason to kick the menfolk out for a couple of hours.
The evening's beer and cheese matchmakers are Adrienne Yanak, Craft and Specialty Beer Ambassador and DiBruno Brothers Hunter Fike. On the sipping side, the selection of beers include: Autumn Pale Ale, Gold Lager, Pilsner, Extra Special Gold Lager, Lao Lager and Lao Dark Beer; but no definitive word yet on cheese offerings. And, it hardly matters: Beer, cheese … sure beats cooking!
Cost is $45 and as I do not know how quickly these events fill up, I recommend calling Yangming by the end of the week to RSVP: (610) 527-3200.