Emmanuelle

emmanuellephilly

Emmanuelle is a new spot in the Piazza in NoLibs, but bonus: it’s in the BACK (away from the noise and bustle of the front section of the Piazza).  It is a really cool little place, and we kind of hope it doesn’t get discovered because the quiet atmosphere and friendly staff make this place one of our current favorites.

The Drinks

THEY HAVE A PHO FLAVORED COCKTAIL RIGHT NOW! ’nuff said.

But seriously: Emmanuelle’s menu is intriguing, fun, and challenging in the best way.  Split into “The Entire Civilized History of the World” (classic cocktails) and “New Shit that has Come to Light” (original cocktails), the menu has a wide variety of drinks with a flavor profile for every palette.   At this point, I have sampled most of what I find interesting on the menu and I can safely say that I don’t see myself becoming disinterested with these flavors.  The complexity is really attractive to me – as a lover of flavorful, well-made foods, the obvious next step in my culinary advances is to become more adventurous in the drinks department.

Which brings me back to the Phở cocktail – you’ve probably read our posts showing my love of Asian noodles (here, and here), but I just wasn’t convinced about a cocktail with that flavor profile (not because I was unconvinced that it would be well-crafted, but because I genuinely don’t like “spicy” drinks most of the time). The bartender assured me that is was more “savory” than spicy (despite a float of Sriracha), and I am really glad I went for it.  Do you love Phở? Well, prepare to spend a lot of money at Emmanuelle while this is on the menu because it’s INSANE-ly tasty.  Seriously, go try it.  Right now.

Josh will probably also want to give a shout-out, since their house rye is Rittenhouse.  This place really was made for us.

Menu

The Snacks

They have a small sampling of bar snacks, which are just enough to help you fill your stomach with something other than alcohol. (But really, why would you want to?) We have tried their mixed nuts, which came in an adorable cut glass mason jar (catering to my love of cute, hipster-popularized vintage memorabilia) and were salty and herbaceous, a perfect complement to my cocktails.

The Design

I had a mentor in school who described his design style as “Modern Victorian.”  While this place is a pretty over-the-top interpretation of that, there’s not really a better way to describe it.  Emmanuelle is named for a French soft-core porn film (yeah, really) and the interior reflects that.  It is a darkly-lit, jewel-toned, and eclectically-styled interior with fun custom art pieces, damask wallpaper, and mirrored ceiling soffits. It’s really much classier than my words are making it sound – I promise.  Even Josh liked it, and it helped me to finally convince him the “eclectic” interiors really are a good idea, and that the Victorians knew where it was at (their over-stuffed rooms probably looked baller in lamp-light, while in our standard brightly-lit spaces they would feel overwhelming). My preferred mark of a well designed restaurant interior is that it matches the product, and Emmanuelle’s interior does that perfectly.

The Overall Experience

The bartender made a point to introduce herself at our first visit, a group of girls sitting next to us involved us in a conversation, and the barback got a bottle of gin down from the top shelf for our friend to look at because the bottle was recently redesigned.  The people here are super great, and even though we are probably not “cool” enough for Emmanuelle, we never feel like we aren’t welcome.

The Receipt

Cocktails of this quality should cost more than what they do at Emmanuelle – only $10 – $12 per drink (on the menu).  It still may not be an every-night-of-the-week place, but it’s definitely doable often.

Our Ratings

Drinks: 5/5 — (Remember how we tried to give Franklin Mortgage a 6/5? We can petition to do that again, right?)

Food: 5/5

Design: 5/5

Service: 5/5

Budget: 4/5

Overall Experience: 5/5

Will We Visit Again

We already have, and plan to do so again.

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Federal Donuts – 2nd Location Preview!

Stand aside Krispy Kreme, you have met a match that cannot even be met. Philly’s very own quirky chicken ‘n’ donuts joint is opening a second location TOMORROW (10/3/12)! There are no other words but Hawesome.

We have been frequenting the original FedNuts location in South Philly since they opened, and although we will probably continue to visit the original, a new Fednuts will open its doors soon at 16th and Sansom in Center City.  Josh wins everything, so he got chosen to sample some free donuts and chicken during their dry run on October 1st -and since he could “Bring the chicken to his friends, but not his friends to the chicken” I got to wait in the car and cry tears of sadness while he got to shmooze with the coolest fast food place around.  Then I ate the food with him when he came back, so my tears were short-lived.  Here’s what we think of the new flavors!
Donuts!

Turkish Mocha – The fresh donuts are always my favourite because of the texture, and this one was no exception. A great combination of not-too-sweet with chocolate/coffee flavor.

Strawberry Fennel- I didn’t really like this one, and Josh was torn between getting vanilla spice and strawberry-fennel as the 2nd fresh flavor to sample, but ultimately decided to go with strawberry-fennel because it was the more adventurous of the two. Josh enjoys fennel, but not fennel seeds themselves, and thankfully they did not use whole fennel seeds in this, so he throughly enjoyed the sweet and savory combination.

Maple Bacon – The fancy donuts are usually a bit too sweet for my liking, but how could I pass up on a combination of my favorite animal and my favorite sweetener? (I am a Vermonter, after all).  It was not too sweet, thankfully, but I still wish there was more bacon flavor.  Tasty breakfast in a single baked good!

Lemon Bar – FedNuts donuts are always delicious but sometimes their donut aspirations don’t always live up to their inspiration. Lemon bar does not suffer this fate: it had the right balance of sweet lemony flavor with a nice bitter taste at the end just like a real lemon bar. Interestingly, the lemon bar donut was actually less sweet than its bacon-y friend, which we both enjoyed.

Chicken!

We opted for the Cowboy coffee spice blend, which was a great kind of tangy, bbq-esque flavor which went great with the fried chicken.   I can’t wait to try dill pickle flavor upon another venture!  I am excited for the new chicken flavors at the CC Federal Donuts, since we have just about exhausted the menu at the original, and although it’s always good, it’s just not as exciting anymore.  The truth is, we were in a stale relationship with Fednuts, and this new location is exactly what we need to “spice up”(pun intended) our romance.

As always Fednut delivers the tasty.  I wish parking were easier, but this place is going to be bananas when it opens.  Good luck donut-seeking friends who try to get in tomorrow!

Visit their website for more info.

Center City Sips

I know I know, pretty much anyone living in Philly already knows about this, but just in case your apartment is in a hole, make sure you get out and try Center City Sips.

Sips is a summer-long event at multiple restaurants which feature various cocktails, wine, and beer and 1/2 price appetizers on Wednesdays from 5-7pm.  Like restaurant week, this would be a cost-efficient and non-intimidating way to try out a new place, and maybe rediscover an old favorite.

I would personally suggest checking out Square Peg; you all know we’ve been there a couple of times already, and they are the new kids on the block so show them some love!  Their ruben quesadilla sounds pretty great, too.

Here is a full list of the participating restaurants
Follow @CCDSips for updates.

Now get out and get your drank on!

University City Dining Days

Chef Garces Likes it!

The time is upon us again.  We may be a little bit behind, but FYI: It’s UC Dining days!  So head out and try one of the many fabulous options, right in your ‘hood!

www.ucdiningdays.com

Pho and Cafe Saigon

I wanted to try Pho and Cafe Saigon, upon the recommendation of our friend Jake and the pre-tested menu by Josh.  It’s also only a few block from our house, so it was the choice place to impulse buy dinner before I had to jet off to roller derby practice.

Since this was my first real foray into ANY kind of truly Asian restaurant, I was a little intimidated by the curt service and the fact that the people who frequent this joint really are Vietnamese, and speak the language.  I can only imagine how obnoxious us whities are to the owners (who did set up a restaurant in the middle of Penn-land, so I guess I can’t feel too sorry for them).

Josh and I kept it safe.  He got a rice flake platter, and I went for the brisket Pho.  I like “nasty-bits” so I probably would have really enjoyed some beef tendon, but I will just have to go back for it.  Not that going back is going to be a problem: This Pho was delicious!  The brisket was tender, and actually what I am always expecting when I order brisket at a BBQ place.  The condiments we enjoyable.  The noodles were chewy, had a nice texture and really soaked up the flavor of the broth.  And that broth!  I also really enjoyed how hands-on Pho is.  It’s kind of cathartic to go through the ritual of adding the noodles, hot sauce, meats, and bean sprouts into the broth, letting them soak, then eating slowly with chopsticks and a spoon.

We got take-out this time, so no opinions are really necessary on the decor or service (although they had some pretty sweet looking fish tanks in there).  All I can say is, if you haven’t gotten in on the Pho craze yet, you definitely should try it out at Pho and Cafe Saigon.

Menu (from menupages)