Lemon Hill

Remember our difficulty in choosing a place when we ended up at Supper?  Well, we finally made it to our original destination, Lemon Hill!  Lemon Hill is the new venture by the proprietors of Franklin Mortgage and Investment and Supper in the Fairmount neighborhood of the city.  Fairmount is (in)famous for bar hopping and generally cheap eats, so this adorable palette-challenging spot is a great addition to the area.

The Drinks

Franklin Mortgage is (obviously) responsible for the tasty cocktail offered at Lemon Hill, which was the original reason that we wanted to try the place out.  We were not disappointed (so not disappointed, in fact, that we each partook in two drinks).

Holly:Clover Club

The clover club is a twist on the Pink Lady, which is one of may favorite drinks.  I liked the sweet and sour flavors, and the smoothness that egg whites add to a drink is always appealing to me.  This drink tasted a bit summer-y to me, due to the fruitiness of the raspberry syrup.  Super tasty, and a great starter drink.

Holly: Fairmount Project

My second beverage was a play on an Aviation, which is known for the inclusion of maraschino syrup.  The Fairmount Project is more complex than the clover club, and was a great complement to dinner.  I really enjoyed how sour it was–like an adult sour candy.

Josh: Blues Explosion:

I’m not one for Tennessee whiskey on most days (actually everyday), but the ingredients caught my eye. Fresh grapefruit juice with maple syrup & Angostura bitters made for an exception when I would otherwise order something with bourbon or rye.

Current Drinks Menu

The Food

Appetizers

Holly: Smoked Tomato Soup with Bleu Cheese Popovers

How could I say no?  This soup was smooth, rich, and creamy. The popovers were adorable little semi-fried blobs of bleu cheese that slowly melted into the soup, adding a touch of funk that made the whole thing that much more interesting.  I really enjoyed this (and it inspired me to start adding bleu cheese to tomato soup all the time!)

Josh: Hot Spiced Pecans

These were more than I ever hoped they could be. I like pecan pie, and that’s about it for me and pecans; but smoked nuts with bacon sounded interesting and a nice snack to have with the first drink while waiting on our food. These were the perfect blend of smokey and salty and the cuts of thick bacon and red cherry peppers went great with the flavors.

Dinner

Holly: Roasted Mushroom French Dip

I was feeling like I hadn’t eaten nearly enough vegetables that day, and I love how the earthy flavor of mushrooms in a sandwich act like a protein.  Goat cheese was a great addition as well, because like the popovers, the slight funkiness was a great addition to the mushrooms.  This sandwich was fun to eat, also, because like a classic french dip, it came with a small bowl of jus for dipping.  Who doesn’t like to play with their food a little bit?

Josh: Fish Special of the Day: Scallops with charred escarole, potatoes, and “salsa” verde

I wasn’t sure what I was going to get and made one of those last second menu decisions. I was worried I’d have regrets and that the patty melt (Need to go back and try) would be infinitely better. My doubts were assuaged by some of the best cooked scallops I’ve ever had.

Dessert: Mississippi Mud Pie

There was a much more exciting option on the menu (key lime pie if I remember), but they were out of it at the time. I went with the Mississippi Mud Pie out of a sense of needing to have some kind of desert to gauge the restaurant on for the review. It was well made, but there wasn’t anything that was standout about it.

Current Dinner Menu

The Design

Lemon Hill is barely designed at all. It almost feels like walking into someone’s classy Philly row home (which it basically is).  The exposed brick wall may be a little overdone in restaurants around here, but at least this one is original to the building, and it serves a purpose by separating the bar from the quieter dinner area.The copper-y tin ceiling (which is probably actually a acoustic panel tile) is a beautiful element in this pretty bare-bones space.   If it is acoustical tile, it was a smart choice for a restaurant that invites cozy dinners with friends or a date: many restaurants forget that although hard surfaces usually look pretty great, they are horrible at dimming the sound that will inevitably be a problem.  My one real complaint is that the faux finish on the wall was pretty ugly, and I would have much preferred simple paint (or at least losing the textured “sandy” grit that they used).  Overall, Lemon Hill felt warm and homey, just like the food.

The Service

The staff was kind and helpful. At the beginning we did have that long wait when you aren’t ready to order so they really give you a lot of time to order. This was annoying but also understandable to a degree.

The Receipt

Closer to the 20 dollar side of a 10-20 dollar range for meals, I definitely felt we got good values. The cocktails lived up to my expectations and the prices along the lines of being just below Franklin Mortgage prices with a taste level that was equally just below it.

Our Ratings

Drinks: 5/5

Food: 5/5

Design: 3/5

Service: 5/5

Budget: 4/5

Overall Experience: 5/5

Will We Visit Again?

Definitely.  How could we not?  We love Supper.  We Love the Franklin.  This is the best of both worlds, and pretty close to where we live, as well!

Restaurant Website

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R2L

R2L Logo

Skyline dining is not something most of us expect to do anytime soon. The Space Needle or a movie set of a lascivious penthouse restaurant come to mind– and instantly the idea is discarded as a luxury expense. R2L dashes these notions  with the force an object would assume were it do be dropped from the 37th floor of the Two Liberty Place tower (which also happens to be R2L’s location).

We chose to visit R2L to celebrate our 1 year anniversary, and we couldn’t have made a better choice of restaurant.  The place was classy, luxurious and incredibly down-to earth (or at least as much as a skyscraper restaurant can be).

The Drinks

R2L-evation

Aviations are a favorite for both of us (especially those mixed by our friend Matt) and it seemed to be the signature drink so while we waited at the bar for out table we both ordered one. Mixed with Amsterdam Gin (spied the bartender pouring it), and subbing Parfait Amour for Creme de Violette (made with rose petals and more citrus) the drink was a hit with both of us.

Perfect Manhattan

I prefer straight up regular manhattans (2:1 ratio) most of the time, but have had perfect manhattans in the past and enjoyed them nonetheless. After gin for the first drink, I knew I wanted to see their skill with rye or boubon and the perfect manhattan just stood out at that point. I’m not sure what the rye was, but the drink was very well mix and fit the bill perfectly to go with my dry aged steak and into desert.

Special Bonus

Because we mentioned in our reservation that we would be celebrating an anniversary, the restaurant provided complimentary champagne.  How sweet of them!  This kind of service is rare at most places, and it was so welcome and pleasing to feel like the restaurant was celebrating with us.

The Food

Appetizer: Lobster Mac and Cheese

I have wanted to try this for some time now, but I am always lured away by other tasty (and usually cheaper) appetizers.  But dammit, this was our anniversary so I felt allowed to splurge– and boy am I glad we did.  This wasn’t a mess of cheese and pasta with bits of lobster hiding within.  Instead, 5 extra-large pieces of macaroni were individually treated to mounds of tasty cheese and a large chunk of meat each.  The morsels were perfectly bite-sized and the flavors were well-balanced and perfectly cooked.  I knew we were in for some great dinner after these bites, which is exactly what an appetizer is for.

Dinner

Josh: Dry Aged NY Strip Steak

Originally we were going to try to hit up one of the big steakhouses in Philly for our anniversary specifically to get some dry aged steaks, but eventually decided on R2L.  Happily R2L has an award-winning a dry aged steak anyway– in my favorite steak cut to boot! I ordered medium rare and this was probably the best steak I’ve ever eaten, but I will qualify that with the fact that I haven’t had any other aged steaks of course. I got the broccoli and wild rice for my side and it was a great combo to the steak and the most perfectly cooked broccoli I’ll ever have.

Holly: Mustard Crusted Pork Chop

You would think that a NY Strip Steak would far and away be the best thing on the menu at a place like this, but I dare you to try to pork chop.  Actually, if you go there and don’t try it I think you will have missed out on one of the best experiences of your life.  This chop had the best texture and the most flavor of any pork I have had anywhere.  Ever.  It was rubbed with mustard and cooked so perfectly that I was almost fooled into thinking I was eating beef.  No lie–I have never had a “foodgasm” before, but ladies and gentleman, that pork chop was the end-all of food experiences for me so far.  It was served with fingerling potatoes, but really who cares?  Damn that chop was tasty.

Dessert

Holly: Variations on Chocolate

Variations on Chocolate is a very fancy way to say you get a crap ton of tasty desserts on one pretty plate (and it’s definitely meant to hold the attention of the ladies).  The plate had 5 tasty little bites, each with its own flavor and texture.  The first was a teeny little macaroon ( maybe?) with an overall taste of caramel, topped with a little chocolate wafer.  Next, a chocolate lollipop filled with peanut butter (my favorite), followed by a dollop of creamy chocolate ice cream.  Finally, a chocolate breakfast is presented with a doughnut and little mug of “hot” chocolate (really a cold milk shake with hot pepper in it–it’s not a new concept, but this is definitely the best execution I have had).  Everything was delicious and it was super fun to have a lot of different presentations on one plate.  In a restaurant that could swing toward the all-too-serious side, this dessert was playful and a great way to end the meal.

Josh:French Toast

There wasn’t as much food to my desert as Holly’s but boy was it tasty and right up my alley. 2 small perfectly made french toast sticks were surrounded by a bevy of accoutrements. There were puffs of bourbon maple whipped cream, a house-made ice cream dollop, caramel drizzle and slices of the most perfectly fried banana sliced with a hard glaze on top of them.  They all were delicious and went great together and after a large meal I didn’t really need a big dessert anyway.

The Design

R2L is a classy establishment.  You kind of know that going in. From the moment you approach their private elevator the “magic” happens.  Everything is perfectly balanced to feel sumptuous and extravagant, but nothing is really intimidating or unwelcoming in its fashionable approach.  The design is inspired by art deco interiors from the 1930s and as such all of the forms are curved, colorful, and tactile, but nothing is flashy or obnoxious.  Even the prevailing use of zebra fabric in the custom seating is tasteful (and very theme appropriate).  The design was obviously meant to highlight the beautiful view, and the space planning was done so that you can see the gorgeous view from almost anywhere you sit in the restaurant (pro tip guys: if you go here on a hot date, make sure you give the better seat to your lady friend).  I felt like my design sensibilities were taken care of almost as well as my tastebuds were.

The Overall Experience

Daniel Stern obviously knows how to train his staff: our waitress was personable, kind, and knew everything about the food she was serving.  She had just the right amount of friendliness and professionalism, as one would expect from a restaurant such as this.  Our food was also served in a timely (but not hurried) fashion and each dish was plated with perfect attention to visual detail.  Our desserts even came with a scripted “Happy Anniversary” written in chocolate on the plate.  As we mentioned before, we also receive champagne and many congratulations from those serving us.  It was appreciated, and the perfect touches that make a night at R2L special.  We would highly recommend it for your next special celebration.

The Receipt

For all this luxury, service, and deliciousness you would expect R2L to break the bank.  It was of course pretty pricey, but it was completely worth it (and not nearly as expensive as one might think).  Pro tip:  If you want the R2L experience but can’t hang the price-tag, spend a happy hour at the bar.  the bartenders are also great, there is a bar food menu, and you don’t need a reservation.  It’s a great way to experience the place without emptying your wallet.

Our Ratings

Drinks: 5/5

Food: 5/5

Design: 5/5

Service: 5/5

Budget: 3/5

Overall Experience: 5/5

Will We Visit Again:

If we could we would be frequent patrons of R2L  but budget will not allow.  We would love to visit again for a bar seat and a casual snack (and we feel completely welcomed to do so but the great bar staff and the view that even the bar allows).