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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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)