Sunday, March 23, 2008
Just down the block from the great cafe where I bake two days a week, a new BYOB restaurant named Swallow has opened. It took a few extra months due to unforeseen circumstances, but the brown paper is off the windows and Cindy and Jason are now both behind the line at Swallow.
Liz, Shannon and I visted Swallow on a recent weekday night. Liz and Shannon had both seen the inside of the restaurant prior to its opening, but I was a complete virgin to the space. The lighting was too low to take any decent pictures of the beautiful wallpaper or funky light fixtures, so you'll have to go check it out yourself. I can say I felt like I was dining in someones sexy bedroom, and I liked it. We started with the cheese plate from the appetizers portion of the menu. Three cheeses were accompanied by crusty bread, apple and pear slices and some awesomely delicious fresh honeycomb. The cheeses were all very good, each of us had a different favorite. In the background was my favorite, a semi-soft with a sweet aftertaste that went very well with the honey. Shannon was a big fan of the aged Parmesan pictured at the front of the plate, and Liz's favorite is pictured on the right, the slightly yellow creamy looking cheese, the name of which I've completely forgotten. We also sampled a bowl of the day's soup, tomato basil. Shannon is a huge fan of tomato soup, I normally find them a bit too sweet for my tastes, but I really enjoyed this basil heavy, thick puree.
It wasn't hard to figure out what Liz was going to order, she loves flank steak and since it was accompanied by rice, I knew right away she was going to love it. We agreed that the marinade was very delicious, slightly sweet and salty, likely from the additions of sugar and soy, the steak was tender and cooked well. It was served with sticky rice and seasoned swiss chard.
Overall, the menu at Swallow has a few veggie friendly options. There is a Quiche du Jour, which occasionally is vegetarian, but on this day it contained pork belly and mushrooms (yum!). There are also salads and appetizer choices. On this night, the chefs were willing to make Shannon a special vegetarian frittata with goat cheese, swiss chard, and asparagus, she was happy and full.
Because our server said that the chef recommended the tuna, I couldn't seriously consider ordering anything else. I ordered it rare and that's how it came out, beautifully pink. Perched atop a salad of baby arugula and white bean puree spiked with olive oil, then topped with an olive tapenade, this dish was very delicious. I cleaned my plate.
Faced with dessert choices, we decided to abandon choice all together and try one of each dessert they bake in house. First was the apricot tart. None of us are huge fans of apricots, but this tart was tasty, especially the simple but well executed buttery crust.
Liz and Shannon enjoyed the profiteroles with vanilla bean ice cream. I also thought they were delicious, but the real highlight of this dish was the addition of the brandy chocolate syrup, I wanted to take shots of it.
As much as I enjoyed the first two desserts, I have to give my favorite vote to the Creme brulee. Served in a shallow dish to maximize the ratio of crunchy sugar top to creamy custard underneath, it's one of the better creme brulee's I've had in my life, and I've eaten quite a few.
The menu at Swallow is slated to change frequently, perhaps keeping a few of the more popular dishes daily. I'm excited to try it again in the coming weeks and see what new Euro-style dishes Cindy and Jason have come up with. Don't skip dessert, and bring a good bottle of wine.
1030 N American St
Philadelphia, PA 19123