Monday, January 26, 2009
The tiny space that houses Carman's Country Kitchen can barely contain the amount of folk art and attitude that belong to Carman and her staff. Her minuscule kitchen puts out four creative seasonal combinations a week for $12 each. The service is friendly and personal. Your server will introduce himself by name and ask you and your friends your names as well. If Carman has time there will be a some cozy small talk and probably a little sass. They brew great coffee, but all other beverages are bottled and they welcome you to BYOB.
The corner spot literally has four tables and a small counter, so it can't accommodate a large group, don't even try. In warmer months, Carman puts a table in the bed of her pick-up truck (the red truck with yellow door) and serves up to six more more eager mouths.
Omelets are something Carman elevates to an extreme level. Her choices are adventurous but border on too busy for my breakfast tastes. Red wine poached mushrooms and goat cheese with herbs was a complex filling that probably would have been more successful with one less ingredient. Sides will set you back another five dollars but offerings such as the beautiful sausage patty, pictured above, are what keep me going back for more. A warm bottle of maple syrup comes to the table with your meal and a small pour of Grade B goodness on a bite of that sausage is definitely something I wish I had more often on weekend mornings.
Carman does french toast in a number of ways, all are delicious and made with thick custard soaked slices of challah bread. Pictured above is a tangy combination of strawberries and pineapple with lime syrup. I've also been lucky enough to devour the delicious Clementine, honey and coconut combination Carman whipped up one day. If you love French Toast, Carman will always surprise you with a funky new topping combination.
Pancakes are equally adventurous in composition. Light fluffy cakes are filled with spiced poached pears and topped with persimon marscapone cheese. Any pancake topping can also be served on top of a crunchy Belgian style waffle. If you're lucky enough to dine at Carman's when she's offering baked bean and smoked cheese waffles or raspberry pancakes with fig jam, then you'll be hooked too.
Overall, the food here is beyond creative and usually the seemingly bizarre combinations really please. It's a bit on the pricey side, brunch for two can run over thirty dollars. Add that to the possibility of a wait and you might just want to hit the Oregon Diner if you're strapped for cash or need to eat immediately. Save Carman's for the days when you've got a few extra bucks and a few extra minutes to hang out and enjoy the atmosphere.
Carman's Country Kitchen
1301 S 11th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148