Food Review

Restaurant Review – Adsum, Queen Village Philadelphia

On Sunday, January 30th at 6PM, the Crafty Day crew (Patty and Rob, Sue and Rash, Mrs. G-LO and I) gathered at Adsum for a long overdue dinner. We were there for well over 3 hours and consumed 7 appetizers, 6 entrees, 5 desserts, and drank many beers, glasses of wine, cocktails, and after dinner drinks. Although we never need a reason for getting together, we did use the fact that our birthdays fall between November 22nd and March 4th as an excuse to splurge a bit.

Since our gatherings tend to resemble sporting events whenever food and drink are involved (think decathlon), I thought I would give you a play-by-play…

5:50 PM – Since my wife and I were the first to arrive, we settled in at the bar and ordered some drinks. The wife ordered a Mulled Wine and I started off with a Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale. I was hoping to have an Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, but sadly, they were out of stock. Both are excellent, but I was craving something dark and brooding.

6:05 PM – Patty and Rob arrive. Rob ordered a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, while Patty took a seat at the bar and ordered a Poppy Doble cocktail (Rum, maraschino, poppy seed, fresh lime, almond, fresh grapefruit. It looked really good!). Rob and I went on to discuss the homebrews that he is working on (he also makes his own wine), while the ladies talked about whatever it is the ladies talk about. I’m sure the beer talk was infinitely more interested. The ladies will most likely disagree.

6:20 PM – Sue and Rash arrive. We took our seats and promptly start discussing the menu. Sue ordered a Bombay Sapphire and Tonic, while Rash went with a glass of red wine.

6:40PM – There were 12 appetizers listed on the menu. We decided to go with the following:

  • Foie gras poutine
  • Smoked mushroom pickles
  • BBQ pork sliders, iceberg slaw
  • Fried Oysters, pickle juice remoulade
  • Landaff Cheddar, apple butter, bacon fat biscuit
  • Tater tots, whiskey, bacon, whipped ranch
  • Grilled rock octopus, black pepper caramel

6:55 PM – I’m not quite sure how they did it, but the appetizers came out lightning fast. I sampled all but two of them (the tater tots and the Landaff cheddar were the exceptions). Everything was delicious and beautifully presented on rectangular plates that fit perfectly in the center of the table, which made sharing that much easier. If I had to pick two favorites, I would go with the BBQ pork sliders and the Smoked mushroom pickles. The sliders were piled high with tender, smoky, pulled pork that was mostly sweet, but had a spicy kick at the end. The Smoked mushroom pickles were delightfully unusual. The smoky flavor was offset by some vinegar tanginess, and the brandied cherries that were also part of this dish added just enough sweetness to keep me going back for more.

In between bites, the conversation kept flowing, and we ordered a second round of beers and wines. I went with a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, Rob went with a Narragansett Lager Pounder, and Patty and Rash ordered some more wine. I mentioned to Rob that I had been going back and forth on Twitter with Chef Levin, so Rob waved him over and we talked to him for a few minutes. Topics discussed:

  • The infamous Adsum Four Loko dinner and why he still has 18 cases of the stuff in storage.
  • The Foie gras protests that happened outside The Rittenhouse Hotel when he was executive chef at Lacroix. This part of the chat prompted me to make the following assinine  statement, “The reason those idiots are protesting foie gras is because they have never had foie gras!”. I’m sure there was a profanity or two thrown in there at some point.
  • Why he didn’t give us any bread to sop up the juicy remnants from our appetizer remains. Though he never answered the question, he did offer us some brioche.
  • His love for Twitter and the amount of crap that he gets from his publicist for the stuff that he says.

Chef Levin went back to work and we finally settled on our entrees. There were ten to choose from. We went with the following six:

  • Fried chicken, collards, ham hocks, hot sauce
  • Lamb shank, brussels sprouts, red pepper, sasparilla
  • Fluke, grilled snails, mushrooms, garlic confit, aromatic chicken jus
  • Shrimp and grits, dirty andouille
  • Diver scallops, butternut, jalapeno, tonka, butterscotch
  • Short ribs, celery root, brown butter worcestshire, popcorn

7:30 PM – Our entrees arrive. I ordered the Shrimp and grits with dirty andouille. I really enjoyed how the textures and flavors of the three main ingredients played off of each other… smoky and mildly spicy sausage, plump and juicy shrimp, smooth and creamy grits. Great stuff, but alas, I had no bread with which to clean my plate! I also tried the diver scallops and short ribs entrees. They were great too!

8:00PM – Though we were getting full from our first two courses, there were still desserts to be eaten. We ordered the following:

  • Chocolate and bacon Snickers w/ Mexican Hot Chocolate
  • Chocolate chip and brandied cherry bread pudding with vanilla gelato
  • Creme Brulee
  • Spiced apple pie with dulce and vanilla gelato
  • PB&J ice cream sandwiches  with black pepper cookies

I’ve been reading quite a bit about different liqueurs and spirits, so when I noticed that Fernet Branca was listed on the after dinner drink menu, I decided to order a glass. Since there was an article about aperitifs/digestivios on the Spice & Ice blog on January 26th, I just had to have it!

8:15PM – Desserts and my Fernet Branca arrive at our table. My wife and I decided that we would each eat half of our desserts and then trade plates (she had the chocolate and bacon Snickers). The bitter, herbal, and very minty Fernet Branca was quite refreshing, and paired well with the PB&J ice cream sandwich that I had selected as my dessert. I can’t say that I would recommend the Fernet Branca to everyone, but if you’re a fan of bitter liqueurs, then you should really give it a try. It’s very intense and very flavorful! Much like my entree, the PB&J ice cream sandwich was a very textural experience. Crisp shortbread cookies with the occasional burst of pepper. Cool and luscious ice cream. Salty peanut butter and sweet jelly. All of these elements played well together. At the midway point, my wife and I switched plates. While I enjoyed the chocolate and bacon Snickers, I didn’t love it. The flavors mostly melded together, but I found the bacon to be a bit overwhelming. The homemade vanilla nougat was my favorite part of the dessert.

Though we were done with our desserts by 8:45PM, we stayed around for at least another half hour and had a few laughs. The conversation bounced around between a multitude of topics throughout the evening, and since we’ve know each other for over 20 years, there’s always plenty to talk about.

Of course food and drink were a big part of the conversation, and after our meal was over, we all came to the same conclusion about our first Adsum experience: EXCELLENT! Reasonably priced and beautifully prepared food always scores high marks, and Adsum definitely delivered. The restaurant bills itself as “A Refined Neighborhood Bistro”, and that is exactly what it is. Their menu is constructed in such a way that repeated visits can range from a casual burger and fries at the bar to a full blown gourmet meal. Great food, great service, great atmosphere and of course, great company. Who could ask for anything more? I look forward to going back there very very soon!

7 replies »

  1. I’ve been sitting up here for over an hour – by myself, blinds closed, TV off, blanket on, a triple dose of excedrin working its magic – trying to quiet the ringing in my head. Trying to decrease the pressure inside my pea brain by refocusing on ever enlarging spheres of space – the room, the sounds of my son in the next room, my wife watching TV downstairs, the neighbor’s dog whining to get back inside, traffic on the next street over road, an airplane inbound to DFW.

    Because I too have a dinner to attend this evening, a monthly 4-couple get together. Big T and Bruce, Linda and the bearded Kevin, KK and Tom, me and the missus.

    How hard it is to clear one’s mind. And your story, so richly detailed, filled it right back up. I could hear the chiming of ice in glasses, the scrape of dishes sliding, the percussion of fork and knife, all against the background hum of other diners.

    And the laughter. While it’s fun to try to out-lie the other guys at the table, I strive for one thing – to make the ladies laugh, to see that sparkle in their eyes.

    All this aspirin is likely going to take margaritas off tonight’s menu. But I’ve had your dinner, eaten at your restaurant. Because it’s not the cuisine, it’s the company.

    My dinner tonight will be all the better because of this appetizer you’ve given me.

    Now back to my mental yoga.


    • Feel better Monkey Man! Hope you have as much fun with your friends as I did with mine. And if you think your head and liver can handle it, have that Margarita! Last thing… the best accompaniement to a fine meal and fine drink is always great friends!


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