Don’t you just love it when restaurants have names like this……Fork. I mean, there is no chance of mispronunciation and looking foolish in front of your pals. No, “Oh, we went to the most amazing restaurant last night called exo-chittell(actually spelled Xochitl)l”. “You mean, soocheet(phonetically spelled of course)?” they say in that somewhat superior tone. “Uhhh, yes, that’s what I meant…what you just said…of course you would pronounce Xochitl soocheet“. And then your story about eating grasshoppers and calf’s brains suddenly seems less exciting and more like you’re describing a great plate of cheese fries at the neighborhood dive bar. And I know, I know. I probably wouldn’t want to eat at a restaurant named something like, Mystery Meat and More, or Your Guess Is As Good As Mine. Of course you’d like to get some sort of idea of what you’re getting yourself into when you walk in the door and that’s when the name of the joint comes in handy. I’m just saying, sometimes good food doesn’t need a fancy name. Like the restaurant Fork. They even have a bakery/breakfast/lunch joint attached to the main restaurant called “Fork, etc.” Isn’t that great! You know what else is great? Their food.
We’ve had quite a few friends and family visit us since we’ve moved to Philadelphia. I guess the lore of a hustling, bustling, historic and food-centric city is more tempting than 5 acres down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere Virginia. I can see that(although I’m sure some of them must be missing the bonfires(actually we were just burning down a stump and it took years) in our yard). So whenever we have visitors we take them on the usual tour…cheese steaks, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Elfreth’s Alley…Love Park…The Rocky Steps at the Art Museum…ChinaTown…The Italian Market…Reading Terminal Market…you get my drift. And then we always try to find a new but exciting place for dinner. Chloe in Old City used to be a tried and true staple but they’ve since lost my recommendation due to a less than sterling performance one evening. Farmacia is always a good choice if you’re looking for fresh, home style food. And then there’s Fork. The hubby and I have been avoiding Fork. We live steps away but the prices always looked a bit too steep AND it wasn’t a BYOB(you want to make my day? tell me I can bring my own booze). But we had some friends in from out of town last weekend and on a whim decided to give it a try……
We couldn’t get a seat inside due to lack of planning but were able to grab a table on the sidewalk. It was a less than perfect setting due to the parade of buses that march up and down Market street, but it was a lovely evening so we decided to make the best of it. I’m sure you’ve read by now that my husband and I will eat just about anything and enjoy it. When we were in Munich a few years ago we fell in love with head cheese. Now, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with head cheese. I describe it as meat jello. It’s basically bits of meat from, you guessed it, the head of an animal(calf, pig, sheep, etc.) seasoned and set in aspic(gelatin made from the natural gelatin found in meat that occurs when boiled then left to cool). It turns out looking like this(top right of this pic) and it’s delicious(this plate also featured a lovely terrine, some rillets and other meaty delights). If you closed your eyes and tasted it you would most certainly enjoy the tender meat, delicious mix of flavors and the aspic melting on your tongue. I could eat it like lunch meat. I adore it. It’s not one of those items that you run into on every old menu, so when I saw it on Fork’s menu as part of a house made charcuterie plate I got a little selfish and decided for the table that we WOULD be having that as a starter. Our friends were quite good sports…tasting a bit here and there but I felt guilty having ordered it for my own selfish reasons…however, 5 mins into chowing down the guilt faded away(or was perhaps eaten away by the head cheese itself) and all I felt was joy.
For the mains….
I had the snapper. I’m a sucker for snapper. We buy a whole snapper about once a week…take it home…stuff it with aromatics and roast it whole. *drool* I wish I had some in the fridge right now. I like getting whole fish at restaurants, but what I like even more is getting a portion of fish….with crispy skin…like fish flavored potato chip(hmmmm, I wonder if the Japanese have thought of that yet…light bulb!). They cooked the fish perfectly(with my potato chip like skin) and then laid it on a bed of English pea ravioli, fiddlehead ferns(this was my first time trying them and honestly the reason I ordered the dish…do you like asparagus and the smell of fresh cut grass? then you might enjoy a good fiddlehead…honestly though, they were delicious and I have since gone to the farmers market and brought back armfuls of them) and a sweet and vinegary sauce that brought out the flavor of everything perfectly. Gooood.
The hubby had the whole cape may fluke. Look at that smile The artichokes that accompanied it looked delightful and the fish(so I hear as he left no opening for me to take a taste) was perfectly cooked as well.
Our friends both had the salmon. It was text book salmon and lovely, but I thought the star or their show was the diced yukon gold potato salad tossed in a lemon aioli. I don’t know why I haven’t been making potatoes this way all along. They go together like…well…yukon gold potatoes and lemon aioli(who says peas and carrots get to corner the market on that one).
So if you’re in the Old City area and staring down that long line of restaurants on Market Street take my advice and poke your head in at Fork. Perhaps you’ll get lucky and get a table. Or get extra lucky and be able to share it with some good friends(who might just pay for your lovely meal…thanks again guys).