Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fare

 Wade's Take:
The concept of Fare is a good one. Take good, clean, organic foods. Prepare and cook them as they are meant to be cooked. Keep the dishes straightforward, the infusions to a minimum and let the natural flavors present themselves.

Fare's blog expounds upon this decision-making process in great detail (and has an interesting section devoted to Philly tap water's improved purity to bottled water). The interior of this Fairmount restaurant reflects this ethos as well. Clean lines and simple design are abound with hearty wooden tables and comfortable booths and chairs.

This is all well and good - but we were there to eat. And that's where it didn't (the pun can't be resisted) fare well.
I began with the scallops. They were great. Two scallops pan-fried with a crisp edge and melt-in-your-mouth center. The scallops sat on a sweet pea puree that was good enough to constitute it's own soup. 
I couldn't resist the idea of an avocado crab cake, and had to order it as my main. The crabcakes were very good. The hunks of fresh avocado were in equal proportion to the crab meat, and there was a punch of wasabi in the mix as well. Although pan-fried, the crabcakes weren't too oily. All of these flavors I describe above took some detective work to uncover, though, because the crabcakes came doused in sweet chili sauce. I am a great fan of chili sauce - I will dump it on anything edible at home. However, it wasn't necessary for this dish and overpowered it. 
The sides for the crabcakes included a rice pilaf and julienned summer vegetables (squash, cucumber and company). Both were plain and unremarkable. Not offensive, not memorable... just simple sides. I suddenly understood why there were salt and pepper shakers on all the tables.

Dessert came in two forms - semisweet flourless chocolate cake and some sort of sage candle-like pudding. Dave nailed it when he assessed they weren't house-made. The flourless chocolate cake was mediocre. It was on the dry and crumbly side and served with a whipped cream (good) and strawberries (which somehow tasted out-of-season).

Overall, my take is that this is a place where you'd take a finicky Aunt from out-of-town who likes nice restaurants but prefers dishes on the simpler side.

Two out of four organic fares.






Jess’ Take:
Wade pretty  much said it – great concept, but I can make it at home. I was very excited when this restaurant opened because not only do I love the organic/local trend that has overtaken Philly, but it’s also in my neighborhood! Unfortunately the whole meal was good, but not great.  

I started with roasted cauliflower and chickpeas over a dill yogurt sauce. I’m not a huge cauliflower fan unless it’s roasted, and I LOVE chickpeas, so this dish sounded perfect. It was nice, but needed a little oomph. There just wasn’t much there, there.

For my main entrée I went with grilled salmon with a tarragon caper sauce served over brown rice with a side of roasted corn.  Again, I was un-wowed. It was good, but something I could have thrown together at home in 30 minutes while I’m running around the house getting other things done. And the tarragon caper sauce was more of a tartar sauce, which I ended up scraping off midway through.
I know that our review is much like others written recently and I hope that the chef listens and gives a little more effort into flavor and simple creativity. I would love for this restaurant to turn it around because it’s only a hop, skip and jump away from home.

2 out of a possible 4 roasted chickpeas.  

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