Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Christmas lunch with my aunt, uncle & the cousins this year on the Moshulu at Penn's Landing. This has become an annual tradition, with previous locations at the Union League, Suzanna Foo, and other swanky joints where I have to put a coat on. It's fun to play dress up, and it's always a good meal - so it's something I look forward to around the holidays.

We started with a drink at the bar while waiting for the rest of the group. Decent manhattan, but they used jim beam, which isn't a very good start and I would expect more at a place with a reputation and prices like the Moshulu. If you go on a Saturday at lunch time, don't expect a big crowd at the bar. They had to call the bar tender out from some back room just to serve us.

A couple cheese plates started us off, and pretty solid offering of three cheeses for $12. A nice smokey cheddar, good blue, and a great humboldt fog goat cheese all came with appropriate accompaniments. We also had the calamari on a bed of thai asian slaw and dressed with red chili lemongrass sauce that was probably the best thing I ate. Just enough heat to be interesting, and cooked perfectly with a good crunch.

My sister got the filet mignon, one cousin had the burger (which looked pretty nice), two others had the smoked turkey sandwich with bacon & avocado, and my other quasi-vegetarian cousin had the pasta primavera (says he'll dabble with beef if it's grass-fed).

I went for the chilled seafood salad with shrimp, scallops and crab meat over bibb lettuce with bacon, blue cheese and avocado. The portion was perfect for a main and not super-heavy. I still had christmas errands to run that day, and wasn't trying for the proverbial food-baby experience at lunch. All the seafood was fresh but I kept thinking it was missing some key ingredient. Maybe some of that chili lemongrass sauce could amp it up. At $20, and the most expensive item on the menu, I expected a little more. I'd be happier with less seafood, and better flavor.

If you haven't been on the Moshulu, it's a unique experience eating on a real ship. They do a decent job of playing up the ship's history (it's featured in the Godfather II bringing a young Vito Corleone to America) but not going over the top with the nautical theme. Parking is $12, so if you can manage to hoof it over from South or Spruce street you can save that for another drink. Just make sure to ask for good bourbon in your manhattan.

-T. Kaso

The Moshulu is located at 401 S. Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

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