Monday, January 24, 2011


What's to say about Amada that hasn't already been written?  It's been one of the toughest reservations in the city for years now and for good reason.  The interior is classy and comfortable, a great bar scene with excellently crafted cocktails, and the food is incredible.  I think what's most impressive about Amada is just how consistently they produce such a varied and aggressive menu.  This time we took advantage of their restaurant week offering and landed the primo large table surrounded by linen curtains in the middle of the restaurant.

Since Amada is the original small plates / tapas spot in Philly, their restaurant week menu lets you order two dishes for your first course, two dishes for your main, and a desert.  We had six people at our table, and we strategically ordered to get a taste of just about everything.  Serrano ham and Chorizo Pamplona sliced razor thin are a ubiquitous bit of the excellent charcuterie here.  Ham croquetas fried perfectly and garlic shrimp that are so tender and tasty my non-seafood eating friend from Fishtown (ironic?) even tried them and proclaimed them "pretty good" for shrimp.  The kitchen's deft touch with all the seafood is reason enough to visit.

The serrano ham & melon dish was a great take on the italian speciality, and I probably ate more than my share. Tops of the appetizers though was the aged manchego with truffled lavender honey.  The honey alone was so good that we were dipping anything we could find in it - apples, bread, random charcuterie.  I was on the verge of asking for a syringe so it could be mainlined.

After a nice little break between courses (during restaurant week I always feel like you're being rushed to down your food and free up the table) our mains came out and these raised the bar to Night Court levels.  The beef shortrib flatbread with bacon parmesan and a touch of horseradish was great, a perfectly cooked dough with just enough chewiness. The calamari were cooked perfectly, but these are not fried, so try not to look squeamish when you get a nice hunk of tentacle.

We got both the chicken and beef brochettes - basically grilled skewers.  The chicken was good; the beef was melt in your mouth tender.  Amada has a thing for eggs and truffles - you see them all over over the menu in unexpected places.  Two of the best examples are the asparagus with poached egg & truffles, and the chicken breast with truffles and a friend egg, just because they can. These were the two best things on the menu by a long way.  Turns out you can make a veggie side dish into a rich and savory main by adding a few decadent ingredients.  For $35 a head, this menu is an amazing value.  Some places pay lip service to the restaurant week idea and offer a small prix fixe.  Amada goes big with lots of choices and plenty for everyone.

-T. Kaso

217 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

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