Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Considering that Sonata, the "New American" BYO in Liberties Walk, is less than 3 blocks from our house it's almost a crime that we hadn't been there yet.  Chef Mark Tropeas has created a progressive new menu in the former Swallow space - you may remember it as the former Mac & Cheese restaurant - and based on the waiting list for reservations he seems to have a winner on his hands.  The menu changes with the seasons, and the current offerings for fall/winter reflect a heartier sampling of gumbo & soups, pork belly, bacon wrapped chicken & braised short ribs.  

Little has changed in the physical space; the bathroom is still a marvel of turquoise tile and stone work & the interior consists of faux hardwood floors and dimly lit tables.  The menu itself if almost over decadent.  My rabbit and andoullie gumbo was out of this world, while the lobster "mac&cheese" was so rich that we had to split it amongst the table.  The fresh papparadelle noodles were fantastic, but the nearly half tail of lobster was tough to cut thru, and the dish had so much butter even my Irish grandmother would be overwhelmed.  Other dishes were much better received - the fiancee had the porcine crusted tuna, which was perfectly done with the tuna just barely seared and a deep ruby color in the middle.  A friend at our table had the bacon wrapped chicken and marveled at how the bacon seemed to almost fuse with the tender chicken breast.  

After a dessert of the chocolate decadence consisting of chocolate beignets (they brought extra so everyone could try) and a hazlenut chipwich, the chef came out to thank us for coming and ask about our meals.  No one rushed us out of our seats, instead letting us causally finish off the extra bottle of wine we brought along.  We did notice that most of the diners in the restaurant did not bear the tight jeans and scruffy beards of the NoLibs local scene.  Sonata is pulling diners from center city and the burbs - which is impressive given it's location buried in liberties walk.  Looking forward to coming back in the spring to see what the lighter menu will look like.  They also have plenty of outdoor seating that will help with the reservation crush when the warmer months return. 

-T. Kaso

1030 North American Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
(215) 238-1240

wednesday & thursday: 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
friday & saturday: 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.
sunday: 5 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
closed monday and tuesday

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