Thursday, October 25, 2012


Wow. What an incredible meal at Pumpkin. Our monthly Sunday Supper Club ventured out this past week to sample their $40 five course prix -fixe menu, and we were solidly impressed. It's a small room and seating for large groups can be tough. Our group of 10 ended up split at two different tables which wasn't ideal, but by the time the desserts came around it had cleared out enough so that we were able to move back and forth between the tables. The staff had no problem letting us sit for an extended period sipping the last of our wine and catching up with friends.  Such a warm and cozy interior, great for a chilly October night with hearty fall food.

The menu kicked off with a bowl of sweet potato soup for everyone. Poured tableside over a little cube of apple & a pool of honey and enriched with miso for a beautifully rich broth. Just thick enough to be substantial but not grainy in the least. The soup had such a depth of multiple flavors that changed and evolved with each spoonful.

Next up was a choice of two appetizers - escargot or coddled egg. The escargot was served out of its shell, with a few pumpkin gnocchi, crisp chanterelle mushrooms, sweet pecans and micro greens. There was an ethereal mushroom flavored foam dolloped over the top that intensified the earthy flavors of the chanterelles and escargot. Not chewy in the least, and probably the best escargot I've ever had.  Better even than Bistrot LaMinette. 

escargot w/ gnocchi and chanterelles
The coddled egg was a bit of a mystery on the menu - none of us knew exactly what was coming out of the kitchen on this one. Essentially it's an egg that is cooked in its shell in warm water for an extended period of time. Similar to a poached egg, but much closer to raw and a more delicate flavor. They serve it on top of a panisse (a fried chickpea pancake) with some crunchy bits of chorizo in between and an intensely green sauce made from scallions. With the side of a fork you cut through the coddled egg and the yolk spills out it's luscious treasure, coating the panisse & chorizo with a golden layer of eggy richness. A quick swipe of the scallion sauce for a counteractive tang and you can taste, smell, and see the chef working his magic on your senses. The plate is beautifully presented, with more of the micro greens topping the egg & panisse, looking like a plate of art.

coddled egg over panisse
The only dish I wasn't crazy about was the "salad" of roasted parsnip, celery root, grapefruit and pistachio.  I'm not a huge fan of grapefruit to begin with and the flavor became a little overwhelming with the other subtle ingredients. Others at the table really liked it though, so I can't completely write it off. Just not my thing.
roasted parsnip salad
 Onto the heart of the batting order - entrées. Side note here - have you ever thought about that word "entrée".  In French it means "entrance" and is supposed to be an entry to the meal, served before the main course.  Not an appetizer but somewhere in the middle.  What ever happened to this course?  Why do we call our main course the entrée now?  Most people in this country don't even like the French, so why do we keep using that word?  I digress.

We had the choice of either the albacore tuna or Duroc pork loin for our main course. You can guess which one I picked. Luckily the wifey got the tuna so I was able to try both. A nice light sear on the fish and perfectly seasoned it was at once flakey and buttery. A wonderful dark ruby red in the center. Confit potatoes, slices of fennel on the side and an great buerre noisette sauce drizzled over the fish. In case you're wondering, buerre noisette is a fancy French term for browned butter.  

albacore tuna with confit potatoes & fennel
The pork dish was near on perfect. Slices of the incredibly succulent Duroc loin and a chunk of fatty, sweet, meltingly tender pork belly on the side. The loin was cooked perfectly - just barely pink in the middle so it doesn't dry out and a nice crust of seasoning on the outer edges. Slice off a piece of the pork belly to go with it and it's piggy heaven on a fork.  Oh, and let's not forget the quince sauce, savoy cabbage and cipollini onions on the side. If you could serve autumn on a plate, it would look like this.

duroc pork loin and belly
Dessert was an option of either a chocolate cake with blackberry sorbet or a terrine of butterscotch pudding with rum raisins and ginger snap.  The cake was decadently indulgent, the sorbet melting ever so slightly and mixing with a scoop of crème fraiche that added a fantastic lightness to the dense and luxuriant cake. The pudding was a bowl of magic sprinkled with pixie dust. I wanted it to go on and on. Towards the bottom I started taking those tiny little spoonful's to help make it last just a little longer. Hints of caramel, molasses, rum and ginger floating across your tongue like a ghost. Did I just taste that? I thought this was right up there with the budino at Barbuzzo. Apparently Food Baby is a pudding kind of guy. 

chocolate cake w/ blackberry sorbet

butterscotch pudding
I think what I was most impressed with at Pumpkin was the artistry of the plates and attention to detail of every ingredient. Each dish was more beautiful than the last. They are truly appealing to all your senses, the goal of any fine dining experience. Service was attentive but never intrusive -they left you to appreciate the food on your own terms. And that food was some of the best we've had on our Sunday Supper Club run. For $40 this is an incredible deal. You're not going to leave having to loosen a button, but you will certainly leave with a contented smile on your face. 

Food Baby Rating:  Triplets!! 

1713 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Tues-Sunday 5:30 - 10pm
BYO, Cash Only

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