BY DAVE ZUCHOWSKI NCLIVING@NCNEWSONLINE.COM





Think of the nation's culinary meccas, and cities like New York, San Francisco and New Orleans come to mind. But in the last 15 years, Philadelphia has bounded onto the gastronomic playing field with a bevy of talented chefs and exciting, cutting-edge restaurants. Add to the mix of newer places the older established eateries and a cornucopia of ethnic food havens, and you end up with one of the nation's top-tier culinary destinations. A 20-year veteran of the Philadelphia hospitality industry and founder and owner of The Restaurant Connection, Patti Klein cites the large number of newer, BYOB (bring your own bottle) eateries as another element in the city's restaurant renaissance. "The BYOB phenomenon appeals both to cost-conscious diners who want to save on their total food bill and to upscale patrons with large personal wine cellars who want to be able to enjoy their favorite wines while dining out," she said. One of the newer such restaurants, Nido (Italian for "nest") opened in April 2005 at 1540 W. Ritner St. This candlelit hotspot boasts affordable and exceptional regional Italian cuisineand offers a special $25, three course, pre-theatre menu (available 5 to 7 p.m.). Another BYOB favorite, La Boheme at 246 S. 11th St, combines the influences of Spain and Morocco with the elegance of French fare. With its stunning d--eacute;cor, Estia transports guests to the Greek Islands with an atmosphere reminiscent of an inviting Mediterranean home and a menu of authentic specialties, simply prepared, that represent the best of Greek cuisine. The restaurant, located at 1405 Locust St., specializes in whole grilled fish, served by the pound, which is flown in from the Greek islands and the shores of Morocco, Tunisia and Portugal. Guests are able to choose their own fresh fish from the restaurant's expansive displays and watch chefs cook it over a charcoal grill in the open kitchen. The exceptional cuisine is complemented by an extensive collection of wines. The dramatic setting of The Prime Rib, 1701 Locust St., evokes a 1940s Manhattan supper club. Everything about The Prime Rib -- including the tuxedoed wait staff, the dress code and the black lacquered walls with Louis Icart lithographs -- is designed to create a feeling of timeless elegance. Zagat has voted the restaurant "Best Steakhouse in Philadelphia" continuously since its opening in 1998. The city's hottest new Japanese restaurant, Goji Tokyo Cuisineat 2001 Hamilton St., specializes in a special blend of sushi, traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine. Menu highlights include king crab leg/lobster tempura, served with a butter truffle Ssauce and garnished with chives, as well as kasane soba, the restaurant's most celebrated dish. These Japanese imported buckwheat noodles are served cold with time-honored Otusyu dipping sauce, chopped scallions and sesame. Located in the historic Art Alliance building at 251 S. 18th St., Le Jardin combines old Rittenhouse elegance and the charm of a cozy Parisian brasserie. Serving French cuisine and boasting an enchanting walled garden outside for dining, this warm weather hot spot is perfect for drinks at the candlelit bar and lounge or Saturday and Sunday brunch outside with friends. The drink menu features an extensive French-oriented wine list and some of the most delicious and unique cocktails and martinis in the city. "This is by far one of the most exciting times to be a part of the Philadelphia dining scene," Klein said. "From tiny ethnic bistros to upscale steakhouses, from Greek to Japanese, visitors and city dwellers alike all have an endless array of restaurant choices and rising star chefs."





Think of the nation's culinary meccas, and cities like New York, San Francisco and New Orleans come to mind. But in the last 15 years, Philadelphia has bounded onto the gastronomic playing field with a bevy of talented chefs and exciting, cutting-edge restaurants. Add to the mix of newer places the older established eateries and a cornucopia of ethnic food havens, and you end up with one of the nation's top-tier culinary destinations. A 20-year veteran of the Philadelphia hospitality industry and founder and owner of The Restaurant Connection, Patti Klein cites the large number of newer, BYOB (bring your own bottle) eateries as another element in the city's restaurant renaissance. "The BYOB phenomenon appeals both to cost-conscious diners who want to save on their total food bill and to upscale patrons with large personal wine cellars who want to be able to enjoy their favorite wines while dining out," she said. One of the newer such restaurants, Nido (Italian for "nest") opened in April 2005 at 1540 W. Ritner St. This candlelit hotspot boasts affordable and exceptional regional Italian cuisineand offers a special $25, three course, pre-theatre menu (available 5 to 7 p.m.). Another BYOB favorite, La Boheme at 246 S. 11th St, combines the influences of Spain and Morocco with the elegance of French fare. With its stunning d--eacute;cor, Estia transports guests to the Greek Islands with an atmosphere reminiscent of an inviting Mediterranean home and a menu of authentic specialties, simply prepared, that represent the best of Greek cuisine. The restaurant, located at 1405 Locust St., specializes in whole grilled fish, served by the pound, which is flown in from the Greek islands and the shores of Morocco, Tunisia and Portugal. Guests are able to choose their own fresh fish from the restaurant's expansive displays and watch chefs cook it over a charcoal grill in the open kitchen. The exceptional cuisine is complemented by an extensive collection of wines. The dramatic setting of The Prime Rib, 1701 Locust St., evokes a 1940s Manhattan supper club. Everything about The Prime Rib -- including the tuxedoed wait staff, the dress code and the black lacquered walls with Louis Icart lithographs -- is designed to create a feeling of timeless elegance. Zagat has voted the restaurant "Best Steakhouse in Philadelphia" continuously since its opening in 1998. The city's hottest new Japanese restaurant, Goji Tokyo Cuisineat 2001 Hamilton St., specializes in a special blend of sushi, traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine. Menu highlights include king crab leg/lobster tempura, served with a butter truffle Ssauce and garnished with chives, as well as kasane soba, the restaurant's most celebrated dish. These Japanese imported buckwheat noodles are served cold with time-honored Otusyu dipping sauce, chopped scallions and sesame. Located in the historic Art Alliance building at 251 S. 18th St., Le Jardin combines old Rittenhouse elegance and the charm of a cozy Parisian brasserie. Serving French cuisine and boasting an enchanting walled garden outside for dining, this warm weather hot spot is perfect for drinks at the candlelit bar and lounge or Saturday and Sunday brunch outside with friends. The drink menu features an extensive French-oriented wine list and some of the most delicious and unique cocktails and martinis in the city. "This is by far one of the most exciting times to be a part of the Philadelphia dining scene," Klein said. "From tiny ethnic bistros to upscale steakhouses, from Greek to Japanese, visitors and city dwellers alike all have an endless array of restaurant choices and rising star chefs."





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