A Progressive Dinner
Have I mentioned that we do long runs with two other couples every few weekends?
It has been a lot of fun and we have become very close after multiple long runs. When you are running for almost two hours together, you really get to know one another. We even have a team name! KGH6! We all ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon and are currently training for the Broad Street Run in May and a sprint triathlon in July. We are working on nicknames… but haven’t gotten there yet.
A few weeks ago we were finally able to go out on a proper group date. The plan was dinner in Center City and a sleepover at our place followed by a long run in the morning. The blizzard made those plans impossible, but we still had dinner.
And, oh, what a dinner it was!!!!!
Each couple took a part of the meal and selected a restaurant to visit to enjoy that meal. Here were our choices:
Tamar & Garo First Course: R2L
Sabrina & PhillyBoy Second Course: Le Castagne
Kristine & Jon Third Course: Max Brenner
The first couple emailed us our meeting location Friday morning, but still would not share the name of the restaurant. Of course, I tried using Google maps and Google Earth to determine our location (we were given only a cross street), but the only thing that came up was Rite Aid. Huh?
Turns out that restaurant was inside a building, which was why I had no clue what it was! The name? R2L.
R2L is a swanky restaurant with a hopping bar scene. I had never heard of it before, but PB and I are already planning to go back for a full dinner. When we arrived, although the dining area was still empty, we had to wait several minutes for our table. Once we got settled, however, the service was great! I ordered a Cosmopolitan as it is my favorite girly drink. It was really good, but very, very, strong. In fact, everyone’s drinks must have hit us all quickly because we were all laughing a little too loud…
We chose to order a bunch of appetizers and share them among the table. Our selections, from the menu available online:
AMERICAN SUSHI SAMPLER
tuna and white asparagus
philly salmon, hamachi and spicy scallion
crab and basmati roll
**We added a vegetarian option as a couple of people did not like fish
OLIVES | string cheese, marinated vegetables, za’atar flatbread, olive dip
GRILLED TRUFFLE FLATBREAD | arugula, parmesan
RABBIT NACHOS | jalapeno mousse, homemade tortilla chips
MACARONI AND CHEESE
The mac and cheese was so good the camera had it for lunch!
Everything was amazing, but I especially enjoyed the macaroni and cheese (which was the most interesting interpretation of the dish I had ever seen) and the flatbread, which had just the right amount of toppings.
Our time at R2L ended in hysterics as a neighboring diner tickled PB’s back while saying “spiders, spiders!!” It was SO weird and bizarre. Obviously he had had too much to drink. PB was a good sport about it and didn’t freak out though.
Next stop? Le Castagne.
I am going to be quite frank here- we failed our portion of the mission. I need to get to know Philadelphia restaurants better. My friend warned me it wouldn’t be busy in there, but I didn’t know it would be dead. The experience wasn’t right from the start. We walked in and my friend was asked to remove his stylish hat in the dining room. It was a fancy hat, and considering the storm was very appropriate. He removed it, but it was interesting to note that there were diners in there in sweatshirts and ratty jeans.
I asked the server for some wine recommendations, and he stated that they wouldn’t have anything on there that wasn’t good, so pick anything. Seriously? I was very unhappy with this reply. Turns out he was completely wrong, as both overpriced wines we ordered weren’t my taste. They were like the cheap $8 bottles of bad wine we would buy right when we turned 21.
The pasta was actually quite good, but the rest of the experience had ruined it for me already. We all ordered a sampler of three dishes:
Spaghetti alle castagne — Spaghetti sautéed in a chestnut cream sauce topped with cocoa powder
Gnocchi di patate alla sorrentina — Gnocchi served with tomato sauce, fresh basil, & mozzarella
Fusilli alla bolognese — Fusilli served with a ragù of tomato, ground beef, veal, & pork & topped with ricotta salata (We were not given fusilli)
The pasta itself was good, but the sorrentina sauce was not right. There was no fresh basil to be seen on our plates, and no mozzarella either. Honestly, I was very disappointed by this restaurant, especially after seeing some rave reviews online. I hope they were just having a bad night, and might give it another chance.
As we made our way to the third stop the snow was really coming down! It was so beautiful…
…until it hurt when it hit our faces!
The last stop of our progressive dinner was Max Brenner.
Let me say that again…
I was in chocolate heaven, as we all were. We arrived shortly before closing, but they had no problem serving us, even with the storm. We ordered several desserts and could not finish any of them. Everything was rich, decadent, and delicious. You can tell they use good quality chocolate in all their dishes by the intense chocolate flavor. YUM! Here is our spread:
I am happy we ordered as many as we did. We were able to really experience Max Brenner, and now I can’t wait to go back! When you decide to go, please be sure to remember to bring a big appetite! Oh, and definitely get a sundae. It was the best sundae I have ever had in the U.S.!
Group dates are really fun, but this one was even better as it had a purpose. We had a lot of laughs and were able to experience three new restaurants in one evening! I can’t wait for our next dining adventure!!!!!