18th & Sansom
Visited: Friday, 21 September, 2012
Damage: ~$160 for 4 including tax and tip
In 7 words: English pub vibe, delicious appetizers, hit-or-miss entrées
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I was a little apprehensive. Needlessly, but nonetheless apprehensive. Stephen Starr can’t own so many restaurants and excel in all of them, can he? Parc will always probably be on my Philly Top 5, but Pod? Maybe if somebody’s completely uninspired about a UCity dining location. And he/she’s paying for me.
Thankfully, The Dandelion edges a little more closely towards the Parc end of things. It occupies a corner spot, and the tiny door betrays how big the restaurant is, with its three (or more?) floors and cozy seating areas. (Protip: OpenTable will insist you can’t get a seat on the ‘day of’… But just call directly and The Dandelion staff are likely to fix you up with something.) The decor is cute: floral or dog wallpapery things, which reminded me of London and the amazingness that is British stuff.
I made our unfortunate friends wait for 45 minutes, so I offered to get appetizers as penance. We started with the deviled eggs ($4), chicken & duck liver parfait ($12), and beetroot cured salmon ($13).
The deviled eggs I loved. The yolks are whipped up alongside curry, paprika and cayenne pepper, and it’s hard to miss the presence of the latter two ingredients. The result’s a zesty, spice-d (as opposed to spicy) tingle on your tongue. Ever since I went to NYC’s Spotted Pig, I’ve been looking for ah-may-zing deviled eggs and I think I’ve found my Philly equivalent here.
But what really blew my mind was the chicken and duck liver parfait. First of all, it comes out looking like a gorgeous, oval orb of creamy goodness. And then, when you slather it over your bread, inhale and ingest it, you feel surprisingly light-headed. Why, you ask yourself. I’m eating things that should make me feel fat and ungorgeous. But no, this parfait is the freaking enabler to all abandoned diet plans: a subtle amazing taste that doesn’t feel like it’s weighing you down. Good grief I want to marry this parfait.
In light of this, the cured salmon turned out to be the middle child that no one really notices: good, but not special enough.
And then, main courses! Two of my friends had the beer battered fish and chips ($19.5), another the slow-roast Hampshire pork belly ($23), while I picked the rabbit pie ($22).
I think I died eating the rabbit pie, but not in the orgasmic god-I-need-to-come-back way. It was way too salty and the only reason why I finished it was a compulsion that told me, “Maybe things will change if you try hard enough.” I was wrong. I downed four cups of water which the very attentive waitress refilled frequently.
Stuffing these overly-salted pieces of rabbit meat also helped distract me from the deliciousness of my boyfriend’s pork belly, which was soft and saucy, and everything my rabbit pie was not.
Did not try fish and chips, but honestly, the price itself is a little scary.
Bottomline: I’ll come back, but only for the appetizers and the ciders. And maybe the pork belly, once I get rid of its association with the rabbit pie.
Photos taken by Stanley Lim