Dinner at Fitler Dining Room can be summed up as having been one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in Philadelphia. The intimate 32 seat bistro might be a new name on the Philly dining scene but the staff sure aren’t. Chef Marzinsky was formerly a chef at Pub & Kitchen, Stateside and the Diving Horse and is certainly making some magic at FDR.
The food alone is worth visiting this small hidden gem for. But everything else about the experience happened to also be perfect. From the beautiful decor consisting of white subway tiles, low voltage lamps over each tabletop, white marble counter facing the open kitchen to the amazing french playlist playing in the background.
Our friday night meal started off with an order of the beau soleil oysters served plain and simple on a bedding of crushed ice. The oysters smooth, silky and fresh. (See Menu)
Next came the roasted and pickled beets served with bottom mushrooms, fried onion rings, black truffle and buttermilk dressing. The earthy flavors of the bright beets were pleasantly complimented by the crispy onion rings.
While not a big fan of steak tartar after a very unpleasant experience back in Paris (details which I’ll spare my dear readers) I was hesitant to try the beef tartar at FDR. Yet, the Count who is a serious carnivore insisted and minutes after my first bite (but too late to have another one) I found myself secretly wanting more. This dish made up of lancaster beef filet mixed with crunch walnuts, piave vecchio cheese, sunchoke-chips and chanterelle mushrooms was so good. The combination of textures and tastes was perfect.
The Potato Gnocchi with the burgundy snails, butternut squash and chartreuse butter was consistent. Although next to the other dishes it did not particularly stand out for me. I found it to lack a bit of flavor.
For our entrees we ordered the beef cheek, stuffed skate and fluke. The Skate consisted of truffle and leek stuffing glazed with marble potatoes and a vermouth nage poured tableside. Wow, was it ever amazing. The strong flavors of the truffle was balanced by the nage, but the depth and variety of flavors resulted in one of the best seafood dishes I’ve yet to taste in a restaurant.
The beef cheek, a new addition to the menu was wonderful and was practically inhaled by the two diners at our table who ordered it. Braised with a tasty barbecue sauce served with greens and pan fried potatoes.
The Rhode Island Fluke was cooked to perfection and served on top of broccolini, cauliflower, winter citrus, chive emulsion and a salsa tonnato. The sauce is what really made these dishes so delicious and alluring.
Dessert consisted of everything on the menu. The Banana pudding, early grey creme brulee, chocolate cake and carrot cake. I am personally not a fan of bananas and can only eat them in a shake where the flavor is drowned out. But I had to try this pudding after every one at our table raved about how good it was. And yes it was good. Just not for banana-phobes like myself.
The warm chocolate cake served with a crunchy peanut butter ganache disappeared within seconds of hitting the table. It was that good.
The carrot cake was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, raisins and caramel sauce. The cake was very sweet and syrupy. If you don’t like your dessert too sweet you wont like this one. But it was an instant hit at our table (in fact all 4 desserts were big hits).
The earl grey creme brulee served with a hard sugar top was also great. My favorite part is cracking the hard sugar with my spoon and mixing the crunchy sugar with the creamy smooth filling. The earl grey flavor was definitely there although not too strong to drown out the taste of the velvety creme brulee.
As the photos will show, we arrived at 8 pm and were the last ones to leave the restaurant. It was such a warm, inviting atmosphere that it was really hard to leave. In fact, the experience was so good I almost hesitated before writing this review because I don’t want to let the secret out (although I’m sure the restaurant opening is not much of a secret amongst the foodies in Philadelphia).