A couple of years ago, when Mr Minx and I went to Philly with our friends Andree and Kate, we ate at a pan-Asian small-plates restaurant called Cebu. While we enjoyed our meal, I wished we had gone to Amada - a well-reviewed tapas restaurant owned by new Iron Chef Jose Garces - instead.
I don't get to go to Philly very often, so when I contacted my friend Diane with news that I would be in town, she immediately suggested Garces' new restaurant, Garces Trading Company. I thought the lunch menu sounded terrific and we made a date to dine there.
The place looks a bit like Dean and Deluca, with cold cases featuring cheeses and meats, plus a selection of condiments - mustards, honeys, jams - and a pastry case. There's also a controversial wine store at the back Tempting as that all was, we were there to eat lunch at one of the too-close-together wooden tables in the middle of the store.
Everything on the menu sounded like something I wanted to sink my teeth into. There's a large selection of cheese and charcuterie available, plus the usual soups, salads, and sandwiches.
I decided I couldn't resist the baby artichokes with preserved lemon, honey, dates, and walnuts ($7).
Not sure if those slices together equaled a whole artichoke heart, but apart from the portion size, I liked the dish. The preserved lemon and honey came together in the dressing, which begged to be mopped up by the slices of good bread that were brought to the table at the beginning of our meal.
I followed this with "The Moroccan," a sandwich of roasted lamb loin, roasted pepper, eggplant, bacon, harissa aioli, and comté ($11)
The roll was terrific - crusty without being gum-tearing - but the filling was scant. I couldn't tell if there was eggplant or roasted pepper inside, and it was short on lamb. You can tell by the photo that the sandwich was more bread than filling. But there was a generous spread of harissa mayonnaise inside, which became the main flavor component. This sandwich had the potential to be really great, insead it was slightly disappointing.
My friend Diane hemmed and hawed over a selection of cheeses, but ultimately went for one of the six pizzas on the menu, Pizza de Prosciutto with oven roasted tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto, and olive oil ($15).
It looked and smelled great and she made happy noises while consuming it. The crust was more like a flatbread than traditional pizza crust; the toppings seemed pretty generous.
Garces Trading Company
1111 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107