Devon Seafood Grill – New England in Philly

When I hear Philadelphia, I think cheesesteaks. I think scrapple. But classic New England inspired seafood? Not so much.

When I sat down at Devon for brunch, I had no idea what to expect. The dining room, fairly empty at 11 AM, was positively buzzing by the time we left two hours later. Reservations are a must for later in the day. The dining room is upscale casual, with high ceilings, dark wooden tables, and a few flat screen TVs at the center bar.

Cinnamon Roll
I ordered savory for brunch (as I always do), but these cinnamon rolls almost made me change my order. Brought to each table, these prove that the kitchen knows how to make sweet items, and make them well. This crescent roll, served from a baking pan still hot from the oven, has a thin golden crust that bursts to reveal steaming, doughy, stretchy insides. The dough is not sweet, so it contrasts with the sugary, cinnamon-y insides. The filling is ample, which is important – nothing like too much roll, too little cinnamon. 

Smoked Salmon Flatbread with Roasted Garlic White Sauce, Red Onion, Caper, Watercress, with Lemon Infused Olive Oil
The kicker here is how incredibly mild the salmon is, both in taste and texture. Not overly oily or sinewy, the salmon is thinly sliced and so delicate that it almost melts into the warm, crispy flatbread. It has the barest hints of smoke and salt, and retains enough ocean brininess to stand up to the creamy garlic sauce, the sharp red onions, and the pungent capers. The drizzling of lemon oil is the final touch to add some acidity to the dish – a light and delicious starter. 

Oscar Quiche with Crab Cake, Asparagues, Hollandaise, and Fruit Compote
This brunch-only dish is called the Oscar because a steak topped “Oscar” style means one topped with crab and asparagus covered in hollandaise sauce. That said…this isn’t really an apt name for this dish.
An apt name for this dish is “The creamiest omelette on the face of the planet.”
And, of course, that is a good thing.
The eggs are actually mixed with the hollandaise, then gently baked until they are incredibly lush and creamy – the eggs are cooked as loosely as possible while still being thick. It is almost like an omelette over easy. It is topped with a small citrus scented crab cake, made with large pieces of fresh, sweet crab. The vegetables served alongside are excellent – thick stalks of grilled asparagus, juicy tomatoes, a light salad dressed in a tart vinaigrette, and a small, fresh fruit salad. The eggs really blew my mind. I can’t wait to recreate this dish at home.

Orange Cream and Chocolate Tart with Pistachio Ice Cream
Following the awesome cinnamon rolls, the pastry chef again impresses. A thick layer of semisweet chocolate breaks through to reveal a tart orange cream. Though the shell is too soft and lacks sugar, the nutty, smooth ice cream is a perfect break from the sugar and richness of the tart. This is what I crave in a chocolate dessert – decadence, sweetness, and balance.

Devon is a place I would frequent again and again if I lived in Philadelphia. Though the service is a bit slow, it is perfect for a relaxed brunch. The prices match the decor and the food, and the food itself shows how well Philadelphian chefs spin New England cuisine. 

Devon Seafood Grill on Urbanspoon

Pod – More than Meets the Eye

I am that rare breed of woman who really enjoys being proved wrong.
Like I was about Pod, a trendy restaurant in West Philadelphia.

The vibe inside this hip place is bachelorette party-anime cartoon-Jetsons chic. Think changing LED lights, a revolving sushi counter, and namesake “pod” booths along the windows. The joint was jumping on a Friday night, but it seems very sceney – not really the type of place that would have great food. 
Being wrong can be so awesome. 

Lychee Margarita with Spicy Salt Rim
One of the best drinks I have had in recent memory. Smooth, high quality tequila with fresh lime and the sweet, almost velvety taste and mouthfeel of the lychees. The lychee erases the need for sweet syrups that give me sugar hangovers, and the spicy salted rim cuts through the burn of the tequila and the sweetness of the lychee. It is balanced and light – a perfect way to start the meal. 

Chicken Potstickers with Mustard Aioli
Crisp, thin wrappers surrounding juicy nuggets of chicken, onion, and ginger. Sweet and savory, there is another layer added when the crisp morsels are dipped into the zippy mustard sauce. There is a good kick of horseradish there, and the taste is far more mustard-y than mayonnaise-y, letting the taste of the chicken shine through.

Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice with Serrano Chili
Similar to the dish at Koi, with creamy, fresh tuna, the heat from a sliver of Serrano chiles, and that rice. That incredible rice – sweet, sticky, and salty with steaming insides and crunchy edges, crackling pleasantly next to the smooth texture of the tuna. It could have been a tad spicier, but, then, what couldn’t be spicier in my book?

Rockin’ Spicy Tuna Roll – Spicy Tuna Roll Topped with Tempura Rock Shrimp and Spicy Aioli

This is top notch sushi. Don’t let the flashing lights and admittedly frou-frou cocktails distract you – this sushi is excellent, on par with many serious sushi restaurants. Each grain of rice is perfectly al dente, slightly sweet with rice vinegar. The seaweed is nutty and crisp surrounding the smooth, fatty tuna. Crunchy rock shrimp, sugary and meaty within its light batter, drizzled with a spicy, not to say hot, aioli. Spicy, sweet, soft, and crunchy. With a quick smear of wasabi, this didn’t even need soy sauce. It is a fantastic sushi roll. 

Cauliflower Robata with Balsamic Teriyaki Glaze
The most surprising dish of the night. This totally vegan dish is incredibly meaty! The combination of balsamic and teriyaki is a double dose of umami, and paired with tender, almost creamy cauliflower, it’s an undeniably decadent tasting dish. Yet, it’s so light that it could be a diet food. Cooked on the robata, which is a Japanese charcoal grill, the outside is charred and crisp while the inside becomes soft, though not mushy. The glaze is sweet, sour, and piquant, and the result is memorable in every way.

Fluffernutter Spring Rolls with Dark Chocolate Sauce
Fried eggroll wrappers filled with marshmallow cream and melting creamy peanut butter. Dipped in a thin dark chocolate glaze, it’s bitterness cutting through the sweetness and richness of the eggroll.

It was warm and it was sensational.

Pod really proved me wrong. Though the vibe is kind of trendy, the food is anything but. It is expertly prepared, served by knowledgeable waitstaff, in a gorgeous, upbeat setting. I really can’t think of any place in NYC that matches food of this caliber with such unpretentious service. Nor can I think of anywhere serving better cauliflower.
And, trust me when I say that any woman would love to be proved wrong by dining here and enjoying it. 

Pod on Urbanspoon