Recently, I have half-jokingly been trying to convince my husband to move across the river to Philadelphia for the restaurants alone. There is an increasing number of quality restaurants in the city sourcing foods locally and greening their operations. Last weekend I was introduced to Table 31 located in the LEED certified Comcast Center and was thrilled to fall in love with another restaurant that’s sourcing local and humane while creating the type of food that’s making Philadelphia a dining destination.
I went to Table 31 with John and Lisa Howard-Fusco of Eating in South Jersey. We were media guests of the restaurant that has recently had a menu makeover. They are inviting local area food writers to come in and dine, a smart and effective marketing tool for restaurants to use.
We were told that we could chose our entrees and that the chef had some other dishes that he would be sending out to us in addition to our entrees. After meeting Chef de Cuisine (executive chef) Nihad Hajdarhodzic, we decided to let him guide our entire meal down to the wine choice and put our palates in his hands. It was a good decision.
Hajdarhodzic told us about how the restaurant sources its food. Eighty percent of the produce comes from local farms. Mushrooms come from Kennet Square, PA, mushroom capital of the world. Herbs are grown at a nearby hydroponic farm. Their meats are certified humane and grass fed until the last month of life. Much of the seafood comes from New Jersey, mussels and clams from sustainable sources on Prince Edward Island, and lobster from Maine. Tuna will not be on their menu because as Hajdarhodzic said, their goal is to “offer what is most moral and acceptable.”
With the sustainability credibility of the restaurant established, I began to look forward to the meal. We started with snails (pictured at left). The focus of this restaurant is Italian, and some of the foods are imported from Italy including their organic snails that feed on grape leaves in an organic vineyard. Truthfully, I didn’t want to eat snails. I’d never had them before and did not find the thought of it appealing.
Now, I want to go back to Table 31 just for the snails. They were meaty and savory and so incredibly delicious, smothered in a sauce that was so good that when the waiter tried to clear the plate away before we had sopped up all the sauce with the accompanying grilled bread, Lisa told him he couldn’t. “It would be a crime if we don’t lick it all out,” she told him. We held ourselves back from actually licking the plate clean, but we enjoyed as much of the sauce as possible with bread.
We were served course after course of really great food. Standouts included the heirloom tomato salad with their house-made mozzarella cheese that had been made just hours before and their house-made gnocchi with a Bolognese sauce. The Praline and Chocolate dessert (pictured at left) made of devil’s food cake, homemade praline and dark chocolate ice cream was superb.
The prices on the menu were reasonable. With the exception of a few of the steaks and seafood items, most of the entrees were under $25 and all of the pasta dishes were available in half plates for about half the price of a full price. They also offer 31 bottles of wine under $31.
Table 31 is located at 1701 JFK Blvd. in Philadelphia and is open for lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday (closed Sundays).
Disclosure - I was invited to dine at Table 31. As a guest of the restaurant, I did not pay for the dinner. I was not, however, paid by Table 31 for this post nor was a favorable post promised in return for the meal.