There is something rather satisfying in being told that what you’ve just ordered has been an ‘inspirational choice’.
I feel very pleased with myself that somehow I managed to pick the one item on the menu that surpassed all the others, and took a moment to glory in my success. I liked the feeling so much I wanted to keep the roll going with my choice of wine too. So gave it a shot and thankfully scored a bull’s eye there too. These little things make a big difference to a customer and full marks to the waiting team at Philadelphia fusion restaurant Square 1682 who managed to really make feel special.
There are only two things that matter for me when I’m in a restaurant. The food and the service. Yes, there are some other pretty important factors like price, location, comfort and ambience of course, but frankly, get the first two wrong and you won’t be coming back no matter how comfortable or affordable the place is. Thankfully, Square 1682 provided me with great food along with the excellent service, so I was a very happy chappy.
Square 1682 (an homage to William Penn’s founding of the city and his vision for a city with green squares) can be found in the brand new Kimpton Palomar Hotel, a luxury boutique property close to Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square. And in the short time it’s been open has already made quite a name for itself not least because it is registered as a Leader in Energy and Environmental Design and shows that you can successfully build and run a luxury hotel using sustainable and energy efficient products. The restaurant echoes this policy in its design and it’s culinary practices but in a very understated way, so you can enjoy a fine meal and at the same time feel that you’ve contributed in a positive way to the environment.
Talking of food, Head Chef Guillermo Tellez has had an impressive twenty years learning his trade in Chicago, Mexico and most recently as Director of Menu Development with Philadelphia’s own restaurant entrepreneur superstar Stephen Starr, and he seems to be revelling in the challenge of producing excellent dishes using only sustainable and organic ingredients. In fact you can watch him whilst he revels in 1682’s open style kitchen. I visited at lunch time, (although the restaurant is open for breakfast lunch and dinner) and my starter of Serrano ham with saffron, san marzano tomatoes, manchego cheese and sourdough bread at $8 was inspired. This was followed by an equally delicious King Salmon with green lentils and Korean chilli glaze $14. There were also by the way, some hand crafted potato chips that were quite simply the best I had ever eaten. There, I’ve said it.
And what of the drinks? The bar downstairs has its own Master Mixologist who mixed me a stellar cocktail and judging by the size of the crowd down there, the feeling was pretty mutual, and the aptly names Emily Wines, one of only 15 women Master Sommeliers in the US has put together a wine list of some distinction.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Square 1682, which proved that you can have high end service and quality without the high end price tag. Highly recommended.
Square 1682, 121 South 17th Street , Philadelphia, square1682.com