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Putting on the Ritz at 10 Arts (Philadelphia)

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis will know that both Neil and I are planners. Especially when it comes to travel and holidays.  So it’s very unlike me to head off to a city I have never visited with no plans. Unless it’s for work, like my recent trip to Philadelphia to present at both the International Boys’ Schools Coalition and the American Association of Teachers of French Annual Conferences. I knew that most of my time would be taken up with conference activities and when that’s the case, any extra activities are a bonus.  So I had not planned anything except a couple of meals with blogging buddies that they had suggested.

On the first night in my hotel room I was reading the pamphlets about Philly and saw that the city is home to 10 Arts by Eric Ripert and that one of my favourite contestants (and finalist) from Top Chef Las Veges (Jennifer Carroll) is the Chef de Cuisine.  

According to the website, Jennifer returned to her hometown of Philadelphia after working as Sous Chef at New York’s Le Bernardin, under the tutelage of Michelin 3-Star Chef and 10 Arts Culinary Director Eric Ripert. She uses only the finest and freshest ingredients locally sourced from independent farmers and fishermen who support sustainable harvests. 10 Arts’ precise menus, including our popular chef tasting menus and the inventive specials, are cleverly inspired by her Philadelphia ties and exceptional talents. Fine dining has never felt so comfortable or tasted so exquisitely fresh.

This sounded wonderful to me so I immediately emailed my friend who was going to be in town the following weekend to say we were dining there. I made a booking and spent the next few days eagerly anticipating my meal there.  The menu looked mouthwateringly tempting (especially after conference food overload!)

Now, even though it clearly states on the website that this restaurant is located in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton “under the majestic marble dome”, this detail escaped my frazzled brain so it was quite a surprise to both Edie and me when we rocked up there last Saturday night.  Entering the lobby, it’s like being transported to another world:

The website sugests that “sumptuous fabrics, warm tones, and modern touches throughout the restaurant offer an inviting atmosphere where genuine hospitality is shared amidst the hotel’s grand, historic architecture.” Indeed.

The entrance to 10 Arts is a lovely mix of modern and traditional:

Though as soon as I was coming to terms with the beauty of the lobby area and the restaurant in general, I realised how ridiculous the “special request” note I had added to the reservation was. Full disclosure here: For the first time ever in my blogging career, I was upfront about taking photos and suggested I wanted a table with good light to be as unobtrusive as possible.  Ummm… in this gorgeous space, there was no “good light” (at least for food photography).

I would like to think that the super attentive and friendly service we received was because it’s always like that – I mean, why would people go out of their way  for a little old blogger like me?  In any case, from start to finish, everything about this meal was impressive and I would have no hesitation recommending it to anyone looking for a higher end yet casual dining experience in sumptuous surroundings.

(all this to say – apologies for the less than stellar photo quality!)

I started with a Watermelon Daiquiri. It was that kind of day.

This was so thirst quenching – nothing like your frozen fruity sugary daiquiri.  Muddled watermelon juice was perfect, not too sweet, not too tart and I actually sipped this throughout my meal.

Edie and I were kind of melting in the heat of Philadelphia so weren’t terribly hungry and decided to order an entrée (that’s a main course for everyone who lives outside the United States) and save a little room for dessert.

I started with the Lobster & Shrimp Ravioli served with fennel and mushroom cream ($28).

I loved that the “cream” was not at all creamy and the fennel and mushroom components were deconstructed and separate entities so you could take a little bite of the ravioli along with some mushroom and fennel.  Very fresh and crisp flavours – perfect for the hot weather.

Edie chose one of the daily specials of scallops and mussels.

This was again, bursting with flavour – though I don’t like mussels, I took a bite of the scallop and it was literally melt in your mouth. You could have spread it on bread, it was that good.

Excited that we had left room for dessert, we couldn’t go past these:

Passion Fruit Parfait – sprayed in white chocolate with caramelized pistachios, white chocolate and orange sorbet ($10)

Again, we both loved the “deconstructed” style of this dish so you can can take little bites of everything and experience all the flavours either separately or together…

(yes the lights briefly came up a bit for this shot!)

Banana Crème Brûlée with chocolate and salted peanut sorbet ($10). Oh my goodness gracious.  The “crème” – I am not sure there was any cream involved – it tastes like rich banana purée, rendering the dish much lighter than I was expecting it to be.  The salted peanut sorbet was out of this world. It was white so you tasted it not expecting that flavour at all. The perfect circle of chocolate, the salted caramel and peanuts. Just fabulous.

Edie and I were finishing up our glasses of prosecco and praising Chef Jennifer and Pastry Chef Monica Glass when all of a sudden our server informed us not to go anywhere as a special dessert was making its way out to us. A third dessert?  Well, if you insist… On the house? Why thank you very much!

Chocolate Beignets with a crème de menthe shot and chocolate foam.

Normally I am not a huge fried dough fan but these were exquisite.  Little puffs of light chocolately goodness served with the “shot” of de-alcoholized liqueur, this was actually very refreshing, not at all like your typical beignet experience that leaves you feeling like you need to go for a long run!  We’re not sure why we got these but we ate them all up (they were just bite sized…). Thank you.

After dinner, instead of going for a run (we were not at all full but had had many bites of amazing flavours – very sated indeed), we wandered around the lobby of the Ritz a bit more, wondering what it might be like to stay there (on peut toujours rêver!).

This was an amazing dining experience. Haute cuisine without the haute prices. When we were there, there were families with little kids (they have upscale mac and cheese on the menu!), people in jeans relaxing after a day’s sightseeing, just normal people. So often ritzy (no pun intended) places make you feel awkward or out of place if you look like you don’t have the wallet to match the dining experience but this was not one of them. Bravo Eric Ripert for creating this welcoming haven where the normal folks can try your food. And thanks to Chefs Jennifer and Monica for an exceptional dining experience and one that we will remember fondly for a long time.

10 Arts (in the Ritz-Carlton)

10 Avenue of the Arts
Philadelphia, PA 19102-2500,
United States
(215) 523-8273

10 Arts (Ritz-Carlton) on Urbanspoon

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41 Responses to Putting on the Ritz at 10 Arts (Philadelphia)

  1. Casey July 10, 2010 at 07:53 #

    Once again, Mardi, you have started my mouth watering over one of your fantastic culinary adventures. Another great review of another restaurant that I would definitely like to try. You need to come to Philly more often! It sounds like it was a great experience. I think it’s kind of fun to imagine that you might have received special treatment for being a food blogger (and a talented one at that). You deserve it!

    Best,
    Casey

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite July 11, 2010 at 09:22 #

      Thanks Casey – I would like to think that they treat everyone that well – and from what I saw, they do… People with little kids, others obviously not staying at the hotel, everyone seemed to get attentive and friendly service.

  2. Belinda @zomppa July 10, 2010 at 08:23 #

    So fancy!! I love all those seafood dishes…and those desserts! What a great eating adventure (while at work!)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite July 11, 2010 at 09:20 #

      Yes I figure if I am doing an extra week’s work, I might as well have some exciting culinary experiences peppering that, right? ;-)

  3. Deborah Dowd July 10, 2010 at 15:47 #

    What an amazing meal- I am not sure which is better the food or the surroundings! I am so jealous!

  4. Wolf July 10, 2010 at 16:27 #

    We’re planning a trip to New Jersey this fall to see the hubby’s parents, and plan to visit Philly while there- it’s only 45 minutes from where they live.

    We just might have to make reservations here just for the 2 of us.}:P

  5. Magic of Spice July 10, 2010 at 17:14 #

    Wow, that food looks amazing, and the photos look good to me. Great post:)

  6. monica July 11, 2010 at 02:42 #

    glad you had such a wonderful experience! you’re quite a talented blogger, and writer, may i add. thanks for the awesome remarks!!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite July 11, 2010 at 09:12 #

      Chef – thanks so much for reading my post and your kind words. I will definitely be recommending 10 Arts to all my friends and reminding them to save room for dessert!

  7. Pam M July 11, 2010 at 03:27 #

    Wow! What an amazing place. The food looks stunning, and as usual, your photography(in spite of poor light) is first class. Did you make any “International Connections” in that plush and opulent lobby?

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite July 11, 2010 at 09:11 #

      Well the photos could be a LOT better but thanks! Errr.. no – no “international connections” but certainly a lovely bar to hang out in!

  8. shaz July 11, 2010 at 06:21 #

    Gosh, how gorgeous is the fitout? I love those drop-beaded (at least I think that’s what they’re called) glass curtains and light. And my oh my, the food looks good, but those desserts take the cake! The plating is just beatiful, I really love the sound of that banana creme brulee and the salted peanut sorbet.

    Great post, wish I lived close enough to visit this place, but you never know :)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite July 11, 2010 at 09:11 #

      Thanks – yes the whole experience was pretty amazing. I loved how the restaurant and hotel didn’t make you feel out of place, even amidst such opulence.

  9. penny aka jeroxie July 11, 2010 at 07:48 #

    I wish I am a good planner when it comes to travels. But then I love to be a little bit more spontaneous. Another great insight of what might be! ;)

  10. jen Laceda July 11, 2010 at 16:37 #

    delightful! delicious! thanks for sharing!

  11. AvaDJ July 11, 2010 at 17:23 #

    Hey Mardi, what a fantastic review. Like I commented on the FN, it is rare these days to get such a fine dining experience and ambiance without the attitude. Photos are just stunning, along with the food pics. Glad you had a wonderful dinner, sounds very satisfying and relaxing.

  12. Martha July 11, 2010 at 17:47 #

    What an elegant restaurant…and mac n’cheese on the menu? Too bad we’re not stopping in Philly on our way home from Newfoundland!

  13. Yvonne July 11, 2010 at 20:39 #

    Wow – love the interior…not to mention the food! Looks like a fantastic dining experience.

  14. cat July 11, 2010 at 22:50 #

    what a beautiful restaurant and what lovely food! and chef jennifer – she was one of my favorites too. i think i’d have been giddy knowing that she’d prepared our dinner!! so, what does “10 arts” mean?

  15. Sharlene (Wheels and Lollipops) July 12, 2010 at 07:05 #

    Oh my goodness ! A beautiful restaurant and meal . I also need to plan when we travel – need to get everything in.

  16. Chef Dennis July 12, 2010 at 07:23 #

    Hi Mardi
    what a great dinner you had at 10 ARts!! Jennifer Carrol is a graduate of the School I work at, (she was there quiete a few years before I arrived) I have tried to contact her with out any sucess to speak to my students, but her work certainly speaks for itself. She is quite an accomplished chef, my girls are very proud of her!
    Its funny I was at Garces Trading Company about 10 days ago finally making it over there….we had a wonderful lunch!
    I’m glad you enjoyed your stay in Philly it is a wonderful town to eat it, we have so many favorites, Not to mention the Italian Market and REading Terminal.
    If you ever make it back to Philly I would love to meet you !!
    All the Best
    Dennis

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite July 13, 2010 at 20:37 #

      WOW – you must be so proud of Jen!! She is on Twitter – linked in my post above so you might be able to get in touch that way. Sorry I didn’t have more time to look up more Philly based bloggers but yes, next time, I would love to meet up!

  17. Vivian July 12, 2010 at 09:20 #

    I am loving your account of Philly! My husband and I want to spend the 4th of July there sometime. We will definitely have to check out some of the places you’ve visited when we do.

  18. K a b l o o e y July 12, 2010 at 14:31 #

    Oh, I LOVED Jenn when she was on Top Chef and was sad that she was under the weather for her finale. She was one of my all-time favorites. And I have a big crush on Eric Ripert, so this post was right up my alley. Thanks for doing the hard work. (tee hee)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite July 13, 2010 at 20:32 #

      We all loved Jenn too in the ELTW household and really wanted her to win. She’s done pretty well for herself, it would appear!

  19. Lori Lynn July 12, 2010 at 19:11 #

    Wow! Fabulous! The meal looks awesome, the photos of the interior lighting gorgeous!
    Sounds like they have the perfect concept!
    LL

  20. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction July 13, 2010 at 15:36 #

    Another place to add to my list! Looks like a fun place :)

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