Doing a little catch-up after a long couple of weeks. First up is this past Friday night’s visit to Liberté at the Sofitel Hotel in Philadelphia. We got into the city after 7 pm, so there was no way we were going to find a restaurant outside of the hotel that had availability, so we decided to eat in the lounge at the hotel.
It was definitely busy! I don’t think there were any spots available at the bar, but we found a table near the window by the valet, so we also got to people watch as we ate. Our server was also a joy. She was so upbeat and pleasant, even when dodging small children who were semi-uncontrolled behind us (I hope that family tipped well after leaving a mess behind!). Our drinks were enjoyable. I had The Morpheus, which had a light bath-bomb scent – and I mean that in a good way! The scent made it all that much more enjoyable. Alex went for the Jean Valjean. While it was an interesting color, it was also a fantastic drink that I wouldn’t mind trying again. I missed getting shots of those, however.
We split a couple of starters – first, we had the Whipped Ricotta, which came with olive oil, crostini, and a balsamic glaze. This restaurant really likes its balsamic, it seemed to be in everything. The ricotta was lovely but needed just the tiniest bit of salt to give it some body. This is the second time in about a month that the bread had a weird “pan spray” taste to it and Alex can back me up on this, I’m not losing my taste buds. The flavor reminds me of the spray that is used to coat pans in some commercial kitchens I’ve been in. Not a good flavor at all. The olive oil was also not a winner. I’m not sure what they were using, but I was expecting a good fruity olive oil to go with the cheese and that wasn’t the flavor we got from it.
The second starter was the Scallops Poêlé and it was delightful. The scallops were just barely cooked, with a nice sear and ever so tender on the inside. Alex wasn’t a big fan of the accompaniments but I enjoyed them. I am also a sucker for roasted red peppers, though.
For a main, I went with the Steak Frites and Alex had the Chicken Paillarde with saffron risotto. The steak came with a mountain of shoestring potatoes and the steak itself seemed much larger than the 12 oz. While it was supposed to be a NY Strip, I’m not sure it was. What it was, however, was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It was tender and flavorful. It didn’t need the butter on top. I couldn’t finish it, that just wasn’t happening. But, of course, I had help, so the plate was clear of at least the meat before we were done!
Alex said his chicken dish was also good. It did not look as appetizing to me, but the chicken and the risotto earned praise from him.
We started dessert with a drink. The cognac was wonderful and we enjoyed every sip. Alex had the Nutella Chocolate Pyramid, which seemed to go over very well. It looked good and the chocolate tuille was a nice touch. I ordered the Saffron Crème Brûlée. That was a mistake. There were exactly two bites taken from it. One from me and one I insisted Alex take so I wasn’t suffering alone. The best description I could come up with is that it was like taking a bite out of a grandma’s musty basement. Maybe saffron doesn’t belong in a crème brûlée? The mango “chutney” on top was more just a mound of reconstituted dried mango. It was definitely not like any chutney I’ve had over the years.
All in all, it was a hotel dinner with hotel prices. Next time I will plan ahead and make reservations elsewhere for dinner, but I’d happily enjoy a starter or two and some drinks in the lounge at Liberté.