I checked out the website and menu on this place several weeks ago. It seemed a little pretentious and a lot expensive. As a matter of fact, Pat told me he and Fran stopped in there after a bike run and was turned off by the prices. Now it appears they have streamlined the menu and lowered prices. It is still a swanky joint with a lot of attention paid to fruit reductions and such. It also has a huge draft beer selection and one of the coolest wine systems I have seen. When you walk in, you are greeted by a host at a station made of beer cans.
To the left of the host station is a large dining room and to the right is the bar and more dining room. The bar has two beautiful draft systems and the aforementioned wine pour station.
As I said earlier, the menu appears to been trimmed somewhat, but still leans a little to the trendy and chic. Pat ordered Caesar salad with fried chicken and dressing on the side. It was a normal amount of chopped romaine lettuce with five oddly shaped pieces of chicken. Odd because it looked like index finger sized Lincoln logs. Pat thought the chicken was a little dry. He was not a big fan. It was served with a cute little bowl of flat bread points and Parmesan cheese crisp. The only remark he had to make about the crisp, was that it was more a Parmesan cheese non-crisp. As for the dressing it was house made. Thick, creamy and rich with anchovy and Parmesan cheese. Now Patrick is not a big fan of anchovy so he was not too thrilled. If you dig anchovy, as I do, you would probably enjoy it a lot. The first two tastes were delicious. Even with the heavy anchovy, you can definitely taste the Parmesan cheese. However, after a couple of bites you can see why it is a dressing not a dip. It needs to be tossed with lettuce. It is still a great Caesar dressing. Pat thought it was satisfactory just not worth $13.
I was torn between their rather funky selections of flat breads and one of their unique sandwiches. Their house burgers are a mixture of shredded potato and ground beef. Interesting. They also have this one.
Bacon, mixed greens, cucumber, green tomato, red peppers with an apple butter spread on flat bread.
Now that would probably be either fantastic or dreadful. I can’t imagine it would leave an eater with no opinion. I decided on a slow roasted pulled pork with the bourbon glaze on a pretzel bun. The pork is tender and slightly sweet from the bourbon glaze.The glaze worked with the pork, allowing you to better taste it. Not mask it like some sauces do.Their selection of sides is rather unique. I chose couscous salad.
Couscous, avocado, black olives, red and yellow peppers, tossed in olive oil. The veggies were small diced and not really plentiful but it was still a very tasty salad.
It is a swanky joint with swanky food, swanky dishes and a big selection of beer. One last picture of the last thing you’ll probably see,just before you leave.
Has anyone out there ever been to the Urban Element ? Has anyone ever heard of the Urban Element ? Well no matter. That joint closed and in its place is Panorama Grill;specializing in Mid-East cooking with some American stand by s as well. The place is nicely decorated in urban chic;probably left over from the previous tenant. Our first server was not real knowledgable about the menu and was so timid and soft-spoken; I think she is going to have to “bulk up” if she plans on staying in the business. A more experienced server answered our questions and took our order;I don’t know if that was their system or if the youngster had her table jacked.No matter. Pat took the safe way out and had a burger,a plain hamburger. It was a little more charred than he would have preferred but is was satisfactory. I fell back to my old stand by,the falafel. Like the burger it was satisfactory; maybe a little above satisfactory. The falafel had a hint of cinnamon and a nice crunch. The pita was soft and the tahini sauce was abundant. The whole thing was so abundant I couldn’t eat it all. They also provide fries in abundance. A big pile of your standard 3/16 inch cut skin on french fries dusted with paprika. Again, nothing to get too excited about. All in all a nice lunch in a nice place at a nice price. Less than sixteen bucks for the two of us. And it’s close to downtown. On Penn just a half block north of the central library. So I think it is worth a shot. OH my.I forgot to mention the pickles. They are small non garlicy spears that have the appearance and texture of home-made refrigerator pickles. A perfect choice for any cuisine; especially food with bold taste.
There’s a new restaurant on Pennsylvania just north of the central library. There is an apartment building with a ground floor space that appears to have a revolving door for restaurants.First, it was going to be a Yats, that never happened. It became The Bar instead. However, The Bar had some identity issues so it didn’t last long. After that it became a Mexican style restaurant, I forget the name. I ate there once and they had pretty good mole sauce. I wanted to try the homemade Tamales but they closed before I had the opportunity. Now it has reopened as The Diplomat. So, with that in mind I shall try to be as diplomatic as possible.The first question I have is, WHY?The place is really quite attractive and the two ladies we interacted with were both quite charming and enthusiastic. However, I think they have some problems they are not aware of. Their menu is on the small side, which is good, it is both interesting and familiar. Which I think is a good thing. All their sandwiches are in the eight dollar range, and come with your choice of fries or salad. The menu says that the house salad is spring mix. Spring mix is a specific blend of spinach and various lettuce varieties. None of which are iceberg.When I got my salad it appeared as if they had chopped up some iceberg and mixed it with a bag of spring mix. I was a wee bit disappointed but I did not say anything. I figured someone not nearly as nice as I would inform them. But before we even got that far. We had a little dance regarding dressing. I asked what low-fat dressings they had. Our charming server said she didn’t think they had any. So I said, don’t worry I’ll just take oil and vinegar. She wanted to check to make sure she was right. When she came back she told me that though they had no low-fat options they could “fix me up” with oil and vinegar.I expected a cruet of oil and one of vinegar. When my salad arrived, I had two cute monkey dishes one with olive oil and the other with malt vinegar. Evidently, they possess neither cruets or red wine or balsamic vinegar.
Now,as for the rest of lunch. Pat ate a hamburger with pepper jack cheese and fries. The burger was a hand-made one-third pounder, frankly, a little small for eight bucks. Even “downtown”. The fries I believe were held under a heat lamp. Sometimes that makes them a tad bit limp.And since they were not that busy I thought were that the case it was not necessary.I tried the turkey burger. It was pretty good.Again a 1/3 pound hand formed Patty on what appeared to be a toasted multigrain bun. With fresh spinach leaves and melted goat cheese. That was the hook for me, the goat cheese. It also came with a cranberry aïoli. THIS INSANITY MUST END! I think I know what they tried to do.they wanted to marry the turkey and cranberry tradition with hip spinach and upscale goat cheese. But I really think they would’ve been better off making a cranberry relish or chutney, if you will. I really, thoroughly believe that doctoring up Kraft mayo and calling it something or other aïoli is way past being over.The general consensus for us is the Living Lounge has a much better lunch. Of course, this new place might be worth a try at dinner. Oh, one more thing they spent quite a bit of money on glossy cards and a fancy website that doesn’t include a menu but they don’t own cruets. So in closing, I wish them all the luck in the world.