Philadining Home

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tasting Menus at snackbar

Update: Snackbar has closed.  Chef Jonathan Adams is currently helming the stoves at Pub and Kitchen a few blocks south.

On the first monday of every month, snackbar is doing special tasting menus, often featuring guest chefs.

For November, the Guest Chef was Sholo Olunloyo, of StudioKitchen fame, working with snackbar's Jonathan Mcdonald. Desserts were by Bobby Truitt. (We were psyched to see former M chef David Katz helping out as well.) It was a terrific meal, exciting and unusual in the ways we expect from these chefs. (Full disclosure: Olunloyo, Mcdonald and Katz all know me, but especially in this context of everyone eating the same tasting menu, there was clearly no special treatment.)

Carrot Ginger Soup . Coconut Froth. Peanut Praline

I especially liked this soup. The interplay of sweet carrot, rich coconut, spicy ginger, sweet and salty peanut provided one area of stimulation, while the smooth soup, the airy foam and the crunchy peanut tickled the palate on a textural level.

Scallop . "Choucroute" of Fennel and Apple . Yuzu-Miso Glaze

The scallop was not too unusual, yet delicious. The sweet and salty yuzu-miso glaze paired with the acidic "choucroute" gave a needed bright edge to the perfectly-seared scallop.

Skate Wing Torchon . Nicoise Flavors

I did not love this dish - there was nothing wrong with it, and interactions of the bold elements were sometimes quite pleasing, but I just found it overall a bit blah, despite the salty capers, the concentrated tomatoes, and other strongly-flavored elements on the plate.

Kobe Beef Culotte . Oxtail Gyoza . Parsnips and Chanterelles

This oxtail gyoza had everyone enraptured, clearly the star of the evening. The extremely tender steak, clearly cooked sous-vide to an ideal medium rare, then seared for a flavorful crust, was quite tasty as well, but the intensity of that shredded oxtail in the dumpling overshadowed everything, even the soothing parsnip purée.

Chalancay Epoisses . Fennel Mostarda . Pumpernickel . Shitake Soil

A not-too-stinky epoisses was complimented by the sweet preserved fennel, the crunchy pumpernickel, and the earthy "soil."

Apple in Forms . Black Sesame Streusel . White Chocolate

This dessert really knocked us out, with clear, clean, bright flavors, balancing in unexpected ways. Some French Chartreuse paired with the green apple sorbet, the white chocolate appeared in a lighter-than-air zabaglione, the black sesame chimed in perfectly, almost tasting chocolately. Truly one of the better desserts we've had in a while.

Caju-Lime Marshmallow. Fried Chocolate

As I started photographing this, I literally heard gasps and moans behind me, as people tossed that airy marshmallow in their mouths, and it instantly dissolved, leaving sweetness and citrus in its wake. And then the crunchy sphere that emitted intense molten chocolate - there was talk of storming the kitchen to confiscate any leftovers, but we realized they had knives back there to defend themselves.

Overall a very good meal, and we're looking forward to more in the future. We hear Michael Solomonov from Marigold, and Marc Vetri are slated to guest-chef soon.

253 South 20th St
Philadelphia, PA

Full snackbar review at>>


  1. Anonymous6:27 PM

    I love Jonny Mac's cooking and this looks fabulous!! How much is the tasting? Are their dates for Michael Solomonov and Marc Vetri yet?

  2. The tastings are a real bargain in my book: $70 for the food, $20 for paired wines (plus tax and tip). If you wish to BYOB, there's a $20 per person corkage, which is quite reasonable if you're planning to pour different wines with each course.

    I believe the Michael Solomonov guest chef dinner is set for December 10 (breaking the "first monday" rule, but hey). I don' think a date for Vetri is set.

  3. Anonymous3:39 PM

    Those all look like amazing dishes. I will have to get down to the snackbar soon to give it a shot. Maybe a January visit will be in order. Thanks.