Students spend way too much during Restaurant Week but Philly’s food scene is so awesome that the deals are just awesome. My friend Casey and I decided on Bistro St. Tropez for lunch as i have never really had any proper French food and it was the closest one to campus. We had a nice walk under the warm, lovely sunshine. For $20 each, we each got a three-course meal, and we sampled each others delicious selections. Too bad they only had one choice for dessert.
To start off, they gave us a basket of complimentary dinner rolls, expected at a high end restaurant. The small rolls were crisp and tough on the outside but warm and soft on the inside. It was one of the best dinner rolls I have ever had, especially when dipped in the basil pesto. It was the perfect start.
Casey chose for her appetizer the Watermelon Gaspacho. I found it to be a little too sour and did not have much of the sweetness of watermelons. I did enjoy the roasted sweet corn, though. The cucumbers added a slight crunch but not much. The taste was just not what I expected but it was smooth and refreshing.
I went with the Tartare de Saumon, which had cucumber, capers, avocado, kalamata olives, and mango. It was served with four crunchy crostini that were drizzled with oil. I am not a fan of olives but once I picked those out, it was lovely. The salmon was nice and the dig was very flavorful. I especially loved the tang from the mangoes. The avocados were creamy. The crostini were lovely and the balsamic was not too pronounced but the acuity was faintly there.
Casey’s Saumon entree was salmon and stuffed zucchini wrapped inside phyllo and baked. I found the zucchini tasty but the salmon slightly bland and dry. The pistachio and goat cheese crust seemed to be missing. It was a decent size, though, and a nice fillet of fish. I do not like phyllo but this was flaky and buttery, like a good one should be. I loved the mixed vegetables, especially the spinach in the light curry sauce. The cauliflower purée was so creamy and wonderful I could have eaten a bowl of it.
My Paella was also very delicious. It consisted of two large, juicy, and tender prawns, tender chicken, spicy house-made sausage, and mini mussels amidst saffron yellow rice that was somewhat soaked in broth. The dish was quite lovely. I loved the prawns and chicken as they were very tender and succulent. The sausage was super flavorful and had quite a kick. It also soaked up a lot of the north flavor. The rice was good, not soggy, and decently flavored. The mussels were so small but flavorful. I found there was a lot of rice and j could have used more vegetables and seafood instead. However, the saffron aroma was great and quite fragrant.
Dessert was Croustillant, a puff pastry base with three scoops of Basset’s vanilla ice cream, syrup-soaked strawberries, and chocolate and vanilla drizzle. The puff pastry had thin, flaky layers but still does not please me much. The ice cream was great – creamy, rich, smooth, and with a perfect balance of sweetness and vanilla flavor. It was so rich the strawberries were much-needed to offset that richness. They were sweet and refreshing while the syrups just added another layer of flavors. It was a simple idea but the quality of ingredients and the large portion size made it good.
The restaurant is located at the tip of a design center. I would never have suspected there was a restaurant of such level here, in a run down building with showcases on each floor. They surely do not get much foot traffic but the food is nonetheless exquisite. The service was friendly and the place was quaintly decorated to reflect an older period in France. The place was brightly lit and clean, making it a hidden gem in Philadelphia.