My mom got another year more fabulous last week, and we went out to celebrate over the weekend. (Side note: I should also mention that my aunt got another year more fabulous last week, too, since she and my mom are twins. However, she’s been feeling a bit under the weather lately, so we’ll celebrate when she’s feeling more up to it. We love you, Aunt!).
We were supposed to make a return trip to Bibou, but ended up having to find another option when my mom had to work late on Friday evening. This probably ended up being a good thing, because my brother, also known as the world’s pickiest eater, decided to join us. The chances of him eating French food? Slim to none.
One of the first places that came to mind when looking for a new option was Supper on South Street. Chester and I had been there for one of my birthday dinners a couple of years ago and I remembered that we both enjoyed it. I also remembered that it specializes in American cuisine and that most of the menu options had easily identifiable names. Chicken. Salmon. Scallops. Burger. So, I figured that would sit well with the picky one.
Supper changes their menu often to reflect the seasons and uses local ingredients. Much of the produce is grown exclusively for the restaurant at the privately-owned Blue Elephant Farm in Newtown Square. The chef travels to the farm each day to pick the ingredients that appear on plates later in the day. If you have a non-meat eater in your group, there will be plenty of options for him/her to choose from, including a three-course Harvest menu, which features only vegetarian options. The décor is reminiscent of a farmhouse—rustic and simple, with accents of warm oranges and yellows. Perched over one of the dining tables is a large light fixture, comprised of various metal elements, exposed wires, and light bulbs of varying sizes and shapes. I thought it was pretty cool, but my mom spent a large part of our dinner worried that it would fall on the elderly patrons seated below it.
We started with the cheese puffs, from the hors d’oeuvres menu. They were filled with warm cheddar cheese and sage and topped with a bacon sauce. The combination of flavors was delicious, but at $6 for three small puffs, we felt that they were a tad pricey.
Our second appetizer, the farmhouse platter, was $34, but it was pretty substantial. It contained a sampling of three cheeses, charcuterie, nuts, pickled apples and cucumbers, and spreads. I liked all of the cheeses—cheddar, brie, and a mild Amish blue cheese—but some of the meats—including pates, chicken liver mousse, and pork rilletes—were little too fancy for my tastes. I stuck to the lamb pastrami and the Boudin blanc, a white sausage that is a combination of chicken and pork meat. My mom described it as tasting “like the Reading Terminal smells.” Kind of like a farm I guess? Anyway, if you’ve been to the Reading Terminal, chances are you know what I mean. It was a pretty accurate description. There was a surprisingly good stone ground mustard on the plate, which was good spread on a bit of the cheese or meat, or just on a little bit of bread.
There were some things that I didn’t really notice—or maybe didn’t remember from my first visit—that left me a bit underwhelmed by the entrees. Some of the accompaniments were odd choices to complement the main ingredient. In some cases, there were so many elements going on in the dish that the main ingredient got lost. There’s some expression related to accessorizing outfits that basically suggests that if you take one accessory off before leaving the house, your outfit will be perfect. This could probably also be applied to cooking as well. Sometimes, simple is better.
As an example, I had the market fish of the day, which was a sea bass. The fish itself was perfectly cooked and flavorful, but then it was paired with a lemon jam, salsa verde, creamy oregano flavored rice and escarole. The jam has a very strong flavor that I thought was overpowering to the fish and the escarole was braised, making it tough to chew. The salsa verde and rice were much better complements, and perhaps the escarole could have been as well, if a different preparation method had been chosen. Similarly, my mom had the salmon. Again, it was cooked well, but the spinach mousse, fried potatoes, fried oysters and sauce just seemed too be too much. In both cases, I felt like the cut of fish was very small relative to the price and all of the other ingredients on the plate.
Chester decided to order the osso buco, mostly because the menu indicated that it came with bone marrow. However, the small piece of the bone included with the dish had hardly any marrow at all inside of it. The rest of the dish was good, however. The generous portion of tender, flavorful veal shank was served over polenta and was shredded to resemble pulled pork. I would have liked to see the addition of tomatoes or carrots as in the traditional preparation to add a bit more to this dish and bring a bit more color to the plate. So, I guess there are cases when sometimes you need to add those little extra accompaniments.
As I predicted, my brother chose the burger, served on a brioche bun, piled high with a variety of toppings, including ham, pickles, tomatoes and cheese. Although he finished most of it, he did say it was a bit salty and didn’t really the duck fat fries. I’ve heard some people claim that Supper’s burger is one of the best in the city, but I can’t really comment since I didn’t try it. My brother would never share his food with me. Germs, you know.
Supper got dessert just right on this visit, however. My mom and I shared the dark chocolate pudding. It had a much thicker consistency and denser texture—almost like a mousse—than I would associate with a pudding. But, it was delicious and served with fresh raspberries (which were surprisingly sweet, considering I don’t think that berry season has started yet) and salted shortbread cookies. Both of these were well chosen to complement the ultra rich chocolate. Chester ordered one of the specials, Irish soda bread pudding, topped with a warm cognac flavored sauce. The soda bread minimized some of the sweetness that bread pudding can sometimes have, and I will definitely trying to replicate this with the leftover loaf of soda bread that we have in our freezer from St. Patrick’s Day.
On the whole, I don’t think I enjoyed this visit quite as much as my first one, but I wouldn’t write totally write Supper off. I think the ingredients that are used are of a high quality and the atmosphere is fairly relaxed. Since the menu changes seasonally, perhaps the issues that I noticed with the entrees would be minimized by a change of ingredients and preparations.