The Restaurant School–Bon Appetit!

A few posts ago I wrote that some friends and I would be venturing away from the Restaurant Week establishments & giving the Restaurant School @ 42nd and Walnut a go instead. No one really knew what to expect save one of our party who had actually went to school there (I didn’t learn this til after I made reservations.) I was thrilled to have someone with us who knew how the whole operation worked and could speak knowledgably about the food, not to mention that we got the VIP treatment by having one of the alums at the table.

The place itself is located in a stately house that was probably an extremely elegant home in the past. We were seated in the main indoor courtyard done in an outdoor bistro style (did that make sense?). It felt a little like the inside of the Paris casino in Las Vegas, if you’ve ever been. There are also other smaller side rooms that serve different cuisine & menus.

Dinner in the courtyard was comprised of a five course French menu at an insanely reasonable $21 fixed price. The wine menu had a wide range of choices and the mark-ups were a paltry $10-$15 per bottle (one reason alone to love this place.) They started us all out with an amuse-bouche of shaved duck with garnish–perfectly seasoned and accompanied with a complementary mayo cream. I had the tiger shrimp wrapped in crispy vermicelli as my appetizer–great mix of crunchy texture with the tender shellfish. Next we had a palate-cleansing serving of sorbet–one berry, the other mango. I ordered the breaded monkfish with greens–the fish flaked on my fork and went well with the light sauce. I managed to mooch a bite off everyone’s plate–the white bean cassoulet had a tasty melange of smoked & spicy flavors while the nicely herbed grilled chicken definitely held its own. Dessert was the high note. I opted for the cheese tart, which I enjoyed down to the last morsel, but I have to give crazy kudos to the pastry chef who concocted the deconstructed Black Forest Cake. This was by far the best thing on the dessert menu–a rich, dark chocolate mound served with a side of black cherries, cocoa dust, and chocolate shavings. One of the gals aptly likened it to a giant truffle–it was melt-in-your-mouth decadence on a plate. I think I ate half of my friend’s dessert in addition to my own. We all had an extremely enjoyable evening and meal, but just to let you know, this is a European dining affair. We were there for a good three hours, which was by all means not an issue for us, but plan to make an evening of it if you decide to go. Which you really should do. Really.

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