My fiancé and I had been wanting to try out Village Whiskey for quite some time, so on my last visit to Philadelphia, we gave lunch there a go.
We kicked things off with a coupled of pickled appetizers:
Pickles Beets, Pickled Tomatoes
Both of these came with toasted slices of baguette bread, ricotta cheese, mashed up olives. The pickling juice itself seemed to be a mix of olive oil and some light vinegar.
I must admit that I have extremely limited exposure to beets. I did not grow up with them and I think it was just this past year that I have really tried them. But good food is good food and I definitely became a fan, particularly of the golden beets here, which in the vinegar mix, tasted almost like a peach-like fruit. I also liked the pickled tomatoes as well, but that was a combination of more common flavors and while it was light and refreshing, was not quite as novel.
* On a rather light brioche bun, which seemed to melt away once you took a few bites and it got moist. Not quite as magically disappearing as cotton candy, but it had that quality, especially compared with the usual hamburger buns and bread.
* Light russian dressing
* With the bun being as light as it was, a couple of things followed: 1) it made for a mostly meat focus, which was fantastic and 2) somehow it made eating a burger a much lighter dining experience. Okay, it was nowhere near eating a salad for a meal, but that visceral satisfaction of solidity of a burger just was missing here. My fiancé liked this lightness; I was not as much of a fan of this quality. Certainly, that should not distract from the point that the ingredients were quality, the execution was fine and the flavors were balanced.
Duck Fat Fries
* Decent. The initial taste was the salt and I think overly-salted (though with sea salt [?]) and then followed by the distinctive taste of duck fat, (which one may miss if you dunk the things in ketchup.) Decent texture, a mild crunch and softer mashed potato-like texture inside. The duck fat, which I think excited a number of fellow bloggers - all I could think of was the collective amount of duck fat in Chinese roast duck that I have meticulously separated from the duck skin with my teeth and spit out. Perhaps I am an outlier here, but the duck fat just was not that novel.
Overall, I would say it was a nicely executed meal, but more in a comfort flavor sort of way.
Lastly, I should make a note on service, specifically on our seating. We were initially seated inside by the hostess. It being a sunny, relatively nice day out, I asked if it was possible to be seated outside. After initially saying no, one of the servers talked with the hostess and she ended up changing her mind and giving us the okay to sit outside.
I felt like a bit of an ass, when we ended up taking up a 4-person table. This was fine for most of our meal; we had come pretty close to their opening time and most of the other tables were open. But towards the end of our meal, as much as we tried to finish up quickly, there ended up being a few folks, waiting a little bit longer than necessary because of our request.
I think it was a remarkably nice gesture for them to accommodate my request and I appreciated it then, but in hind-site, out of consideration for other guests, I would kindly suggest that the hostess stick with her initial judgement. I had never been there before and did not realize they had such limited seating; objectively, I think she would have been in the right to seat us where she initially did.
Anyhow, certainly folks will have a decent meal here; however, if one were to need to choose between picking one of Garces' restaurants, I would think some of his others would take precedence.