I have to give myself some credit. There have been countless times in my life where I've said I was going to do something and gotten really excited about it, only to let the idea fade away a few weeks later without ever attempting to try it. For the past 3 years, Restaurant Week has been that something. I found out about Taste of Hartford in 2007 and always wanted to go. For one reason or another, I never seemed to take advantage of the fantastic deal (how I could pass up a 3 course dinner for $20.07, I'll never know).
Timing was off for ToH this year, too. I was home the week before it began and left just as it started. Luckily, my schedule was clear for Philly's Restaurant Week and I knew that I had no excuse not to go. I couldn't afford dinner (even though $35 is still a steal for most of the offerings), but lunch was well within my budget and a 3 course meal could easily stretch into 2-3 meals (thank you doggy bags!). With a new-found determination to do all that I had dreamed of, I set out for Percy Street BBQ on South Street.
For $20, I got a choice of appetizer....
My dining companion got jalapeno cheddar cornbread in a personalized cast iron skillet (which of course I'm now coveting).
I went for the mac-n-cheese, which was easily the best I've ever had. The noodles were perfectly cooked--soft so as to not distract from the creamy bechamel sauce, but not mushy. I'm not sure what cheese was in the recipe, but I think that's part of the beauty of the dish. It seemed as though the chef was going for a harmonious dish, rather than giving one element the star credit. My only change to the dish might have been a touch more topping, but that's more of a personal preference.
Next on the menu was the meat--a half pound to be exact.
We both went for the brisket, which was so tender it came apart with a fork. It's cooked over applewood and topped with nothing but salt and pepper before meeting heat. The flavor is outstanding. It had a deep smokey flavor with a touch of sweetness. I would have eaten it as is (the Texan way, according to what my menu told me, anyway), but I was confronted with three types of house-made BBQ sauces and I'm a sucker for sauces, so I tried em all. I liked the original best, but the combination of the hot BBQ sauce with its smokey kick and the sweet BBQ sauce (was that plum I tasted?) was pretty stellar.
Brisket didn't come to the table alone. He brought two friends...
German potato salad - I'm used to loose interpretations of this dish, ones that are drowning in vinegar and tossed with scallions, so this one had a much smokier flavor than I expected.
The collard greens were lovely, to say the least. I hate mushy greens, and they held up to my textural scrutiny.
If you hadn't already guessed by my terse description of the side dishes, my brain has already jumped ahead to dessert, so let's get on that.
You can't go to a southern-food/BBQ restaurant without ordering a piece of red velvet cake, right? Not if you're me. This was my date's cake. I'm not a huge cake fan (you'll see what trumps it in a second), but I did try a bite. The cake was moist enough and tasted homemade. The frosting had a lovely cream cheese flavor. I'm just not a fan of red velvet cake, so I didn't go back for another bite.
When I was between banana pudding and pecan pie, our waiter asked me how big my sweet tooth was. This pie was a mighty match for my sweet tooth. Flaky crust, topped with caramelized crunchy pecans and a sweet gooey layer in between. Oh my word. I was speechless. When he came back to ask us how dessert was, my only response was, "Ohmmmf." Speechless. Wonderful.
As if an amazing meal for $20 wasn't enough (actually two meals... I had to get a doggy bag), we also got $10 toward our next meal at Percy Street BBQ
I would definitely go there again. Next time around, I'm going big and trying the pork belly, the banana pudding and the Yard's Rootbeer (made especially for Percy Street!).
South Street btwn 8th & 9th