Three months into its operation, a.kitchen still has that new–car smell. The restaurant gives diners the option between being seated outdoors, at a bar looking into an open kitchen or around a traditional table. It also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The service wavers between over–attentive and pretentious (when asked whether the restaurant had a signature dish, one waiter replied, “Well, it’s been three months, what do you expect?”). The chefs, however, were happy to chat and explain what was being made, and how.

The menu is divided into appetizers, meats and fish as opposed to starters and main courses. We opted to start with a shared order of the beets and goat cheese with caraway ($11), served in a layered tower, the soft combination of beets and creamy cheese was rich to perfection.

Unable to settle on a meat dish, we instead opted for three fish courses: the blue crab with farro and pesto ($15), the roasted grouper with fava beans and piperade ($16) and the seared scallops with choucroute ($13). The crab, while the most highly recommended, was overpoweringly creamy. Despite its average portion size, the decadence of it became overpowering after a few bites. The grouper was tender without being overcooked or too rare. The scallops were a standout. The combination of the salty, rich choucroute with the seared scallops was unusual in the best sense.

a.kitchen has all of the components of a parents’ weekend hot spot: a solidly over–50 crowd, a small but not intimate setting, and a price point above the University City mainstay options. Through If you're looking for somewhere to take a date, we’d suggest hopping one block over to Parc or Rouge instead — they’ve got more atmosphere and a better selection of dishes.

a.kitchen 135 South 18th St. (215) 825–7030 $$$$$ Don't Miss: the beet and goat cheese appetizer Skip: the blue crab


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