A high-minded menu manages to keep it real.

The Fitler Dining Room, chef Robert Marzinsky’s most recent endeavor, will find itself among Philadelphia’s most prized corner bistros. Two full walls of windows let in the warm street lights of 22nd and Spruce streets, imparting invaluable openness to the dining room. Inside, gleaming white subway tiles, stainless steel from the exposed kitchen, dark wooden tables and vintage–style incandescent lighting gently fuse classical elegance with a tasteful hint of industrial–chic. This was the backdrop for my meal, an unforgettable four–course affair.

Sarah Tse
We were greeted by the maitre d’, Michael, who helped us assemble our order. After warm, house–made potato rolls, we began with fresh New Brunswick oysters two ways ($2.50–$3): on the half shell with pickled ginger–lemon mignonette, topped with roe, then in a celery roux with potato, fennel, onion and parsley atop toasted brioche. The delicacy of raw oysters can prove precarious, but at Fitler they were masterfully handled; the savory–acidic interplay of the mignonette provided the complex foundation for the roe garnish, all atop the flavorful oyster. The warm, creamy base of the second variation was in appropriate contrast to the oceanic chill of raw shellfish, while the brioche added both texture and, along with the potato, a means to soak up the creamy savor of the roux.

Potato gnocchi ($15) followed, plated with peekytoe crab, chanterelle mushrooms, corn, peach and shellfish–lime butter. The peppery flesh of the chanterelle and the starchy gnocchi formed a canvas for the natural sweetness of the crab, underpinned by the corn, butter and (my favorite) the diced peach. Despite lacking obvious textural contrast, the corn contributed surprising crunch and pop to the plate.

The Barnget scallops ($28) continued the seafood trend, served in a sweet corn chowder with marble potato, celery and mussels. The chowder felt somewhat redundant after the gnocchi and roux; however, these flavors pair for a reason, the chowder allowing the perfectly cooked scallops to realize their savory and delicately sweet potential.

Later, a beautifully cooked Moulard duck breast ($26) came served atop French lentils, a bright orange piquillo sauce, crushed almonds and saffron–infused dried apricots—a pretty plate. The rich duck meat retained its primacy faced with the smoky pepper sauce and lentils, and the dried apricots contributed a dimension of tartness so complementary in duck recipes.

Though already four plates in, I willingly went for one more.  I selected the von Trapp Oma cheese ($3) for dessert—raw cow’s milk cheese, plated with warm bread, cherry jam, honey and green apple. Fitler’s Dining Room provided elegant, thoughtfully–prepared food the whole night through; this dish proved to be the goodnight kiss.

Fitler Dining Room 2201 Spruce St. @FitlerDiningRM (215) 732–3331

Don't Miss: von Trapp Oma cheese Skip: The oysters $$$$


All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.