Food’s kind of like poetry: you know it’s good when each word or ingredient is there for a reason. If that’s true, then you know an expert made it.
Spice Finch, a mediterranean restaurant near Rittenhouse Square, is a new project by expert chef Jennifer Carroll. She has nine years of French culinary training, but has also worked for Red Rooster, and you can feel her mix of high–class cuisine and down–to–earth dishes at Spice Finch. When I first walked into the space, I was instantly taken by how classy yet comfortable it felt. And every element was there for a reason. The bare tables gave the restaurant a modern feel while the wood accents made it relaxing.
The waitress told us that dishes at Spice Finch are meant to be shared, so we shared shabazi fries, chili–chicken kebab, and date–braised lamb shank. The fries were Goldilocks fries: not too oily, not too dry, not too crisp, and not too soft. Just right, and nicely complemented by a dip made from mayonnaise and Tunisian pepper. I could not stop eating them, until the kebab came out. The kebab came with Swiss chard, sesame yogurt, and garlic streusel, with hints of lemon detectable as well. The chicken itself was definitely good, but the seasoning was the standout. The flavor wasn’t drowned in some thick, pasty sauce, but instead tastefully pieced together with spices and leafy greens.
And then there was the date–braised lamb shank. Wow. The lamb was so soft it melted against my fork, but that wasn’t even the best part. It came with a warm grain salad that completely stole the show. It had warmed couscous, quinoa, chickpeas, forbidden rice, and herbs, blanketing my taste buds with an explosion of flavor. The people at Spice Finch know their herbs, but they also know how to add a perfect finishing touch that propels their dishes through the finish line. For the grain salad, that magical addition was the forbidden rice, with a perfect crispiness. Again, every ingredient was added for a reason.
For dessert, we got the chocolate tahini cake. It comes with buttercream, fig sorbet, and orange meringue. This restaurant is an adventure in ideal texture pairing: the cake was had a firm surface that was softened by the cream and sorbet. Spice Finch may be a bit pricey, but it’s a great place to go when you want to treat yourself to a relaxing meal crafted by the hands of an expert.
TL;DR: A restaurant focused on the finishing touches that make a great meal.
Location: 220 S 17th St.
Sun–Thurs: 5 p.m.–11 p.m.
Fri–Sat: 5 p.m.–12 a.m.
Price range: $$$