We planned a trip to Philadelphia for our anniversary. My boyfriend thought a page-long list of cheesesteak establishments would suffice, but I wanted something a little more special. Recommended by our concierge at the Loews, we found out about Balboa’s Supper Club. It’s a somewhat-monthly intimate dining experience curated by Chef Alex Garfinkel. Local ingredients and artful dishes are presented in a fun way where you interact not only with other patrons, but with the staff and Chef himself. We were lucky enough to snag the last 2 tickets to the Sunday 2/25’s tasting.
As per usual, I was running late. And by late, I mean like I took a nap and forgot to set my alarm and we had to rush to get dressed and out the door in about 2 minutes (not even exaggerating). That being said, I didn’t have time to run to the wine shop to grab a bottle, as this was a BYOB dinner. Upon arrival, I asked the lovely server Jonathan where the nearest wine shop was and he informed me I was probably shit out of luck (we clearly weren’t in NYC anymore). He was however extremely generous and let us take a bottle of Rosé from the back. Life saver!
They did however provide one cocktail upon arrival. It was some type of light fruity drink; not really sure. I was in such a sweaty mess to get there I nearly downed the whole glass within a minute of arriving.
First up was the Amuse Bouche. Can you imagine the look on my boyfriend’s face (who has never experienced a tasting like this before) was when he saw this? “This is the size of all the dishes?!” To which I had to explain to him exactly what amuse bouche was. He’ll be cultured enough in due time.
Then was the Beef Carpaccio. Thinly shaved toast, Portuguese olive oil, aged Parmesan vinaigrette, and an arugula pudding accompanied the slices of beef.
In the center of the table since our arrival was a bunch of plates of what looked liked whipped butter. Only until the bread basket was passed around did I realize that each plate was for each diner. It was house cured butter sprinkled with chopped black caraway seeds, and it paired perfectly with the sourdough given to us.
I think what surprised both myself and my boyfriend was how much we enjoyed this dish – Cauliflower Veloute made with smoked lamb neck. If you’ve never had a veloute before, the best I can say is it has a somewhat thick, but very airy, cream-like texture. As one of the famed “Five Mother Sauces”, it’s usually prepared the same way a gravy is. This dish however was almost like a soup. The crispy chickpeas and fried cauliflower really helped bring all the textures together.
Then was the grilled Octopus on Yakitori. Grapefruit, fermented chilies and black beans, spicy peanuts, and yogurt paneer accompanied the beautiful tentacles. I’ll say it over and over again, but octopus has got to be one of my favorite “meats”, and this octopus was cooked just perfectly.
Having to explain what Wagyu beef was to my boyfriend was almost as enjoyable as the dish itself. “Yes, they supposedly really do massage the beef”. This Wagyu Coulotte Steak was accompanied by a potato terrine, butternut squash and miso “butter”, cippolini onion, grilled kale, and beef jus. The steak was cooked just beautifully, and I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked the potato terrine. Not to mention how gorgeous the plating looks!
Lastly, the dessert – Cinnamon ice cream, pistachio financier, toasted apple, milk rocks, and chocolate dirt. A perfectly not-too-sweet way to end the night.
This was a highly enjoyable experience – from the pleasant service each person gave us, to the atmosphere, and most importantly the food. I’d absolutely recommend this for anyone while in Philadelphia, and I hope to come back and try some of their food next time as well.
Check out their website for upcoming events: Balboa’s Supper Club.
Or learn more about their catering business here: Balboa’s Catering.