Restaurant Review – XIX

Bob and Pat Fogal of East Norriton are the big winners of our 10/11 Season Restaurant Raffle. They will be enjoying a “Dinner for Two” to each of our 10 restaurant sponsors and have been kind enough to share their delicious experiences with us all. 

XIX, Hyatt at the Bellevue – September 2011

Hyatt at The Bellevue, 19th floor, Broad and Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19102

215.790.1919, http://www.hyatt.com/gallery/nineteen/xix.html

Even if all you want is a cup of coffee, you should definitely pay XIX a visit. Occupying the 19th floor (hence the name “XIX”) of the Hyatt at The Bellevue, this elegant restaurant provides a stylish combination of French Renaissance architecture with modern interior décor. Diners emerge from the elevator into the main dining area, a huge rotunda with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a stunning view of Center City. Additional dining areas include a large meeting room, an elegantly appointed bar, and another smaller rotunda. The ambiance is one of quiet elegance, with not-too-obtrusive background music sounding rather like Brazilian pop. “They don’t make them like this any more” (quote from Bob).

As Philadelphia’s “highest restaurant,” XIX styles its cuisine “seafood centric” American. We were served warm individual French style rolls with a large round pat of molded butter sprinkled with kosher or sea salt. Pat began her meal with littleneck clams on the half shell from the raw bar. The clams were presented with shaved ice heaped on an elevated metal platter along with lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, and extra horseradish and balsamic vinegar to doctor the cocktail sauce to taste. Pat’s entré was steak frite, a nicely rare flatiron cut with a butter-mustard-shallots-wine sauce. Accompanying the steak was a huge pile of fabulous shoestring potatoes (which we shared).

Bob’s gazpacho was served in a long white oval bowl containing shrimp, olives, watercress and sourdough croutons over which the waiter poured the tomato-based vegetable puree. Instead of an entré, Bob chose two appetizers: lump crab cake served with red pepper jelly, and the XIX salad which featured greens, walnuts, bleu cheese, and mango slices with a delicate citrus vinagrette.

After all the shoestring potatoes, we amazingly had room for coffee and desert. We shared a refreshing trio of homemade raspberry, cherry, and mango sorbets, accompanied by two decaf Starbucks cappuccinos.

The setting was elegant, the wait staff attentive, and the food was delicious. As if that wasn’t enough to delight the senses, Mother Nature added her bit by bringing in thunderclouds and rain to the west, which we could easily see from the tremendous rotunda windows. The maitre d’ said that the previous week the diners and staff were treated to the experience of a thunderstorm sitting right on top of the restaurant! Our show wasn’t that dramatic but it was still fun to see the billows of cloud and rain over the city, and we didn’t mind in the least that we got soaked on the way back to Suburban Station.

– Pat and Bob Fogal

Past reviews:

Creed’s, King of Prussia – August 2011

Radice, Blue Bell – July 2011

Stella Blu, West Conshohocken – June 2011

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