217-219 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Spanish | $$$
Before cutting short our Philadelphia trip ahead of an impending ice storm we made our lunch reservation at Amada. The first of four Philadelphia restaurants owned by Ecuadorian-American chef Jose Garces, Amada is an inviting dinning space. Garces is a Food Network Iron Chef winner and was named the 2009 James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic.”
Billed as an authentic Andalusian tapas bar Garces gets many of his chesses from Spain. I’ve never been to the Andalusia part of Spain so I can’t vouch for the authenticity. Taking the farm to table concept a step further Garces owns a farm in Bucks County, PA where he grows produce for his Philadelphia restaurants, a smart way to ensure quality and availability.
We started with the Mixto a selection of three wonderful cheeses including an excellent Caña de Cabra with Fig and Cherry Marmalade and my favorite, the Aged Manchego with Truffled Lavender Honey. The Manchego cheese is made from the milk of Manchega sheep in Spain. Importing it ensures you do not get the Manchego “like” cheese made in the United States with cow’s milk.
Our second dish was the Croquetas de Jamὀn, Ham Croquettes on Romesco. The croquettes were bursting with ham and flavor. Having them rest on the traditional Spanish Romesco sauce was an excellent pairing. The nutty flavor of the sauce was a creative counterbalance to the salt in the ham.
Next was Galletas Y Salsa, a Serrano Biscuits, House Made Chorizo, and White Gravy dish. I am a big Chorizo fan and found this to be outstanding. The biscuits were light and fluffy and the gravy was good but overpowered by the spiciness of the Chorizo. I knew the gravy was there, I could see it. I just had trouble finding the taste.
My breakfast dish was the Chorizo Con Papas, Grilled Chorizo, Crispy Potatoes, and a Fried Egg. The grilled house made chorizo was superb as expected. There was nothing crispy about the potatoes; they were just large French fries. There was no option for how the egg is cooked; it’s sunny side up with just a portion of the whites and seasoned nicely.
As is always the case at tapas restaurants I go in fearing I will starve to death and come out full. Amada was no exception. The tables are close but we were lucky enough to sit next to lovely sisters recently retired who offered leads on dinning adventures for our next visit. Our waiter was less attentive than I expected, moderately helpful, and seemed distracted. Our reservation was for 1pm on a Saturday where we found the restaurant half full with a noise level on the high side at 80 decibels.
Tapas fans will not be disappointed and on our next visit I am looking forward to dinner.