Friday, June 5, 2009

Beyond the Beltway: White Dog and Marathon Grill in Philadelphia

(Ed. Note: Last weekend I visited some friends up in the City of Brotherly Love; naturally we had to sample the local brunch cuisine.)

Two mainstays near the campus of the University of Pennsylvania are the White Dog Cafe and the Marathon Grill. Both are situated within walking distance from the UPenn campus and serve respectable American food.

White Dog is located in Victorian brownstones and also features a pleasant outdoor seating area. The brunch menu features a bounty of both smaller appetizers and brunch "entrees." For starters they serve a delightful artisan cheese plate consisting of locally produced blue, cheddar, and chevre cheeses along with walnuts, organic jam, honey, and crusty bread. The cheeses themselves weren't particularly gourmet varieties, but they were savory -- the blue cheese with jam was especially sumptuous.

As for the larger dishes, the omelettes were nicely prepared and came with both potatoes and a salad -- which is a nice touch. The Mediterranean Omelette with kalamata olives, roasted peppers, feta cheese, and tomatoes was a delectable combination; though the side greek salad, which consisted of essentially the same olives, peppers, and cheese (and cucumbers instead of tomatoes) that were in the omelette, was a strangely repetitive choice, but I was not unhappy with the decision.

The pancakes were also a good dish. They were topped with caramelized bananas, toasted macadamia nuts, cinnamon mascarpone, and maple syrup. This was a decadant combination on top of fluffy pancakes.

The coffee was, unfortunately, horrible. Other than that, White Dog lived up to expectations. Reasonably priced as well. (P.S. It also has an excellent bar, with a collection of local brews).

Marathon Grill is nearby and it also offers a cornucopia of brunch options. The large menu features ten different omelettes, five benedicts, and sundry other brunch entrees.

While the variety was appreciated, the food was not quite as good as our experience at White Dog. The omelette was a little overdone -- not the perfectly prepared version we were served at White Dog. (Note the brown burn marks on the omelette here, compared to the absence of them at White Dog, above). Perfectly adequate fillings, though, I had the chorizo, manchego, and pica de gallo variety. The salmon eggs benedict was good, but not fantastic. The parfait was a disappointment. It was supposed to be served with "fresh fruit" but instead came with an ordinary fruit salad consisting largely of honeydew melon. The yogurt and granola were pedestrian.

As for the sides, the potatoes were on the dry side, and the toast was served with an all-too-casual butter and jam packet that they probably bought at the Fresh Grocer across the street. Similarly, the coffee was served with half-and-half containers and bizarre wooden stirrers instead of a spoon.

The food at Marathon was not bad, but White Dog wins my Beyond the Beltway: Philadelphia award.

Contact information after the jump. Continue reading.

White Dog Cafe
3420 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 386-9224

Marathon Grill
16th & Samsom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 569-3278


Russell said...

Thrilling piece...I really enjoyed reading it. Mike Herman is a must read for all those who eat food.

Malaka Gharib said...

oh my god those eggs benedict look killer