I used to think that Old City was for rich old farts with attitudes bigger than their wallets. Then again, I also used to think that eating Froot Loops was healthier than eating actual fruit. In any case, I think there is a feeling among college students that Old City is more ‘touristy’ than trendy, and us younger ones belong more at Red Lobster than maybe a Stephen Starr restaurant.
Last weekend, I kidnapped my boyfriend, ever wary of anything on a menu he can’t pronounce, and ventured to Dolce. I define myself as the one source of Philadelphia culture in his life. Walking up to it, I saw that the stairs were brightly lit up, which I’m sure would be helpful to those leaving the bar. The staff was youthful and seemed thrilled to accommodate us.
Comfortably seated, we ordered drinks and studied the menu … in the dark. I’m sure my boyfriend looked great that night, but I had to wait until we were outside standing under a streetlamp to notice. I am all about romantic dinners, but I nearly set my menu ablaze when I squinted at it next to the single candle on the table. But the place had a funky, upscale glow to it, especially at the bar. Businessmen and women sat atop plush stools to unwind after a long week, laughing with the bartender and hostess nearby. Anyone a Coldplay fan? Their mellow music played softly in the background.
Remarkably fast (considering what we ordered), our food was whisked to the table. I ordered roasted chicken with rosemary, mushrooms, mashed potatoes and green beans. It was a definite down-home type dinner, and it was enough for two people. My boyfriend Jon picked fresh Maine lobster and pasta in a spicy tomato sauce. My chicken was crispy on the outside and not overpowering with rosemary on the inside. The mashed potatoes and green beans were seasoned well, and the mushrooms, which I won’t usually eat, were sauteed in red wine for a tangy finish. I definitely was impressed. Jon’s lobster was piping hot and spicier than expected, but the sauce was excellent with the pasta. The poor guy had only one problem – he had no utensils to crack open the shell. Oh well. The dark lighting hid us using our fingers!
In Italian, ‘dolce’ means sweet. Dessert at Dolce was definitely just that. Jon ordered the Godiva soup and I ordered the creme brule. Yes, it was a real chocolate soup, and yes, it was amazing. Ice cream, strawberries and a chocolate cookie made it so rich that he had to share with me. Or maybe I just kept dipping into it. My creme brule was crunchy with its caramelized sugar topping, and creamy vanilla on the inside. What an end to dinner!
There are so many great places to enjoy in Old City that are unlike my ancient stereotype of the area. Dolce’s crowd was mainly young professionals under 40 and the streets nearby seemed to be filled similarly. My only caution to you is that these places can be a bit pricier than you’re used to at Burger King. Entrees are around $20, and desserts come in around $12-15. Save up for a special occasion in this not-so-boring section of Philly!
Brianna Barry can be reached at email@example.com.