Philly Noms- Amada (AKA the most disappointing Celebrity Chef restaurant EVER)

15 Apr

Philly was so packed with restaurants we wanted to try that we actually found no time to get some famous Philly Cheesesteaks.  We aren’t cheesesteak fans, however, there is always next time.  Though after our meal at Amada, I think a gross greasy cheesesteak would have been a MUCH better idea (and for an arm and a leg cheaper).

We had VERY high hopes for Amada.  It is a Jose Garces restaurant and were told it was his best.  And Jose Garces was picked as the Next Iron Chef, so how could this not be awesome?

Well… we’ll start with some things that WERE awesome… like the meat hanging from the side of the bar.

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And what was listed on the HUGE menu…

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And especially the SANGRIA!  (The best I have ever had)

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The awesome pretty much ended there. 

On the menu, we were having trouble deciding so we decided to splurge for the tasting to make sure we got a good sampling of all that Amada had to offer.  We inquired as to the three different prices listed on the Chef’s Selection Menu (see below) and were informed that the price would determine the quality of the ingredients.  So there would be more higher end things at the $65 level with more meats.  Each would have 9-11 dishes over 3 courses.  We decided to take the middle-road and went with the $55 tasting… and since it was our final meal of this little trip, we went for the wine pairing ($20 was a 3 ounce pour and $35 was the 5 ounce, but each had only 3 glasses total, 1 per course).

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We mentioned at the get-go that we LOVE artichokes (hoping for at least a few of the awesome sounding artichoke dishes from the menu) and, of course, that I was allergic to peppers.  We even had a long discussion over what type of peppers, which we informed her includes paprika.  I THOUGHT we were in good hands.

The bread that came out was crispy and garlicky, with a tuna, olives, and capers dip (compliments of the chef).  This was okay.

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Next up came aged manchego cheese with truffle lavender honey.  The cheese was very good, though the honey was more lavender than truffle.  Still enjoyable though.

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And the presentation was awesome (this was true throughout the meal actually).

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Next, we were served a few things all at the same time (even before we finished the cheese).  First was the sorano ham and fig salad, which came wrapped in the thinly sliced ham and it all went very well with the fig and blue cheese inside.  This was one of our favorite dishes of the night, though we both noted that the best things were the items that were basically assembled and not really cooked.

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Cured meats came out next.  I asked the busser who put this on the table if the meats were spicy at all and his answer of “OH YEAH!” was scary.  I finally got a hold of the waitress who informed me that I couldn’t eat a row of meat (Damn! Glad we asked).  She hardly apologized.

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While most of the above dishes were still on the table, the next course came out.  Now I understand that they wanted to serve things in courses, however, the table was nowhere near big enough for the food and we found most of it got cold before we got to it because it was just so much.  It also made us feel VERY rushed (we did, in fact, finish this entire tasting in just over an hour).

First, we had the flat bread with short ribs.  It was VERY short on flavor and we both laughed over the fact that the short ribs were nowhere near as good as the ones from Chef Bill at Albert Hall Tavern.

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We were also given caramelized melon with ham.  This was good but, again, more assembled than cooked. 

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We were then served garlic shrimp which was… garlicky.  So garlicky that you hardly tasted the shrimp.  And super oily.  This reminded me of a bad diner meal.

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Next we were served… more grilled shrimp… with more garlic olive oil.  (MEH?) This was good but way too salty, and Mike and I are some of the biggest over-salters we know.  Bleh.  (At this point I started getting ornery).

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The next course was garbanzo beans with spinach… and peppers.  Lots of peppers.  WTF.   Mike tried it and mentioned that it tasted awful and the beans weren’t cooked.  We sent this back.  (For me to send something back at a restaurant is HUGE.  I think I have done it twice in my entire life).

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FINALLY an artichoke came out.  It was the parmesan artichokes… but it was 1 small artichoke… split in half.  It was literally 2 bites a piece.  Why so skimpy?  I understand if you skimp on things like lobster… but artichokes and cheese? GIVE ME A BREAK.

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Next up we had NY Strip Steak which came with currants and spinach.  The combination of spinach, the cheese, the sweet sauce, and the currants on the steak was really great and at least a bit special.  But I don’t know if this one well cooked plate could come anywhere close to making up for the atrocity of a meal we had.

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Then we got our last dish which was… fava bean and lima bean salad?  What a weird ending!  And totally bland.  I think this may have been what was replacing the chick pea pepper catastrophe, however, to end on this was just icing on the awful cake.

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The tasting didn’t come with any dessert, and after the terrible meal we decided to wade our way through the rain storm to go somewhere, ANYWHERE, else. But it ended with this interesting almond thing.  It was a lot like a fortune cookie.  Pretty good actually.

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Oh! And we got a wine pairing didn’t we?  Ugh.  All 3 wines tasted like they came out of the bottom of a house wine bucket.  Nothing even remotely good or noteworthy.

It felt like there were a lot of great ingredients that were mostly executed terribly. Whomever selected this tasting really didn’t put much thought into it.  To follow up garlic and oil shrimp with garlic and oil shrimp made that obvious.  And very few dishes were executed well.   I was beyond disappointed by this meal. I was actually quite horrified.

And to make matters worse… both Mike and I got food poisoning on the way home… on a train.

Curse you Jose Garces. CUUUURRRSSSSSSEEEEEEE YOUUUUUUUUUUU.

Total Nom Points: 3 out of 10

 

6 Responses to “Philly Noms- Amada (AKA the most disappointing Celebrity Chef restaurant EVER)”

  1. ChrisR April 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    3 out of 10? If I got food poisoning, that would be an automatic 1 😉 That said, other than the pepper faux pas and the repeat ingredients, you didn’t out-right slam a lot of the dishes (excepting the chick pea dish). You’re just too nice in your descriptions of the food. We ate at Andres’ Jaleo in Bethesda and probably would have given it a 6 out of 10. Some hits, some misses. Maybe he doesn’t put the personal investment into some of his places that he does with say, Cafe Atlantico and Minibar, or his Las Vegas place. Fame comes at a price, I guess.

  2. S.I.F. April 17, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    Look at all the cheeses on that menu! Such a bummer that a place with that much cheese could be such a disappointment!

  3. Bob B May 12, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    I had the $65 tasting menu last night at Amada. It was all Meh except the price. That was OUCH! The tuna salad amuse bouche was the most flavorful thing we had. I really enjoy his Chifa restaurant but was really disappointed by Amada.

  4. Mark Y May 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    We ate at Amada 3/31/2012. My wife got severe food poisoning. We called the restaurant, had to leave a message, never got called back.

  5. Eff Yu November 30, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

    How dare you.

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