01 June, 2009

Now boarding: Catalan Express

What happened to May?  Birthdays, Mother's Day, weddings, graduations, Memorial Day cookouts, and lots of post-lawn-mowing Kenzinger...  

And now it's June.  Your Broggers will try to be more attentive this month.

On a recent day off from work, I spent the afternoon in Center City.  I decided to have lunch at Amada, where the "Catalan Express" is one of the best deals around -- a soup and salad or sandwich for $12.50.  Not to mention that Amada has a good draft list.  Their rotating seasonal beer was the Duck-Rabbit Brewery's Brown Ale: yes please.  After a few sips I ordered the Salmorejo soup (Cordoban gazpacho with Serrano ham, olive & egg) and the Skirt Steak Pepito sandwich.  I noticed chef/owner José Garces at the other end of the bar, eating lunch and holding court with the afternoon staff.

Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale, framed by  Amada's artful plate storage

The beer was light-bodied for a brown ale, but just heavy and malty enough for the chilly weather outside.  Very nice.  Duck-Rabbit, from North Carolina, is relatively new to the Philadelphia area and I'll be on the lookout for more of their offerings.

Salmarejo: Cordoban gazpacho, Serrano ham, olive & egg

The day was really too cold for gazpacho, but as I came in near the end of lunch service, they were out of the heartier white bean stew.  Despite the chill, the gazpacho was really delicious, and the shmear of fruit (strawberry purée?) added a nice sweet contrast.   

Skirt Steak Pepito: Caramelized onions, Cabrales, sliced tomato & olive oil

Where the soup was better suited for warmer weather, the sandwich totally hit the spot: hearty and full of big, bold flavors.  The classic combination of beef, caramelized onions and blue cheese (queso de Cabrales), served piping hot on a crusty baguette, was the very definition of upscale comfort food.  The fries were great too, dusted with paprika and drizzled with a tangy aioli.  

The Catalan Express runs weekdays from 11:30am to 2:30pm.  

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