Tomorrow, Americans will celebrate the Fourth of July with parades, barbecues and fireworks. For those hosting a party or invited to one, hot dogs, hamburger, chicken, fish and grilled vegetables will take center stage along with classic sides dishes and a red, white and blue flag cake.
Like Thanksgiving, it is often celebrated at home. I never cook the night before Thanksgiving and if friends are coming to our home for the Fourth, I go out to dinner on July 3. I have a trio of recommendations.
A small group of us are heading to the Oyster House for its Happy Hour. It begins at 5 p.m. but we will get there early to snag seats at its celebrated oyster bar. There is no seafood restaurant to match it. Although there may be nearly a dozen fresh oysters from around the country and Canada on the bill of fare, owner Sam Mink chooses one for his buck-a-shuck. Watch as super shucker Cornell and his comrades open clams and oysters with ease and nestle them on round tin plates piled high with crushed ice. I am a purist and enjoy oysters straight or with a squeeze of lemon with mignonette sauce. It is nothing but finely minced shallots mixed with red wine vinegar. Cherrystone clams are also a buck-a-shuck during Happy Hour. I cannot think of any other restaurant that serves up these meaty and juicy beauties. Cocktail sauce mixed with hot horseradish and a handful of oyster crackers make them taste better. I can down a few dozen oysters and clams and call it dinner. There are beer and wine specials during Happy Hour, which ends at 7 p.m.
The Oyster House
1516 Sansom St.
When I visited Kennett Restaurant a few years ago, I was taken with its unique menu and tasty food. Tonight, one can take a culinary trip to Morocco and then enjoy a British dessert.
I have written that I am tired of bland beet salads that lack imagination. The one at Kennett hits the mark. Ruby red beets are preserved in wine, vinegar and spices, roasted and cooled. They are served with tangy Bulgarian feta and dressed with mint, parsley, dill and chives.
The lamb burger is a party in one’s mouth. Seasoned minced lamb is grilled to one’s specification and topped with a cool cucumber slaw laced with smoke paprika and mixed with yogurt, capers, thinly-sliced onion and shredded purple cabbage with a hint of toasted cumin. Like the beet starter, creativity in the kitchen works very well here.
Leave room for dessert, especially the sticky toffee pudding. It is prepared with dates, a bit of sherry and caramel and served with rich vanilla ice cream. I enjoy Sunday brunch at Kennett as well.
848 S. Second St
The Marquis de Lafayette played an important role in the American Revolution. On Bastille Day last year, I tucked into a French dinner at Beau Monde in Queen Village. When it opened in 1997, this romantic spot put authentic French crepes on Philadelphia’s culinary map.
For starters, there is French onion soup and a platter of three types of pate with toasted bread, cornichons and mustard. Beau Monde’s seared tuna salad with shrimp and scallops is large enough to share. Fresh mixed greens, lightly dressed, gain a kick from the addition of capers and olives.
Build-your-own-savory crepe is another delicious option. Although beef, chicken and shellfish find their way into the crepe, vegetarians will be most happy with the list of vegetables on order.
Sweet crepes for dessert are a hallmark here. A plain version with ice cream and chocolate sauce is tasty, but I think Beau Monde is the only restaurant in town that offers crepes Suzettes.
Sixth and Bainbridge streets
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