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foodie #16: M restaurant at the Morris Hotel

Our 16th foodie was a great success on Tuesday April 3rd at M.

 The foodie-group was treated to an extraordinary experience at the M Restaurant, which is located on Washington Square in center city and one of Philly's best kept secrets and hidden gems.  Check out the history of the Morris House for more information. 

 Most of the group of 20 arrived early enough to enjoy a few cocktails out in the peaceful courtyard, which was perfect.  If it had been 10 degrees warmer that night, I'm certain our dinner would've been out there as well.  It was no hardship that the group was seated in the library of the Morris Hotel.  I expected this room to be a cramped, acoustic hell.  As it turned out, the room was well suited for us, and it's not to say this was a shy, quiet group, but quite the contrary (as usual).  So, I'm impressed with how the room comfortably fit our chatty group and yet never reached the wince-induced noise level common in many restaurants.  Bravo M, Bravo.

This group was a fun social bunch that enjoyed a lot of laughs.  This is typical for us whenever we're treated to good drink and great food.  The chef Aaron Bellizzi, formerly of Le Cirque, put together two 5 course menus reflecting the freshest spring offerings (see below).  One menu was vegetarian.  I,  not surprisingly, went with the other.  Both seemed to produce similar results of happy foodies.  Everyone started off with a gazpacho that woke up our taste buds and ignited a lot of approval in the form of moans and praise.  Each course to follow was presented as beautifully designed compositions on our plates.  The consensus was a happy one.  Many remarked that it was a great chance to taste so many rare and wonderful offerings at a single meal.  It was my first experience at frog legs, which I was surprised to enjoy.  Since duck is one of my favorite offerings, the fourth course stood up to high standards and expectations.  It was clearly my favorite dish - and what a treat to have it served over seasonal sautéed  ramps!
scallop crudo
duck breast
All of this would have made a very successful foodie event for us, however we were offered a whole lot more.  Our experience was enriched with the history of the building, shared with us by the owners of the hotel, who joined us for the dinner!  At one point Debbie and Gene shared historic facts and stories about the history and ownership of the buildings.  They told us about the artwork and invited us to tour some of the hotel to see some of what they've restored.  Also, and some would say most importantly, the wine pairings were a huge success!  Geoff Butler was our sommelier.  He couldn't have seemed happier to be there nor more generous.  Each course was punctuated with an introduction by one of the very attentive servers and Geoff would discuss and educate us about his choice for that course.  One would think for $20 that it was a good deal to get a decent pour of five wines at one meal.  I certainly would've been content with that.  The reality however was five wines often refilled to match the pace of your drinking.  Now you understand why I describe Geoff as generous, and perhaps more reason why we were all so happy.  I truly believe the sincerity of Geoff, Debbie, Gene and all of the staff made this meal a unique and wonderful one for everyone.

Geoff Butler, our sommelier
This five course meal (each course with vegetarian options) = $45.00 + tax/tip: $58.00 (cash)
*Optional wine tasting offering for all 5 courses: $20+tax/tip. (cash bar, billed individually)

The special menus:

First Course
-->Garden Gazpacho, Spring vegetables, Micro Basil, Whipped Cream

Second Course
Scallop Crudo, Prickly Pear, Pickled Fiddle Head Ferns Enoki Mushrooms
Stinging Nettle Risotto, Fine Herbs, Jasmine Crumble, Petite Mache

Third Course
Tempura Frog Legs, Spring Garlic with Scapes, Garden Peas, Schezchuan
Young Red and Green Leaf Salad, Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Fourth Course
Duck Breast, Rice Cracker, Jumbo Asparagus, Sautéed Ramps
Green and White Asparagus, Fresh Garbanzo Beans, Rice Cracker

Fifth Course
White Chocolate, Prickly Pear Sorbet, Cocoa Nib Cake
Rhubarb, Semolina Cake, Vanilla Crème Fraiche

Wine Pairing

2011, Nik Weis “Urban” Riesling, Mosel, Germany

2011, Miguel Torres “Las Mulas” Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley, Chile

2010, Bodegas Francisco Casas “Camparron” Joven, Toro, Spain

2009, Domaine Galevan “Paroles de Femme”, Cotes du Rhone, France

Quita de Maritavora Tawny Port,
Douro, Portugal
2010, Hogue, Late Harvest Reisling, Columbia, Washington
If you're not on the foodie group email list, which would get you on the evite for this event, please just contact me via email requesting to be on the

food-ie group at M

email: foodie.mike@gmail.com to get on the email list or evite for this event!