It must be food critic vacation week because Craig LaBan didn't post a review this week and neither did Jason Sheehan. Luckily, Adam Erace stepped in at the Courier-Post, where he gave Midtown Village's Opa 3.5 stars -- four for food and 2 for service.
When he arrived at the five-year-old Greek taverna at 8:40 on a Sunday night, the hostess curtly informed him the kitchen would be closing in 20 minutes. Her attitude didn't get much better in her role as server, as she remained inattentive and sullen until after she'd dropped the entrees. As Erace posits, maybe she was relieved he was almost done with his meal and cheered that he and his guest had ordered more than your average two-top. Whatever the cause, the dark shadow left her soul and she turned smiley and bright.
Service problems aside, smiley and bright is pretty much how Opa's food made him feel. Hummus: "definitely want." Village salad: same. Piernirli: "Needs some tweaking." It sounds like his favorite dish was the $28 meat board.
It's a steal for the amount of food that arrives on this block of wood: sage-scented beef sausage; roasted chicken thighs with super-crisp skin; grilled soutzoukakia, logs of pork and beef spiced heartily with cumin and za'atar; and bifteki, which is like a thick, perfectly seasoned burger patty, only here it's pasted with lemon brown butter and perched on a slice of fresh tomato. Beneath and between the meats are charred leeks, tahini mustard and parsley pesto. On top like a modernist sculpture are house-baked carbs, including a za'atar-dusted baguette and bread rings paved in black and white sesame seeds.
At the South Philly Review, Phyllis Stein-Novack also returned to an oldie(r) but goodie to review The Oyster House close to its 40th birthday. A loyal customer for 30 years, Stein-Novack calls shucker Cornell the best in the city and the fish and shellfish "immaculately fresh." She loved her "scrumptious" two-pound female lobster with cooked with chorizo in the clam bake for two, as well as the "delicious" piece of vanilla cake.
There is not a seafood restaurant in town to match The Oyster House. This is why it has been a staple in Philadelphia since 1976.
Happy birthday to everyone who works at this Center City gem. I wish you 40 more.