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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Philip's Seafood, Inner Harbor

Living in Baltimore for as long as I have, I have always been familiar with Philip's. However, for some reason I thought of it only as a tourist restaurant, a place in the Inner Harbor for visitors to go, and locals to pass by.......but I wasn't entirely sure why. So when I was contacted by Philip's recently for an invitation to their restaurant, I very humbly accepted. And the fact is, I was very VERY pleasantly surprised. The food was delicious.

We started off with the Crab and Spinach bowl ($9.99)- this was INCREDIBLE. I literally wanted to stop everyone in the restaurant and let them know of my love. First of all, it was delightfully seasoned, creamy and cheesy, but not overly so, with large lumps of crab meat and leaves of spinach. The bread itself was also perfectly toasted. (p.s. I have the recipe to make this appetizer at home, please check it out at the end of the post!!!!!!!!!!!)

The manager then surprised us with a smaller version of their chilled plate which featured oysters, clams, jumbo lump crab meat (a very generous amount too!), a lobster tail, and lobster claw meat. This led me to like oysters again, and also rediscover my love for lobster - wowee that meat is good! It is served with three different sauces: shallot vinegar, mustard, and cocktail sauce.

This is something I would never have ordered, not merely because of the price, but because I usually go for cooked/prepared dishes. But what was great about this dish, other than pulling me out of my comfort zone, was that everything tasted so fresh, and I guess that's the point, right? Also, I must say, the presentation was excellent.

Unfortunately, we had already ordered our meal when our surprise Chilled Plate arrived, so when our actual meal came out - not only were we getting full, but we were also ridiculously embarrassed about how much food we were attempting to eat. But for the sake of this blog, we soldiered on!

We tried the New York Strip Steak which came with broccolini and a potato hash on the side ($34.99). Cooked medium rare, as ordered, it was juicy and perfectly tender with just the right amount of pink. Slicing through this meat was so easy - what an excellent cut of beef! The yukon hash was mixed with green beans and was a crunchy side to the steak, the broccolini was good, but plain. It is also important to note that the sides came with this meal, otherwise the a la carte sides are anywhere from $5-7. The a la carte Lobster ($15) was an amazing addition to the steak as well.

The Broiled Seafood Platter ($29.99) was a no-brainer, this came with the famed crabcake, garlic shrimp and Mahi Mahi (fresh catch of the day). The crabcake was excellent with lots of lump crab meat. It's is a bit creamy (mayo-y?), but I prefer that style of crabcake over a dry one. It was also seasoned very well with a definite taste of parsley. The Mahi Mahi was lightly seasoned and a little too plain for my taste. The garlic shrimp was simple and refreshing. The entree is also served with lightly battered onion rings on the side.....which we didn't know otherwise we wouldn't have ordered...

...the French Fries with Market Sauce ($4.99)!!!!! I personally did not like the tangy market sauce, but the fries were perfection! The were crispy and yet soft and well salted. And what a large portion! It's definitely worth the price. But this serves an important lesson: always ask your server if the meal comes with anything else, even if it's not listed on the menu.

At this point I was about to explode, but Dan LOVES bread pudding, and we found out that the bread pudding is one of the dishes they make in-house, so we decided to unbutton our pants and try it :) The bread pudding had a vanilla icing glaze with cinnamon chips and was served warm. I wasn't that into this dessert, it was much too sweet for my taste, but Dan loved it.

Wow, can you believe we ate all this? If I told you I literally fasted all day before I came, would that make it better? Yea...probably not. Overall, we had a really wonderful dinner at Philip's. It's a shame that it's in such a touristy area, because then it's seen only as a tourist trap, but it really is much more than that. This place IS expensive though and I would hardly order the same amount if I came again, I would definitely get the appetizer, crabcake, and maybe some fries mmmmmmmm :)

Also, as promised, here is the recipe I received directly from Philip's for the delicious spinach and crab bread bowl:

Phillips Crab & Spinach Dip
Yield: approx. 1 qt. (4 c.)

½ lb. (8 oz.) Phillips Crab Meat
1 – 9 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach (no sauce added)
8 oz. (1 c.) sour cream
1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese
¼ lb. (1 c.) finely shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ lb. (1 c.) finely shredded Smoked Gouda* cheese, rind removed
½ tsp. Phillips Seafood Seasoning

* Can substitute finely shredded Swiss cheese for Gouda, if desired

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Thaw spinach in refrigerator overnight or in microwave approx. 2 minutes, depending on microwave. Press spinach in fine mesh strainer until as much liquid as possible is squeezed out to yield about 1 c. chopped spinach. Set aside.
Heat sour cream, cream cheese, Parmesan (reserve 2 tbsp. aside for topping) and Gouda in 2 qt. saucepot over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until heated through and well blended. Do not boil.
Stir in spinach until thoroughly mixed in.
Remove pot from heat and gently fold in crab meat.
Turn mixture into 2 qt. heatproof casserole or soufflé dish, top with reserved Parmesan and bake 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is golden brown.
Serving suggestion: Serve with assorted cracker breads or slices of toasted garlic French bread. For an individual appetizer idea, portion dip into 8 -4 oz. ramekins to bake and serve with breads or assorted fresh crudités, such as red pepper strips and carrots.

Have you ever been to Philip's? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Phillips Harborplace on Urbanspoon

DISCLAIMER: Philip's generously paid for my entire meal, but they did not request me to write favorably about their meal as an exchange, nor did I feel any requirement to do so.


Simply Life said...

Wow I love that you got an invitation to go there!!! Looks great!

Beth said...

Like you, I've never been to Philips in Harborplace because I always thought it was a tourist trap. I have been to the Annapolis restaurant though. I might have to add this one to my list to try next time my mother in law is in town.

notableM said...

When you say that you received an invitation, does that mean that the meal was a "comp." Also, did the servers and manager know who you were?

Nakiya @ Taste of Baltimore said...

Notablem - Yes, as noted in my disclaimer at the end, my meal was free. The manager knew that I was coming (hence the Chilled Sampler), and so I assume the server did as well. Did that make a difference with the food or my service? I don't know - that's why I encouraged others to comment about their own experiences!

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

I believe the major issue with Phillips (please note the proper lack of apostrophe) among locals is the corporate decision to NOT use local crab and fish in their chain restaurants. You can read this one of two ways: either it's terrible mass-packaged non-fresh (i.e. frozen) crab/etc. from the Gulf of Mexico, or they're not actively participating in the depletion of the Chesapeake Bay's crab stock. Make of that what you choose to.

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