Friends took me to this lively cabaret for my birthday. It’s in a prime location, 13th & Walnut Street hence the name of the restaurant. By the way, those of us who have called Philly home for a long time will recognize the Walnut Street Supper Club occupies the space that was known for 38 years as Portofino. When you first walk in there is a small bar that only seats about 6-8 people. It turns over regularly because the folks there are waiting for their reservation, and for those of you who enjoy a martini they shake a good one, I had two so the evening started off well!
Let me start by saying don’t anticipate a big band supper club with a Sinatra-type crooning in the background like you see in the old movies. This is home grown entertainment, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. What you get are the waiters and waitresses taking turns singing show tunes as well as popular music that we’ve all heard whether you liked or not. The staff was attentive (without being intrusive), courteous and efficient. As singers, some of them were challenged. You gotta respect them for trying, right! What was really enjoyable was the master of ceremonies, piano player/singer/raconteur. He was upbeat, engaging and just all around fun. I would have been fine being entertained by him and his drummer sidekick all evening!! There were six of us that night, and we all concurred.
Now on to the supper part of the evening. The food was delicious and the portions were generous and reasonably priced. Please don’t go expecting the haute cuisine that we have happily come to expect here in Philly. Zagat and Fodor’s won’t be sounding their praises. What I did hear were six people who dine out a lot and were very happy with the fare. Under appetizers, you’ll find dishes like the classic jumbo shrimp cocktail, antipasto platter, pan seared goat cheese in Lingonberry compote (fruit stewed in syrup) and aged Balsamic Vinegar. For the entrée section, you had a choice of pasta dishes which unfortunately no one at our table ordered so I can’t offer a recommendation. We all went for the meat and specialties section and the Chef’s Specials and none of us were disappointed. I had the pan seared pork tenderloin with roasted peppers, crispy prosciutto, garlic confit, Merlot demi and risotto milanese. The pork was tender, moist and seasoned just enough that it didn’t interfere with the Merlot glaze. As someone who appreciates any and everything pork, I couldn’t have been happier. And I want to go back to an earlier statement, they are not stingy with the portions. Also from the Chef’s Special, two of my friends had the pan roasted rack of lamb in a Merlot demi glaze…….so tender you didn’t need the steak knife that came with it. As with my entrée, it came with baby vegetables and a lovely creamy risotto. Two friends who were watching their figures shared the Veal Gamberetti which was under the meats and specialties. It was veal medallions and shrimp in a sundried tomato and brandy cream sauce. It must have been good because they asked for more bread to sop up the sauce left on the plate. And to round out dinner, the last person had the Chicken Marco Polo. He was the only one who was underwhelmed with his entrée. The Marco Polo is chicken breast, spinach, prosciutto and mozzarella in a white wine sauce. Sounds scrumptious but he said it was on the bland side. Apparently the sweet smokiness of the prosciutto wasn’t there.
And yes, we consumed a few bottles of vino. We had the Dona Paula Malbec. I was unfamiliar with the name, and it was the only Malbec on the menu, but it was fruity, spicy and went very well with my pork. And it was only $38 per bottle!! Shocking right? Well hear this, 90% of the wines on the list are in the $35 – $55 range. Bravo!