Clam chowder from Oyster House

OYSTER HOUSE | SEAFOOD
Sansom Street Oyster House finds fresh appeal simply as Oyster House, a revamped version of the enduring Philly seafooder. Third-generation restaurateur Sam Mink helms this comfortably modern space, outfitted in sleek white tile, hardwood floors and overhead lantern light fixtures. The raw bar still rules, a marble-topped meeting place for suited professionals midday and, later on, the bent-elbowed happy-hour crowd that gathers for buck-a-shuck beauties from both coasts. Old-school favorites like hearty clam chowder and snapper turtle have returned, but a refocused menu has made way for future classics by chef Ted Manko. Among them are grilled bluefish with warm potato salad, or seared scallops with roasted Brussels sprouts, turnip puree and walnuts. Fantastic seafood-studded salads include the Oyster House chopped salad, served with tuna, white beans and fennel or the grilled shrimp Cobb laced with bacon and blue cheese. Familiar drinks grace the stellar cocktail list, but adventurous types will love the oyster shooters, a perfect union of silky mollusks and infused vodkas. 1516 Sansom St.; oysterhousephilly.com

PARC | FRENCH
When Stephen Starr opened Parc, he brought a little bit of the ChampsÉlysées to Rittenhouse Square. Along with designer and collaborator Shawn Hausman, Starr scoured flea markets and antiques shops in Paris, importing wood paneling, doors and fixtures that give the restaurant’s décor a nostalgic, retro feel. Worn woodwork and distressed painted signs throughout the spacious dining area give the impression that this quaint bistro has been anchored on the corner of 18th and Locust Streets for years and years. Start your meal with a decadent wild mushroom soup or the escargots with hazelnut butter, and then order the poulet rôti for your main entree. Carnivores will crave the steak frites, while the trout amandine with green beans and lemon brown butter will more than satisfy the seafood lovers in your party. Classic French salads such as the Lyonnaise, with frisée, lardons and a poached egg, make for light but satisfying late-day meals. Dozens of café tables create one of the largest and most coveted alfresco dining experiences in town. 227 S. 18th St.; parc-restaurant.com

DELICATESSEN | JEWISH DELI
This Center City spot isn’t your parents’ deli—and that’s just the way owner Michael Spector wants it. But there’s no question that Mom and Dad will easily be won over by his “modern Jewish deli” concept, latkes and all. The “four-bite” sliders actually require about a half-dozen attempts to finish, thanks to thick cuts of corned beef, turkey and pastrami, generously stacked on warm challah mini rolls and slathered with coleslaw and Russian dressing. Elsewhere on the menu there’s a melding of fun flavors, from the wasabi cream cheese and tobiko roe that add Asian interest to the reliable bagel and lox to a deli-fied version of eggs Benedict that swaps an English muffin for rye toast and bacon for grilled pastrami. For all of these creative liberties, homemade soups skew more traditional—think chicken noodle, split pea and a hearty wild mushroom barley—save for Bubby’s kitchen-sink pho, a riff on the Vietnamese soup that’s every bit as warming when spiked with corned beef, pastrami and matzo balls. 703 Chestnut St.; delicatessenphilly.com

SAVONA | FRENCH CONTINENTAL
What Savona may lack in square footage it makes up for handsomely by tailoring its intimate interiors around the atmospheric whims of its well-heeled guests. A sleek, marble-topped bar sets the scene for impromptu casual dining and creative cocktailing at its finest, and serves as a meeting place for groups before they transition over to a table in one of the dusky dining rooms, a sun-soaked rear solarium or even the wood-polished wine cellar. Soups such as the ribolitta Tuscan white bean soup and Reggiano melt are first-course mainstays, but there are seasonal creations to consider as well, like the new potato soup with warm mussel salad. Savona’s regional Italian influences are further echoed in modern creations like cavatelli with braised pork shoulder and Tuscan kale or tender, silky scallops resting atop a bed of butternut squash risotto. Despite the dizzying wine selection, an award-winning assortment of more than 1,000 labels, master sommelier Melissa Monosoff presents her pedigreed charge in an accessible, friendly manner to knowledgeable and novice wine lovers alike. 100 Old Gulph Road, Gulph Mills; savonarestaurant.com

FOUNTAIN RESTAURANT | CONTINENTAL
The Four Seasons’ Fountain Restaurant offers one of the grandest culinary experiences in Philadelphia, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hearty, comforting dishes to tuck into within these wood-paneled walls. Take the chill off with executive chef Rafael Gonzalez’s braised short rib soup, whose deep flavors are sharpened with three varieties of onions and a gratin of Gouda cheese; on another visit we also enjoyed a chestnut soup with black truffle and chicken confit ravioli. These warming starters give way to adventurous entrées like roasted Virginia squab breast with wild mushroom cannelloni and grilled Cervana venison loin with white vegetable bread pudding in a Cabernet Sauvignon sauce. The Fountain chocolate soufflé with crème chantilly is a fitting conclusion. One Logan Square; fourseasons.com/philadelphia

SUPPER | NEW AMERICAN
When Mitch and Jennifer Prensky’s Supper debuted in October 2007, the opening menu included a pitch-perfect carrot soup with a dramatic smear of marshmallow arcing like a rainbow across the inside of the bowl. Dishes have come and gone since then, but this winning starter remains a fixture, only subtly enhanced to reflect the flavors of the season. Other savory dishes we have recently enjoyed here include the smoked chicken wings with birch beer and the duck and waffles, made all the more unforgettable thanks to a maple-bourbon jus. And lucky for us, the Supper burger, Prensky’s Gruyèresmothered homage to the all-American classic, is available throughout the day. (Top it with a fried egg during Sunday brunch.) The rustic, romantic charms of Supper’s farmhouse décor further complement the kitchen’s New American ambitions. 926 South St.; supperphilly.com

SQUARE 1682 | NEW AMERICAN
There’s no denying Square 1682’s sex appeal: low lighting, a sleek and modern space, luxe finishes and even shimmering place mats. Fortunately that sensuality follows through to the food and drink. Cocktails incorporate flavors you may not expect—cardamom, ginger and mango jasmine tea, for example—but in ways that lift and challenge rather than overwhelm (the Bell Pepper Smash may be one of the city’s most interesting cocktails). The food follows suit, with flavors pulled from all over the world yet somehow hanging together as a coherent whole. That success is thanks to the vision of chef Guillermo Tellez, whose light touch and deep understanding of the components he works with make Square a standout. Meaty charred octopus found an unexpected textural counterpart in artichokes marinated in lemon and garlic. Alaskan wild salmon, cooked to a perfect, silky rare without a special request having been made, evidenced Tellez’s respect for and trust in the gorgeous fish. Set on a bed of spicy Napa cabbage and served alongside generously seasoned duck-fat fries, it was a study in earthy richness. This fall brings two new soups to savor: kabocha squash and lobster made with roasted Jonathan apples, and a double squab consommé with truffled potato dumplings. Square 1682, then, is that most modern of Philadelphia food phenomena: a dining destination with panache to spare, anchored by a chef keenly attuned to the flavors of the world and enlivened by a drinks program that will challenge and charm in equal measure. 121 S. 17th St.; square1682.com
–BRIAN FREEDMAN

MARATHON GRILL | NEW AMERICAN
Philadelphia’s homegrown restaurant group never disappoints. And with a menu so big and fare so consistent, how could it? Locals know to seek out certain locations depending on the time of day (we like 16th and Sansom for a late breakfast, 10th and Walnut for even later lunches and 19th and Spruce for more intimate dinners) but always stick to the Grill’s stable of longtime favorites when it’s time to order. Ours include the vegetarian chili laced with queso fresco to start, followed by the pressed-brisket sandwich with caramelized onions or a veggie-filled grilled salmon niçoise salad for a lighter meal. Large plates range from New York strip steak frites to chicken pot pie and a respectable pappardelle pasta loaded with shiitake and cremini mushrooms. New soup options like puree of celery root garnished with toasted walnuts and blue cheese or roasted pork shoulder with root vegetables are also sure to take the chill off a cold day. For a complete list of locations, visit marathongrill.com

SUSANNA FOO GOURMET KITCHEN | CHINESE
After 22 years of running her gastronomic institution on Walnut Street, chef extraordinaire Susanna Foo now has the opportunity to focus all her attention on Radnor’s more casual Susanna Foo Gourmet Kitchen. The space is a study in Zen-like modernity, with low-slung lounge chairs in the bar area and organic design elements dispersed throughout the main dining room. Mimicking the decidedly modern aesthetic is the fare that Foo serves. The most revered menu items are by far the innovative dumplings, with options ranging from wild mushroom and chicken stuffed with grilled Empress oyster mushrooms topped with a savory truffle jus to the popcorn pork ravioli stuffed with roasted corn, scallions and Parmesan cheese topped with a decadent brown butter sauce. The sushi dishes are all delectable, but the ahi tuna sashimi platter is a seafood-lover’s dream, replete with spicy tuna maki, sashimi, seared tuna and tuna sushi. And the soups are all savory, with the seafood wonton soup filled with shrimp, wakame and shrimp broth acting as a lighter alternative to the sweetly pungent hot and sour soup topped with tiger lily buds, shitake mushrooms, silky tofu and pork. 555 E. Lancaster Ave., Radnor; susannafoo.com

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