Last night, for my 45th birthday dinner, my husband treated me to a meal at Horizons restaurant in Philadelphia. The restaurant, at 611 S. 7th St. in Philadelphia, is in the heart of the South St. district. It is, to be brutally honest, not an area that I tend to associate with fine dining. But, oh my goodness. This was only my second time at Horizons, but I loved it so much the first time that I have been dreaming about it for a full year.
As we walked up to the restaurant, we noticed the lovely exterior ringed with a small number of outside tables (completely full last night). Just inside the door, which is to the side of the building, the hostess greeted us and noted that she was going to check on our table. So, we pulled up a chair at the itty bitty bar in the downstairs area (just 3 barstools, I think) and ordered a drink. D had a beer and I settled on a margatini – a delicious concoction of tequila and agave, with a jalapeno floating in the glass. Mmmm. A few minutes later, as we looked around the downstairs area (very pretty, rich deep wood tables – this is where we had sat on the last trip) and it’s handful of tables, the hostess was back. She said that there was a table immediately downstairs, or, if we were ok waiting 15 minutes, she could give us a table upstairs. Having never been upstairs, we honestly didn’t care, but something about the offer made it sound like perhaps we should see the upstairs. So, we said we would wait and continued our cocktails and people watching. Not even 1 drink later, she was back to escort us to our table, up the stairs.
The upstairs area is breathtaking, with high ceilings, abundant light, and such an air of spaciousness and “cleanness” of line. There is also a bar area there and a good amount of table seating, including areas appropriate for large groups. We were seated in the corner by the front wall. I positioned myself against the wall to allow for optimal people watching. I could see the whole floor from there. Score!
And then it was time to start looking at the menu. Whoa, Nelly. It’s so odd to be in a restaurant and know that I can pick any item on the menu and not worry about whether it’s going to make me ill or have some sneaky dairy in it. We started with the Shaved Spring Vegetable Salad and Salt Roasted Golden Beets, but it was a hard choice. So many of the starters looked good. We had the beets on our first trip, but I liked them so much that they deserved a repeat. Man, I like beets, but this dish makes me want to marry beets (sorry honey). Roasted beets, avocado, cucumber dill sauce, tofu – come on! Mmmmm… The salad was also super good, with very fresh veggies and bits of asparagus. Then, as we were wrapping up our appetizers, a tasting tray, compliments of Rich with a “happy birthday!” arrived. I can’t even begin to tell you everything that was on there. I know there were a variety of olives, a broccoslaw with grilled asparagus, some cauliflower salad, something amazing done to peas in a pod, and fingerling potatoes with a sauce that tasted like heaven. We each took a bite or two of every item, trying hard to save room for entrees.
For our main dishes, D ordered the Grilled Seitan (which is served on a bed of mash potatoes, spinach leaves, and garnished with horseradish cream, and roasted red pepper tapenade). That sounded yummy to me, but my belly (already getting full) doesn’t always do well with seitan, so I ordered the Gochujang Grilled Tofu (served on a bed of edamame puree, smoked miso, turnips, and garnished with scallions and sea soemthing). I tried to take pictures, but my iPhone wasn’t cooperating. Trust me when I say they were beautiful, and that wasn’t just the second margatini talking! The first time I dinned at Horizons, I had a different tofu dish (seared, I think) and I might have liked it a bit better, but this was delicious. The grilled flavor of the tofu was perfection. Regarding the seitan, D commented more than once (being an omni) that he was just amazed that this was vegan food. I ate until I thought I might explode. I had to pack away a little bit of the entree, because I knew that I had to order dessert.
So, we did. It’s just not that often I get a chance to eat vegan dessert that I didn’t make. There were so many choices that it was difficult, but we went with the Chocolate Tart, which currently comes with roasted peanut butter ice cream and blackberry jam. Of course, I had a cup of coffee (what do restaurants DO to make their coffee so good?). We shared the desert because we were already so full, but I probably maybe could have eaten a whole piece because it was so tasty. The tart itself is amazing. There is a faint taste of coconut, that I couldn’t figure out whether it was the crust or the chocolate. The chocolate filling was very rich and amazingly good. The roasted peanut ice cream definitely had a roasted flavor, and almost tasted like what might happen if you froze natural chunky peanut butter.
Just when I thought I was about to roll away, a couple of sweet little chocolate chip cookies arrived. That might have been the lovely Kate bringing them by, but she dodged in and out so fast I wasn’t sure and I didn’t want to stop her to introduce myself properly when there was a very full restaurant to deal with. I couldn’t possibly have eaten a cookie… and then I did. And they were also tremendous (actually drooling right now while writing this).
All in all, would I recommend Horizons? Um, heck yes. The atmosphere is truly lovely. The service is beyond compare. The food is amazingly delicious and filling. And the owners, who someday I will get to meet and thank properly, are quite nice. I can hardly wait to go back, and I think I’m going to go eat my leftover tofu right now!