Fitler Dining Room (photo by Michael Persico)

Fitler Dining Room (photo by Michael Persico)

Or “FDR” as all the cool kids in my neighborhood call it

I have been spending A LOT of time in Fitler Square recently. It may be the nice weather, the convenient opening of Rival Bros. flagship coffee shop nearby at 24th & Lombard, or the plethora of attractive, young dads pushing strollers through the park*, but Fitler Square is my new favorite place in Philadelphia.

So when a friend suggested Monday night dinner at the neighborhood’s eponymous Fitler Dining Room in order to pay off a Triple Crown bet (a brutal loss for him and an absolutely remarkable win for me), I was unnaturally excited to try the restaurant I have walked salivated past so many times in the past few months

Fitler Dining Room is aesthetically pleasing to say the least. With white subway tile*, tufted benches in my favorite shade of seaglass, and an open kitchen, Rob Marzinky (see: Pub and Kitchen) has created in FDR the perfect, intimate take on an American bistro.

There are few things that make me happier in this world than having a date ask “want to start with cheese?” so our first course consisted of baked and creamy buttercup brie from local Cherry Grove Farm, a firm cow’s milk cheese aged in beer with the consistency of manchego from Brooklyn-based Valley Shepard Creamery and an Old Chatham Sheepherding Shaker Blue, a mild, nutty blue cheese. Served with fig compote and grilled bread brushed with olive oil (and accompanied by a glass – or three – of Clariette-Grenache Blanc) I could have easily had this as a meal alone.

We followed the cheese course with Beausoleil oysters on the half shell, perfectly briney in pickled ginger mignonette and a buttery crudo of black sea bass with horseradish, Asian pear and “fingerling chips” that had the consistency, crunch and saltiness of fried shallots.

All excellent but omg, the entrees:  the perfect special menu addition for a June night of halibut lightly poached in olive oil with cucumbers, tomatoes and cilantro in a strawberry gazpacho and a Painted Hills hangar steak with cucumbers, pickled carrot and braised shortrib, accompanied by a peanut and ginger salad that was easily one of the most flavorful steaks I’ve ever tasted and one we were still talking about the next day (which is pretty much the ultimate compliment because I talk about food alot).

Again I skipped dessert because when you quadruple your daily recommended serving of carbohydrates in one sitting, you don’t need it.

*You can add white subway tiles to any restaurant or home kitchen and I will automatically think the food is amazing but in this case, it’s actually true.

*Filter Square Park is a beautifully green, dog-free alternative to Rittenhouse Square during the summer months and has the added bonus that it’s not overrun by giant rats, the sight of which leave you silently screaming on the corner of 18th and Locust for at least five minutes until you can fully recover because you’re immature and even scared of mice and can’t accept them as part of city life (or maybe that’s just me)

Location:  2201 Spruce Street, Phila. (northwest corner of 22nd and Spruce)

Website: Fitler Dining Room (even their website is pretty)

Take Note: Make reservations. FDR only seats 32.

TLDR: …still thinking about the hangar steak

Taking a break from a morning run in Fitler Square Park (just kidding, I walked there)

Taking a break from a morning run in Fitler Square Park (just kidding, I walked there)

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