Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square neighborhood is easily one of the trendiest areas in the country. The shops, boutiques and restaurants here are mostly upscale as is most of the clientele. While wandering around the area, I felt drawn to a corner restaurant simply marked as Square 1682.
The cool “vibe” inside is unmistakable, a large bar peopled by the “beautiful crowd” with trendy lighting, fixtures and music. It reminded me of a particular Seinfeld episode; George accidently finds out the secret location where the NY beautiful go to party, then returns the next night to find nothing but a vacant storefront, as though the whole thing had been a mirage.
Square’s executive chef is Guillermo Tellez who's impressive resume includes having worked under Chicago celebrity Chef Charlie Trotter. This immediately sent my expectations and anticipation of what was to come soaring. Jeff, if your reading this, yes, it’s going to be one of those reviews…
The restaurant seating is upstairs above the bar, the menus are folded into cool 5” squares, and the wine list is pretty impressive. I especially enjoyed my glass of Australian Shiraz recommended by our waiter, who was outstanding and very attentive, never missing a beat, and showed impeccable knowledge of the both the menu and the wine list.
I ordered the shrimp appetizer to start things off, and it was outstanding! Living up to my expectations of this kitchen and further raising my hopes that the main course would be off the charts as well. For a main dish, I chose the highly recommended Seared Virginia Ribeye with heirloom tomatoes & watermelon cubes.
The presentation of the main dish was OK, the steak was garnished on top with an onion ring that seemed out of place, with a plate length line of cubed tomato's & watermelon. The steak was simply awful, and the onion ring did nothing to help. First off it was very thin (about 1/2 the thickness of what I normally expect at this price point) but worst of all, it was organic beef. My tough little pan seared steak had all the charm and allure of a microwave thawed breakfast steak at Denny’s.
In spite of the steak, the restaurant did manage to deliver on every other level, so I’m inclined to give it another try and next time, I’ll steer clear of the beef. I only hope that if I go back, both the restaurant and all the beautiful people are still there too…