Supper in Philadelphia

Last night my friend was visiting from out of town. Of course an out-of-town visit is reason enough to explore what's new in the Philadelphia food universe, but it also happened to be her birthday. My choice of Supper--open for a few years but gaining in popularity in the last year--was a perfect choice for food obsessed friends.

Supper bills itself as Seasonal American Cooking, sourcing incredibly fresh produce from Blue Elephant Farms in Newtown Square where chef Mitch Prensky is part owner. Prensky creates dishes with incredible depth of flavor, with whimsy and grace. His willingness to work bacon into so many of his dishes speaks of his brilliance.

We decided to start with four of the small plate starters. First were soft pretzels with beer mustard. These were the lightest pretzel I have ever tried, airy with losing consistency. The beer mustard was pungent and tangy.

Next were the warm cheddar and sage cheese puffs; think cream puff but savory. Tiny bite-sized bursts of flavor, I never discovered the sage, but the bacon mornay sauce more than compensated.

The crispy squid with sriracha aioli was delightful; not your typical calamari with marinara, but elevated to something special. Dusted with corn meal, the squid were crunchy without the eggy batter that so often masks the sweetness of the calamari. Chef Prensky accentuates this sweetness with matchstick thin peppers that sing with sweetness.

Finally, we shared the dish that Supper has become justly famous, the deviled eggs. I have such great memories of these delectable little treats from childhood that I really wanted all four for myself, but since it was my friend's birthday, I relented and let her pick first. Every night, the chef delights his diners with a different selection. We were presented with four deviled eggs like nothing from my childhood. My dinner companion was enchanted by an olive and feta selection and Old Bay flavored; I was more than pleased with the bacon with pork rind, and the truffle egg was just plain special.

The starters were fun, but the best was yet to come. Our next course was the smoked sweet potato soup with cinnamon marshmallow, apple, and sage. A perfect evocation of the Thanksgiving side dish, with a balance of comfort food raised to the next level. The smokiness, while subtle, brought complexity while the homemade marshmallow provided sweetness and the apple supplied texture and crunch. Finally the sage lent an air of the savory that pulled the entire dish together. This was a treat to be savored, lingering to enjoy every last drop.

Finally, we were ready for our entrées. I opted for the Scottish salmon served with salmon roe, buttered baby spinach, sunchoke hash browns, and lemon jam. Beautifully presented, the salmon was cook rare, and the lemon jam was one of the most original accompaniments to salmon I've ever had. The sunchokes were a nice change of starch, and the roe brought the needed saltiness to the dish.

The other entrée was day boat scallops with fresh sweet peas, pea sprouts (the hottest new green around), and with pearl onions, bacon strudel and creme fraiche. These perfectly caramelized scallops were sweet and juicy, but the peas are the star of this dish, plain and simple. Fresh plucked that morning I'm sure, these green little gems were combined with the smokiest bacon lardons ever. I'm convinced that while the bacon was in the smoker, someone nearby was smoking and then lit the building on fire.

Dessert seemed overkill at this point, but we were celebrating. I opted for the Stumptown Coffee Tres Leche Cake with almond biscotti crumble and lemon whipped cream. The hint of coffee cuts the sweetness of this traditional Latin dessert. The Antebellum Coconut Cake with mango mousse and roasted pineapple celebrates the flavors of the Caribbean, and the mousse was so light and airy the mango came through in spades.

Supper is worth the trek into City Center to sample the creative cuisine of Chef Mark Prensky. If you are into exploring flavor and bacon, Supper is for you. I will certainly be back, especially for happy hour with deviled eggs. I'm curious to try the weekend brunch and Sunday Supper too. In other words, I'm hooked!