Amada is an authentic Spanish tapas bar in Old City. As I mentioned a few months back, Wine Spectator mentioned Amada in an article about Philadelphia restaurants in its April 2006 issue. Since then I’ve been looking forward to trying Amada, but it’s been difficult to get reservations the few times I tried.
However, on July 4th, with the exception of the predictable gaggle of tourists in the traditional spots, Center City was virtually empty. Recognizing the opportunity, my wife and I shot over to Amada for lunch.
The lunch menu features a smaller selection of tapas as well as salads and sandwiches. We started off, of course, with a pitcher of the Sangria Tinto ($28)—spiced red wine with oranges, apples and cinnamon. We thought the cinnamon would make the sangria too heavy, but that wasn’t the case. The sangria was light, crisp and refreshing, and the cinnamon added a depth that sets Amada’s version apart from the rest. Normally, I prefer my sangria to be a little more potent than Amada’s, but on this hot July day their softer version really hit the spot.
The first dish we tried was the aged Manchego with Truffled Lavender Honey ($7). Amada imports the lavender honey from Spain and then they infuse it with truffle oil. They sell the lavender honey sans truffle oil in jars for you to take home; I’m told the truffled version may be available soon. The lavender adds a light, perfumy background touch without being overpowering. The truffle oil does a nice job of negotiating the connection between the sweet, flowery honey and the savory cheese, making this dish surprising fulfilling for a cheese plate.
I also ordered the Chorizo Pamplona ($7). The waitress tried to steer me toward the grilled version of this dish, which she recommended, but I was in the mood for a cold meat dish to go alongside the cheese plate and the thinly sliced chorizo was a solid starter. This dish came with mustard, cornichons and crisp, tangy caper berries.
Next, we tried the Piquillos Rellenos—crab-stuffed peppers topped with almonds ($12). This dish was our favorite. The peppers were roasted and de-skinned, and the amazingly mouth-watering crab stuffing was warm, rich and creamy. The dish, however, could benefit from a defining spice to pull the peppers and the crab filling together.
Finally, I ordered the Lamb Chops ($14). The flavor of this dish lies in its simplicity—the medium rare chops were rubbed only with salt and pepper, allowing the natural juices to seduce your taste buds. But the chops were tougher than I expected them to be and, unfortunately, I didn’t have the right silverware to avoid having to gnaw on the bone. Not that I minded; it was the Fourth of July, after all, and I’m sure that’s what our Founding Fathers would have done.
On Wednesday and Friday evenings at 9:00 p.m. Amada hosts Flamenco dancing on a stage in the main dining area. When they’re not dancing, the curtains around the stage can be drawn to turn it into a private dining room for you and your friends. If you want to feel like an insider, ask for “Table 31” when making reservations for the stage table.
217-219 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19106