October 26, 2006

Copper Bistro


Copper—man’s first metal. It holds a sacred place in our history as the first metal to be unearthed and shaped by human hands. Man’s first use of copper, interestingly, was decorative and ornamental. Copper became a vehicle for artistic expression. Its color and malleability inspired craftsmanship. Since that time, however, copper has become more known for its utilitarian contributions to society. Even today, copper continues to show its versatility. We rely on copper to make calls on our cell phones and to access blogs from our computers. For inspiration, though, we typically look elsewhere.

That is, until now.

Copper is a New American bistro and BYOB in Northern Liberties. The setting is intimate—the front room has roughly thirty white tablecloth, candle lit seats. There is also a back room, which can accommodate a small group or two. The foodsmiths are owner / executive chef Daniel Connelly and chef de cuisine Todd Braley. The kitchen is open and stationed in the front room, inherently making the chefs part of the dining experience. Yet, you barely notice them. Apparently, aside from the help of only one prep person, Connelly and Braley effortlessly manage the entire restaurant all by themselves. And they do it with a quiet, measured synergy. It’s truly impressive.

Hubbard Squash Soup with Mascarpone Cheese and Nutmeg

Our first appetizer was the soup du jour, Hubbard Squash Soup with Mascarpone Cheese and Nutmeg ($6.00). The soup was incredibly rich and buttery. Addictive and satisfying at a core level; however, a bit of sweetness would have helped to balance out the richness.

Turnip and Beet Carpaccio with Gorgonzola and Carmelized Walnuts

I also ordered the Turnip and Beet Carpaccio with Gorgonzola and Caramelized Walnuts ($7.50). The presentation of this dish was elegant. The rich, whipped Gorgonzola at the center of this dish provided a nice contrast to the cool, comforting root vegetables. The sugar on the walnuts, which were addictive, was a bit too candy-ish for this dish. A sugar with the depth of honey or molasses, for example, probably would be more complementary to the vegetables and Gorgonzola.

Rosenblum Zinfandel, San Fracisco Bay Carla's Vineyard 2004

We brought a bottle of Rosenblum Zinfandel, San Francisco Bay Carla’s Vineyard 2004 ($26.99, PLCB No. 13724, Specialty). This wine was deep and bold—black cherry, black currant, raisiny plum and grass. With an alcohol content of 16%, this Zinfandel was a formidable (and enjoyable) dinner companion.

Seared Day-Boat Scallops, Potato Rosti, Wild Mushroom Ragout

For her entrée, my wife ordered the Seared Day-Boat Scallops, Potato Rosti, Wild Mushroom Ragout and Proscuitto Jus ($22.50). The scallops were perfectly prepared. The mushroom ragout was flavorful and earthy, yet delicate, and paired well with the scallops.

Seared Duck Breast, Fregola Sarda, Cherry Gastrique

I ordered the Seared Duck Breast with Fregola Sarda and Cherry Gastrique ($21.00). The quality of the duck was amazing—no gamyness whatsoever. Probably the best duck I’ve had in recent memory. This, too, was perfectly prepared. With a duck of lesser quality, one would expect the skin to have been treated to a few more seconds of searing and the meat to be coated in a deeper cherry gastrique. But, given the high quality of the duck, it was wise not to do so here, a testament to chefs’ discretion.

Copper's Flourless Chocolate Torte (airial)

For dessert, we ordered the Flourless Chocolate Torte ($6.00), which I wrote about here in this week’s Culture Shock section of the City Paper.

Chefs Connelly and Braley demonstrate that Copper is synonymous with artistry and craftsmanship. Inspiration is just a reservation away.

Copper Bistro
614 N. Second Street
(215) 627-9844


Anonymous said...

I was there last week and had the opposite experience. The only thing I truly enjoyed was the charcuterie plate, which they supposedly make in-house. Everything else ranged from slightly above average (the cheesecake and the salmon) to insipid (the quinoa 'risotto'). The service was a bit lackadaisical as well, the charcuterie plate was dropped off without a word as to what was what. With Sovalo and Azure so close by, I can't imagine going back. Maybe after they've been open another 6 months or so.

Anonymous said...

Azure, now that's funny.

PhilaFoodie said...

Anonymous: Sorry to hear you didn't have a great experience there. You should give it another try; perhaps that was an off-night.

I almost got the cheesecake; glad I went for the torte.

I haven't been to Sovalo or Azure yet. I'll have try them and compare.

Anonymous said...

I have been there several times and find the food and service both top rate. Hats off to Dan and Todd

Anonymous said...

Dined at Copper last night. Thought the food was cooked excellently if overseasoned or underseasoned depending on the dish. The walnut tart was great. Only problem was the service. Our apps had already arrived when we were first offered bread and THEN the amuse came out. We never were offered water refills and it took forever to get the check. This place will be great once they smooth out the service gaffes.

Anonymous said...

I ate there last night. Water not filled properly and extra rolls not offered. My mussels were undercooked and had to be done again. My fish with crabmeat was excellent but so ptifully small that when I got home I had to eat again.