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The Hungry Nomad: Kanella- Washington Square West (Philadelphia, USA)

August 19, 2012

Kanella- Washington Square West (Philadelphia, USA)

It was a Monday afternoon and word got out that Anthony Bourdain was in town. If you follow me on twitter you will know that I am slightly obsessed with Bourdain. Therefore, it was no surprise that I was on a hunt to 'run' into him and casually offer my eating and travelling services. It was a guessing game on where he would end up for dinner and out of all the choices we decided to go to Kanella restaurant hoping to find him there. He ended up at Marc Vetri's Amis.

I can't say I was disappointed with our choice. We discovered a true gem and had one of the best meals in a long time. We may not have met Bourdain but we did meet Chef Konstantinos Pitsillides who after our meal came to our table, asked where we were from and told us about himself and his cuisine. I respect a chef who treats his patrons as guests in his home and that is how Chef Pitsillides was. Friendly, charming and humble. 


Chef  Pitsillides is a proud Cypriot. Bringing home style Cypriot flavours from the beautiful island of Cyprus to locals in Philadelphia. I've never been to Cyprus but was a frequent travel to the Greek Cyclades islands while living in Europe and thus familiar with the regions food. (see menu)


As soon as I walked into the white washed stucco walls of the restaurant I felt like I was once again on the blue roof top islands of the Cyclades. Cyprus has a deep history of battles between the Turkish and the Greeks and is therefore equally influenced by each culture and their foods. Which is great for me because I love both.



This BYOB uses mostly organic ingredients plus makes everything in-house. I wanted to try as many dishes as possible so I opted out of the entree and instead ordered several appetizers. For our main dishes we ordered the calamari, saganaki and bureki and the lamb kofta entree. 


The Calamari was served with a side of Armenian tomato dip. It was perfectly cooked and tasted light, crispy and tender.








Next up was the Saganaki- a favorite of mine. The pan fried halloumi cheese was served in ouzo and lemon sauce with a delicious caramelized fig and side salad. This was one of the best I've had...including those which were devoured in many restaurants in Athens, Mykonos and Paros. 







The Bureki was served next: a fillo pastry parcel stuffed with feta and thyme drizzled with honey served with a side of roasted beets. The presentation was so beautiful with a taste to match. Crispy layers of fillo oozing with feta cheese. The Count found that the honey made it more appropriate for dessert but I loved it, especially the presentation. 








The lamb kofta was served next. It was a skewer of ground lamb mixed with apricot and pistachios served with a  side of pomegranate salad, lentils and Greek yogurt. 


The lamb was excellent filled with magic flavors. But what truly made it special were the side dishes. The pomegranate salad was so original. I've never had pomegranate served as a salad as in Iran it tends to be eaten as a fruit or juiced. The mixture of pomegranate with onions and spices was excellent. Then there was the lentil salad which was again a first for me. I mixed spoonfuls of the kabob, pomegranate and lentil salad together and found the combination to be intoxicating. 







The quality of the ingredients are present in each spoonful. You can tell that the chef really prides himself on his food. 


For dessert we ordered the pistachio and olive oil cake and warm chocolate mousse. Both desserts were out of this world. I really loved the pistachio cake it was light yet intense in flavors served with a side of pistachio ice cream and cherries. 





The Chocolate mousse was baked to perfection oozing with warm gooey chocolate served with a scoop of ice cream. 



Wow. Is all I can say about this restaurant. I loved the food, the presentation and the friendly chef.I was very impressed and can easily say this was one of the best places I've yet to dine. 

Kanella on Urbanspoon

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