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YAY! Archaeology, Music, and thee – review: Serrano (of Tin Angel)

A few weeks ago, Heather poked me that Billy Boyd‘s band, Beecake, would be playing in Philadelphia. And so I decided to fulfill my fannish duties and jumped all over that and got us tickets and dinner reservations (because that’s the only way to get reserved seats at this location).


And I took a full vacation day from work.

Despite being hella windy, it was a lovely day.

And so once Heather came up, we walked over to the UPenn museum of Anthropology and Archaeology (with a brief stop to appreciate the architecture in the Fine Arts library built by Furness), and I got to show off all of the amazing stuff they’d plundered back when that was how things were done. We started with Egypt (where I did not manage to convince her to fondle the Sphinx just a little), popped into a room for a bit of Islamic tile joy, and then fled from a bunch of students into China. A few southeast Asian countries later, we were popped through Jerusalem to get to Rome and the Etruscans. We almost managed to miss Greece, but we did manage to remember the vases and stele (and I gave my explanation of the mutilation of the Herms in 411). Woot! Then a brief visit through Polynesia, and we were out in the lovely weather again. (I mean, we were there for hours, but it went quickly)

Popped by Penn’s library for a (tiny) display of Jane Austen rare books (apparently, completely missing a copy of Pride and Prejudice), and I also showed off their digital media lab, a display of nifty book arts, and my office.

Out back for a cupcake and drinking chocolate at Naked Chocolate… which led to another mile walk (a little less, really) to show my favorite coffee shop and it’s excellent chocolate selection.

And then we took a bus.

Oh, and I called a friend for the location of the concert venue because I hadn’t bothered to write down the exact location. ~handwave~ (thanks, Kim)

Popped on the #40 bus because that one was the next one to show up. I knew that one went all the way to old city, but I had forgotten that it was also the one that dipped south and gave you the scenic route. Heather, however, had just been mentioning that she’d been disappointed that the last time she’d been in philly, they’d gone to South Street for cheesesteaks but hadn’t then taken the time to see South Street – and look, we got to go the whole length without even having to walk. ~grin~ And then we walked north on 3rd to Chestnut.

Even moving rather slowly, we ended up at the Tin Angel a little early for our reservation, but we decided there wasn’t really anything we’d rather be doing than sitting down right then (because that was a lot of walking!). Nice waiter. Very nice waiter. He only laughed at us a little for showing up an hour early, being only the second people in the joint, decided to do all appetizers, and then picking our first round of food as the Calamari and a side of mashed potatoes. Wot!

vietnamese fried calamari tossed with pepper, onion & cilantro
chilis, sweet & spicy dipping sauce
– Very light and crunchy and not chewy at all. The bell peppers and onions were a nice addition, and I loved the dipping sauce. We were warned there were spicy rounds of jalapeno peppers in the mix but only found the little roasted whole peppers. I thought they were delightful, and my dining companion was able to avoid them easily.

mashed potatoes side dish – So the windy day and much walking had made me especially susceptible to pining after the mashed potatoes listed as accompanying one of the specials, and I could not resist ordering this. Fairly small bowl, but full of rich tastiness. It had a rich flavor that was not strongly buttery. Very comforting and served wonderfully hot.

potato pancakes special of the day – served with bacon and shrimp confit – Okay, so this was not latkes. Think instead of a crabcake made all of potato strings. Thinly shredded, in a patty that’s 2″ in diameter and 1″ tall — and then I think it wasn’t just topped with bacon, but also fried in bacon fat. At least partially. There was a light sauce on top, and there were baby greens underneath. With more greens, slightly wilted from the heat of the pancakes, this would have been a wonderful entree salad. No matter how odd, it was delicious. A good balance of greasy and vegetable.

warm goat cheese bruschetta strawberries, laura chenel chevre, carmelized shallot, fig balsamic, black pepper oil – this was not perfect. Instead of just having fanned strawberries on top, they had also processed strawberries in with the goat cheese. But that made it all a bit sweet instead of leaving you with contrasting sweet and tart/sour of the cheese. It really ended up being more of a dessert thing than a savory entree.

garlicky spinach side dish – was very good and tasty, but it was a little frustrating because it had a distinct asian seasoning that we couldn’t identify. It definitely wasn’t 5 spice, wasn’t ginger, and while there might have been some soy sauce that wasn’t primary. It almost tasted like sesame oil, but not quite. Still delicious.

blueberry plum crisp – served in a very shallow tart dish with an ice cream scoop of dense whipped cream on top. The whipped cream was not good, so I tumbled it to the side. The crisp, however, was delicious. The shallow dish made for a great ratio of oaty, crispy goodness to hot, sweet fruit.

As for the music? It was fun to listen to, but I was not sad to leave without an album. They like switching between ballad mood and hard rock mood in their songs, but their opening song also had a sort of swing mood thrown in the mix, too. And three totally different tempo thingies is too much. I put my foot down. Okay, so it was still fun, but still. So I questioned some of his aesthetic choices, and I questioned some of the messages in the songs. My favorite song of the lot was Rip It Up

And then we went back to my place and had tea, chocolate, and good times.

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