July 5, 2012

Sidewalk Dining at Audrey Claire

That was our final tweet on a recent Friday night. A last minute decision to grab a bottle of white and dash over to Audrey Claire at 20th & Spruce before the rush finally, and deliciously, broke our streak.

A neighborhood mainstay for Rittenhouse Square and Fitler Square since 1996, Audrey Claire is a no frills, cash-only BYOB that is packed most nights. It only takes reservations Sunday - Thursday so either go then, arrive early on the weekend, or join the crowd that gathers outside waiting upwards of an hour for a table.

We can see why it's so popular. The Mediterranean menu changes often and includes a wider selection than  most BYOBs of similar size. The vibe inside Audrey Claire is sophisticated but chill, with its giant open windows, simple floral decor, and tightly-packed tables. The sidewalk affords another 10-12 tables for lovely al fresco dining.

You can start off with grilled flat breads - the bosc pear and gogonzola w/ toasted sunflower seeds sounds amazing, didn't get it though - a variety of antipasta options or small dishes. It's not on the online menu, but on our warm night, Audrey Claire had a crab and apple poutine that totally hit the spot. We have heard from a few sources that the grilled octopus and the watermelon salad are also excellent.

Crab and apple poutine, with red peppers and avocado

My main dish was one of the tastiest entrees I've had in Philadelphia in a while: feta and garlic crusted baby rack of lamb with fresh mint labne. The lamb was cooked perfectly and its coating was the right level of crunch and flavor to complement the meat's natural flavors. Bradd really enjoyed the maple-brined pork chop with wild boar bacon, candied dates and gorgonzola-granny smith apple butter. Both of our entrees came with awesome mashed potatoes underneath and asparagus. 

Rack of lamb, crusted with feta and garlic
Maple-brined pork chop 

Several more menu items sounded great so I promise it won't be another six years before we go back. Our server was very nice but we both noticed that the staff wasn't turning tables over quickly. We had plenty of time to eat, waited a while for the check and watched empty tables take longer than you'd expect to get cleared and reset, especially considering a lot of people were waiting at the door.

You can always call ahead to ask about the wait, but they don't take down names. Audrey Claire is, however, a sister restaurant of Twenty Manning across the street(ish) so you can go grab a drink at their bar while you wait.

bonus Instagramed photo of Audrey Claire's typical window decor

Audrey Claire on Urbanspoon

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