When it comes to dining out, most patrons look for a mix of atmosphere, food, drinks and company. At Frame Philly, you get all of that—but there’s also an extra sparkle that you can’t find just anywhere.
The new eatery opened earlier this year in Old City, and although from the outside during the day, you can’t tell what exactly goes on past the front door — Frame opens at 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday—it’s in the nighttime that this venue really comes alive.
The experience starts with the vibe— which hits you with colors, shapes and all sorts of visual sensory points almost immediately. The space is stylish and chic, very much like a lounge, but there are tables with comfortable seating and even a small (but cozy) outdoor area there to keep things feeling homey as well.
It’s obviously going to be a place where drinks are well-made, and that idea is solidified even more so when walking up to the bar. Frame Philly is adorned all around with bright, yet subtle lights, and at the bar, the glow of the many bottles in the back accentuates the lit-up twinkling bar top.
Cocktails span from a Martinez (gin, sweet vermouth, luxardo maraschino and bitters), to an American Gothic (bourbon, ginger, lemon, blackberry and club soda), to a Pisco Sour (pisco, citrus, egg white and angostora bitters) and everything in between. But, it’s also an option to play around with what you want when looking to imbibe. The bar staff are very accommodating, and if you tell them what you like, you’ll likely get something you love in return.
And for those who like vino, there’s plenty to choose from in the red, white, rosé and sparkling categories as well. Beer drinkers also have a few different options to choose from (think a few local and global favorites.)
The menu, from Chef Richard Sandoval, who previously worked at the critically acclaimed Scarpetta, has taken over the kitchen, and the seasoned culinary connoisseur has given the menu a bit of a global makeover, with an exquisite twist on each dish.
The menu is broken into two sections, with a “Small Bites” and “Large Bites” portion on the table. The first offers an assortment of favorites (such as the cheese and charcuterie) and some seasonally-timed classics (think seared scallops with golden beet puree and feta cheese). But there’s a little something for any palate—such as braised pork belly, tuna tartare, fried calamari and lamb chops.
There are also some unique offerings here, including the burrata of the day (which changes), and with the quality of cheese that they use, it doesn’t really matter what accompanies it—it’s worth it. The poached pear salad with limoncello vinaigrette also stands out, and a Mediterranean inspired Spanish octopus is on the menu among other choices.
The large plates section doesn’t contain as many options as the small plates, but the quality and diversity in the ingredients is still there, just with—quite literally—some more meat and potatoes.
Options vary from seared salmon in a tarragon cream sauce to a filet mignon served with truffle mac and cheese, to a Frame burger with an assortment of toppings. There’s also an option to try out the catch of the day at market price, or indulge in a smattering of sides (such as rosemary potatoes, truffle fries, seasonal vegetables, or even Brussel sprouts with crispy guanciale).
But the dinner menu really puts its focus on some more universally loved dishes, including Ratatouille (vegan), a French cut chicken breast (served with mashed potatoes), spaghetti vongole (in a white wine sauce), or a sesame-crusted tuna (in a spicy soy sauce.) The menu items seem obvious in a way, but the ingredient combos are delightfully, not so obvious at all.
What ties the experience together is the dessert. And sweet tooth or not, it’s worth a try.
Patrons can ask their servers what the options are (like a molten chocolate lava cake), but the absolute stand-out comes in the form of bananas or strawberries foster. The quintessential dessert is made with a mixture of brown sugar and rum in most cases, but the real draw to ordering is how it’s prepared right in front of you. On a traveling cart with a hotplate and necessities at the ready, the ingredients are mixed at a high temperature, and the flames coming from the dish show it all off.
Late at night (until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday) Frame Philly is a chic hub for those looking to unwind, but at dinner time, it’s an experience for the palette. And soon, the hotspot is also looking to add to its upstairs come July for private events and more.
The shift from restaurant to late-night lounge however is seamless, and any time you head to this Old City venue it’s an experience that goes the extra mile. Whether it’s the music, the lights, or the offerings, something here will leave you dazzled.
For information on Frame Philly (222 Market St.), visit framephl.com
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