Sunday, February 17, 2008

Veg Out: The Ugly American

Your meal at Pennsport's latest pub will begin like this. It's not often that a diner recalls the first course over the final, but the house-baked biscuits are a strong start. These biscuits draw raves all around the table, nests of buttermilky layers with a crisp crown with whipped honey butter that are gone in seconds.

Service is impressive, considering that the soft-lit and spacious restaurant is so new. We are seated by large windows that frame the separate dining area, opposite its exposed brick walls. Tables are set with white tablecloths topped with brown sheets of paper. This is ambience with attitude.

We consider the macaroni and cheese entree, but can't justify a $16 price tag. I pick a mushroom po boy, a load of creamy goat cheese, wilted greens, and delicate truffled mushroom balls. Each mushroom is cleverly separated by a homemade potato chip. Macaroni salad and fries are both better-than-average. A little taste of everything is what always seals a meal for me.

A round of dessert brings dishes of ice cream, dark chocolate mousse, and carrot cake to the table. Intrigued by the apple pie and a bourbon pecan cake with raisin cream, my decision of carrot cake seems like the wrong choice. It comes straight from an icebox and all I can taste are the crushed pecans that coat the cream cheese frosting. The cake itself is a tasteless brick. My cakeist standards are not met. That said, I'm willing to bet the regular desserts have more promise. Or maybe I'll just end on another biscuit high.

The Ugly American, 1100 South Front Street, 215.336.1100,

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