Thursday, October 18, 2012


I'm a sucker for a good homecoming, like when Allen Iverson made a triumphant return to Philadelphia, running to the middle of the court to kiss the 76ers' logo. So after I read the Independent Weekly's story on Mandolin chef Sean Fowler coming back to his childhood neighborhood to resurrect a seemingly haunted location, I couldn't help but root for him.

2519 Fairview Road served as the clown at the putt putt course, taking restaurants in and then spitting them back out. The questions around town swirled as Mandolin prepared to open-- would Fowler make it in a space considered to be toxic? Why would Mandolin triumph when places like EVOO, Mangia Bistro, and Eat have failed? More importantly, how is the food?

Carpaccio of Spanish Mackerel

After realizing that we were severely under dressed, Sara and I scanned the menu for our first course. Giving me the hand to order our app, my initial desires were for the seared foie gras but that didn't work with Sara's gluten allergy. So onto the spanish mackerel carpaccio we went...

Wonderfully bright citrus greens evelated the thin and fishy mackerel. Together the flavors were on point but when separated from each other, the dish didn't have the same impact.

Hickory Grilled Steak

Since Sara's discovery that she is gluten intolerant she has craved red meat to fill the pasta and bread shaped hole in her soul stomach. Cooked to a perfect medium rare, the savory and juicy steak popped with flavor from the dijon glaze.

Grilled Sheepshead

When I ordered grilled sheepshead, Sara expected something on the plate to be smiling back at me. But unfortunately for her, the sheepshead on the menu referred to the fish.

The fish had an amazing sear which gave the skin a wonderful crunch. The grilled cucumber was nicely salted and worked well with the effervescent quinoa. Although, a sauce could of tied each ingredient together to give harmony to the dish.

Fig Pudding

In a celebratory mood, we decided to each get our own dessert. Unshackled by any gluten restriction I decided on the fig pudding. The orange sherbet was the star of the dish, giving moisture to the cake and a citrus tang to the pudding. The lavender-black pepper tuille was also something to marvel at but didn't really work in the dessert as a whole.

Trio of Sorbets

The only choice that Sara had availabile to her were the trio of sorbets. Flavors are constantly cycled but each of the flavors were bright and refreshing. An excellent way to end the night.

Fowler's homecoming brought great food, excellent service, and a new hope to 2519 Fairview Road.

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