A meal at Restaurant Aleksandar in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse district is like entering a vibrantly colored kaleidoscope of Eastern European delicacies that has been updated with a contemporary flair. This is more than simply a place to eat; it’s an experience that seamlessly blends classic and modern elements into a warm yet elegant setting.
Upon arrival, the cocktail menu immediately catches the eye, promising creations that are as intriguing as they are flavorful. The “Paris Is Burning” is a cocktail that commands attention, a fiery dance of mezcal and gin, mellowed by the subtle sweetness of pineapple. It’s a drink that starts the evening with a spark. The “Fall In Dresden” is a libation that embodies the season, with notes of ginger and bourbon that mingle like autumn leaves in a warm breeze. For those who favor a darker, more soulful drink, “Midnight in Budapest” offers a deep, smoky profile, the agave and charcoal elements creating a night-time narrative in a glass. And the “Espresso Aleksandar,” with its velvety blend of vodka and espresso, provides a perfect balance between a cocktail and a dessert coffee, rich with the aroma of vanilla and nutmeg.
The starters are a testament to the restaurant’s dedication to craftsmanship. The House Made Brioche Buns arrive warm, the buttery layers practically dissolving on the tongue. The Chicken Liver Parfait is a symphony of smoothness, with a richness that is perfectly countered by the tang of strawberry jam. The Sunchoke Velouté, a silken soup that is both comforting and luxurious, caresses the palate with its creamy texture and earthy undertones.
The “Autumn Harvest” salad is a celebration of the season, with roasted beets and spiced pumpkin seeds that add crunch and depth to the fresh greens. Monika’s Pierogies are a delightful nod to the classic Eastern European dish, with a filling that is both hearty and subtly spiced, encased in a perfectly tender dough.
The “Steak and Frites” Tartare is an ingenious twist on the beloved bistro classic, staying true to its roots with succulent filet mignon at its heart. This dish is a bold statement on the menu, showcasing the kitchen’s flair for elevating traditional fare. Each forkful is a delicate harmony of flavors: the savory depth of the beef is complemented by the subtle tang of salt and vinegar potatoes, while sweet pickles add a gentle, refreshing crunch. The thyme beef fat aioli is the pièce de résistance, a rich and herbaceous emulsion that binds all the elements together into a truly memorable dish. It’s a creation that honors the culinary heritage from which it draws, while confidently asserting its own contemporary identity.
The Wood Fire Octopus continues the theme of redefining expectations, its charred tentacles offering a smoky counterpoint to the bright ajika vinaigrette.
For the main courses, the Green Meadows Pork Belly is a standout, its perfectly rendered fat giving way to meat that is both succulent and flavorful. The Buttermilk Fried Chicken, a dish that could easily be mundane in less capable hands, is transformed into a crunchy, golden-brown delight, each piece tender and infused with an ideal blend of spices.
As the meal progresses towards its sweet conclusion, the desserts do not disappoint. The Panna Cotta is a dream in cream, its delicate wobble promising a texture as smooth as porcelain, its flavor subtle and enchanting. The Bread Pudding is rustic yet refined, a harmonious blend of sweetness and spice, the top crisped to a golden hue, giving way to a soft, indulgent center.
Restaurant Aleksandar’s culinary offerings are a celebration of Eastern European gastronomy, with each dish a chapter in a story that traverses continents and eras. This is not just a meal; it’s an exploration of heritage and innovation, a gathering of friends and flavors, a memory in the making. For anyone in search of an extraordinary dining experience in Philadelphia, Restaurant Aleksandar is an essential destination.
Address: 126 S 19th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103