Opa is a fantastic Mediterranean restaurant that allows you to experience some of the tastes of Greece from the heart of Center City Philadelphia. While Opa now hosts the Drury Beer Garden in their backyard, which is a fun time but always packed. I would rather have had Opa kept their outdoor dining seating instead of the beer garden because of the ambience you get from that area, but unfortunately they did not and the outdoor seating they have now is on a slant with a view of the parking garage, so if you decide to visit Opa I would suggest you sit inside for the best experience. Opa has just hired a new chef and he has introduced his own twists on their menu which overall I found to add to the excitement of eating at Opa.
I started off the night with a refreshing Hell or High Watermelon from 21st Amendment. Even though I am not a huge wheat beer fan, on a warm night this beer is a great way to kick back and relax. For the rest of the night my friend and I downed a couple of bottles of the Klima Red. This wine is from the island of Crete and is a succulent berry flavored dry wine that I found to go down my gullet nice and smooth. To start off the night food wise we ordered off the small plates menu, we ordered the solines which is a dish of razor clams, with white wine and olive oil breadcrumbs. The razor clams with the white wine was perfect, the clams had a fresh sea taste while the white wine added a zestiness to the dish, unfortunately the olive oil breadcrumbs were not my favorite part of the dish, they did not ruin it but in my opinion it would be better without that addition. Up next came the smelts, flash fried with a side of grilled lemon. If you have ever had smelts these are a terrific version. These smelts are salty, crunchy with a fish yet mild flavor that goes seamlessly with a punch of the squeezed grilled lemon at the end. Smelts are such a simple dish, yet so delicious when done correctly. Next out came the stuffed cubanelle pepper with kefalograveria cheese and long hot relish. This dish was outstanding, the cubanelle pepper was cooked to leave a nice char on the outside but just right on the inside filled with the wonderfully delicious salty kefalograveria cheese (similar to a Pecorino-Romano style) that complimented the pepper without totally overwhelming the taste and the long hot relish at the end of the array of flavors that added a delicate kick to the end of this delicious dish.
After the small plates we decided to order the Melitzanosalata which is a charred eggplant spread, the marinated sardine and heirloom tomato on barley toast and the swordfish souvlakia over fennel salad from the grill. I was not a huge fan of the bland charred eggplant spread, but the pita I spread it on was delicious. The marinated sardine and heirloom tomato on barley toast was a hit for my tastebuds, the saltiness of the sardines matched with the sweetness and freshness of the tomato reminded me of my youth when I would eat whole fresh tomatoes with just a little salt on each bite. I would rather have had the dish come on sourdough toast then the barley but it served as a solid substitute. My favorite dish of the night came next, it was the swordfish souvlakia. This was most likely the simplest and as usual that usually means the best, the Greek seasonings of oregano and lemon blended perfectly with the char of grilled swordfish and the refreshing fennel salad. Eating this dish on a kabob allowed me to close my eyes and pretend for just a second that I was sitting on a street in Greece enjoying some of their delicious street food.
To finish the dinner we ordered the Buttermilk Fried Rabbit. While the seasoning and crunchiness of the breading was flawless the rabbit was dry and chewy. The rabbit had a great flavor, it was gamey but not too gamey and I have a feeling that if the rabbit meat was tenderized or braised beforehand the dish would be a hell of a lot better. On the other hand the bobota corn bread that came with it should be discarded all together, it tasted like they didn’t fully ground the corn meal and it was really dry and to tell you the truth difficult to eat.
After dinner we decided to hit up The Cambridge for a couple of nips to end the night. I had the Gaffel Kolsch which was nice and smooth and finished the night with a glass of Bulleit Rye Whiskey neat. It was a terrific way to end the night as we sat outside and finished the final nips of our drinks.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry!!!!
Opa is located at 1311 Sansom St
The Cambridge is located at 1508 South St