7/25/2013 11:35:00 AM

Best Thing We Ate This Week: Spinach at Library Bar at The Rittenhouse

“No one ever orders the spinach,” chef Jon Cichon tells us, laughing eyes betraying the wounded indignation in his voice. Given the temptations on Cichon’s menu for the new Library Bar at The Rittenhouse Hotel, we probably wouldn’t have chosen it either. With options like raw oysters nestled in carved-out cherry tomatoes or candied pork-belly skewers with crackling skin, it’s easy to see how the simply-named “grilled spinach” could get overlooked. However, after tasting these greens, we’d definitely order them again.

Grilling spinach isn’t easy, and we’re not entirely sure of Cichon’s methods, but the Lacroix chef has plenty of tricks up his sleeve. What we are sure of is that the stack of baby leaves was cooked just enough, caught in that perfect stage between raw and stringy. Charred hazelnuts added crunch to each garlicky bite, and the dish disappeared quicker than a bowl of potato chips at a frat party.

The Library Bar is definitely no fraternity - it’s an ultrasleek enclave at one of the swankiest hotels in the city - but if you have the urge to splurge, you’ll be welcomed in with friendly charm. Mixologist Papi Hurtado serves drinks with worldly expertise; after leaving the Colombian marine force he tended bar at hotspots all over the globe (overseeing a 10,000-head nightclub in Ibiza, for example). Pair the spinach with one of Papi’s perfect (and huge) Vesper martinis, and you’ll spend the evening feeling healthy and sophisticated at the same time.


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