Most of the time, it’s fun to be right. It’s fun to Google “Which Harry Potter book do they mention ‘snogging’ in for the first time?” and confirm that it is, in fact, Prisoner of Azkaban like you said, and not Goblet of Fire, which your brother put $10 on. But there are other times when you kind of hope that you’re wrong, like when you think you might have left the oven on and you’re about to board a flight for a two-week trip. Or when you go to a new upscale restaurant in Rittenhouse thinking it will probably be just like all of the other overpriced spots in the area where you eat mashed potatoes topped with caviar and get called “madame” or “sir.” In those situations, you hope you’re horribly wrong.
Luckily, we were wrong about Spice Finch. Even though it just looks like another fancy Rittenhouse spot reserved for a rich aunt’s birthday, it’s actually the kind of place you can go for a casual weeknight dinner when you’re okay with spending a little extra money, drinking a $14 cocktail, and eating some really good Mediterranean food.
When you first walk into Spice Finch, you won’t notice anything super different about it. This place has the same heavy wooden tables and leather-backed chairs that most other special occasion spots have, and the servers are dressed in black and white uniforms like they were just transferred from LaCroix down the street. But somewhere between your garlic yogurt crudité and broccoli tabouleh, you’ll realize this place isn’t exactly The Bellevue.
You’ll see Flyers fans at the big bar wearing jerseys and watching the game on TV, while other people befriend the bartender. Back at your table, your server will pull over a chair to sit and walk you through the big menu. All of a sudden, this isn’t just a place for the marketing dinner your boss asked you to plan—it’s somewhere you actually want to hang out.
The food here kind of surprises you as well. It’s just as expensive as any other special occasion spot in Rittenhouse, which is another reason we initially put it in the “only use in case of emergencies” box, but it’s mostly very good and gets better with every course. The appetizers, which range from mahon croquettes to shishito peppers with tahini and harissa, are all solid, and the fattoush with cucumber, green beans, and tomato vinaigrette is one of the only salads we’d go out of our way for when we live a block away from Honeygrow. But where Spice Finch really impresses is the entrees. Especially the lamb ribs, which are sweet, tender, and covered with a glaze of spices and charred skin. The charred octopus and the berbere carrots are worth getting too, but the lamb ribs are the one thing you’ll be thinking about two months later when you’re at a wedding and a disappointing plate of flank steak ends up in front of you.
That being said, there are bound to be things that aren’t perfect on a menu this large, and they could probably cut about 10 dishes without anyone noticing. The broccoli tabouleh, for example, isn’t something we’d tell anyone to get here. It’s not that it’s bad, as it’s pretty hard to mess up tabouleh, but adding broccoli to it doesn’t make the dish any more unique or flavorful. And the croquettes could be significantly improved by losing the avocado tomatillo underneath them—there are a bunch of sauces you can order a la carte, like the harissa, that work much better.
Even if you’ve walked by Spice Finch, looked in the window, and thought to yourself, “I probably can’t go in there if I’m wearing anything that can go in a normal washing machine,” you should give it another shot. You’ll be surprised at how easily you start to feel comfortable here, and you’ll be happy your first impressions were way, way off.
This dish is so good you should order it right when the waiter asks for your water preference. It dish comes with smooth and creamy coriander cashew butter that’s earthy, sweet, and is good enough that you’ll want it spread on everything you have coming next. And with pickled onions sprinkled on top, it has a double crunchiness to it.
Halloumi Gem Salad
This is one of those dishes that tastes exactly like it sounds. It’s a refreshing salad with chunks of salty halloumi and marcona almonds that are tossed in a honey vinaigrette. If you think your food lineup needs the balance of a salad, go for it. If not, you can skip it.
We’re on a side mission to find the best shrimp in the city. While this isn’t a contender, they’re still jumbo ones swimming in a pool of roasted garlic and peppery broth. And we’d gladly dip our buttery shabazi flatbread in the whole mess.
Moroccan Skirt Steak
Big enough for three people, these perfectly cooked slabs of beef are juicy, tender, smoky, and come bathing in a bright green chermoula sauce. And because of this, each bite is lemony and garlicky bliss.