Scandinavian food is hot right now. There are Maaemo in Oslo and Noma in Copenhagen. Closer to home are San Francisco’s Plaj and New York’s Aquavit. Until recently, Philadelphia was behind on this culinary curve. Not so any more, as Chef Joncarl Lachman has brought the Netherlands to the city of brotherly love with his relatively new Noord Eetcafe.
Noord Eetcafe is a cosy BYOB located at a prime location right next to the Singing Fountain on East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia. This neighborhood has exploded in the past few years, and Noord is a worthy addition to the active streetscape of noted Philly restaurants Fond, Will and Stateside.
The boisterously friendly Chef Joncarl Lachman helms the restaurant, returning home to his native Philadelphia after a successful run in Chicago. Lachman originally planned to open a French restaurant in his native city but, luckily for us, he decided to draw upon his Dutch roots to create food that is both comforting yet original with bold Northern European flavors that are new to Philly.
We didn’t know what to expect during our first visit, though we had heard to order the seafood. (Our traveling memories of Dutch food include Gouda cheese and Grolsch beer.)
We arrived by foot for our easily obtained dinner reservation and were quickly seated in the small dimly lit room. The waitress opened our one bottle of white wine while we read the menu. She was also kind enough to bring out some rustic, charred house-made bread and rye crisps with plenty of garlic butter for dipping.
Our First Dinner at Noord Eetcafe
To start, we shared a seasonal heirloom tomato salad as well as the smørrebrød with three types of sandwiches – egg, herring and salmon.
Based on recommendations, we both ordered seafood dishes. The beer-steamed Amsterdam style mussels offered a unique twist on the Belgium-style mussels we eat around town, with the dish’s surprising anise flavoring. The choucroute, loaded with seafood, took a different spin on the classic Alsatian pork-based dish.
The highlight of the meal came at the end. The almond butter cake was recommended by our server and was utterly delicious. The dense buttery crumb cake was completed by the addition of caramel, cherries and whipped cream.
As we shared the dessert, Chef Joncarl chatted with us and shared some wine with us since we hadn’t brought enough for the epic meal. He made us feel completely at home and ready for our next visit.
Our next visit happened sooner than later. We joined two epicurean friends on Labor Day weekend for dinner – their first and our second. We came ready to try some new things, and we brought more than enough wine. Reservations were tighter due to good reviews, so we grabbed the available 9:00 reservation. We met up at Stateside across the street for some very tasty pre-dinner cocktails and wine. This time, there was a delay with the seating, but at least we got to drink some of our wine as we patiently waited outside for our reserved table.
Our Second Dinner at Noord Eetcafe
Since there were four of us, we got to try more dishes. The starters utilized a lot of seasonal vegetables. We were all impressed with the flavors and taste profiles.
We opted for land-based protein on visit number two, rabbit and pork, and we loved both. Our only complaint was that the dishes would be even more satisfying if eaten in colder weather. However, the beautiful end-of-summer weather in Philadelphia enjoyed through the wide open windows was more than a token consolation.
We capped the meal with two desserts for all to share. Ordering the almond butter cake was a no-brainer. We also ordered bread pudding made with chocolate brioche.
Chicago’s loss is Philadelphia’s gain. Noord Eetcafe is a fun addition to our great culinary scene. As for the 2foodtrippers, we can’t wait to return in the colder months ahead for the warm hospitality and creative, comforting cuisine. It’s certainly easier than flying to Amsterdam, and it will make the cold winter months more tolerable.
Noord Eetcafe is located at 1946 East Tasker Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148.