by Chrysa Smith

I’m always amused by restaurants with a view.

Having something to look at besides your dining companion gives you that little extra sense of special-like you’re on vacation; only you get to go home and sleep in your own wonderful, comfy bed with clean sheets.

On 14th and Arch Street in Philadelphia is LeMeridien Hotel. And I’m sure they have clean sheets. But it was just a short ride from home to try their house restaurant: Amuse. And it did deliver on several fronts.

For one, it was located right across from City Hall. If you’re not a Phillyfile you may not realize that City Hall in Philly is a beautiful building, and one set squarely in the middle of two major roadways that intersect the city. It’s old and grand, and a quite lovely view from one of the restaurant’s equally old, very large windows.

The service was impeccable. Maybe we got lucky, but the one waiter on duty during our dinner was seasoned and knowledgeable about the menu. He could tell you about the flavors, seasonings, portion sizes and what might work best for your mood that evening. Not only that, but we were quite amused at his stories: he actually had an acquaintance from Las Vegas, in common with my husband. Maybe that added to the service. It certainly didn’t detract. But the meal was certainly the highlight.

We were dining on one of those ‘restaurant deal coupons’, which gave us a good sampling of the menu. For starters there was the crab and frisee salad—great, light crab with some spiky greens, alongside the Charcuterie–a smattering of small bites served on a board: cheeses, sausages, pates. For the entrees, a Filet so soft, I actually cut it with the wrong knife: the butter knife mistaken for the steak knife. Served alongside a variety of petite vegetables and what tasted like a Bordeaux sauce. Mark had the Bouillabase; seafood pot of mussels, cockles, lobster, shrimp and one or two other sea creatures. While I’m not a mussels and cockles gal, the shrimp and lobster, as well as the broth, were divine. Our server said ‘best in the city.’ I believe it.
For dessert? We shared the Creme Brulee.

Whether you’re near Philly, Chicago, NY or some other major metropolitan area, I highly recommend leaving the ‘burbs or the country and finding a great city hotel restaurant (preferably with a view) and dropping in some night. It makes date night that much more special, when you don’t have the time or the money for more than the most minute of vacations.

For more on Amuse: