My wife scored us some passes to this afternoon’s Ray LaMontagne concert at World Cafe Live in University City (West Philadelphia). The concert was a freebie hosted by WXPN‘s Free at Noon concert series. In case you’re not familiar with him, Ray LaMontagne is a singer/songwriter and has so far released four albums. I liked him immediately after listening to his first album (Trouble), and his music reminds me of The Band, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Neil Young , and a bit of Van Morrison. Ray and the band were great! Pity it only lasted 45 minutes. Here’s a clip for your viewing pleasure:
Since the show ended just before 1PM, we decided to grab some lunch. After a short debate, we settled on POD, which is about a 5 block walk from the concert venue. POD, an Asian themed restaurant with a very funky decor, is part of the STARR Restaurants group, which also includes The Continental, Morimoto, Barclay Prime, Butcher & Singer, El Vez, and several other restaurants in Philly, NYC, and AC.
We decided to have a lite lunch, so we ordered a Calamari Salad and the Deluxe Sushi Combination platter which we planned to share.
Though they tend to be a bit more expensive than most, STARR restaurants are generally well run and provide very good food and service. POD is no exception. Our waiter achieved that delicate balance of being very attentive, yet not being intrusive. The food also didn’t disappoint. The Calamari Salad was served with a lemongrass infused dressing. The calamari were lightly battered and fried to perfection, i.e. very tender, and the dressing had hints of wasabi and Sriracha which paired well with the lemongrass, and gave it just the right amount of spiciness. Though the sushi wasn’t the best I’ve ever had (Kisso in Old City is much better), it was still very good. The fish was nicely presented and tasted very fresh (the salmon was the best of the bunch). What more can you say about sushi?
A simple meal deserves a simple beverage. As an accompaniment to our Philly Tap Water, my wife chose a Diet Coke and I ordered a Sapporo Rice Lager which they happened to have available on draught.
The Diet Coke is a classic and needs no further discussion. The Sapporo Rice Lager went well with the sushi, i.e. it didn’t overpower it. It’s a very mild beer with very little personality. I would never go out of my way to buy this beer since I prefer a bit more gusto. Duvel or Riesling are definitely a better beverage option where sushi is concerned.
And now for the ratings…
Pod: Good food, good service, interesting decor, but a little bit overpriced. I give it a B.
Sapporo Rice Lager: Just an average beer. I give it a C.
Ray LaMontagne at World Cafe Live: Great singer, great songwriter! I give Ray and his band an A+!