By opening Phlight, a tapas restaurant and wine bar, husband and wife Jay and Nikomi Arroyo are spearheading an effort to revitalize Uptown Whittier, a quaint stretch of storefronts and restaurants in The 562, an Area Code most people I know haven’t heard of, let alone visited. Phlight could easily popularize The 562, with its soaring wood ceilings, easy vibe, and Chef Daniel Salcido’s compelling 31-item menu that focuses on Spanish cuisine, but also includes seldom seen Chamorro dishes from Guam.
Phlight’s name is a play on a flight of wine, plus a play on the wine bar’s location: Philadelphia & Bright.
The wine list at Phlight is intriguing, with many affordable bottles, plenty of unusual by-the-glass options, and interesting descriptors. Each glass we tried was stellar. Fleur du Cap ($8 glass) was a 2004 unfiltered Chardonnay 2004 from South Africa, described as tasting “golden – lime & butterscotch.” I sure couldn’t taste lime and butterscotch, but the Chardonnay was a crisp knockout. Another winner was the Fontana Fontal ($7 glass) Tempranillo Crianza 2003, from La Mancha, Spain, described as “raspberry & cinnamon – buttery finish.” I would certainly order both wines again, but could also see myself exploring Phlight’s other tantalizing options.
With portions so large, we didn’t have much room for dessert. Of course, at any restaurant, if the desserts sound good enough, I’ll find the stomach space. Unfortunately, none of the three desserts generated as much excitement as the savory menu. Mexican chocolate soufflé, flan, and coconut custard just aren’t good enough.
The two of us split six dishes, which turned out to be about two dishes too many. The portions were gargantuan. Still, the menu was so original it was tough to resist. I look forward to returning to continue sampling those great wines, and to sample dishes like filet mignon and applewood-smoked bacon meatballs with Manchego & caper Dijon cream sauce; octopus & calamari 3 ways; and espresso bean, guajillo chili & Mexican chocolate crusted filet mignon with red wine au jus.
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