Food & DrinkFebruary 14, 2013 at 5:00 am

Blind Date: Valentine’s Day Edition

F&D decided to play cupid, Street style. In lieu of heart–shaped balloons and chocolate covered strawberries, we sent Gary Kafer and Stephen Masso to dinner at The Corner to check out its laidback vibe, enhanced comfort food, and one another.

The Daters: 
Stephen Masso (left), a sophomore in Engineering from Queens, New York. He spends his days studying systems engineering and working at Philly AIDS thrift. By night, he wears his sweet thrift store duds to explore Philly’s party scene with his best friends. He likes DIY T-shirts, Crystal Castles and getting lost.

Gary Kafer (right) is a junior in the College hailing from southern Virginia with a double major in Visual Studies and Cinema Studies. He’s the head music writer for Penn’s student radio station, WQHS, and a barista at Williams Cafe. He likes goat cheese, performance art and Bjork.

The Restaurant:
SM:  Right off the bat, you can tell that The Corner attracts an indie type with a classy taste. You know, the whole dimly lit, exposed lightbulb situation, dark wood benches and these dope candle holders fashioned out of bike gears.

GK: The uniqueness of The Corner stems from the fact that everything seems to be made of wood. Like everything. I kind of felt like I was in a bougie wooden lodge for foodies and lumberjacks… I think I saw moose antlers too. It was rustic, but cozy. Perfect spot for a date or any other special occasion.

The Service:
SM:  The service was pretty great, we were checked up on frequently and drinks were refilled instantly, which I was happy about.

GK: Very friendly and attentive. The staff seemed delighted to have us there, which made the whole experience very relaxing.

The Food: 
SM:  I was happy to see that they offered some of my favorite comfort foods with a bit more oomph. I mean, you can’t go wrong sharing some fried pickles ($3), spicy tuna tartare ($14) and salmon perogies ($12) to start off the night and then moving to a fancy–shmancy truffle grilled cheese ($17).

GK: The food was fantastic—everything you’d want from a place that advertises itself as “American cuisine,” but with some surprising twists. I spotted fried pickles in the ‘bar snacks’ section, so I obviously had to try those too, and no, that’s not weird at all. For the main course I had the smoked duck breast, which was cooked perfectly, but I wish there was some sort of vegetable side dish to compliment the meat.

The Sweet Stuff:
SM: We shared an awesome dessert called The Elvis which was a pound cake a la mode on top of peanut butter spread, topped off with chocolate ice cream and, of course, peanut and bacon brittle.

GK: Yeah, I don’t think I need to elaborate on that.

The Convo: 
SM:  My conversation with Gary was just as comfortable as the food. We found out we’re similar in many ways: we’re both a bit hard to figure out ethnically (we’re both Latino and Italian), we both have favorite colors that receive questionable responses and we both love to cook. He’s a really creative guy with a fine appreciation for film. Plus, he likes circles. There’s nothing not to like about him.

GK: Stephen’s a very easy–going and fun guy. We actually knew each other somewhat peripherally before the date, so it wasn’t difficult at all to ease into conversation. We actually have quite a bit in common, so it was nice to be able to chat about our shared interests, instead of the usual small talk centered around Penn and academics.

Would you do it again?
SM: Definitely, the food was great.

GK: Yeah, the restaurant had plenty to offer: I checked out the menu online and their brunch looks very enticing. They have foie gras doughnuts… I want to eat that.

We didn’t mean the restaurant…
SM: I would definitely chill with Gary again. I think a concert is more our element, though.

GK: It was great getting to know Stephen. He has a cool style and personality, so I’d definitely like to hang out with him in the future.

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