Sunday, March 29, 2009

Plaza Café At Table 31 Is Back, Complete With To-Go Menu; Meanwhile Table 31 Drops The 'Steakhouse' Tag

comcast center plaza cafe table 31
"Yes, very good. I'll have a Bloody Mary and a steak sandwich and… a steak sandwich."

JFK Boulevard will once again become attractive when the Table 31 Plaza Café at the Comcast Center reopens for the season on Wednesday, April 1.

New this year: a take-out menu offering the Plaza Café’s selection of salads, sandwiches and pizzas.

Missing, however, from the Plaza Cafe menu: the roast pork sandwich on the regular T31 lunch menu that Scarduzio prepares for Rick Nichols here.

Green feature: the to-go menu is served in packaging made from recycled materials and presented in reusable paper bags.

Meanwhile, Rich Nichols drops the news that Table 31 is reconceptualizing from a steakhouse angle to an Italian focus instead. On account of the Center City steakhouse market recently being over-saturated.

Steaks rarer at Table 31 - Classic Italian is the new focus, as Chris Scarduzio pulls out of the recent red-meat stampede [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Video: Chef Scarduzio shares broccoli rabe recipe [ ]
Plaza Cafe Set To Reopen [ Foobooz ]

Recessionary Dining: Table 31's Plaza Cafe To Rock 'To-Go' Menu Too
Mike Klein Calls It — Comcast Center Plaza Cafe Is, Indeed, The Truth

[ Photo via Philly Skyline ]

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Phillies Underwhelm With Unveiling "What's New For 09" at Citizens Bank Park

This week, the Phillies and Aramark hosted a "What's New" event at Citizens Bank Park to introduce some new things at CBP this year, like merchandise, food and Red Goes Green initiatives.

And compared to what’s new at some of the other ballparks around the country this season, it’s fair to say that the food announcements were incredibly lackluster.

They included:

- As noted by The Insider last week, Campo’s is replacing Rick’s Steaks in Ashburn Alley. Meh. Campo’s is fine. But this is simply a not-at-all exciting development.

- Also new is the Alley Grill, located in left field, which will feature Bubba Burgers and chicken fresh off the grill. Again, pretty unexciting. Although, at least the burgers will be Bubba Burgers which are probably the best frozen burger you can ask for. But nonetheless an embarrassment compared to the Shake Shack burgers available at Citi Field.

- McFadden’s upgraded their outdoor space to include flat screen TVs.

- At various other concessions, there will be new items such as funnel cake fries, monster chicken nachos and quesadillas.

- The one intriguing announcement introduced a new Bud Light Zone/Bar on the Ashburn Alley Rooftop. Details are fuzzy at the moment. But if the alleged “50-foot bar” affords people sitting at it a view of the field, it could be cool. Provided, several local beers are also on sale in addition to the unfortunate namesake beer.

Phils host 'What's New' event at park - New merchandise, food, Red Goes Green initiatives unveiled [ ]
For Mets Fans, a Menu Beyond Peanuts and Cracker Jack [ New York Times ]
Yankee Stadium Has a Full Plate [ New York Times ]

Morimoto To Guest Chef At The New Yankee Stadium

Urban Dispatch: Mets New Citi Field Getting 4 Danny-Meyer-run Food Stands; Begging The Question When Will Stephen Starr Open Up Shop At Citizens Bank?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Uh Oh — Famed Good Dog Burger Threatened By Impending 300% Roquefort Tariff

The Roquefort-stuffed Good Dog Burger | Photo via A Hamburger Today

Not great news. Just heard about the impending Roquefort tariff that will substantially increase the retail prices of Roquefort cheese in the United States.

And Roquefort cheese is the cheese that Good Dog’s chef Jessica O'Donnell stuffs into the middle of the namesake burger (above via AHT).

Which would mean Good Dog would either have to raise the price of their famous Good Dog Burger OR find a suitable substitute cheese. But let’s not kid — the latter could prove to be impossible.

(Although, apparently Murray’s of New York is already making preparations for those trying to do exactly that.)

Good Dog is in the same predicament as the Spotted Pig in New York, which also has a Roquefort-stuffed signature burger. They say they'll find a replacement cheese rather than raising the menu price of the burger.

Meanwhile, there is hope that the tariff never goes into effect. Apparently, the U.S. government is using it as leverage to fight a European Union ban on importing hormone-treated American beef.
The fate of the French-produced blue cheese may depend on whether the U.S. and European Union settle a trade dispute over hormone-treated beef. On April 23, a 300% U.S. tariff on Roquefort is scheduled to go into effect, sharply raising prices and thwarting imports.
The tax had been set for March 23, but last week the federal trade agency delayed the action for a month to foster a resolution over the beef dispute. "The Obama administration is continuing the long-standing U.S. policy of trying to reach a negotiated settlement that offers real benefits to the U.S. beef industry," said agency spokeswoman Nefeterius McPherson.
So let's hope Good Dog doesn't have to choose… Obama can fix anything.

Spotted Pig May Have to Find a Roquefort Alternative [ Grub Street ]
Hope for Roquefort fans [ Los Angeles Times ]

[ Photo via A Hamburger Today ]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Alice Waters Debunks Charges Of Food Elitism; Reasoning Similarly Applies To Any Allegations Of Purported Beer Elitism

From Grub Street:
Last [week's] 60 Minutes profile of Alice Waters pinned the rise of the organic food movement (and its ubiquity) on the heralded chef. Reporter Lesley Stahl called Waters “gentle and dreamy,” but also “a steamroller” who is pushing to alter food culture in this country.

No news to Grub Street readers, but this is likely the first time many Americans have even heard Waters’s name.

While it’s hard to imagine the mainstream abandoning microwaves and cooking eggs over a wood-burning stove like Waters, she did counter charges of food elitisim. “I feel that good food should be a right and not a privilege and it needs to be without pesticides and herbicides. And everybody deserves this food. And that's not elitist,” she said.

At which point, we’d make the following analogy:

Overly processed, non-fresh food is to generic, mass-produced, watered-down beers. As organic, herbicide-free, local food is to high-quality local, craft, beer.

And then we’d say, “Everybody deserves to drink such beer. And believing as much is not elitist.”

The Defense rests.

America Meets Alice Waters on 60 Minutes [ Grub Street ]

Barclay Prime Rocks Local Beers With Its New "Pub" Menu, Showing The Kids (Read Table 31, Pub & Kitchen) How It's Done

[ Photo via The New York Times ]

Craig Laban A James Beard Finalist Most Likely Because Of Amazing Lines Like This One

Never one to pull punches, Craig Laban once again fails to disappoint with his latest review, this one about Del Frisco’s Steakhouse.
I'm guessing that all the crisply pressed suits guzzling pineapple "VIP" cocktails in the lounge were enjoying more than just the food. And I'm not even talking about the Borgata-style waitresses in teeny skirts and fishnet stockings. Or the posse of Sixers settling into their booth behind us. It was some of the female guests who were really turning heads, with so many surgically enhanced, body-glittered bosoms on display, the only thing missing was a brass pole.
Oh snap.

Well, that probably makes at least one of Rick Nichols' steakhouse blind items last month a little easier…

Anyway, congratulations to Mr. Laban on the nomination, which was actually for this article. Well deserved.

Del Frisco's - At these prices this showy steak house should be nearly perfect. But with mediocre cooking and oily service, it's far from it. [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Craig LaBan Nominated For James Beard Award [ MP Philadelphia ]
Rick Rocks the Recession [ Foobooz ]
Foodies from Philly faring well [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Morimoto To Guest Chef At The New Yankee Stadium

"First things first — does C.C. Sabathia like sushi?"
Morimoto has a new gig:
WHEN the new Yankee Stadium opens April 3, the choice of food will be a bit more varied than before. There will be chains like Johnny Rockets and Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, and sandwiches from the premium butcher Lobel’s.

But those who settle into the 4,000 or so well-upholstered seats of the various club and suite areas, which can cost as much as $2,500, will have access to much more.

A number of restaurants and dining areas will be for their exclusive enjoyment. In the Legends Suite Club, food will be prepared at open cooking stations run, from time to time, by Masaharu Morimoto of “Iron Chef” fame, April Bloomfield of the Spotted Pig, chefs from Le Cirque and cooks from Elaine’s (because Elaine Kaufman is a big Yankees fan).
$2,500 for a single game ticket may seem a little exorbitant, but at least it comes with unlimited food.

Yankee Stadium Has a Full Plate [ New York Times ]
Buy Me Some Peanuts…and Have Morimoto Make Some Sushi [ Diner’s Journal - New York Times via Grub Street ]

Urban Dispatch: Mets New Citi Field Getting 4 Danny-Meyer-run Food Stands; Begging The Question When Will Stephen Starr Open Up Shop At Citizens Bank?

[ Photo via The New York Times ]

Barclay Prime Rocks Local Beers With Its New "Pub" Menu, Showing The Kids (Read Table 31, Pub & Kitchen) How It's Done

So last month, Foobooz rightly questioned why Table 31, a high-end steakhouse/restaurant, would have Coors Light as one of its three draft beer selections. (Stella and Hoegarden being the other two.) Some debate followed in the comments, but Table 31 definitely took note.

Coors Light is no longer on draft. It’s been replaced by a craft beer from California: Lakeside IPA Victory Hop Devil.

So that’s good.

However, a local beer would be even better.

And that’s where Barclay Prime comes in. Head chef James LoCasio has long been a supporter of Buy Fresh, Buy Local. And now he’s practicing it at the bar as well:

The new Pub Menu that Barclay Prime introduced just this weekend at the bar is accompanied by 10 local craft brews. Ten.

Barclay Prime, it's been too long — we’ll see you soon.

UPDATE: Table 31 now has Victory Hop Devil on draft. Good on them.

Barclay Goes Pubbing [ Foobooz ]
He Said, She Said: Draft Beer [ Foobooz]

Friday, March 20, 2009

AKA Café coming to AKA Rittenhouse Square

The under-the-radar AKA Hotel at 18th and Walnut is doing a good thing with its first floor retail space facing 18th Street and installing a café.

Definitely encouraging to see an active, positive use planned for the retail space, which has been vacant for going on two years.

For those unaware, AKA Rittenhouse Square is an extended stay luxury hotel that opened back in 2007. The property actually boasts a striking modern design and premium room ammenities, to say nothing of its unbeatable location — it would be a no-brainer as a great choice for out-of-town guests, if it were not for the current construction noise of 10 Rittenhouse directly across the street.

AKA Rittenhouse Square [ Official Site ]

Friday, March 13, 2009

Academy of Natural Sciences Pwns Art Museum & Phila Orchestra — Cuts Executive Salaries Instead Of Staff Layoffs

Last month, the Philadelphia Museum of Art laid off 30 employees. Yesterday, the Philadelphia Orchestra announced it was cutting 20% of its staff or 12 employees.

Today, the Academy of Natural Sciences announced that it would not be making layoffs, but instead cutting salaries:
The Academy of Natural Sciences today announced staff salary cuts and a hiring freeze in order to preserve jobs and maintain current operations in the challenging economic climate.

Academy President and CEO William Y. Brown said staff salaries throughout the museum would be reduced overall by about 5 percent starting April 1. The reduction will be tiered, with the president cutting his own salary by 10 percent and other salary cuts scaled down to 4 percent, based on salary level. The salaries of those making $30,000 or less per year will not be affected.
Not groundbreaking stuff, but nonetheless encouraging.

Academy of Natural Sciences cutting salaries up to 10% [ Philadelphia Business Journal ]

Burrell Pwns Phillies — Pat Burrell Out-Classes Phillies New Front Office With The Quickness

After the Phillies never so much as contacted the man about resigning (or even their desire to not resign him…) following the world series parade last year, Pat Burrell today showed why he’s clearly the bigger person.

No big deal.

Except Ibanez is like 70.

Pat the Bat Thanks Phillies Fans, Supports Local Print News [ The 700 Level ]
Burrell leaves Phillies quietly but disappointed [ Philadelphia Daily News ]

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Penn Park Details Announced: 14 Acres of Beautiful, Sustainable, Open, Riverfront Green Space To Replace Lots Of Awful Asphalt

penn park renderingRelatively open, at least. And relatively riverfront.

Penn is dropping $40 mill on Penn Park, which should be up and running by 2011.
The University of Pennsylvania announced yesterday that it would spend $40 million to convert [14 acres of former US Postal Service asphalt parking] lots into Penn Park, consisting of open space, four athletic fields, a dozen tennis courts, and other features. Combined with existing athletic fields, the park will total 24 acres, officials said.
"This is the first time that Penn, by design, has acquired land that will remain as open space," university president Amy Gutmann said in a statement, "which has tremendous environmental benefits for our campus and the city."

The project will also feature tree-topped berms, seating, and native species of meadow grasses.

The park will be open to the public, and the athletic fields will be used for regulation, club and intramural competition, practices, and public access at specific times, officials said.

Anne Papageorge, the university's vice president for facilities and real estate, hailed the project as innovative.

"It's not every day that an urban campus has the opportunity to expand adjacent to its campus and add 14 acres of open space and athletic fields," Papageorge said.

She added that the project, which is scheduled to begin this spring and is to be completed in spring 2011, would not displace any residents or businesses.

"This was vacant land," Papageorge said. "We're removing a brownfield, an eyesore. We're doing this in a sustainable way. We're using native vegetation and trees."

A storm-water management system is being installed to capture and divert rainwater into underground cells to supply the site's irrigation system, Papageorge said.

The work is the centerpiece of the university's 30-year master plan known as "Penn Connects - A Vision for the Future," which was published in 2006.

"Penn Park," Gutmann said, "will dramatically enhance our athletic and recreational amenities, create a beautiful new campus gateway, and further link University City and Center City."
Good on you, Penn. Sometimes you let us down a little. And sometimes you make us proud.

This occasion falls into the latter.

penn park renderingNow if only you could bury the Schuylkill Expressway, and make this a truly amazing waterfront park.

Penn to convert asphalt into park [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Penn Connects – Penn Park [ Penn Connects ]

penn park model philadelphia

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Craig Laban Revisits The Beer Selection At Pub And Kitchen, Finds Something To Like

yards brawler at pub and kitchen in philadelphiaThe subject of Craig Laban’s "Drink" sidebar this past Sunday was the Yards Brawler, a fine beer being produced at the new home of the brewery on N. Delaware Ave.
One might expect a "pugilist style ale" to pack a knock-out punch, but the Brawler, the latest hit brew from Yards, scores points like a crafty lightweight with distinctive style and malty finesse.
As the signature new beer to emerge from Yards' new facility in Philadelphia, which became operational in the fall after several months of off-site contract brewing, this bantam brew delivers the satisfaction of a comeback worth the wait.

Yards Brawler is available at local beer distributors for around $27 a case. It's also available in local bars, including Pub & Kitchen (1946 Lombard St., 215-545-0350), for $4 a pint.
Laban, you may remember, had previously criticized Pub & Kitchen for a beer selection that should have been a lot better.

So this latest episode prompted the following (imagined) conversation between Laban and Pub & Kitchen brass:
Craig: See, ladies… it’s not that hard: when you serve good, local beers on draft, I’ll give you guys some love. A positive shout out in my Sunday paper no less. I mean, shit, you can even see your goddamn Pabbit logo on the coaster in the accompanying photo [eds. note: above right]. Now, how about we do something about the shitty light beers you’re still hawking in return…

P & K: Craig, come on bro — have you the seen the crowd in here on Friday and Saturday nights?? Those dudes would turn into pumpkins or something without their Miller Lite. It's the source of all their, well, you know, their [garbled… inaudible].
Aaand scene.

Drink - Yards Brawler [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
He Said, She Said: Draft Beer [ Foobooz ]

Craig Laban Stands Up For Good/Local/Craft Beer, Challenges Pub & Kitchen To Do The Same

[ Photo via The Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Sunday, March 01, 2009

How Long Will Citizens Bank Park Be Named Citizens Bank Park?

The Citzens Bank Park name appears to be safe, at least for now.

From the Business Journal:
Royal Bank of Scotland not selling Citizens Bank parent

Despite a $1.4 billion loss in the fourth quarter, Citizens Financial Group Inc. has made the cut as a core operation at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc. RBS on Thursday put to rest speculation it would unload the Rhode Island-based banking franchise, which in the Philadelphia area operates Citizens Bank, saying a sale “would be destructive of value and capital.”

But that doesn’t mean the corporate parent of Citizens Bank won’t be making cuts.
Ah, naming rights. Good times.

Royal Bank of Scotland not selling Citizens Bank parent
[ Philadelphia Business Journal ]