Monday, August 31, 2009

Big Sunday For Bibou: Three Bells From Laban AND A Spotlight In The New York Times Travel Section

bibou philadelphiaNot bad.

An excerpt from the Times:
On a recent visit, two generous pieces of pan-seared foie gras were accompanied by a compote of sour griotte cherries and poached pear ($15). For the escargots ($12), the kitchen eschewed the been-there-done-that garlic-and-butter treatment for a tarragon-flavored sauce speckled with fava beans and tiny mousseron mushrooms.

As for entrees, the perfectly seared St.-Jacques scallops ($21) were paired with a creamy corn and lettuce orzo and a rhubarb and Meyer lemon dressing.

For the more adventurous diner, there were the braised pigs’ feet ($25), served deboned and rolled in a light breading. The dish’s rich flavor and gelatinous texture was enhanced by a bit of foie gras stuffing and a bed of tender French lentils.
Bites - Restaurant Review: Bibou in Philadelphia [ New York Times ]
Bibou - Another French star is shining brightly in the bistro room once graced by Pif. Its two chefs come fresh from Le Bec-Fin. [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stephen Starr Is Considering Doing Food Trucks In Philadelphia

A food truck in Manhattan | Photo via The New York Times

Michael Klein has a story in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer about more restaurants going for a more casual feel in order to attract customers during the recession.

One of the examples Klein cites in the article is Stephen Starr's forthcoming pizza project.

Klein then relates that Starr is also "contemplating a line of upscale food trucks to traverse the city."

Not just a food truck. But a line of food trucks. Upscale food trucks.

It was probably only a matter of time.

Obviously, Starr is aware that food trucks are all the rage these days, in New York City and elsewhere. (Even David Chang is rumored to be working on a Momofuku food truck.)

Meanwhile, Philadelphia easily has room for a few good new trucks. And Starr has the resources that a lot of other wannabe-food-truckers do not.

So why the hell not?

DINING OUT - A new course: Vast, ritzy out; cozy, modest in [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
The Fast-Moving Food Truck Trend [ Wheels Blog - New York Times ]

Friday, August 28, 2009

OH SNAP: Village Whiskey Jumps In On The Fried Chicken Action With Kentucky Fried Quail

God. Damn.

In our initial shock at the price of the Whiskey King Burger, we failed to even register this other gem sitting on the Village Whiskey menu.

Jose Garces will, in fact, be getting in on the fried chicken trend. Except he won't be doing fried chicken. Instead, he'll be doing Kentucky Fried Quail, with sweet potato, chanterelle and corn succotash, and roast chicken gravy.


Admittedly, overall, Village Whiskey's smallish menu looks unbelievably delicious (if just a bit expensive in certain areas).

Some higlights:

- Kentucky Fried Quail ($14)
- Lobster Roll ($26)
- Whiskey King Burger ($24)
- Village Burger ($9)
- Smoked Hot Link ($12)
- Cape May Salts ($2.50 each)
- Deviled Eggs ($3)
- Pickled Heirloom Beets ($8)
- Spicy Clam Strips ($7)
- Duck Fat French Fries with Sly Fox Cheddar Sauce ($6)

Opening Thursday, September 3rd.

Village Whiskey [ Official Site ]

Bruni Closes With Review Of A Low Key East Village Bar, Helps Cement Fried Chicken's Current Trend Status

The Whiskey King Burger At Jose Garces' Village Whiskey Clocks In At An Astronomical $24, Must Taste Like Eating Heaven

That's not a typo.


For a Burger.

In Philadelphia.

Apparently, Garces is super confident in his appeal these days.

Now, granted, there is somewhat of a burger craze going on right now, so it's only natural to want to cash in on it. Smart even.

And after seeing the preview last month on Grub Street Philadelphia, we were clearly expecting a pretty expensive burger.

But, like, 16 to 18 dollars expensive.

Not 24 dollars expensive.

Putting out a burger this expensive seems like it could be a gross miscalculation on the part of Team Garces. Are they really going to sell that many $24 burgers?

Regardless, it's a bold move.

The most expensive burgers in Philadelphia are located right on Rittenhouse Square: Rouge Burger at $16, Bar 210 Burger at $16 and the Barclay Prime Pub Burger at $19.

Rouge can charge that because their location affords them a ton of business. Lacroix because they're in Philadelphia's most elite hotel. And Barclay Prime because they just don't give a shit.

Meanwhile, Village Whiskey doesn't have that cushy of a location. And the price tag of its burger blows those three out of the water.

Which must mean the Whiskey King Burger is made out some ultra-secret, super-exclusive proprietary blend of a rare angelic Japanese-Australian Wagyu hybrid, with dry aged ribeye and prime brisket... that is then treated with a mixture of whale skin oil, children's tears and pure heroin, right?

Evidently not.

It's made of sustainable farm-raised Angus from Maine.

And it's topped with foie gras, maple bourbon glazed cipollini, blue cheese and applewood bacon.

So, basically, the foie gras is the culprit here.

However, don't fear. In addition to the $24 Whiskey King Burger, there will be another, less expensive burger on the menu: the Village Burger, which is slightly smaller (8 oz.) and will cost $9. Add $3 if you want cheese and $2 for bacon. And $.50 for a fried egg.

Meanwhile, for comparison, check out how the super-indulgent and extremely pampered Black Label Burger is prepared at Minetta Tavern in Manhattan. It retails for $26.

Village Whiskey [ Official Site ]
Village Whiskey's menus [ The Insider - ]

Jose Garces To Enter Burger Fray; Two Semi-Intriguing Burger Options On Menu At His Forthcoming Village Whiskey
Jose Garces Reportedly Set To Open Village Whiskey Next Week

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jose Garces Reportedly Set To Open Village Whiskey Next Week

Meal Ticket reports that Village Whiskey will be opening next Thursday, September 3rd.

Which would be a respectable showing — coming in at about 2.5 months behind the original targeted date.

Worth the wait.

Village Whiskey sets a date [ Meal Ticket ]

Jose Garces Beats Stephen Starr To Rittenhouse Gastropub; Will Only Serve Craft Beer, Figuratively Decimating Every Other Bar In Rittenhouse

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Stephen Starr Courts Team Lucali, Is Rebuffed

Speaking to our earlier question about who Stephen Starr would get to helm the kitchen at Stella Pizza, apparently he's a big enough fan of the product at Lucali in Brooklyn that he allegedly wanted to get Lucali pizzaiolo Mark Iacon to consult for the kitchen at Stella.

Or so goes the implication on Eater.

Apparently, Starr went back to Lucali recently and, after taking down a lot of pizzas, left several SRO gift cards for Iacon and Co. in order to a) show his appreciation for the fine work being done or b) solicit Iacon's assistance.

The motive is not exactly clear.

What is clear — Team Starr likes Lucali, as they did immediately upon visiting back in June.

Stephen Starr Wants His Own Lucali in Philly [ Eater ] via Foobooz

Keith McNally Lands A Name Chef For His Pizzeria, Who Will Stephen Starr Go With At Stella?
Stephen Starr Does More Pizza-Eating Research For His Forthcoming Pizza Restaurant In Philadelphia

[ Photo via The New York Times ]

Burger Hunt: The Kobe Sliders At Barclay Prime

kobe sliders burger at barclay prime
The Kobe Sliders at Barclay Prime

Their namesake meat may no longer be in vogue, but the Kobe Sliders at Barclay Prime endure.

First made famous back in 2005 when Alan Richman named them the fifth best burger in the country in GQ. the Kobe Sliders are $16 (for an order of two) on the dinner menu.

Barclay Prime [ Official Site ]

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Crab Fest Coming To Varga Bar Next Tuesday

$25. Tuesday, September 1. Begins at 4 pm.

Here is another chance to enjoy some delicious crabs before summer is gone.

Varga Bar [ Official Site ]

Summer Eating: Hard Shell Crabs In Philadelphia

Phillies Lead Majors In Attendence As A Percentage Of Capacity And Boast 20 Straight Sellouts, Fan-On-Fan Murder Notwithstanding

The Phillies season attendance is currently at 102% of total stadium capacity, which leads Major League Baseball.

Through 61 home games, they have a total attendance of more than 2.7 million and an average attendance of 44,290 per game. (Capacity of Citizens Bank Park is 43,647.)

They've sold out 53 games, including a current streak of 20 straight.

So, apparently, a fan-on-fan murder has done little to deter the faithful.

(Nor, apparently, has it deterred the sale of the most tasteless Phillies t-shirt of all time.)

But in light of all this extra capacity, maybe the Phillies could take some of the resulting extra revenue they're earning and spend it on some extra security, both inside and outside the ballpark, in an increased effort to prevent drunken idiot fuckheads from continuing to threaten the safety of others.

Major League Baseball Attendance Report 2009 [ ESPN ] via Bats Blog
Editorial - Ugliness at Citizens Bank: After death, Phils have to crack down fast [ Philadelphia Daily News ]

Monday, August 24, 2009

Stephen Starr Still Fears Frank Bruni And The Sleepless Nights He Caused

stephen starr on nightlineLast Week, Nightline aired a piece about Frank Bruni ending his tenure as restaurant critic at The New York Times.

For perspective, ABC News included interviews with some chefs and restaurateurs, Stephen Starr among them.

Two quotes from Starr made it into the story.

- "I think Frank Bruni is the smartest, handsomest, most wonderful human being in the world. I have to say that. I am still afraid he's going to come get me."

- "I remember when we were getting reviewed Tuesday night, I couldn't sleep."

Guess that's why Starr is alleged to have employed spotters with walkie-talkies to surround his NYC restaurants to spot the guy.

'Born Round': Food Critic Recalls Weight Struggle - Feared NY Times Critic Frank Bruni Shares His Own Lifelong Fear: Food [ Nightline ]

Rittenhouse Row A Fan Of Using One-Shoed Women In Their Marketing As Well

The Rittenhouse Row Fall Gathering is a two-hour event with a fashion show and fall cocktails.

So, obviously, that means (half of) a one-shoed woman in the event's promotional material.

Clearly, Del Frisco's was onto something.

Rittenhouse Row [ Official Site ]

Del Frisco's Stays With The "Sex Sells" Theme, May Have Graduated From Strippers To Escorts

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sexy Alert: Zavino Pizzeria Coming To Midtown Village's Nexus This Fall

zavino pizzeria in philadelphia rendering
A rendering of Zavino, coming to 13th and Sansom

13th Street is the balls. Apothecary. Capogiro. Lolita. El Vez. Vintage. Bindi. Raw. Grocery. Time. Zio's. McGillin's. Etc. (Not to mention forthcoming activity including Sampan, Bar, and the next Turney-Saffran venture...)

The best location of the bunch, however, may be the storefront that Chef Steve Gonzalez just nabbed for Zavino Wine Bar Pizzeria.

Right on the northwest corner of 13th and Sansom, Zavino is going to boast prime street frontage on its south side (seen above in the rendering). Taking into account foot traffic, the location is easily a 9.5. (Obviously, a great find by Audrey Claire, although not sure why they passed.)

Ok, so the location is great. What about the food? Will it, and more specifically, will the pizza deliver?

Steve Gonzalez has previously worked under Marc Vetri, so he may have picked up a thing or two from the pizzas at Osteria.

Four pizzas that Zavino will be doing were teased in a press release:

- Artichoke, with thinly sliced artichokes, Swiss chard and pecorino Romano cheese
- Rosa, with tomato sauce and roasted garlic
- Margherita, with tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella, topped with fresh basil;
- Polpettini, tomato sauce and provolone cheese with veal mini-meatballs.

The pizzas will cost between $5 to $12, so we're guessing the pies are going to be smaller, somewhere around 12 inches.

Gonzalez describes the thickness of the crusts as being between Neapolitan and Sicilian, crunchy, tender and "exactly right."

He's bringing in a specialty wood-burning oven that can cook the pizzas at temperatures of up to 900 degrees.

Zavino is targeting an October opening.

It looks like it will be a very solid addition to the neighborhood.

Zavino [ Official Site ]

Keith McNally Lands A Name Chef For His Pizzeria, Who Will Stephen Starr Go With At Stella?

pizza at motorino in new york city
Who will be in charge of the ovens and the dough at Stella Pizza? | Photo via The New York Times

Famed New York restaurateur Keith McNally just tapped Rising Star Chef Nate Appleman to helm the kitchen at the pizzeria McNally is opening on the Bowery in lower Manhattan this December called Pulino Bar and Pizzeria.

It's a big signing. Nate Appleman won the James Beard Rising Star Chef Award this year. And he was named to Food & Wine's Best New Chefs 2009. It will be Appleman's first job in New York, having just left San Francisco.

And for McNally, he's landed a fresh marquee name that will add even more buzz to the Pulino project's debut.

Meanwhile, we have not heard anything about who might run the kitchen at Stephen Starr's upcoming pizza project, Stella Pizza.

But we can guess that it will not be a big name.

Starr no longer seems to be a fan of recruiting big names (from New York or otherwise) to add cachet to a restaurant project. He tried it years ago with Marcus Samuelson at Washington Square and it did not work out. (Samuelson left long before Washington Square's eventual closing.)

Ever since that experience, it seems that Starr would prefer to find chefs from within his system and give them an opportunity to be head chef at the new place.

Which is probably smart.

And given that they're already hiring all of the front-of-house positions, Starr probably already has himself a chef.

But who?

McNally Teams With Appleman for Bowery Pizzeria Pulino's
[ Grub Street New York ]

Stephen Starr's Lombard Street Pizzeria To Be Named 'Stella Pizza'

Friday, August 21, 2009

Square 1682 Stays With The Green Theme At Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar Philadelphia, Slated To Become Philadelphia’s First LEED-Certified Restaurant

hotel palomar philadelphia
A rendering of the Hotel Palomar Philadelphia by Kimpton | via Kimpton Hotels

Shooting for a mid-October opening, Square 1682 will be the restaurant and bar on the ground floor of the forthcoming Hotel Palomar Philadelphia by Kimpton.

The restaurant itself, in addition to the hotel, will be LEED-registered. Then, upon review, it will become LEED-Certified. Which would make it Philadelphia’s first and only LEED-certified restaurant. (Something that has been a long time coming.)

And the green theme permeates not only the restaurant’s design but also the food and the operations — there will be a commitment to sustainability throughout.

Chef Guillermo Tellez will be doing a New American menu that stretches “from Asia to Mexico, then to India, and circles back home, with several stops in between.”

The kitchen will be committed "to quality, freshness, and eco-sound culinary practices." Dishes will feature sustainable and organic ingredients, sourced from independent farmers, boutique ranches and fisheries, and accompanied by sommelier-selected organic wines.

Tellez is apparently a firm believer in working with independent farmers — some of the nearby farms the restaurant will be working with include Seven Stars Farm in Phoenixville, Hoover’s Farm Market in Lititz, Shady Brook Farm in Yardley, and Deer Creek Farm in Reading. The restaurant will only serve seafood that is identified as a best choice or worthy alternative by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.

Also noteworthy (and commendable), the bar at Square 1682 will emphasize craft beers from local and regional breweries including Dock Street, Dogfish Head, Stoudt’s, Troegs, Victory, Yards and more.

As for the space itself, the restaurant will not be gigantic — it will seat just 90 guests. It will be two stories, however.

Designer Dayna Lee selected eco-friendly materials that also have a design function. The bar — “a gorgeous block of staggered walnut” — was sourced from a Forest Stewardship Council certified forest. The cork ceiling is another sustainable design element.

It is the first LEED-registered restaurant in Kimpton's portfolio. As part of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants’ EarthCare program, Square 1682 will use non-intrusive, high-quality, eco-friendly products, ingredients and services.

All in all, commendable work by Team Kimpton. The restaurant is about two months out.

Hotel Palomar Philadelphia [ Official Site ]

The Restaurant At Kimpton's Hotel Palomar Philadelphia Will Be Called 'Square 1682'
Philadelphia's Hotel Palomar To Be Kimpton's First LEED Certified Hotel Anywhere
The search for Philadelphia’s first LEED-certified restaurant

Philly-4-NOLA Benefit Shrimp Boil At Greensgrow Farm To Include Meme's Fried Chicken

Sunday, August 29 from 4 - 8 pm at Greensgrow Farm.

London Grill is providing the slaw.
Philadelphia Brewing Co. is providing the beer.
Meme is providing the fried chicken.
And Greensgrow is boiling the shrimp.

$25 a head.

The event is to benefit the Brandhurst Family.

Background from the organizer, Chef Corbin Evans.
"As a New Orleans resident from 1999 to 2008 I feel obliged to honor the hard work of all the people involved in the rebuilding and re-creation of New Orleans. This year on the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina we will be holding a community shrimp boil and fundraiser for The Brandhurst Family.

I have been lucky enough to know Ray and Kay from years of shopping/volunteering and even heading the board of directors at the Crescent City Farmers Market.

I journeyed with them and the White Boot Brigade to the San Francisco area to raise awareness of the plight of the Gulf Coast and the amazing, hard-working men and women who shrimp for a living.

After hearing of Ray's recent health issues and knowing the hardship this family has already endured after the storms I wanted to put together an event that was up to New Orleans standards.
Check the Greensgrow website for more info in the coming days.

Another Storm Strikes [ Diner's Journal ]

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Stephen Starr's Lombard Street Pizzeria To Be Named 'Stella Pizza'

Stella Pizza, as in "stella," which is Italian for "star."

How clever.

Mike Klein first reported the news. And included the "Stella" clip from A Street Car Named Desire in his post.


That said, the Seinfeld reference is much more our speed.

Starr's pizzeria has a name [ The Insider - ]

Will Stephen Starr's Pizza Restaurant Have White Clam Pies?

[ Photo via The New York Times ]

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cliff Lee Now Sporting A Batting Average Of .385 In Addition To An ERA Of 0.82

Cliff Lee's four starts as a Philadelphia Phillie | via

Just sayin. Guy's kinda in the zone.

Bruni Closes With Review Of A Low Key East Village Bar, Helps Cement Fried Chicken's Current Trend Status

Frank Bruni filed his final review today as the chief restaurant critic for The New York Times.

He reviewed The Redhead, a small bar in Manhattan's East Village serving "semi-polished, Southern-inflected pub grub," giving it a positive one-star review.

In December 2008, Bruni called the fried chicken at the Redhead a runner-up for his list of the year’s best dishes. In today’s review, he opined further.
The fried chicken is never greasy, almost always tender and unfailingly accessorized by something perfect: biscuits or cornbread or, my favorite, an onion-goat cheese bread pudding that's like a dreamy amalgam of stuffing and quiche.
Now about getting some more upscale fried chicken in Philly. Meme and Resurrection Ale House are already on board. Other contenders: we feel like fried chicken could work well at Pub & Kitchen, Village Whiskey and POPE. And that's just for starters.

At the Redhead, Familiar Pub Fare With a Difference [ The New York Times ]
Ballpark Frank: The Redhead [ Eater ]

[ Photo via The New York Times ]

Michael Vick Dines On Filet At Union Trust Steakhouse

Meanwhile, in steakhouse news on the other side of town, Michael "Wildcat" Vick enjoyed dinner at Union Trust Steakhouse on Tuesday night.

We're hearing Vick went with the filet while his dining companion went with lamb chops.

Union Trust Steakhouse [ Official Site ]

Stephen Starr Ups The Ante, Offers A 24 oz. Rib Eye For $18 At Butcher & Singer

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Stephen Starr Ups The Ante, Offers A 24 oz. Rib Eye For $18 At Butcher & Singer

butcher and singer dining roomThe burger deal has helped thicken the lunch crowds at Butcher & Singer — 1,500 covers at lunch per week, 90% of which order the burger. Which is apparently enough for Starr to try another deal to help thicken the dinner crowds at the same restaurant.
Thought the Butcher and Singer burger deal was good? Starting Wednesday night, you can get a 24 oz. Bone-In Rib Eye for $18 at dinner. [ Starr Restaurants on Twitter ]
A 24 oz. rib eye for $18. That's another fairly ridiculous deal.

To put that into perspective, a 20 oz. dry aged rib eye is $48 at Barclay Prime. (And a 18 oz. bone-in rib eye at Union Trust is $62.) Now, of course, that's probably a more expensive cut of meat, but still — $18 for a 24 oz. bone-in rib eye is a substantial deal.

How does this discounting trend mesh with Stephen Starr's earlier philosophy on the recession? It's a bit of a departure.

In May, Starr was a panelist at a Penn Fashion Week discussion titled, "Can Luxury Survive the Economy," hosted at Wharton.

Here's an excerpt of some of his comments from that panel:
Some businesses that cater to the luxury market are modifying their products to make them more affordable. Panelist Stephen Starr, the owner of upscale restaurants in Philadelphia, New York, Atlantic City and Ft. Lauderdale, has noticed a change among customers since the economy slowed.

Although the flow of diners has not diminished, they are opting for inexpensive wines over cocktails, he said. In response, rather than dropping prices, Starr has added new items to the menu.

"You have to be careful not to just drop the price. That would cheapen what we do. So we put [lower-priced] items on the menu... It's the same customer. We just want to make them feel comfortable by offering something less expensive ... without telling them that it's cheap."
Unlike the Butcher Burger, the 24 oz. rib eye is not on the regular dinner menu at Butcher & Singer. Which means Starr is listening to his own advice. Kind of.

He is adding a less expensive menu item, but he is also making it noticeable enough to make sure it catches people's attention.

A little trademark dramatic flare from big top Steve-O. No big deal.

Also of note: he's not doing this everywhere. At other places (read Barclay Prime, Morimoto's lounge, Jones, etc.), he merely introduced lower priced menu items. Butcher & Singer may just need a little extra attention.

Below, a video of the always happy Marnie Hall from going behind the scenes for a Butcher Burger.

The New High-end Consumer: 'Please Put My Bottega Veneta Wallet in a Plain Bag' [ Knowledge @ Wharton ]
Butcher & Singer [ Official Site ]

Update: Starr Not Messing Around With Butcher & Singer Burger Promotion

Max & David’s Restaurant To Do A Special Kosher Concession Stand For Phillies Jewish Heritage Night At CBP

Michael Klein has word that Max & David’s restaurant of Elkins Park will be doing a one-night concession gig at Citizens Bank Park for this Thursday’s Jewish Heritage Night at the ballpark.

They’ll be serving kosher hot dogs, Texas BBQ beef brisket (sliders), and Mediterranean veggie burgers. They'll be located on the main concourse just inside the Left Field gate... near the Alley Grill... somewhere behind section 139.

Michael Klein also implies this is an audition of sorts as the restaurant's proprietors are trying to land a permanent concession stand at Citizens Bank Park.

To which we say: more eateries and restaurant competition (kosher or not) at Citizens Bank Park is a concept we completely endorse.

As for tonight, we’ll have to "settle" for a Bull Dog or a Schmitter while taking in Pedro's first start at CBP. The humanity.

Inqlings: Seeing Stars all over Philadelphia [ Philadelphia Inquirer, Fourth Item ]
Phillies Jewish Heritage Celebration [ Philadelphia Phillies ]
Max & David's [ Official Site ]

Philadelphia Inquirer Starts Multitasking, Food Columnists Now Doubling As Staff Photographers

philadelphia inquirer mastheadAfter a couple of weeks off, Rick Nichols returned this Sunday with a heartening piece about local craft breweries doing very well in the face of the recession.

Meanwhile, it is no secret that the Inquirer, itself, is doing less than well in the face of the recession. The paper is hurting for revenue and has not been able to retain all of its staff photographers this year.

One apparent solution coming out of PMH headquarters: ask your writers to also take pictures while they do their reporting.

For his brewery article, which appeared on the front page of this Sunday's Inquirer, Rick Nichols visited Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware and Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown. He documented his trip for an online gallery on

And despite's best efforts (by pixelating the photos when publishing them, as they do to virtually all photos they publish online), Rick's photos look good and complement the story well.

However, note that Rick's photos didn't make the print edition. So it's not clear if this was a one-time thing or an actual cost-cutting measure that the Inquirer is trying out.

We kinda suspect the latter.

Gallery: Craft beers resurgent [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Article: Heady days for craft breweries - Local beer makers are drinking in success, hopping on potential, as sales come pouring in [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
What’s a Big City Without a Newspaper? [ The New York Times ]

Friday, August 14, 2009

Will Stephen Starr's Pizza Restaurant Have White Clam Pies?

clam pizza at frank pepe's in New have
One variation of the clam pizza at Frank Pepe's in New Haven | Photo by Robyn Lee

The clam pie, originally brought to prominence by Frank Pepe's in New Haven, CT, would be a treat if it ends up on the menu of Stephen Starr's yet-to-be-named pizza restaurant, which is scheduled to open in the fall.

Back in May, when Starr first talked about the venture to KYW's Hadas Kuznits, he specifically referenced doing pizza research in New Haven, CT. And when asked what he likes on his pizza, his response was spinach and a little tomato. He then added, "but I had something in New Haven that was awesome [and] that was clam pizza. So it's like clams on top of the pizza, it's very New England, and it was amazing. We're going to do that. People are going to love it."

In June, however, when he went on a follow-up pizza eating research trip with his team as well as Rick Nichols along for the ride, they ate a clam pizza at Frank Pepe's in New Haven and another clam pizza later in the day at Franny's in Brooklyn.

And there in New Haven, Starr seemed to back track a little bit offering this critique of the original clam pie at Frank Pepe's:
The famed clam pie at Frank Pepe's, the New Haven landmark? The tender fresh-shucked clams: Thumbs up. The crust: Mixed reactions. Compatibility: "I don't think this would go over too big in Philadelphia," Starr said. "It's too salty."
So what's it going to be? Will there be clam pizza on the menu or won't there be?

Our money is on YES, there will be.

Mostly, because we've had it and clam pizza is definitely delicious.

Starr probably just wants to make sure they do their own variation of it, tweaking it somewhat to be more popular with Philadelphia palates.

Which should be ok too.

Stephen Starr Does More Pizza-Eating Research For His Forthcoming Pizza Restaurant In Philadelphia
Confirmed: Stephen Starr Bringing Brooklyn Style Pizza To Philadelphia

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cliff Lee's ERA As A Phillie Is 1.13

cliff lee philliesThree starts, 24 innings pitched, 3 earned runs, and a 3-0 record. Solid acquisition.

(In his last 6 starts, 3 as a Phillie and the previous 3 as an Indian, he's 6-0 with an 1.29 ERA over 49 innings pitched, which is just over an average of 8 innings pitched per game. Ridiculous.)

And Michael Vick is now an Eagle. Wildcat times infinity.

Meritage To Reopen Today

stuffed grape leaves at meritage
The $5 grilled grape leaves stuffed with kobe beef on the new menu at Meritage | Photo by Christopher Gabello/Meritage

A quick 10-day renovation added hardwood floors, butcher block tables, chairs, new lighting and an expanded bar to the restaurant's interior.

New executive chef Anne Coll — an alum of Susanna Foo and Le Bec Fin — has introduced a new menu of affordable and sharable dishes that blend traditional French techniques with Asian influences.

“I really want our menu to be filled with smaller plates and sharable dishes. That’s what people like,” Coll said. “I know I’d rather taste a little bit of a few things, than having a whole lot of just one thing!”

Seemingly sound thinking behind both the menu and the renovation.

Let's see how it works out.

Meritage Restaurant [ Official Site ]

Can Meritage's New Chef Help Pick Up Its Strangely Lonely Outdoor Dining?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

So Far, So Good: Fried Chicken WILL Be On The Menu At Resurrection Ale House

fried chicken drumstickGrub Street Philadelphia has a sneak peak of the Resurrection Ale House menu... and fried chicken is on it, just as we had hoped.


Sneak Peek at Resurrection Ale House Menu [ Grub Street Philadelphia ]

Fried Chicken Trend Quickly Picking Up Steam In New York, Mémé Still Flying Solo With It Here In Philly

Top Chef Intro Videos: Jennifer Carroll And Jennifer Zavala

Top Chef Las Vegas premieres one week from tonight.

Jennifer Carroll of 10 Arts.

Jennifer Zavala, formerly of El Camino Real, now at Xochitl.

The clips get better once food is involved.

Top Chef [ Official Site ]

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Twenty Manning's Awning Spray Misters Make Its Outdoor Seating Immune To Temperatures of 90-Plus Degrees

twenty manning philadelphiaWhen the real feel gets above 100 degrees, most people are not trying to brave the heat and sit outside a restaurant for dinner, be it on the sidewalk, back patio or whatever.

Unless, we're talking about Twenty Manning, where water misters installed in the awnings above the sidewalk seating spray pretty much continuously, cooling off diners sitting outside with a refreshing and non-drenching aqua mist.

It works too — a spot-check last night at 7 pm had zero people sitting outside Snackbar (while there were people inside taking advantage of the new happy hour) compared to four sizable parties dining outside Twenty Manning, taking full advantage of the misting technology.

Even if you're just passing by, the misters, which Twenty Manning installed last year, are refreshing.

We applaud the innovation.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Field Report: Buddakan's Ribs Earn An Honorable Mention At The Stephen Starr-Garry Maddox BBQ Challenge

Buddakan's ribs were delicious. However, we actually liked the ribs by Barclay Prime even more.

Rubb, which consistently had a long line, had a sampler platter of a rib, a mini pulled pork sandwich, mac n cheese and collard greens.

The places that appeared to have the longest lines throughout: Garry Maddox and McFadden's.

And either Carolina Blue or Bomb Bomb BBQ won for best ribs.

Jones took second place for its barbecue chicken.

Correction: Buddakan's ribs got an honorable mention, not third place. They mistweeted.

[ Starr Restaurants on Twitter ]

Today: Jose Garces To Judge At The Stephen Starr-Garry Maddox Barbecue Challenge

Stephen Starr Closes Tangerine

tangerine philadelphia
He felt the concept had run its course | Photo via Tangerine

Michael Klein is reporting that Starr will do a new restaurant in the space and have it open by next summer.

RIP, Tangerine [ The Insider - ]

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Today: Jose Garces To Judge At The Stephen Starr-Garry Maddox Barbecue Challenge

stephen starr garry maddox barbecue challengeJose Garces will be on hand to judge.

Starr restaurants will be preparing 1 ton of ribs for the event, or 500 lbs of ribs by each of the four Starr restaurants (denoted by asterisks below).

Stephen Starr wants to double last year's bounty and raise $120,000 for the Youth Golf & Academics Program, an after-school program dedicated to educating and helping at-risk youth.

Participating restaurants:

- Baby Blues BBQ
- Barclay Prime *
- The Big Easy Saloon
- Bomb Bomb BBQ Grill
- Buddakan *
- Bull's BBQ
- Capt'n Dick's BBQ
- CISP Grill Masters
- Carolina Blue
- El Vez *
- Great American Pub
- Jones *
- Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant
- McFaddens
- Riverton Country Club
- Rubb
- And Garry Maddox in conjunction with Hatfield Quality Meats.

$10 gets you three food tickets.

Festivities begin at 4 pm.

Fun fact: Garry Maddox has never won his own challenge. There may even be an unwritten role keeping him from ever winning it.

Ready, set, grill! - Stephen Starr joins Garry Maddox’s annual barbecue challenge [ Philadelphia Daily News ]

Update: Chef Matthew Levin May Be Joining The Starr-Maddox Barbecue Challenge At CBP
Next Weekend: Stephen Starr Makes His First Move On Citizens Bank Park

Friday, August 07, 2009

Craig Laban Heads To The Chesapeake For Crabs

crabs and beerCraig Laban won't be reviewing a Philadelphia restaurant this week.

Instead he'll be doing a piece on getting authentic Maryland crabs along the Chesapeake Bay (at what we're assuming we'll be a few crabhouses rather than just one).

A few years back, he reviewed Howard House in Elkton, Md.

This time, he might visit The Tap Room in Chesapeake City and/or Price's in Havre de Grace, both of which he previously stated an affinity for. And/or maybe Woody's in North East and the Wellwood Rivershack in Charleston.

It remains to be seen if he'll stick to places closest to Philadelphia off I-95 in Maryland (like the selections above) or if he'll trek further south down the Eastern Shore like the New York Times did last month.

Either way, making a similar trip yourself is highly recommended.

UPDATE: He visited the Wellwood Rivershack and The Tap Room in Maryland and The Boondocks in Delaware.

Summer Eating: Hard Shell Crabs In Philadelphia

Burger Hunt: The Teriyaki Kobe Burger At Pod

the teriyaki kobe burger at pod
The teriyaki kobe burger at Pod | Photo via Pod

The teriyaki glazed kobe burger with swiss cheese on a sesame bun.

$11 on the lunch menu at Stephen Starr's Pod in University City.

Pod Restaurant [ Official Site ]

Philadelphia's Hotel Palomar To Be Kimpton's First LEED Certified Hotel Anywhere

a room at the hotel palomar philadelphia
A guest room at the yet-to-open Hotel Palomar in Philadelphia

So not only will it be Philadelphia's first LEED certified hotel, it will also be Kimpton's first LEED certified hotel, out of Kimpton's 48 properties across the country.

Which we think is pretty cool.

Some deets.
The Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, LLC’s first LEED registered hotel and its 48th overall—the Hotel Palomar Philadelphia — will open on October 14 in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood of the City of Brotherly Love.

The $92.5 million, 230-room boutique hotel will be Kimpton’s first in Philadelphia. The 24-story property will occupy the Architects Building, which was the former home of the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

It was first built in 1929 and historic elements have been preserved. The hotel’s designer is Powerstrip Studio. According to Peggy Trott, general manager, Kimpton is pursuing a LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance Silver rating.
Here are some of the green attributes that are going to help it attain that Silver rating:

* More than 50 percent of waste was diverted from the landfill during construction. New, energy-efficient mechanical systems were installed.
* Recycled materials were used wherever possible—in floor tiles and the ceiling, for example.
* Low-flow fixtures in bathrooms will keep water consumption to a minimum.
* A water filtration system will eliminate on-property use of bottled water.
* The 100 percent nonsmoking hotel will also include in-room recycling containers.
* The Hotel Palomar Philadelphia's Square 1682, the on-site restaurant, will focus on sustainable cuisine.
* To support the Philadelphia community, the designer selected two pieces from local artists for the hotel’s lobby.
* Organic and/or Fair Trade coffee and tea will be served at the hotel and organic snacks and beverages will be available in in-room honor bars.
* Luxury, eco-friendly bath amenities
* Recycling program for cups, clothes hangers, batteries and more
* Rooms and linens cleaned with eco-certified cleaning supplies
* Towel and linen reuse program
* Guestroom energy management system
* Guest and employee dry cleaning service will use eco-friendly methods and products
* Unused and partially used bath amenities will be donated to community programs; and
* Paperless guest check-in/out service will reduce hotel paper use.

Approximately 60 to 90 days after opening, Kimpton will know the Hotel Palomar Philadelphia’s final LEED status.

So exciting.

Hotel Palomar Philadelphia is Kimpton’s First LEED Registered Hotel
[ Eco Green Hotel News ]

Introducing Center City's First Green Hotel: A First Look At Kimpton's Sure-To-Be-Awesome Hotel Palomar Philadelphia

Philly Cheesesteak Truck Heading To L.A., Where's Our Korean Taco Truck In Return?

From the Los Angeles Times:
South Philly-style cheese steaks will be the next item joining Los Angeles' ever-expanding roster of nouveau food trucks.

The South Philly Experience is set to roll out in two to three weeks -- if all goes as planned for cousins Jonathan Salvatore and Scott Springfield. The pair now live in Santa Monica but grew up "just across the bridge from Philly" in south New Jersey.
They'll be using Amoroso rolls.

Additional nice touch: they'll be selling Tastykakes for dessert.

So, about that taco truck...

Philly cheese steak truck to roll through L.A. [ Los Angeles Times - Daily Dish ]
South Philly Experience Food Truck [ Official Site ]

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Video: Eating Breakfast With Ryan Howard And Jimmy Rollins

You may have scene the full Funny or Die piece with Rollins and Howard, released earlier this week.

Here's a behind-the-scenes video from that skit: it's from the breakfast table scene, where Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins dig into a fantasy camp breakfast of french toast, omlettes, bacon, pancakes, croissants, eggs benedict, mango, sausage mcmuffins, etc.

Jimmy's not messin' around.

Philly Car Share Fallout — PCS Drops 35,000 Members In The Wake Of New Monthly Fees

Back when news of Philly Car Share’s new pricing came out in April, we predicted that they could lose as many as half of their 50,000 members.

It turns out, that estimate was a little too conservative. Philadelphia Magazine is reporting that PCS actually dropped some 35,000 members since the initiation of the monthly fees began in May.

So that's a lot.

But they’re still 15,000 strong. (Ourselves included, having made a glorious Wegmans run just this week.)

Keep your chin up, Philly Car Share. You're still dead sexy.

Business: Baby, You Can Drive My Car. Please. [ Philadelphia Magazine ]

Philly Car Share Shits Bed, Eliminates Free Membership Plans

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Predicting The Spectacular Restaurants Philly Live Will Bring To South Philadelphia

Our fingers are crossed for a Sizzler and/or a Ground Round...

In no particular order:

1. Cheesecake Factory
2. Bahama Breeze
3. P.F. Chang's
4. Hard Rock Cafe
5. Señor Frog's

There might be a Kildare's or a Chickie's & Pete's thrown in for some local flavor.

And the long shot, of course, being a Stephen Starr restaurant.

He'll no doubt be courted, however, from the look of things, Philly Live might skew a little too chintzy for big top Steve-O.

Meanwhile, what has Cordish, the developers, done with restaurants previously?
Entertainment Concepts Investors, Inc. ("ECI"), the restaurant and club division of the Cordish Company, designs, builds, owns, and operates restaurant, lounge, and live entertainment concepts throughout the United States. ECI operates a variety of concepts in approximately thirty markets across the United States, often placing them together in synergistic entertainment districts.

ECI has licensed several leading national and international brands in this expansion including Hard Rock and Hard Rock Live and in 2006 opened the premier NASCAR Sports Grille at Universal City Walk in Orlando, Florida.
Hot. Damn.

Nascar is the tits.

Now pardon us for being a little critical of the proposed development, but where are the mixed use buildings? Where are the residences?

CBP should be surrounded by mid-rise mixed-use developments, not acres of parking lots.

E.g. not Philadelphia:

vs. Philadelphia:

philly live aerial
At least there will still be plenty of parking...

It's called transit-oriented development. And there's a little thing called the Broad Street Subway that operates right at your feet.

Get your shit together, already.

A glitzy game plan for developing Spectrum site
[ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
The Cordish Companies [ Official Site ]

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Wawa's Business Model: Shun And Abandon Healthy, Livable, Pedestrian-Oriented Neighborhoods; Embrace Sprawling, Unsustainable, Oil-Addicted Suburbs

a super wawa
Nice gas pumps, douchebags.

Wawa has confirmed our suspicions: they suck.
Today [Wawa] is a major player in the gas market. Wawa has about 200 sites with service stations, and all new Wawas will sell gas, [Wawa CEO Howard] Stoeckel said. The company has its own storage facility in the Port of Wilmington, he said.
Brilliant move.

Luckily, one Inquirer reader was up for taking them to task.
Letters: Wawa flight to suburbia denies its urban roots

Thursday's article, "How Wawa became a success," noted that all new Wawas will sell gas. This corporate decision, along with Wawa closing some older stores and Center City locations, seems wrongheaded.

Wawa was an iconic Philadelphia brand. Yet, unlike companies, such as Tasty Baking, that made a corporate commitment to the city, Wawa is retreating to the suburbs. The chain's popularity downtown was highlighted by the dozens of students who protested in the streets when Wawa closed its store at 20th and Locust Streets. As Philadelphia makes international headlines for its urban renaissance, it seems a foolhardy corporate decision to disassociate from the city.

Replacing older stores with gas-stationed "super-Wawas" is equally misguided. With gas prices rising, more and more people are buying smaller cars, driving less, and traveling by train. There is also a well-documented national preference for living in towns, villages, and cities, rather than sprawling suburbs.

Given these facts, if Wawa hopes to succeed, it should again "read the trend right," as it did 45 years ago, and reconnect to our region's towns and cities.

Gregory Heller, Philadelphia
Word. Amen. Etc.

How Wawa Became A Success [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Letters: Wawa flight to suburbia denies its urban roots [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Breaking: Rittenhouse Wawa Effs Loyal Customers, Set To Inexplicably Shut Its Doors Forever on February 29th, 2008

Monday, August 03, 2009

Update: Chef Matthew Levin May Be Joining The Starr-Maddox Barbecue Challenge At CBP

We're hearing that Matthew Levin, former executive chef at Lacroix, will be participating in the Stephen Starr-Garry Maddox Barbecue Challenge at Citizens Bank Park this coming Saturday.

UPDATE: confirmed by Michael Klein.

Levin is currently working on opening a barbecue restaurant in Manayunk called Rubb, so participating in the Maddox BBQ Challenge would make perfect sense for him.

And it would be a great opportunity for anxious eaters to see what the former haute cuisine chef can do with ribs.

Which got us to thinking: shouldn't the Percy Street Barbecue team throw down in this challenge as well?

They're probably not ready yet, as chef Erin O'Shea just finished her time at Marigold Kitchen.

But still, it would definitely make for an extra special event if team Solomonov/Cook/O'Shea decided to join in on the fun.

(And Bebe's too.)

Big restaurant dealings in Manayunk [ The Insider - ]

Next Weekend: Stephen Starr Makes His First Move On Citizens Bank Park

Speaking Of Burgers, McDonald's Introduces New Angus Burgers To Philly

Uh oh.

Just as Goodburger goes dark, (which we'd blame at least partially on their awful soundtrack...), comes word that McDonald's is trying something new here.
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 3 -- McDonald's customers now have three juicy reasons to visit McDonald's(R) Restaurants of the Greater Philadelphia Region this summer with the arrival of the Angus Third Pounders, McDonald's newest menu addition. For a limited time, customers can choose from three varieties of the Angus Third Pounders including the Deluxe(R), Bacon & Cheese(R) and Mushroom & Swiss(R).
Each Angus Third Pounder is made with a third-pound of 100 percent Angus beef and fresh, savory ingredients on a toasted bakery-style sesame seed roll. These options include the following:

* Deluxe: Made with a third-pound of 100 percent Angus beef topped with creamy mayonnaise, yellow mustard, a thick slice of ripe red tomato, green leaf lettuce, rings of red onions, sliced dill pickles and slices of American cheese served on a toasted bakery-style sesame seed roll.

* Bacon & Cheese: Made with a third-pound of 100 percent Angus beef topped with zesty ketchup, yellow mustard, rings of red onions, sliced dill pickles, three full slices of bacon and slices of American cheese served on a toasted bakery-style sesame seed roll.

* Mushroom & Swiss: Made with a third-pound of 100 percent Angus beef topped with creamy mayonnaise, sauteed mushrooms and slices of Swiss cheese served on a toasted bakery-style sesame seed roll.
The new line marks McDonald's first new burger offering since the Big N' Tasty burger was added to the menu in 2001.

Here's the commercial:

McDonald's(R) Angus Third Pounder Trio Debuts in Philadelphia Restaurants for Limited Time [ PR Newswire ]
McDonald's Puts Focus Back on Beef With Angus Deluxe Launch [ Ad Age ]

How Much Time In Your Day Do You Spend Eating And Drinking?

How people spend their day | Graphic via The New York Times

In our case, not enough.
How Different Groups Spend Their Day

The American Time Use Survey asks thousands of American residents to recall every minute of a day. Here is how people over age 15 spent their time in 2008.
Check out the interactive graphic here.

Interactive Graphic - How Different Groups Spend Their Day [ New York Times ]

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Philadelphia In The July Issue Of Bon Appétit

Philadelphia In The July Issue Of Bon Appétit
Page 1

Philadelphia In The July Issue Of Bon Appétit
Page 2

We're getting to this a little late, but it's nevertheless a very nice two-page spread.

Full size PDF is here.

Travel - Navigator - Philadelphia
[ Bon Appétit ]

Some Info On The Forthcoming Percy Street Barbecue By Michael Solomonov, Steven Cook and Erin O'Shea

In October, Steven Cook, Michael Solomonov and Erin O'Shea will debut Percy Street Barbecue at 900 South Street.

The kitchen will be helmed by Chef/Partner Erin O’Shea, most recently the executive chef at Cook’s already-sold Marigold Kitchen.

This info is from a release that came in a little while ago.
Chef O’Shea, whose menu at Marigold Kitchen has been roundly praised by local and national restaurant critics, will take the reins at Percy Street, as executive chef and partner, overseeing the kitchen and bringing her Southern roots and culinary heritage to bear in what is sure to become Philadelphia’s best barbecue restaurant.

Pairing her expertise with Chef Solomonov's deep knowledge of cooking with hardwood and charcoal, Percy Street will serve a richly flavored assortment of meats, long-smoked over hardwood in authentic Texas-made barbecue pits, along with comforting sides, craft beers and tasty cocktails, in a 100-seat space that includes outdoor dining on South Street.
That's enough to sufficiently whet our appetite.

Philadelphia's Barbecue Moment