Thursday, April 30, 2009

New York Times Rates Victory Prima Pils The #1 Ballpark Beer, And Citizens Bank Park Now Serves It

And that's not all. CBP had four out of the top ten.

Victory Prima Pils ranked #1.*

Troegs Sunshine Pils comes in #3.*

Sly Fox Pikeland Pils at #7.*

And Stoudts Pils at #8.

* On tap at Brewerytown concessions in Citizens Bank Park.

Not bad.

The New York Times blind taste-tested 18 pilsners from American craft breweries and four of the top 10 are local to Philadelphia. Three of which are on draft at Citizens Bank Park.

The ranking was brought on by the disappointing selection of crappy, mass-produced beers at the new Yankees Stadium.

Eric Asimov then proclaimed American craft pilsners as the would-be savior of ballpark beer, and then declared Victory's own Prima Pils the best of the bunch. (Again.)
THE new Yankee Stadium has a problem. No, it's not all those home runs, it's the beer.

The stadium pushes the usual mass-market brews, which is to be expected of any big venue. It also has a beers-of-the-world stand that sells brews like Heineken, from the Netherlands; Beck's, from Germany; and Stella Artois, from Belgium — all from nowheresville, if you ask me.

It has a retro-beer stand that sells — give me strength — Pabst Blue Ribbon and Schaefer. If you look really hard, you can find Guinness, which is an acceptable fallback. But with all the great craft beers available nowadays, why aren’t any of them at Yankee Stadium?
[...]
But if I do go to Yankee Stadium, I want some beers worthy of the team. I offer you now my solution to the big beer wasteland in the South Bronx: American pilsners.

While any number of styles would make an enjoyable companion to a good ballgame, none, I think, could do better than a crisp, zesty, refreshing pilsner. It's a style that has long been associated with American sports, though in its bland mass-market form in which the barley-malt core of a great pilsner is diluted with adjuncts like corn or rice. Budweiser may trace its roots to the Czech birthplace of pilsner, but it is no longer a true representative of the style.
[...]
For great American pilsners, though, you have to go to the major leagues of brewing, which to my mind are the small craft breweries that have so thoroughly revitalized beer drinking in America. To inaugurate the new baseball season, the tasting panel recently sampled 18 pilsners from American craft breweries.
So chalk one up for CBP over the new stadiums in NYC. (They may have Morimoto and Shake Shack, we have excellent local beer.)

Then he gets to Prima Pils.
The Victory Prima Pils, which was our No. 1 pilsner four years ago, again came in on top. It seemed to be alive in the glass, with wonderfully refreshing bitterness to balance the floral and citrus aromas.
Good showing all around.

The beer is something that we will probably never complain about at Citizens Bank Park.

Although we will definitely criticize the lack of the amazing Greenware cups and question why aren't they used at EVERY Brewerytown concession in the stadium.

Stop being so fucking cheap Aramark. Poor form.

We want our beer cups to biodegrade, goddammit.

Related:
Beers of the Times - Take These Out to a Ballgame
[ New York Times ]

Previously:
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?
Breaking: Forget Geno's, the Phillies heart good beer
Beer Prices At Citizens Bank Park … Consider Yourselves Blessed

[ Photo via Flickr user Okaypro ]

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Food Network Ranks Royal Tavern Burger As Pennsylvania's Best

royal tavern burger in philadelphia
The Sandwich Board Sign at Royal Tavern: A Self-fulfilling Prophesy?

A respectable if not mind-blowingly original pick from the Food Network.

Naming a city's best burger is obviously very subjective, but there's a well-established consensus that the Royal Tavern burger has been at least one of the city's best for some time now.

Both Unbreaded and A Hamburger Today were there for the burger recently, actually within days of each other, but had significantly different opinions.

Food Network's take:
Philly's famous cheesesteaks joints are only blocks away, but many beef-lovers flock to this laid back bar instead. Regulars have nicknamed the addictive burger "the royal." The thick patty comes on a brioche bun with caramelized onions, bacon, gouda, chili mayonnaise, and pickled hot peppers.
There's no question it's a solid burger. It's simply not our favorite on account of the gouda and the long hots. (Also, for the record, never been huge fans of the malt vinegar mayo that accompanies the fries.)

Related:
50 STATES, 50 BURGERS - Food Network Magazine hit the road to find one burger you absolutely have to try in every state [ Food Network via Grub Street ]
Royal Tavern Sandwiches Are Fit For A King (or Queen) [ Unbreaded ]
Burger at Royal Tavern in Philadelphia [ A Hamburger Today ]

[ Photo via A Hamburger Today ]

Silk City Now Targeting Memorial Day For Beer Garden Opening

If the latest stint of global warming had you wondering, that is the latest we hear.

Here's hoping it's canopied.

Related:
Silk City [ Official Site ]

[ Photo via ]

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mayor Nutter To Unveil Greenworks Philadelphia, 150-Initiative Plan To Make Philadelphia The Greenest City In U.S.

greenworks philadelphiaGreenworks Philadelphia is both Mark Allan Hughes' baby and Philadelphia's answer to New York's PlanNYC.

Suffice it to say, it's a very good start.
Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the Mayor's Office of Sustainability today announced Greenworks Philadelphia, an ambitious, comprehensive framework to make Philadelphia the greenest city in the United States of America by 2015.

It sets goals in five areas — energy, environment, equity, economy and engagement — and encompasses more than 150 initiatives. Together, they will reduce the city's vulnerability to rising energy prices, limit its environmental footprint, and reposition its workforce and job development strategies to build upon Philadelphia's competitive advantages in the emerging green economy.

"Greenworks Philadelphia is a vision for how Philadelphia can and should seize this moment, building on the assets of the city left to us by the past and creating a better future for ourselves, our children and generations to come," said Mayor Nutter.

Greenworks Philadelphia seeks to make more homes and buildings weather-tight, increase recycling and minimize trash, give residents better access to parks and fresh food, and capture the benefits of solar and geothermal energy.

It envisions planting thousands of trees, equipping the municipal fleet with less-polluting engines and expanding green job training, so plenty of Philadelphia's workers have the skills to retrofit buildings and install solar arrays.
It should probably be noted that Mark Allan Hughes, who is Philadelphia's Director of Sustainability and Nutter's chief policy advisor, also happens to be one of the smartest people in the city. So the Mayor has that going for him.

After a quick glimpse at the plan's tactics, our favorite parts:

* Capitalize on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which provides Philadelphia with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to retrofit aging housing stock.
* Divert 70 Percent of Solid Waste from Landfill
* Increase the amount of recycling by residents to 25 percent by 2015 through incentive programs and public engagement efforts.
* Install public space recycling containers in Center City
* Boost Tree Coverage toward 30 Percent in All Neighborhoods by 2025
* Plant 300,000 trees.
* Create an additional 500 acres of public space.
* Increase green and open space by using permeable pavement on parking lots and playgrounds, building green roofs, and distributing rainwater collection barrels to homeowners.
* Reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled by 10 Percent
* Add filters to all diesel vehicles in City fleet and switch to biodiesel and CNG
* Reduce street congestion through parking policy and signal technology
* Support SEPTA in its effort to increase transit ridership through service improvements, capital investments and new fare technologies.
* Invest in transit-oriented development and Bike/Pedestrian trail efforts
* Make data available on-line so that independent analyses can be conducted.


Hells. Yes.

The recession can suck it.

Related:
Greenworks Philadelphia [ Official Site]
The big idea: Smart cities embrace sustainability [ Philadelphia Daily News - Plan Philly ]
Cities: No longer the problem, now the solution [ Philadelphia Daily News - Plan Philly ]
Will budget crisis kill green? [ Philly.com ]
OpEd: Councilman wrong on Philly's green future [ Philadelphia Daily News ]

Dry Aged Meat Blend Behind New Barclay Prime Pub Burger Revealed, Packs A "Flavor Bomb"

Unbreaded has the reveal about the meat blend used for the new pub burger at Barclay Prime.

The cuts that made the, um, cut: New York strip, kobe strip, ribeye and kobe filet.
Served as a couplet of square mini burgers, slightly larger than the sliders, the burger patties consist of ground NY strip, kobe strip, ribeye and kobe filet. The result is by far, the most flavorful burger we’ve ever tasted.
The blend is probably the highest quality burger meat blend in Philadelphia — Le Bec Fin uses sirloin, Table 31 switched from wagyu to sirloin, Good Dog uses sirloin, etc. (Respectably, Rouge represents with a blend of sirloin, rib eye and filet tip.)

Overall, however, the Barclay Prime pub burger takes a rather gimmicky approach: two smallish burgers (with an admittedly indulgent meat blend) attached to each other, served wrapped in retro paper, accompanied by tater tots.

Kinda a deterrent. However, probably not going to keep us away.

Related:
Barclay Prime Pub Burger Is A Compact Flavor Bomb
[ Unbreaded ]

Earlier:
What Are The Burgers At The Franklin Square Burger Shack Going To Be Made Of?
Barclay Prime Rocks Local Beers With Its New "Pub" Menu, Showing The Kids (Read Table 31, Pub & Kitchen) How It's Done

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stephen Starr Rumored To Be Close To Doing Artisanal Pizza In Philly

co pizza in new york city
Co., a much-hyped new pizza restaurant in NYC; via the New York Times

Both Foobooz and The Insider are reporting that Stephen Starr is trying to do a pizza, wine and beer shop on Headhouse Square in Philadelphia.

This would not surprise us, given a.) Osteria's success and b.) the current trend of upscale pie restaurants in New York City, about which Frank Bruni recently wrote on Diner's Journal:
A Pizza Moment

"Why does everybody keep talking to me about pizza?" a good friend from Italy complained to me during her recent trip to New York.

She'd turned to her most food-savvy friends for recommendations on where to eat while in town, and those friends kept coming back to her with pizza places. "I live in Italy," she griped to me. "When I’m in New York, I'm not after pizza."

But these days, many of those of us in the small but voluble world of the food-obsessed are. This certainly isn't the city's first pizza moment and it definitely won’t be the last, but it's a definite pizza moment all the same.
[...]
When it comes to pizza, everybody has opinions, and itches to rank Motorino against Co. against L'Asso, down on Mott Street near Kenmare. About L'Asso the blog Grub Street, owned by New York magazine, just asked: “So is L'Asso's new artichoke pie truly the best in the city?" If so, then it bests the stiff competition from Artichoke Basille's Pizza & Brewery in the East Village, which opened last year and marked a starting point of the current pizza moment.
We feel like Starr could tackle the delicious-yet-reasonably-affordable pizza, wine and beer concept pretty well. And look forward to him doing so.

Moreover, we imagine he can get quite a good deal on a lease these days.

Iron's hot. Might as well strike.

UPDATE: Concept name currently "Pizza Select."

Related:
Fire with this smoke [ Foobooz ]
Starr Into Headhouse Square [ The Insider ]
A Pizza Moment [ Diner's Journal - New York Times ]
Co.: For Pizza, Thinking Outside the Circle [ New York Times ]
Restaurateurs grab chance to expand [ Crain's New York ]

[ Photo by Evan Sung for New York Times ]

Obvious Spoiler: Zahav (Extremely Likely) To Be Crowned Philly Mag's #1 Restaurant Tomorrow

UPDATE: It is so.

Philly Mag is publishing its second annual ranking of the region's Top 50 restaurants. They’ve been gradually announcing the top 10 of the 50 on their Restaurant Club email list/blog hybrid over the past week, before the May issue of the magazine hits newsstands.

They’ve announced numbers 10 through 2 as

10. Blackfish
9. Talua's Table
8. Amada
7. Distrito
6. Fountain
5. Lacroix
4. Osteria
3. James
2. Vetri.

Zahav has certainly been getting a veritable shit-ton of awards/recognition of late. Will Philly Mag ranking it the #1 restaurant in the region be its latest conquest?

Sure looks like it.

Related:
Sneak Peek: The 2009 Philly Mag 50 Preview [ Philly Mag ]
The 2008 Philly Mag 50: Restaurants 1 to 20 [ Philly Mag ]
Philly Mag's Top 10 Restaurants Trickle In [ MP Philadelphia ]

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Philly Car Share Shits Bed, Eliminates Free Membership Plans

philly car shareOh Philly Car Share. How things have changed.

Last Year, co-founders Clayton Lane and Tanya Seaman were given the boot apparently for being too smart/idealistic.

Since then, it's been a little rough.

Instead of adding more hybrids, rates were raised on existing hybrids.

And now, due to cash concerns/recession troubles, they just announced that they're ending free memberships.

Adding insult to injury, they sent out the notification after 5 pm on a Friday so they wouldn't be bombarded with calls. Giving less than a week's notice.

Classy.
From: PhillyCarShare
Sent: Friday, April 24, 2009 5:40 PM
Subject: Important News Regarding your PhillyCarShare Account

Rate Plan Change to Benefit You: Please read on...

PhillyCarShare is pleased to announce that we're simplifying car sharing in Philadelphia!

Starting May 1st, we will streamline our offerings into one plan, the Philadelphia Plan, which will give every residential member access to the lowest PhillyCarShare hourly rates. The monthly fee will be $15 and the hourly rates will range from $3.55 to $8.55, with the continued monthly 5 cent reduction in the hourly rate through July 2009.

All current Basic Freedom members will be converted to this new membership plan on April 30th, when the first of your $15 monthly membership fees will be charged to your credit card.
[...]
If you have any concerns, please call Member Services at 215-730-0988, ext. 5. If this plan is not for you, then please use the link below by April 30th, 2009 to cancel your PhillyCarShare membership and avoid being charged the $15 May membership fee.
Blah, blah, blah.

For shame.

For the record, Philly Car Share retains our allegiance because in the end, it's still fucking amazing — we just wish they'd be cooler about it.

Regarding their other 50,000+ members, however, we're thinking they lose at least 10,000 and maybe even half.

So that's why this really sucks — it hurts car sharing's mainstream appeal.

Related:
Philly Car Share to charge monthly fee for all acounts [ Philly Blog ]
Exclusive: Shake-Up at Philly Car Share [ Philly Mag ]
PhillyCarShare First in Nation to Offer Free Memberships [ Business Wire ]

Previously:
Philly Car Share Makeover Results in Sexiest Surface Parking Lot Ever

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Four Seasons Philadelphia Has Composted More Than 360,000 lbs Of Food Waste Since 2007

four seasons philadelphia guest roomWhich comes out to about 3,000 lbs of food waste composted each week. Not bad.

It's composted on a farm and then they buy it back as fertilizer to use on the grounds of the hotel.

The hotel is one of the largest composters in the City of Philadelphia. Now you know.

Happy (early) Earth Day.

Related:
Four Seasons Philadelphia [ Official Site ]
Podcast: Four Seasons 'Meet The Chef' Menu [ KYW 1060 ]

Philadelphia Recycling Trucks Get "Greener" For Earth Day

philadelphia recycling truck
Design In Motion: The Recycling Truck Project

Aww.

Ten new specially-designed recycling trucks will be unveiled tomorrow in Love Park at 2pm.

The announcement:
The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, The Design Center at Philadelphia University and The City of Philadelphia Streets Department Recycling Office invite you to Love Park at 2PM, Wednesday, April 22, 2009 to view a new fleet of single-stream recycling trucks designed by Desireé Bender and Mural Arts Program Big Picture students from Asian Arts Initiative, Norris Square Neighborhood Project, Waring Elementary School, and Wissahickon Charter School.

Design In Motion: The Recycling Truck Project is a city-wide public art and graphic design project produced by The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program in collaboration with The Design Center at Philadelphia University and The City of Philadelphia Streets Department Recycling Office.

The project was commissioned by the Streets Department to coincide with the introduction of Philadelphia's new city-wide single-stream recycling program.

single stream recylcing in philadelphiaThe graphic designs, which will wrap a total of ten City of Philadelphia recycling trucks, are inspired by historical and contemporary textile patterns that celebrate elements of nature and are drawn from the collection of The Design Center at Philadelphia University.

From January through March 2009, artist Desireé Bender and over 60 students ranging in age from 8 to 18 and enrolled in Mural Arts' free after-school Big Picture program worked together on the conceptualization and design of graphic vinyl wraps for the recycling trucks.

As part of the creative process, students were introduced by staff from The Design Center to its collection of textiles from around the world, including 19th and early 20th century textiles that document the emergence of Philadelphia as one of America's great textile producers of the time. The City of Philadelphia Streets Department Recycling Office also engaged students in a variety of learning experiences to expand their knowledge of and participation in Philadelphia's new city-wide single-stream recycling program.
It's not clear if the trucks are actually ten brand new recylcing trucks or rather ten trucks that have been retrofitted with cool new designs.

Regardless, we wish they were also zero-emission recycling trucks.

Monday, April 20, 2009

La Colombe Opens Second Manhattan Outpost, Equaling Count in Philly

Apparently, New York is ripe(r) for the taking.

From Eater:
Soho: Today, New York's second outpost of Philly's renowned coffee roaster La Colombe has opened on 270 Lafayette (between Houston and Prince). Though they supply some of the best restaurants in the city—from Le Bernardin, Daniel, and Jean Georges to Brown Cafe—until now the only Colombe coffee shop was tucked away in the Tribeca/Chinatown DMZ at 319 Church Street. Say goodbye to the dominion of Starbucks/Think, Soho.
Related:
Game Changers: Colombe Certified Open on Lafayette [ Eater ]

[ Photo via Rare Daily ]

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jose Garces To Enter Burger Fray; Two Semi-Intriguing Burger Options On Menu At His Forthcoming Village Whiskey

The Irving Mill flap meat burger, photo by M.Ham
Not a Garces burger; The Irving Mill Flap Meat Burger via Grub Street

With the newly released details of Jose Garces' forthcoming Village Whiskey, the good news just keeps coming in.

This blurb is from the press release:
Chef Garces will serve a wealth of whiskies and inventive cocktails alongside simple, inexpensive bar food, prepared with his signature flair ... bar snacks, burgers and tempting raw bar selections, all under $20.
[...]
A ground-to-order Angus Beef Burger, a Veggie Burger, a Bison Burger or an Vienna All-Beef Hot Dog with all the trimmings are each served alongside duck fat French fries and Sly Fox cheddar sauce.

Burgers will be topped with Village Whiskey’s house-made thousand-island dressing, Bibb lettuce, beefsteak tomato and a potato-beer bun, with optional toppings including bacon, caramelized onion, truffles, artichokes and a selection of cheeses. The menu, which will be served all day, will range in price from $4 to $20.
First impressions:

- Duck Fat French Fries = awesome.

- Sly Fox cheddar sauce = we are loving Garces' love of Sly Fox.

- Village Whiskey's house-made thousand island dressing on the burgers = apparently everyone got the memo that Russian dressing can be an upscale "special sauce" too.

- Potato-beer bun = also sounds awesome.

About the meat, however, we are less optimistic. We have never been impressed by a bison burger, so it will be interesting to see if Garces and Chef de Cuisine Dave Conn can do anything of note with the Village Whiskey bison burger.

As for the ground-to-order Angus Beef Burger — we wish it were a blend (maybe with some rib eye and flap meat), but in the case that it's not, we hope it is, at the very least, some very fatty and pampered angus.

All in all, Village Whiskey is definitely something to look forward to.

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

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

village whiskey in philadelphia by jose garcesExcept maybe Barclay Prime.

And, for the record, it's more of a Whiskey bar technically than a gastropub, but whatever.

Village Whiskey by Jose Garces will open in June on 20th Street.

This blurb is from the press release:
As one of the most comprehensive collections of its namesake spirit available in Philadelphia, Village Whiskey will feature a veritable library of 80 to 100 varieties of whiskey, bourbon, rye and scotch from Scotland, Canada, Ireland, United States and even a few Japanese options.

For those who desire something other than whiskey, a carefully chosen list of wines with a focus on sparkling wines; and a beer list comprised exclusively of American craft beers will be available.
Oh. Snap.

God bless you, Jose Garces. You are clearly a gentleman and scholar.

And, in our minds, you just earned that "superstar" moniker. Well done.

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What Are The Burgers At The Franklin Square Burger Shack Going To Be Made Of?

pat lafrieda wholesale meat in new york[ Photo via A Hamburger Today ]

This is probably the most important question leading up to the opening of Stephen Starr's much anticipated (ahem) Franklin Square Burger Shack.

In all probability, Starr wants to emulate (to a certain extent) the success of Danny Meyer's Shake Shack in Madison Square.

Thus, keep in mind that Shake Shack has enjoyed such amazing success explicitly because of the attention that was given its burgers and their meat. It was the original Shake Shack burger meat blend that began the Pat LaFrieda burger meat craze that has since swept New York.

Five years ago, before Shake Shack opened, Meyer approached LaFrieda (a wholesale meat supplier in New York) with a request:
Elevate the common hamburger from a fast food staple to higher-quality fare that diners would go out of their way for. LaFrieda created a special chopped meat blend made of top-tier ingredients. "He created a blend that's made us all famous," says Randy Garutti, Shake Shack's managing partner.
Both LaFrieda and Shake Shack took off from there — Shake Shack just opened its third location and LaFrieda is now supplying more than 40 exclusive high-end burger blends to restaurants across the country, including Minetta Tavern.

Meanwhile, note that the Shake Shack blend of high-end ingredients still produces a burger (right) that retails for less than $5. In New York. Where you can't get anything for less than $5.

So needless to say, we hope Stephen Starr has taken note. Of all this.

The cost. The quality. And especially the part about creating a burger that diners would go out of their way for.

Franklin Square is definitely out of their way. And while Franklin Square got close to a million visitors last year, this Burger Shack should not just be for the families/kids that already use the park.

We sincerely hope Starr is going to make a true destination out of it.

He definitely should.

Related:
The Man Behind a Meat Craze
[ SmartMoney ]
A Visit to Pat La Frieda Wholesale Meats [ A Hamburger Today ]

Earlier:
Franklin Square Burger Shack coverage on The Illadelph

Checking Up On Stephen Starr's Prowess With Burgers, Shakes And Dogs

a shake shack burger
The Shake Shack burger via A Hamburger Today

Stephen Starr professes to be ready "to serve the best burgers, hot dogs and shakes" at the Franklin Square Burger Shack. But does he know anything about serving delicious, classic-yet-modern cheeseburgers, hot dogs and milkshakes?

Actually, he has all three on his menu at Teplitzky's in Atlantic City. The Chelsea Hotel restaurant opened by Starr in 2008 serves "diner-inspired food in a fun, classic setting."

- Milkshakes (Vanilla, Chocolate, and Malt) are $4.,

- Cheeseburgers are available as a single ($7) or a double ($12) and come with frizzled onions and special sauce, Russian dressing. That price includes fries.

teplitzky's logo- And The Philly Dog is a hot dog with hebrew national salami, pickles, hot peppers and mustard ($9 with fries).

There's nothing to say that this is anything like what Starr is planning for Franklin Square, but it's OK to wonder. And to get a sense of what he may be thinking for the Franklin Square Burger Shack.

At Franklin Square, the price points would come down from there a little bit. We like the idea of being able to get a single or a double cheeseburger. And that the burgers have a special sauce, (even though it's simply Russian dressing). A hot dog/salami combo would, of course, be welcome as well.

So we're intrigued. Optimistic even.

But what we really want to know is what will the burgers be made of...

Earlier:
Franklin Square Burger Shack Coverage on The Illadelph

Design Of Franklin Square Burger Shack Likely To Be Unremarkable

building in franklin square philadelphiaEarlier, we had hoped for a architecturally significant permanent structure to house the coming Franklin Square Burger Shack. (Which is not pictured at right. Pictured at right is an existing building at Franklin Square that the Burger Shack will "match." The permanent structure will be constructed this summer while a temporary Burger Shack will open in May.)

Or, at the very least, that the building would be green, i.e. sustainable. Considering that it is being built on public park land, after all.

However, those outcomes seem increasingly unlikely. Most likely on account of a hurried timeline and a limited budget. But nonetheless disappointing.

This blurb was buried in the official announcement:
In summer 2009, the temporary menu will expand when the permanent structure opens with a full menu, including burgers, shakes, salads, and artisanal Capogiro gelato. The structure is designed to match the existing small buildings in Franklin Square.
So it will be contextual. And quaint. And safe. And, yes, red brick.

Unfortunate. But whatever. At least now we can focus on the food...

Earlier:
Franklin Square Burger Shack coverage on The Illadelph


[ Photo via About.com ]

Urban Dispatch: The Upscale Burger, Bourbon And Beer Bar Meal

This sounds amazing: Manhattan's Irving Mill restaurant is selling their very well received Irving Mill Burger for $15 regularly, except on Mondays, for that same price, it also comes with a pour of Jim Beam and a pint of Six Point beer.

Honestly, we can't think of a better way to brighten a Monday. Suffice it to say that it would be aces if a local establishment were to get behind that kind of action.

We can immediately think of at least one local that is set up perfectly, already having a pretty great burger AND having already experimented with a bourbon and beer special.

Logical next step: put 'em together and make it a happy threesome.

P&K — your move.

Related:
Irving Mill’s Burger, Beer, and Shot Deal [ Grub Street ]

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wall Street Journal Reviews American Gins, Bluecoat Rated "The Shit"

Not literally.

But you get the idea.

Philadelphia's own Bluecoat is one of the top two rated gins out of 12 in a blind taste-test, and at $27, comes in $13 less than the other top-rated label.
The most successful new American gins are willing to embrace complex flavors, but do so with a light, deft touch.
[...]
Proclaiming its perfume with what looks like a cobalt cologne bottle is Philadelphia's Bluecoat gin. The juniper is bright and clear, embellished delicately with the scent of citrus and spice. It strikes an admirable balance between the dry herbal qualities of a good gin and the embellishments exotic botanicals can provide.
With gin and tonic season right around the corner, you should probably have a bottle ready to go at home. But right now, we kinda just really want a Bluecoat martini.

Related:
American Entrants in the Gin Game
[ Wall Street Journal ]

Monday, April 13, 2009

Where To Experience The Waterless Urinals At The Comcast Center

Designed to be LEED certified, which it still has not yet officially achieved (ahem), the Comcast Center has a lot of green features.

Probably the most famous of which would be its waterless urinals. (Remember that absurd controversy?) Anyway, they save 1.2 million gallons of water each year at the Comcast Center.

Disappointingly Table 31, located inside the Comcast Center, does not have them. Apparently LEED certification for the restaurant was cost-prohibitive.

But The Market at Comcast Center has them. Ground floor of the building, down the steps from the lobby through what looks like a service door. Waterless urinals to use to your heart's content. Enjoy.

Related:
Video of Comcast Center Waterless Urinals on Flickr [ Flickr user sameold2008 ]

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Stephen Starr's James Beard Nomination Stays True To His Hometown

Give it up. What, what.

For anyone who might be having a little separation anxiety about Stephen Starr spreading his wings (brought on by incidents like, for example, his introduction as guest judge on Top Chef), take solace in the above-illustrated affirmation of Stephen Starr’s roots.

Philly. What.

Related:
James Beard Foundation Awards 2009 [ Official Site ]

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Stephen Starr's New York Buddakan And Morimoto Doing Just Fine

Restaurants & Institutions magazine just released its annual report of the top 100 highest-grossing independent restaurants in the country.

Buddakan checks in at #7 (up from #12 last year) having grossed just north of $21 million in 2008. Morimoto comes in at #53 (up from #84 last year) having grossed nearly $13 million.

No Philadelphia restaurants made the list.

Related:
Top 100 Independent Restaurants [ Restaurants & Institutions ] via Grub Street

Deep Fried Cheesesteaks — Genius Or Sacrilege?

We'll say neither. Probably just gross.

Related:
Deep-Fried Pizza Guy's New Experiment: Cheesesteaks [ Allentown Morning Call ] via This Is Why You're Fat

[ Photo via The Allentown Morning Call ]

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Shocker: Wegmans Rated The #1 Supermarket In America By Consumer Reports

Just the Cook-to-order Seafood Bar at Wegmans

Already one of the best companies to work for, Wegmans just proved it can go both ways.
Wegmans and Trader Joe's draw top marks from shoppers while Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the largest U.S. grocery retailer, is near the bottom in a new survey, Consumer Reports said on Monday. [ Reuters ]
Meanwhile, locally, Wegman's continues its quest to make sure the region's unemployment rate never reaches 10%.

(Also, kudos to Trader Joe's for holding it down at #2.)

Related:
Wegmans is named best supermarket in U.S. [ Philadelphia Business Journal ]
New Wegmans store attracts loads of applicants [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Monday, April 06, 2009

Rumors Of Things That Are No Longer Happening: Morimoto Wants To Open Small Ko-esque Counter Restaurant

Allegedly.

But not in Philadelphia.

In New York.

Apparently, the small, lunch-counter-like restaurants are all the rage right now.

From Down By The Hipster:
A [source reveals] that Morimoto, Mr. Iron Chef, was looking into opening a more casual lunch space in the Chelsea Market building in the Meatpacking District, but that the plans have been put on hold because of economic pressures.
[…]
Perhaps the ex-baseball player is looking to emulate the David Chang by going smaller and letting his immense creativity run wild.
Related:
Concepts on Hold: The Morimoto Lunch Counter [ Down By The Hipster ]

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Phillies Ticket Prices Up 10%, Now 5th Most Expensive In Baseball; Not Exactly In Line With Commissioner's New 'Fan Value' Marketing Push

phillies citizens bank park philadelphiaOpening day today.

And on account of the troubled economy and lower projected ticket sales, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, Bud Selig, just announced the creation of the Commissioner’s Fan Initiative, which is designed to make fans more aware of the amount of affordable ticket promotions offered by the 30 Major League teams.
Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today the creation of the Commissioner's Fan Initiative, which is designed to make fans aware of the growing number of affordable ticket and event promotions offered by the 30 Major League Clubs.
[…]
As part of the Commissioner's Fan Initiative, Major League Baseball is unveiling the Fan Value Corner on MLB.com and highlighting a variety of other new initiatives by the clubs. Additional programs within the initiative will be unveiled throughout the season.

"Throughout its long and distinguished history, baseball has always served as a diversion for its fans in difficult times," Selig said. "As the country faces new challenges, Major League Baseball is stepping up its efforts to make the game more affordable and to demonstrate to its fans how important they are to us."

"Through a variety of promotions, fans will be able to stretch their entertainment dollar for a memorable experience at the ballpark, as we will offer great value and the most affordable ticket of any major professional sport.
Sounds good to us. In theory at least.

The Fan Value Corner compiles all teams’ ticket promotions in one place. But don't expect to be overwhelmed by great deals from the Phillies — the best they got is Dollar Dog Days, E-Savers (games TBD), and $3 Discounted Rush Tickets at the window on day of game.

(The Phillies like to cite their Power Tickets as one of their big “value” promotions — unfortunately for them, paying $10 extra for a $10 concession credit is not value, it’s actually kinda stupid. Paying $10 extra on your ticket for a $15 concession credit would be value. Paying x amount extra for x amount of concession credit is not value. At least they’re still doing Dollar Dog Days…)

Meanwhile, according to a Team Marketing Research report, the Phillies now have the 5th most expensive average ticket prices in the league, after a 10% jump over 2008 prices.

The study also calculated and compared what it calls the Fan Cost Index — an estimation of what the game experience would cost two adults and two children to attend. The Phillies come in as 8th most expensive FCI, at $220, a 10.2% increase over 2008.

Not exactly cheap.

So, Phillies, hope you plan on sending a lot of value offers via your E-Savers, like Buy One-Get One Free tickets, Free Power Ticket upgrades, etc. Then we might appreciate the purported "value."

Keep in mind, no one is trying to break the bank attending games this year.

Related
Major League Baseball announces Commissioner's Fan Initiative: MLB and Clubs to Raise Awareness of Increased Affordable Ballpark Offers for Fans [ MLB.com ]
Commissioner's Fan Initiative unveiled - Designed to make fans aware of affordable ticket promotions [ Phillies.com ]
Fan Value Corner [ Phillies.com ]
2009 MLB Fan Cost Index Report [ Team Marketing Research via Daily Intel ]

Previously:
That Was Quick; Phillies Hike Ticket Prices For 09 Before Fans Can Even Take A Championship-Induced Crap

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Recessionary Dining: High-end Restaurants Adding And Emphasizing Bars/Lounges To Help Their Bottom Line

ceiba in washington dcYesterday, the Wall Street Journal published a good piece about the growing national trend in which more and more high-end restaurants are looking to their bars to get them through the recession. Either by adding/expanding their bar and lounge areas or by offering deals. Or by doing both.

Evidence of this trend can clearly be seen locally, the most prominent instances being Barclay Prime adding a new gastropub menu, Table 31 adding Happy Nights, Morimoto adding Signature Hour, Le Bec Fin adding a $5 Happy Hour, and Lacroix adding Bar 210.

Here's an excerpt:
When chef Eric Greenspan opened the Foundry, a $1.3 million restaurant in Los Angeles, two years ago, he created a menu of high-end cuisine, showcasing the culinary skills he had honed at some of the world's top restaurants. Three months ago, Mr. Greenspan turned the restaurant into a lounge with nightly live bands, cocktail waitresses and promotions such as "fried-chicken-and-waffles night." The dining room has been banished to a back patio.

"The lounge is keeping us alive," he says.

Around the country, proprietors are turning their restaurants -- or significant parts of them -- into glorified bars. They're ripping out dining-room tables to make more bar space, applying for late-night and cabaret licenses and adding the word "bar" to their names. Top chefs are serving up bar snacks like grilled cheese sandwiches and hot dogs.

The reason: While consumer spending at restaurants is falling precipitously, drink orders, particularly for cheaper drinks like beer, are barely dropping off. For restaurants, it's now proving more cost-effective to serve lower-priced dishes that diners can munch on as they buy drinks.


Alain Ducasse's Benoit bistro in New York recently rolled out a bar menu that includes sliders and $1 deviled eggs. Daniel Boulud, the Manhattan chef behind one of the city's most formal restaurants, Daniel, plans to open DBGB Kitchen & Bar, featuring 24 beers on tap and homemade sausage and hot dogs, in May or June. Christophe Émé, chef and owner of Ortolan in Los Angeles, has begun calling about 100 customers a week to tell them about his new bar menu.

Even Thomas Keller's Per Se restaurant in Manhattan, where the only dinner option has been a $275, nine-course prix fixe menu, launched an a la carte menu for its lounge area last week. Unlike the main dining room, where dinner tables typically book up two months in advance, the lounge doesn't take reservations. Diners are seated around coffee tables.
[…]
The morphing of some of the nation's top dining rooms into bars and lounges with food demonstrates how dramatically and quickly consumer behavior has changed since the economy plummeted this fall. Technomic, a Chicago restaurant consultant, predicts that this year fine dining sales will plunge at least 12%, after falling 4% last year.
[…]
Beyond thrift, there is a social component to noshing at bars. Restaurateurs say patrons seem especially eager to rub shoulders with one another at the bar, rather than isolate themselves at dining-room tables.

"People want to socialize and be out; they don't want to be miserable at home," says Chris Douglass, co-owner of three Boston-area restaurants, including the 32-year-old fine-dining restaurant Icarus, which Mr. Douglass says he would like to either sell or turn into a "gastropub" -- a bar that serves high-quality food -- if he can find buyers or investors.
Pretty much spot on.

Related:
Bar Wars - To attract cash-strapped diners, restaurateurs from Alain Ducasse to Daniel Boulud are making dramatic bids to ramp up their bar business -- even if it means serving hot dogs and deviled eggs. [ Wall Street Journal via MP Philadelphia ]

[ Photo via The Wall Street Journal ]

Pat Burrell Returns To CBP, Unfortunately Not In A Phillies Uniform, But Still The Shit Nonetheless

pat burrell returns to philadelphiaFrom the AP:
The Phillies treated their former outfielder to a five-minute video presentation on PhanaVision before Friday's game.

Burrell watched from the dugout as his career played out before his eyes, to the tune of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love is." An emotional Burrell came out of the dugout to thunderous applause and tipped his cap.

"I didn't know they'd bring out the archives," he said. "It was pretty special. I didn't anticipate that. It was definitely emotional, something I'll never forget."
[ Source: AP; Image via The News Journal ]

Friday, April 03, 2009

Stephen Starr On His Forthcoming Burger Shack In Franklin Square: It's Good Karma

"And I'll tell you another thing: I wish Ben Franklin wasn't making me wear this ridiculous apron. Next question."

Yes, yes it is.

The official announcement came on Thursday in the shape of a press conference at Franklin Square.

Stephen Starr was there offering choice sound bites, including the following (also via press releases):
"Franklin Square has always been one of my daughter's favorite places in the city, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to create a concept for her and other families visiting the park.

We are ready to serve the best burgers, hot dogs and shakes that everyone can enjoy while maintaining the quality service and cuisine Starr Restaurants has become known for," Starr said.

"Franklin Square is a piece of Philadelphia history and it is an honor for us to become a part of its future."
The best burgers, dogs and shakes you say? In a park? Genius. Wonder where he got that idea. (Oh wait, recognizing and appropriating good ideas from other places is actually highly intelligent and encouraged.)

Whatever. It’s cool that Starr is doing this kinda altruistically (or at least professing as much):
Starr (in photo above) says he's not expecting to make a lot of money on the project, but that’s not his motivation:

"It's sort of a civic thing, to give something back to the city. I love kids, I have kids. And my daughter, who's nine, loves this playground. So I think it's good karma."
Ok, Ok. Kids are great and all. And so is karma. But don’t forget about the frickin' foodies and adults. They want a truly fantastic burger. Like, five star shit.

They (and we) have high hopes for this place. Don’t let them (or us) down. Cool?

And what’s this about a name. Try to think of something good. Note: Shake Shack is already taken, smart guy.

One more thing: try to make sure that the burger shack's permanent building, which will be built by end of summer, is legit and not some little red brick hut. That would be a let down. Being in a park and all, it should probably be green, like its inspiration. (Maybe even LEED certified.) See Independence Mall.

Just sayin.

Related:
Starr to run food concession at Franklin Square [ Philadelphia Business Journal ]
Philadelphia Restaurant Legend Stephen Starr to Open Burger Stand in Franklin Square [ KYW 1060 ]
So How About A Name [ Foobooz ]

Earlier:
At Long Last, Stephen Starr Burger Shack Coming To Franklin Square
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?
Urban Dispatch: How To Make The Mini-Golf At Franklin Square Even Better? Add A Bar.

[ Photo via KYW 1060 ]

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

At Long Last, Stephen Starr Burger Shack Coming To Franklin Square

Historic Philadelphia Inc. got their man.

Michael Klein breaks the news today that Franklin Square will, in fact, be getting a burger shack run by Stephen Starr in time for the 2009 season just like they had hoped for (almost exactly one year ago).

Official announcement is supposed to come tomorrow, Thursday.

But it appears a temporary set-up will be up and running before the end of the month.

Not bad.

What's next?

Related:
Starr to open a burger shack in Franklin Square [ The Insider - Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Previously:
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?
Urban Dispatch: How To Make The Mini-Golf At Franklin Square Even Better? Add A Bar.