Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gayle Named One Of The Top 50 American Cuisine Restaurants In The U.S. By OpenTable

gayle restaurant in philadelphia
Also of note: Gayle's Crab Night on Tuesdays | Photo via

Gayle is the only Philadelphia restaurant to make the list.
Celebrate [Independence Day] by dining out at one of the national winners of the OpenTable 2009 Diners' Choice awards for Best American Cuisine, as selected by OpenTable diners. Based on 2.5 million reviews of more than 9,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, you can be sure this is one democratic list.
In related news, Chef Daniel Stern's has gone with an acronym for the name of the reincarnation of Rae in Two Liberty Place: R2L.

Related:
Top 50 American Cuisine Winners - 2009 Diners' Choice Winners [ OpenTable ] via Grub Street
The UPdate on Daniel Stern's new restaurant [ The Insider ]
Gayle [ Official Site ]

Monday, June 29, 2009

London Grill Debuts Unconventional 'Beer Drinks' Menu

beer cocktails
Put the what in the what what?? Beer cocktails are coming to Fairmount | Photo (not London Grill) via Seattle Mag

London Grill is debuting what they are calling Philadelphia's first "Beer Drinks" menu — basically beer cocktails or drinks made with beer, house-made infusions and liqueurs.

Which sounds a little crazy.

But upon taking a preliminary look at the menu, we are admittedly intrigued.
- London Shandy, Fuller's ESB, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur and lemon;

- Sierra Red Eye, Sierra Nevada pale ale with a shot of spicy house-made Bloody Mary mix;

- Flower Bud, Budweiser, crème de violette and St. Germain elderflower liqueur;

- Bank Robber, Stoudt's Willie Sutton lager, house-infused green tea vodka and Irish Mist;

- Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em, Victory Prima Pils with mescal, chipotle vodka, lime and a salt rim;

- How Now Brown Cow, Brooklyn brown ale with Nocello and espresso vodka.

In all, London will offer 14 rotating beer cocktails, ranging in price from $5 to $8 with up to 10 varieties available daily.
Beer purists may have a few reservations.

But at the very least, it’s cool to see a little innovation coming out of Philadelphia bars.

And for the record, when party punch is made of lemonade, vodka and beer, we're pretty sure good times are had by all.

So, yeah. Beer cocktails. Something else new to try this summer.

Related:
London Grill [ Official Site ]
Gimme a lager on the rocks with a twist [ Globe and Mail ]

Summer Eating: Hard Shell Crabs In Philadelphia

crabs
Not in Philadelphia, but you get the idea | Photo via NY Times

Crabs. Cold beer. Summer. A pretty heavenly combination.

In order to shed some light on where to eat hardshell crabs in Philadelphia this summer, we are excerpting this article that was originally published in the Philadelphia Inquirer back in 2003.
Pulling in your catch at a crab house

Enjoy the fruits of others' labor at a spot with a hard-shell specialty.

By George Ingram
For The Inquirer
Thu, Jul. 24, 2003

For family fun, you can't beat catching and cooking your own crabs. But on a hot, humid summer's eve, it's often saner to seek refuge with a pile of spicy hard-shells and a frosty pitcher of beer in an air-conditioned crab house.
[...]
What defines a crab house?

First, it's a neighborhood taproom with crabs cooked on the premises. Other seafood may be served, but the place reeks of cayenne pepper, chili powder, and bay leaves. The proprietor often boasts of having a secret blend of spices like no others.

Served clean or "dirty" (with spice residue), crabs are available at the bar. A separate dining area should shield sensitive patrons from the rare garbage-mouth holding court by the tap.

Here are just a few favorites. The price and availability of crabs can vary daily, so always call ahead.

- Byrne's Tavern

Frank Byrne is in his 25th year as a Port Richmond tavern keeper. In that time, he's seen big changes in crab availability and prices. "When I started, a bushel cost me $18, and we actually made money," Byrne said. "Today I just paid $125 for a bushel. I make a lot more on the 2,000 pounds of chicken wings I sell each week."

Byrne says the Chesapeake "produces the finest crab, for texture and taste," but he also buys from Texas and Louisiana.

On a recent night, large Marylands were going for $6 each, small ones for $2.50. They are boiled and served clean or, at the customer's request, dirty. "A boiled crab tends to be juicier than a steamed crab," Byrne avers. And don't forget the secret spice recipe. "There's no such thing as Old Bay at Byrne's Tavern. Never," he said.

Byrne's, Richmond and Westmoreland Streets, 215-423-3444. Closed Sunday.

- Bonk's Bar

This comfortable old bar sits a few blocks north of Byrne's. As you sip a beer, you can stare behind the bar at large plastic tubs where cooked crabs lie immersed in reddish-brown cooking liquid. On a recent night two large, juicy crustaceans cost $11. In a second tub were mediums, for $4.50 each.

Some patrons have griped about an "attitude" at Bonk's. But it has been around since 1957, which makes it one of Philly's treasured crab houses.

Bonk's. Richmond and Tioga Streets, 215-634-9927. Closed Sunday.

- Boncela's Cafe

Joanne Clements has been serving crabs at this East Frankford fixture for 35 years. These days, her hard-shells come from Florida, Louisiana, and Maryland. Each order of boiled crabs comes with a plastic bucket of steaming-hot cooking juice for dipping and soaking the crabs, whose shells are a match for the cafe's red decor.

Large, meaty Maryland crabs, cooked in the basement by Tony Santiago, sold recently for $5.50 each. Hunched over a table and a pile of cracked shells, former Cinnaminson resident Steve Chando (now living in Naples, Fla.) told us: "I always stop by here when I'm in town."

Boncela's, Orthodox and Milnor Streets, 215-537-8039. Closed Sunday.

- Harmonia Club

This 101-year-old Polish American club in East Frankford is private, but social memberships are available for $10 a year. It was once the province of the late, legendary crab cooker Eddie Kasper. I still remember the night of his viewing, when members picked up roses from the bar, walked across the street to Walczak Funeral Home, and placed them on Eddie's bier.

Eddie's children inherited his spice recipe but are not cooking crabs. Good, spicy crabs are still available at Harmonia, however. The cook is Jeff Kalman, owner of nearby Regency Caterers and a former Boncela's partner. Large Maryland crabs, served dirty with dipping liquid, were selling for $5 recently.

Harmonia Club, Aramingo and Orthodox Streets, 215-533-4390. Crabs available Tuesday through Saturday.

- Chickie's & Pete's

There are several Chickie's & Pete's in town, but the one that best epitomizes a Philly crab house is the original in Wissinoming. There's a bowl to rinse your hands after devouring a messy order of three large, cleaned crabs ($15.95) in a spicy red sauce, bread on the side. "I make a Polish/Italian style of crab that took years to perfect," said owner Pete Ciarrochi.

Many of his hard-shells are flown in from Florida's Gulf Coast. "When those crabs get out of their boxes, they're fired up," Ciarrochi bragged.

Chickie's & Pete's, 4010 Robbins St., 215-338-3060. Open seven days a week.
That 'price and availability' line is key — definitely be sure to call ahead.

Also, there's Yesterday's, which Philebrity highlighted a few years ago.

At some of these places, crabs can come out cold (as we also experienced at Bomb Bomb Bar in South Philly), which means they were cooked in advance in a one batch rather than being prepared to order. WHICH IS NOT the ideal way to enjoy hardshell crabs.

So if you truly want the real thing, you might actually have to leave Philadelphia. When that time comes, jump in the car, hop on 95 and make the hour-drive south to Maryland and head to the Howard House Tavern in Elkton, the Tap Room Crabhouse in Chesapeake City, Price's Seafood in Havre de Grace, Woody's Crab House in North East, or the Wellwood Rivershack in Charlestown.

But that's what Philly Car Share is for — you'll be back before anyone even knew you were gone.

Related:
Hopes for blue-crab catch stir a sleepy spot in Md. [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Craig Laban Review of Howard House Tavern [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
* There is no link to the original 'Pulling in your catch at a crab house' article on account of the notoriously awful archives at Philly.com.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Look Inside The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.

franklin mortgage and investment co. in philadelphia
The Franklin, now open on 18th Street | Photo via Philly2Philly

The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. opened to the public this week.

We've included a few shots of the bar's interior via Philly2Philly.

Meanwhile, Over at KYW 1060, Hadas Kuznits sits down with head consulting bartender Alex Day (he of Death & Co. in Manhattan) and managing partner Michael Welsh. The 14-minute interview is available as a podcast here.

Also, Grub Street has an interview with Alex Day from last year.

After reading the interview and listening to the podcast, you should get a sense of how knowledgeable/serious Day is about what he does.

franklin mortgage and investment co
The bar is in the back | Photo via Philly2Philly

Phoodie has shots of the bar's drink menu.

There is no vodka used in the cocktails.

Instead, a lot of rye whiskey and gin.

Which we are 100% OK with.

franklin mortgage and investment co
Not strikingly dissimilar from Death & Co. | Photo via Philly2Philly

And then there's the ice the bar uses.
There are a selection of three different ices that the bartenders utilize at the Franklin.

1. Kold Draft Machine- fills the tray and freezes the ice from the bottom up. This eliminates all of the impurities and air bubbles. It's crystal clear and it melts slower. When you get your cocktail, it will not taste like a watered down cocktail because the ice is chilled, and it's not melting into your drink.

2. Crushed Ice- Used for the swizzle drinks. The apparatus used to swizzle the ice actually stems from a plant.

3. Culinary Grade Block Ice- A 300-pound block of ice is delivered and is hand chiseled. Trust me, you could definately [sic] taste the difference in my Old Fashioned.
We were wondering when artisan ice cubes were going to make an appearance in Philadelphia.

Evidently, now.

Related:
Old Premise with a Brand New Twist [ Philly2Philly ]
Podcast: It's a Bar, Not a Company! [ KYW 1060 ]
Alex Day of Death & Co. Cringes Over Dirty Martinis [ Grub Street ]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stephen Starr Is Not Alone In Having Trouble Finding A Name For His New Pizza Restaurant

franny's clam pizza in brooklyn
The Clam Pizza at Franny's in Brooklyn, recently enjoyed by Starr's crack research team | Photo via NY Mag

Starr has already bounced around a number of name ideas, including “Pizza Select”, which was inspired by a restaurant he saw in Paris named “Le Select.” But nothing so far has stuck.

It turns out that New York City uber-restaurateur Keith McNally is having similar troubles. Also related to naming a pizza restaurant project that he is working on up there.

From a Restaurant Girl interview of McNally:
Q. What inspires you to keep creating new restaurants and new concepts? Rumor had it Morandi was to be your last restaurant and then came Minetta Tavern. Is that your tour d’force or do you still have a few more restaurants you’d like to create?

A. Despite the fact that 80% of the process is painful and torturous, ultimately there's something rather rewarding about putting a restaurant together. The look, the staff, the food, the organization. All in all, I really enjoy it. Besides, I'm not sure I could do anything else. I'm currently building what I hope is my last restaurant. It's a pizzeria on the corner of Houston and the Bowery. It's already over budget and behind schedule and I'm at the stage where I'm pulling out my hair and wishing I weren't doing it.

Q. Have you decided on a name for your pizza parlor yet? Throwing any names around?

A. I don't have a name yet for the pizzeria. The problem is the best names are taken. And every year there are fewer and fewer names to choose from.
Case in point: an excerpt from Starr’s recent pizza jaunt to NYC.
By 6:44 p.m., the new venture still didn't have a name. A minute later, Starr spotted a word on a sign at stop Numero Two, the pretentious Una Pizza Napoletana: "That's it," he declared: "That should be the name. Pulcinella!"
[…]
7:45: Lucas checks his BlackBerry and finds a pizza place in Fort Collins, Colo., named . . . Pulcinella.
Name idea… and it's taken.

Well, maybe the two super-restaurateurs can commiserate together.

Or something.

Related:
Q & A with Keith McNally [ Restaurant Girl ] via Eater
Stephen Starr goes in search of the perfect pizza [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Previously:
Stephen Starr Does More Pizza-Eating Research For His Forthcoming Pizza Restaurant In Philadelphia

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Solid Bar Watch: A Look At The Craft Beer And Creative Cocktails At Noble American Cookery

the bar at noble american cookery in philadelphia
A glimpse of the bar at Noble American Cookery

Admittedly, word of Noble's rooftop garden got our attention. And now the restaurant's bar is holding it.

If you're a restaurant and you have a kitchen garden on your roof, you're gonna earn some points with us.

And if you're a restaurant and you stock you're bar with an impressive selection of craft beer that's mostly local... you're gonna earn even more points.

And if you make the effort to craft a creative cocktail list with house-made ingredients, you basically hit a trifecta.

Such is the case with Noble.

(Also of note: they have a new happy hour with 1/2 price pork belly and wings and $3 beers.)

Between this bar and the forthcoming (and similarly-all-craft-beer) Village Whiskey, 20th and Sansom just got a whole lot cooler. Good for her.

As for the drinks at Noble, here are the specialty cocktails:
NOBLE COCKTAILS >>>

- The French ‘75 $11
gin, sugar, lemon juice, sparkling wine, lemon peel

- The TI Jean $9
rye whiskey, lemon juice, spearmint, house-made ginger beer

- The Chimayo $9
tequila, lemon juice, crème de cassis, apple cider

- The Blood & Sand $10
scotch whiskey, Italian vermouth, cherry heering, orange juice

- The Vesper $12
vodka, gin, Lillet blonde, orange bitters, lemon peel

- The Alaska Man's Luck $11
pisco, aquavit, French vermouth, St. Germain, honey

- The Sazerac $12
rye whiskey, cognac, sugar, Peychaud’s bitters, absinthe wash, lemon peel

- Philadelphia Fish House Punch $35/pitcher
rum, cognac, peach brandy, black tea, seltzer
And the all craft beer list, most of which are local:
CRAFT BREW DRAFT >>>
Your Server Would Be Happy To Tell You About Today's Two Seasonal Craft Brew Drafts

LOCAL CRAFT BEER >>>

YARDS BREWING COMPANY (Philadelphia, PA)
-Philadelphia Pale Ale. $4
crisp & hoppy, bursting with citrus flavors & aromas

-Brawler. $4
a malt forward, ruby colored English style session ale


PHILADELPHIA BREWING COMPANY
(Philadelphia, PA)
-Kenzinger. $4
a golden session ale, refreshingly crisp & smooth

-Rowhouse Red. $4
a complex ale with flavors of toasted malt & rye


STOUDTS BREWING COMPANY
(Adamstown, PA)
-Pils. $4.5 a golden pilsner, clean, crisp & thirst quenching
-Heifer-in-Wheat. $4.5 Bavarian-style unfiltered wheat beer; imparts a flavor & aroma reminiscent of bananas & cloves

VICTORY BREWING COMPANY
(Downingtown, PA)
-Lager. $4.75
a well balanced German style lager

-Whirlwind Witbier. $4.75
both spicy & sublime, greets the nose & tingles the tongue; a refreshing interpretation of the classic Belgian white


LANCASTER BREWING COMPANY
(Lancaster, PA)
-Milk Stout. $4.25
a traditional English style sweet stout; a bold, dark ale bursting with barley dryness & mellowed by hints of chocolate & coffee


FLYING FISH BREWING COMPANY
(Cherry Hill, NJ)
-Belgian Abbey Dubbel. $4.25
a classic style abbey, with a fruity nose & generous body; malty in the middle with a clean almondy dry finish

-Extra Pale Ale. $4.25
an extremely balanced beer with a beautiful straw color


FLYING DOG BREWERY
(Frederick, MD)
-Old Scratch Amber Lager. $4
a malty, mellow beer, with ale & lager character

-Gonzo Imperial Porter. $6
mysteriously dark, with a rich malty body, intense roasted flavors, & a surprising hop kick


SOME OTHER GREAT NORTH AMERICAN BREWS >>>

SMUTTYNOSE BREWING COMPANY
(Portsmouth, NH)
-Shoals Pale Ale. $4.50
delightfully complex; tangy fruit at the start with an assertive hop crispness, & a long malty palate


TWO BROTHERS BREWING COMPANY
(Chicago, IL)
-Domaine DuPage French Country Ale. $4.75
amber colored, full & sweet up front, with caramel, toasty & fruity characters; finishes with a gentle floral & spicy hop that cleanses the palate


SOUTHAMPTON ALES & LAGERS
(Southampton, NY)
-Secret Ale Altbier. $4
copper brown color, with a malty flavor & refreshing hop bitterness


ROGUE ALES
(Newport, OR)
-Mom Hefeweizen. $15
a Belgian style blonde; unfiltered fusion of wheat & barley malts, spiced with coriander & ginger 22oz.


BRECKENRIDGE BREWERY
(Denver, CO)
-Avalanche Ale. $4.50
subtly blended pale & caramel malts, a touch of bitter hops create a refreshing & flavorful anytime beer
There is also an impressive wine list comprised of wines from North America.

The full menu is available here.

Related:
Noble - An American Cookery [ Official Site ]

Previously:
Trend Watch: City Restaurants With Food-Growing Gardens On Site

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lobster Bake Alert: The $20 Special at Seafood Unlimited

lobster bakeIf you're in the city all summer (or even most of it), sometimes you need to remind yourself of the beach, i.e. eat like you're on vacation.

Whether it's with $1 Cape May Salt oysters while sitting outside Pub and Kitchen for happy hour or making the trek to Bonk's for a bunch of Maryland crabs, any and all methods should be pursued.

Another option for vacation eating: the Lobster Bake special with a 1 and 1/8 lb. lobster plus corn on the cob for just under $20 at Seafood Unlimited on 20th Street.

It's not available everyday of the week. But it's available on Tuesdays. And that's something.

Grab a table outside, some crackers, and dig in.

(A little rusty? Prepare yourself here.)

Related:
Seafood Unlimited [ Official Site ]
Lobster Forensics - How to buy, steam, and suck out every last ounce of meat from your favorite crustacean [ New York Magazine ]
Heroes on the Half Shell - In search of the sustainable, local oyster [ Philadelphia Weekly ]

Monday, June 22, 2009

Trend Watch: City Restaurants With Food-Growing Gardens On Site

noble american cookery skylights
The second floor skylights at Noble give you a glimpse of the restaurant's rooftop garden

Hyper local cuisine has come to Philadelphia.

In the form of restaurants with small kitchen gardens in which they grow produce that they actually use on their menus.

The first we heard about (in Center City) was Osteria. Rick Nichols recently profiled the small garden they added in their side alley.

And now comes word of Noble's rooftop garden.
From Garden To Table, A Trip of Mere Inches

Philadelphia has lots of BYOBs, and now RTHTOGs are cropping up.

If you've never heard of that term, it's because I made it up to describe a new trend: Restaurants That Have Their Own Gardens.

(Pouget:) "The garnishing will be on the roof this morning and will be on the plate that night."

That's Bruno Pouget, one of the partners in the new restaurant Noble, at 2025 Sansom Street. Its garden is on the roof.

"Large planters, they're about 12 feet by two feet wide, and the chef uses that to plant tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, spice, herbs."
Roof gardens are cool.

Obviously, this is a completely welcome trend.

Related:
From Garden To Table, A Trip of Mere Inches [ KYW 1060 ]
Video: New restaurant takes the Noble route [ 6 ABC ]
Broccoli rabe on North Broad - Osteria's kitchen garden brings a bit of country wholesomeness to a stretch of faded urbanity. [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Urban Farming, a Bit Closer to the Sun [ New York Times ]

Stephen Starr Does More Pizza-Eating Research For His Forthcoming Pizza Restaurant In Philadelphia

Rick Nichols accompanied Stephen Starr on his most recent pizza-eating research trip to New York and New Haven, CT.

It was a bit of a marathon: began at 9:41 in the morning and finished at 12:12 am that night.

They visited five places. Frank Pepe's in New Haven, Una Pizza Napoletana and Artichoke in Manhattan, and Franny's and Lucali's in Brooklyn. Lucali's appears to have been a favorite.

Starr enlisted his daughter to help.

Check out the piece in full here.

One piece of news: they're still trying to come up with a name for the restaurant. (Pizza Select was an early contender.)

Related:
Stephen Starr goes in search of the perfect pizza [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Previously:
Confirmed: Stephen Starr Bringing Brooklyn Style Pizza To Philadelphia

Philadelphia's Barbecue Moment

Adam Erace reviewed Bebe's Barbecue in last week's Philadelphia Weekly, noting the recent crop of BBQ joints that have opened in Philadelphia this year.
In the city, barbecue’s having a bit of a moment. This news comes courtesy of the Department of Obvious Statements, since lately you can’t swing a side of beef without hitting a new smokehouse. Halfway through 2009, barbecue is quietly emerging as the Most Likely to Succeed restaurant concept, eroding the reign of the gastropub one baby back at a time.

Just look at the past six months, which have seen the premieres of El Camino Real, Holy Smoke and Smokin’ Betty’s. After 26 years in business, Old City stalwart Philadelphia Fish & Co. reconceptualized into Q BBQ & Tequila. In October, Steve Cook and Michael Solomonov will reintroduce Marigold Kitchen chef (and former Virginian) Erin O’Shea as the pit mistress at their new Percy Street Barbecue. 

Fair enough. But is this "moment" actually producing really good barbecue?

Regardless, it should only get better.

The hype around Percy Street Barbecue is going to continue to grow before its October opening. That place is going to have some expectations to meet.

Related:
Bebe’s BBQ
 - Bringing Southern style to Philly’s food scene [ Philadelphia Weekly ]

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stephen Starr Adds Foie Gras Back To The $100 Kobe Cheesesteak... For The Steak 954 Version In South Florida

$100 kobe cheesesteak
The Famous $100 Kobe Cheesesteak | Photo via

A foie gras flip flop?

Back in 2006, Stephen Starr removed foie gras from not only the famed $100 Cheesesteak at Barclay Prime but he also completely removed foie gras from all of the menus of his other Philadelphia restaurants. (Note he did not remove foie gras from the menu of Morimoto NYC.)

But now, foie gras is back in the $100 Kobe Cheesesteak at Starr's newest restaurant, Steak 954, which opened in late April at the brand new W Ft. Lauderdale. (It's a Barclay Prime off-shoot i.e. a modern boutique steakhouse.)

In the $100 Kobe Cheesesteak at Steak 954, foie gras has been substituted for the lobster that is currently in the $100 Kobe Cheesesteak at Barclay Prime. Lobster version depicted above. (In 2006 at Barclay Prime, lobster was substituted for foie gras, which was in the original sandwich, which debuted in 2004. Keeping up?)

You could make the argument that this decesion shows why Stephen Starr a very effective and responsive restaurateur, catering to the demands of each market he enters rather than delivering a cookie cutter approach everywhere he goes. You could also make the argument that this decision is hypocritical.

Either way, it would appear to imply that Stephen Starr respects the opinions of his customers but does not have a strong stance on either side of the foie gras debate.

Point of information: there's also a Big Eye Tuna and Foie Gras Tacos appetizer on the menu at Steak 954.

With regard to that, activists can take solace in that at least they're not using Bluefin.

Related:
Steak 954 Opens On Thursday [ Menu Pages South Florida ]
Steak 954 [ Official Site ]

Earlier:
Stephen Starr's New Steak 954, Located In The Brand New W Ft. Laurderdale, Is Ridiculously Good Looking

Stephen Starr's New Steak 954, Located In The Brand New W Ft. Laurderdale, Is Ridiculously Good Looking

The Dining Room at the Stephen Starr's new Steak 954
The Dining Room at the Stephen Starr's new Steak 954 | Photo by Greg Clark Photography

Stephen Starr opened Steak 954 in the brand new W Hotel Ft. Lauderdale a little more than a month ago.
Steak 954 has been designed by Paris-based design firm Gilles & Boissier, best known for their work at Hakkasan (Istanbul) and Maison Boulud (Beijing) as well as their collaboration with Christian Liaigre to create Starr's dramatic Buddakan restaurant in New York City.

The ocean-front restaurant combines organic materials and clean lines to create a breezy, tropical feel. A palette of vibrant blues and greens glows against dark woods and bold floral wallpaper.

The restaurant offers four distinct dining environments in the bar, dining room, intimate Tropical Garden featuring picturesque ocean views and the private dining room. One of the focal points of the restaurant is a 15-foot long reef aquarium that is home to a school of jellyfish grown on the property.
We must say: these Gilles & Boissier folks did a nice job.

Additional photos of the space below.

All photos by Greg Clark Photography via Urban Daddy.

steak 954 in w hotel ft. lauderdale
Steak 954 in the W Ft. Lauderdale | Photo by Greg Clark Photography


The bar at Steak 954 | Photo by Greg Clark Photography


Green Leather at Steak 954 | Photo by Greg Clark Photography


The Dining Room and Garden Terrace at Steak 954 | Photo by Greg Clark Photography

Related:
Steak 954 [ Official Site ]
Steak 954 Opens at the W Hotel [ Urban Daddy ]

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New PYT Burger Bar Unveils Promising-Looking Menu, Carl's Jr.-Looking Marketing

pyt burger bar wall artNot that there's anything wrong with that.

Meanwhile, the burger menu:
The Deluxe P.Y.T Burger $8
The Royale with Cheese (2 patties) $10
The Big Mic (3 patties) $12
*All include our own Special Sauce, Lettuce, Tomato, American Cheese, Kettle Chips sprinkled on top & Bacon.

Standard Cheese Burger $6

Extra Toppings:
Bacon, Avocado, Mushrooms, Onions (Raw or Sautéed), Lettuce, Tomato, Hot Peppers, Pickles, Chips, Burger Sauce, Mayo, Relish, Garlic Sauce, House Sauce, Sweet Mustard, Hot Mustard, Regular Mustard, Jalapenos, Cheddar, Goat Cheese, Boursin Cheese, American Cheese, Blue Cheese, Provolone Cheese, Swiss Cheese and, of course, Cheez Whiz.

Baby Burgers (like sliders, but cuter) 3 for $8, 6 for $15
Set to open beginning of July.

Related:
P.Y.T.: Can We Get Some Fries With That Shake? [ Phoodie ]

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Jose Garces Sends His Village Whiskey Bartenders To New York For Last Minute Fine Tuning

The cocktail program at Village Whiskey was set way back in April.

By then, Bar Manager Paul Rodriguez already had an impressive list of 16 original drinks ready to debut.

From the press release:
An exciting array of 16 House Cocktails, developed by bar manager Paul Rodriguez, will be divided into two categories, Prohibition, or classic cocktails, and Repeal, more contemporary, modern takes. The venerable Manhattan will be a mainstay, mixed using house-made bitters. In addition to their own bitters, other one-of-a-kind, house-made mixers will be offered.

Classic “Prohibition” cocktails will include: Old Fashioned, with Noah’s Mill 114-proof bourbon, Boissiere Italian vermouth, Fee’s Brothers oak-aged bitters, cherry and orange; Sazerac with Sazerac rye, Herbsaint absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters and lemon; and Philadelphia Fish House Punch, a favorite of George Washington’s interpreted by Chef Garces in the style of his wildly popular sangrias at Amada and Tinto, with rum, brandy, peach brandy, lemon, lime, orange and maraschino.

Contemporary “Repeal” cocktails will include: Village Idiot, Fighting Cock Kentucky straight 108-proof whiskey with The Bruery Black Orchard seasonal black wheat beer and ginger; The Latin Quarter Club, Cazadores reposado tequila, Flor de Cana rum, Johnny Walker Red, grapefruit and grapefruit bitters; and Sansom Street Flip, Charbay blood orange vodka, seasonal fruit and egg white. Cocktails will range in price from $11 to $18.
Sounds pretty great, right? (The Village Idiot is going to be amazing. And, hell, there's even a flip.)

Yes, well, apparently Jose Garces wants to make sure his barkeeps are at the very top of their game when Village Whiskey debuts — which should be *fingers crossed* very shortly.

He recently sent two of Village Whiskey's main "mixologists" to New York City to sharpen their skills.
Philadelphia barkeeps, in a wonderland of spirits, are tutored in creating alcoholic alchemy. The results are coming soon to an eatery near you.

The six visitors stood in white lab coats, staring at the incredible bounty they'd stumbled upon: floor-to-ceiling shelving displaying a library of $400-plus bottles of tequila, boutique sakes, rare piscos from Brazil, vodkas and gins from around the world, and exotica such as dehydrated grasshoppers, flavored foams, dragonfruit puree, cashew water, banana blossom sugar, 30-odd kinds of honey, and on and on.

For bartenders from Philadelphia, where spirit selection is limited by the State Store system, it was an especially shocking vision. "I thought my head would explode!" said Katie Loeb (last of Chick's Wine Bar; currently opening the revived Oyster House on Sansom Street).
[...]
Loeb was one of six bartenders who traveled to Kingsbridge, Bronx, to visit this Willy Wonka factory of drink-slinging operated by world-famous bartender "Liquid Chef" Junior Merino.
[...]
On hand were Phoebe Esmon (Chick's Wine Bar and the Ugly American); Tom Pittakas (Alison Two); Andres Sanchez (Positano Coast); and Keith Raimondi and Stephen Seibert (both of the Garces Restaurant group; both currently working to open Village Whiskey).
Elisa Ludwig documented the trip for a piece in the Inquirer.

A good pull quote came from the article's close:
"It was an intense day. . . But every time we come together to do something like this it really helps us strengthen Philly's cocktail culture," Seibert said. "It helps us push the limits of what we can make."
Strengthen away, good sir. Strengthen away.

Related:
Learning to create alcoholic alchemy: Philadelphia barkeeps, in a wonderland of spirits, are tutored in creating alcoholic alchemy. The results are coming soon to an eatery near you. [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Earlier:
Jose Garces Beats Stephen Starr To Rittenhouse Gastropub; Will Only Serve Craft Beer, Figuratively Decimating Every Other Bar In Rittenhouse
Jose Garces To Enter Burger Fray; Two Semi-Intriguing Burger Options On Menu At His Forthcoming Village Whiskey

Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. Set To Open Next Week In The Old Bar Noir Space

franlklin mortgage and investment co logoThe Death & Co people helped with the initial design, concept and opening bar program, but are not owners.
Proprietors LLC, a design and consulting company started by Death & Co Founder and Co-Owner David Kaplan, has been working on a project in Philadelphia in the Rittenhouse Square area.

David, along with designer Jack Dakin (most recently of Rockwell Group) and Alex Day (Death & Co bartender and cocktail consultant), has been working on the design and bar program for the upcoming spot to be named The Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co.
Rather the owner is Chris Doggett.

Bar Noir's old clear glass windows have already given way to a familiar-looking dark wood front.

It's set to open on June 18.

Related:
Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. [ Official Site ]
The Franklin: Opening Sooner Than You Think [ Phoodie ]
Inqlings - Club Hopping [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Previously:
NYC's Death & Co. Rumored To Be Opening Outpost In Philly, Potentially Named Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Urban Dispatch: High Line Opens To RAVE Reviews In New York; Reading Viaduct Still Sits In Abandoned Decay In Philadelphia

the high line in new york city
The newly opened High Line in Manhattan, with the new Standard Hotel in the background | Photo via NY Times

Phase one of the High Line opened this week and, unsurprisingly, pretty much everyone loves it. (People seem to immediately embrace new urban parks — go figure.)

And can you blame them?

the high line in new york city
The Times calls it "one of the most thoughtful, sensitively designed public spaces built in New York in years." | Photo via NY Times

the high line in new york city
And "But as mesmerizing as the design is, it is the height of the High Line that makes it so magical" | Photo via NY Times

Not really much to add here other than that the Reading Viaduct in Philadelphia easily has a lot of the same potential of the High Line.

Plentiful park space and park access is crucial to the city's future economic prosperity.

Probably a great area in which to invest.

Right Greenworks Philadelphia?

Oh, and we almost forgot — a beer garden will be opening shortly on the High Line (or underneath it, rather) as part of the Standard Hotel's restaurants. Because an amazing park just wasn't enough.

standard hotel high line restaurant and beer garden
The Beer Garden will be tucked underneath the High Line | Photo via NY Times

the high line in new york city
A section of the High Line from above | Photo via NY Times

Related:
After Years of Advocacy, Newly Renovated High Line Opens [ New York Times ]
Architecture Review - A Walk on the High (and Grassy) Side - the High Line [ New York Times ]
Slideshow: Walking the Line [ New York Times ]
On the High Line at Last [ Metropolis Magazine ]
Elevated - The twin pleasures of the High Line: a petite new park, and a district of lively architecture [ New York Magazine ]
Reading Viaduct Project [ Official Site ]

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

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Game Changer: Paesano's Adding Late Night Summer Hours, Northern Liberties To Finally Have Worthy Post-Last-Call Eats

Fresh off their shout-out in the Washington Post and last week being named the best Italian hoagie in Philadelphia by 610 WIP, Paesano's is cashing in on the buzz/doing more to spread the gospel with new extended weekend hours, during which they'll be staying open to 3 am on Friday and Saturday nights. The new late night hours kick-off this Friday June 12.

So now, after wrapping up an evening of drinking in Northern Liberties, you can actually eat something delicious WITHOUT going too far out of your way before heading home to pass out. Point of information: Paesano’s is about a 5-minute walk from the Piazza at Schmidts and Liberties Walk. Godspeed.

Paesano's Summer Hours
Fri - Sat, 11 am - 3 am

UPDATE: Plans for late night hours have been put on hold.

Paesano's [ Official Site ]

Monday, June 08, 2009

Burger Deal Alert: $4 Baby Burger During Happy Hour At Cooper's In Manayunk

So in case you haven't noticed, the president is making a point of sampling various delicious burgers around DC. Maybe that can inspire you to do some of the same around here.

Cooper's in Manayunk is selling what they are calling a baby burger for $4 during happy hour 4-6 pm everyday of the week. But it's not much of a baby burger: it's 5 oz., which is not that small.

And for $4 it's a deal, considering the regular burger at Cooper's is 10 oz. and goes for $15.

Pair the $4 baby burger it with a $3 happy hour Walt Wit and you'll forget it's Monday.

Vitals: 5 oz. USDA prime, crimini mushrooms, caramelized onions and cheddar cheese. [ Jake's ]

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Academy Of Natural Sciences To Premiere 'End Of The Line,' New Film About Overfishing Of Bluefin Tuna And More

Here's the trailer. The documentary is supposed to be good. And frightening. Apparently, in a especially egregious example, one Japanese mega-corporation is overfishing bluefin tuna and freezing the fish at -60 degrees Celsius so that when the fish shortly become extinct, the corporation will be able to sell the tuna at whatever exorbitant price they wish.


Details on the event:
THE ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCES PREMIERES NEW DOCUMENTARY ON PERILS FACING WORLD’S OCEANS

Free screening in wide screen, high definition, 6:30 p.m., June 16

PHILADELPHIA-As part of an effort to raise global awareness of the impact of overfishing in our oceans, The Academy of Natural Sciences on Tuesday, June 16, will hold a free screening of the new documentary, “The End of the Line.”

Fresh from its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, “The End of the Line” depicts overfishing, overconsumption of seafood and the perilous effects it is having on the environment and on fish populations. After its local debut at the Academy, the film will be shown in select movie theaters.

Described by The Economist as “the inconvenient truth about the impact of overfishing on the world’s oceans,” the film follows investigative reporter Charles Clover as he interviews fishermen, scientists, politicians, and celebrity restaurateurs around the world. The film concludes that unless current trends are altered, the world could run out of seafood by 2048.

“The End of the Line” will be shown on wide screen, high definition at 6:30 p.m. in the Academy’s auditorium. The film is free and no reservations are necessary. The event also will feature a short introduction by Dr. David Velinsky, the Academy’s Vice President for the Patrick Center for Environmental Research. The Patrick Center is a world leader in studying the effects of natural and human activities on ecosystems, developing strategies to enhance environmental quality and working with government, industry and community groups to improve environmental stewardship.


Oh, and it looks like Di Vino Wine Bar on Rittenhouse is the only Philadelphia restaurant selling Blue Fin.

UPDATE: Chifa sells a bluefin ceviche. (There are probably other Philadelphia restaurants serving it as well.)

Related:
The End of the Line [ Official Site ]
Event: The End of The Line: Imagine A World Without Fish [ Academy of Natural Sciences ]
Revealed: the bid to corner world's bluefin tuna market - Mitsubishi freezing fish to sell later as stock numbers plummet toward extinction [ The Independent ]

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Video: The Making Of The Silk City Beer Garden

They're rocking a very colorful, eclectic, almost Gaudi-esque vibe up there.


And Foobooz points out some new photos.

Video via Philly Mag

Philly Food Art For Your Wall By Mike Geno

tastykakes painting by mike geno
Mike Geno, "Tastycakes" 6x6" oil on wood. | Image via Mike Geno

Eat Me Daily just posted an interview with Philadelphia-based artist Mike Geno about his series of food still lifes.

One such series included local foods.

Tastykakes above.

Or, if you prefer, scrapple.

Or perhaps soft pretzels.

soft pretzels painting by mike geno
Mike Geno, "10 Pretzels" 24x24" oil on wood. | Image via Mike Geno

Prints are on sale for just $20 at the artist's Etsy site.

Related:
Paintings by Mike Geno (food art) [ Eat Me Daily ]
Mike Geno [ Official Site ]

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

PETA Names Citizens Bank Park The Most Vegetarian-Friendly Ballpark For Third Straight Year

phillies citizens bank park
Which is not to say the veggie fare is lacking the requisite sawdust-y kick...

From the announcement:
Amazing Phillies Threepeat as Champs in '09 by Adding Black-Bean Burgers and Mock Crab Cake Salad to an Already Stacked Lineup

Philadelphia -- For the third straight year, Citizens Bank Park (CBP), home of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies, leads the pack in PETA's annual rankings of the top 10 vegetarian-friendly ballparks. This the first time since PETA began the rankings in 2002 that a ballpark has won three years in a row. With the addition of the new Southwestern black-bean burgers and mock crab cake salad to a lineup that already featured Philly-style faux-steak and faux-chicken sandwiches, veggie dogs, and meatless wraps, CBP was a shoo-in.
Good for CBP.

Admirably, the Phillies even include the vegan dogs during their always popular Dollar Dog Night promotions.

And it was actually during a recent dollar dog night that we 1) tried a vegan dog for the first time in a few years and 2) heard the most deceptively accurate description of a CBP vegan dog, proclaimed by a curious non-vegetarian: "ohh, [pause] it tastes like the inside of a home depot."

Which may be entirely impossible to understand, that is, until you actually taste one for yourself.

Related:
For Third Year in a Row, PETA Names Citizens Bank Park the Most Vegetarian-Friendly Ballpark [ PETA ]
Citizens Bank Park [ Official Site ]

Monday, June 01, 2009

Chifa To Introduce 'The Lounge At Chifa' This Thursday At 10 PM

chifa lounge openingIn addition to the bar on the main level at Chifa, there is a second bar and an accompanying lounge downstairs. And this Thursday evening, the downstairs bar and lounge will become the destination, complete with a DJ and a late-night happy hour.

Look for the so called Chifa Lounge to be in operation every Thursday night from 10 pm - 2 am, with the kitchen remaining open until midnight.

If nothing else, check it out for a few of Chifa's great cocktails, including the Pisco sour, the caipirinha, and the Chinese 5 Spice Rye Manhattan.

And, of course, don't forget about the Pork Belly Buns.

Related:
Chifa [ Official Site ]

Previously:
At Chifa, Jose Garces Channels A Little David Chang For Some Momofuku-like Pork Belly Buns

Ritz-Carlton Launches "The Ritz-Carlton Bar Experience"; Latest High End Restaurant To Pay More Attention To Its Bar/Lounge

Checking In On The Growing Number Of Live Poultry Shops In Philadelphia

a live poultry shop in new york city
A live poultry shop in NYC | Photo via NY Times

On the heels of a report in the New York Times on the growing number of live poultry shops in New York City, KYW checks in on the live poultry action in Philly:
As Philadelphia's immigrant population continues to grow, more live poultry shops are springing up.

You can hear the squawking of chickens just before slaughter - they're handpicked by customers - inside the Q and Q Live Poultry market in the 1100 block of Spring Garden Street. Cages are filled with birds, ducks, bunnies and other small animals for a clientele comprised almost exclusively of immigrants, mostly Chinese.

The Italian Market in South Philadelphia used to have many shops where customers could have all kinds of fresh meat including pigs, goats and lamb. Now Peter's Live Poultry is about all that's left and owner Pete Sparta says most of his customers are regulars:

"People come in and they want fresh chicken. We kill it, we poke 'em in the neck and drain all the blood out of them. And then we pluck 'em and do what they want with it. If they want it cut up in pieces, we cut it."
Check please.

Related:
More Live Poultry Shops Opening in Philadelphia [ KYW 1060 ]
Slaughterhouses in the City - Meeting, Then Eating, the Goat [ New York Times ]