What have I missed?
Reader: Went to Alla Spina last weekend. The trend of fancy soft pretzels has to end. The ones at the Ritz Carlton bar were much better. The poutine with guinea hen and the beers were great, though.
CL: Haven't been to Alla Spina yet (too new), but I can think of a lot of trends I'd like to see end before we perfect the ultimate soft pretzel. At least pretzels are a native junk food! They are ours! We should own it, period, and we aren't there yet. Go pretzels! I do like the ones at 10Arts. Also, the Bavarian-style pretzels at Brauhaus Schmitz. For pretzel free-association, Jason Cichonski's "pretzel-spaetzle" at Ela are fantastic.
Reader: Craig, have you visited the Santucci's on Christian St.? It has become our go-to spot to bring family/friends. This style of pizza isn't my favorite but IMO they do it as well as it can be done.
CL: I've been to Santucci's and I'm a fan. I grew up on square pies in the Midwest, so this style isn't quite as foreign to me as, say, my Philadelphian kids, who don't know what to make of it. I think they do a very, very good job. Loved the meatballs and onion combo.
Reader: How do you pick a restaurant to review? There have been some I have yet to be seen that I thought would have been reviewed.
CL: It's definitely NOT a random process! Most of the places are new - because these are the ones people are most curious to learn about. The other portion of reviews are smaller, out-of-the-way, often ethnic places that I simply enjoy eating at, as part of the food adventure that is one of the best parts of city life. The biggest problem lately, however, iis that the pace of openings has accelerated to a point where it is really impossible to review every single new place that opens. Right now, there are so many lining up on the tarmac for a weekly review - there's just a longer delay than usual.
Reader: The ramps are coming, the ramps are coming! Had a very nice simple dish of ramps and pecorino at Amis the other week. Any other ramp sightings?
CL: Just ate my first ramp dish of the season - whipped into an omelet with house-made ricotta. I can't name this place yet, but I will say there wasn't nearly enough ramp action visible to be worthy of mention. When you advertise a prime seasonal ingredient on a dish - I want to see it, and I want to taste it.
Reader: Great meal at Rembrandts in Fairmount the other night - great food with a good beer selection. I feel like it gets lost in the shuffle being on the outskirts of the city, hopefully the new places opening in the area breathe some life into the food scene.
CL: You're right - Rembrandt's is a survivor that gets overlooked amid all the new places. But as the neighborhood really begins to heat up, I think that definitely will drive more traffic to some of the old standbys nearby. For example, the stated wait for a table at La Calaca Feliz the other night: 90 minutes. But you've got your choice of taverns to grab a drink - London (and Paris wine bar), Rembrandt's, Bridgid's, Belgian Cafe, Lemon Hill, and others.