LaBan chat: Fette Sau's 'cue; Comcast's food court

Crawfish mac-n-cheese from the Twisted Tail on Head House Square.
Crawfish mac-n-cheese from the Twisted Tail on Head House Square. (CRAIG LaBAN / Staff)
Posted: April 04, 2013

Here's an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat of April 2, 2013:

Craig LaBan: Good afternoon, hungry friends. It's been two weeks since we last got together. Please dish, so we can catch up.

We do have a Crumb Tracker Quiz, with a chic apron for the first person who names all three places I ate these dishes: (1) crawfish mac-n-cheese; (2) shrimp "cupcakes"; (3) Puerto Rican-style fried chuleta pork chops. Ready, set - start crumbing!

Reader: Do you know where the former Vernick pastry chef who made their delicious blueberry pie went?

C.L.: Yes, the talented Angela Ranalli, who'd been splitting her time between Vernick (with her dreamy personal blueberry pies) and Le Virtù (where she's all about olive-oil desserts) went full time to Le Virtù, I believe.

Reader: I ate at Fette Sau Friday and though I didn't enjoy waiting in line, it was the first time I ate barbecue and did not need any sauces. Wow.

C.L.: The sauces are pretty good as well, but real barbecue must start with the meat.

Reader: My friends are taking me out for my birthday next week. I'm torn between Frankford Hall and Fette Sau.

C.L.: Fette Sau for food and whiskey. But then you can just hop right next door afterward for schnapps and ping-pong.

Reader: #1 Twisted Tail

Reader: (1) Twisted Tail?

Craig You two both got #1 almost simultaneously! Yes, that was at Twisted Tail, where ex-Jean Georges/Buddakan/Silk Road cook Leo Fournas, recently took over, to revamp the Southern-inspired menu with some refinements. . . . This crawfish mac-n-cheese was excellent! Perfect blend of creaminess and tang, and the crawfish were plump and tender.

Reader: Thoughts on George Sabatino leaving for Morgan's Pier? While this is a great outdoor space, I associate it more with grabbing a drink and a small app rather than ordering a composed dish- Is this a place for him to hang out for the summer while he locks down financing for his own place?

C.L.: This is definitely a seasonal operation, and I'm guessing a short-term gig. But don't forget, Meme's David Katz did the same tour de Morgan's last summer. So there's a history of chefs-in-transit dipping into the Delaware River dining scene.

Reader: Sounds like the annual "Spring Cleaning" run of closures has begun: Percy St. BBQ at Comcast Center, Kris, Ugly American. Yikes!

C.L.: No huge losses there, I think, except for Percy St., which had some of the best offerings in the Comcast food court. Kris, meanwhile, could never recapture the excellence that Kristian's once had. And something exciting is going in there - a South Indian concept from the Tiffin/Tashan crew with a modern Indian chef from San Fran named Kirti Pant.

Reader: Craig, have you heard any whispers about restaurateurs looking for spaces in Graduate Hospital/Point Breeze area?

C.L.: Whispers? It's been happening plain as day. First, the explosion of South Street West - Rex 1516, Jet, Sawatdee, Hawthorne's, etc. . . . The area south of South is building, with SoWe, replacing Divan and following on the success of the Sidecar and Resurrection (and Grace, sort of). And of course, American Sardine Bar is the only place cooking close to Washington Ave. In Point Breeze, there's been even more action.

On that note, I'm calling this one to a close. The missing crumbs? Shrimp cupcakes (#2) at Mekong River, the Vietnamese bistro on Front Street. The chuletas - El Bohio, at 5th and W. Somerset.

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