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FOOD
September 9, 2010 | By Michael Klein, Inquirer Columnist
If there's a commonality among restaurants due to open by the end of the year, you can see it on the front windows, in blaze orange: Liquor-license placards. From barbecue joints in Center City and University City to a slew of bistros in the burbs, alcohol is in the mix. Not only are fewer BYOBs being planned, but some existing BYOs have elected to go the bottle route, such as Ristorante Pesto in South Philadelphia and La Fontana Della Citta near Rittenhouse Square. It's not to say BYOBs are going away, just as budget-conscious patrons seem eager to seek them out. It's just that, especially in tough economic times, high-profit-margin alcohol sales often are the difference between success or failure.
NEWS
September 9, 2010 | By Craig LaBan, Inquirer Restaurant Critic
Nobody puts on a suit and tie anymore to go out to eat, as formal dining continues its quick fade. But Philadelphia's restaurants still have some serious style. Here are eight great destinations, from cutting-edge city hot spots to cool suburban classics, a Paris-style boite, and a parkside perch where the people-watching is as prime as what's on the plate.   Adsum This fall's hottest no-reservations table comes courtesy of ex-Lacroix chef Matthew Levin, whose debut as an owner-chef is refining contemporary bistro style in Queen Village with a menu that's both cutting-edge and affordable.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 15, 2010 | By Craig LaBan, Inquirer Restaurant Critic
The last time this much good energy surged through Audrey Taichman's resto-lounge at the corner of 20th and Manning, it was 1999 and edamame was exotic, wheatgrass was the word in edible table arrangements, and chic was defined by late-night DJs, squared black leather couches, and shiny metal community tables. After 11 years and a pretension-humbling recession, though, even Taichman concedes that trendy old Twenty Manning was getting tired. So she and her business partner, chef Kiong Banh, decided to go for a homey change.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 20, 2010 | By Craig LaBan, Inquirer Restaurant Critic
Contrary to my early assumptions, the chuckle-inducing name of this new Queen Village bistro - Hoof + Fin - was not the product of an English-as-second-language mistranslation. Jersey-bred co-owner Deanna Ebner insists that neither of the Argentine men in her orbit - chef and co-owner Carlos Barroz, and her husband, Lucas Manteca - can claim ownership of this too-clever twist on surf-and-turf : "That would be me. . . . " The visually minded Ebner was simply aiming for a moniker that conveyed the menu's meat-and-seafood focus, but was also campy enough for the stick-figure logo she had in mind for the window and the garage sale's worth of tchotchkes she's used to decorate the little BYOB, where a paint-by-numbers horse picture, bare Edison bulbs, butcher-block tables, and dark, varnished wood wainscoting lend the minimalist space a retro bistro feel.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 27, 2010 | By Craig LaBan INQUIRER RESTAURANT CRITIC
With permission granted from our better halves, the only thing cooler than a simple "guys' night out" is a "guys' night" splashed in craft beer. The hardest part in this brew-obsessed region, where the ale flows from South Street to South Jersey in stupefying variety - from hipster gastropubs to Belgian mussel bars, a German brat hall, and even a brunch spot awash in growler drafts - is simply choosing where to begin. Consider it scouting for "girls' night out," too. Great beer is a gift with equal-opportunity appeal.
NEWS
May 26, 2010 | By Craig LaBan INQUIRER RESTAURANT CRITIC
With permission granted from our better halves, the only thing cooler than a simple "guys' night out" is a "guys' night" splashed in craft beer. The hardest part in this brew-obsessed region, where the ale flows from South Street to South Jersey in stupefying variety - from hipster gastropubs to Belgian mussel bars, a German brat hall, and even a brunch spot awash in growler drafts - is simply choosing where to begin. Consider it scouting for "girls' night out," too. Great beer is a gift with equal-opportunity appeal.
FOOD
April 29, 2010 | By Michael Klein, Inquirer Columnist
Rittenhouse Square's Twenty Manning (261 S. 20th St.) is back after a five-week redo to both its philosophy and its look. At Twenty Manning Grill , gone are the glass partitions that looked so cool 10 years ago when the place opened as the bar-equipped companion to owner Audrey Taichman's Audrey Claire down the block. Fury Interior Design went sunny and white, adding tongue-and-groove wood paneling and a white-tile bar to complement the white pressed-tin ceiling. The scheme contrasts with new yellow leather banquettes, dark wood bistro chairs, and wooden tables.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 25, 2009 | By Rick Nichols, Inquirer Columnist
Clark Gilbert isn't promising the moon at Gemelli, his new bistro at the edge of Narberth, on rowhouse blocks once called - when the town was Irish-er - "the Italian section. " He is a seasoned chef, under his belt stints at the Four Seasons, Tony Clark's short-lived Square Bar on Rittenhouse Square, Avalon in West Chester, and the elegant, now-departed Taquet in Wayne. But he is the first to point out that the menu here, his first truly solo venture, is not the wheel reinvented: He offers a proper Caesar salad (add $2 for white anchovies)
ENTERTAINMENT
October 25, 2009 | By Craig LaBan, Inquirer Restaurant Critic
A wine thief is a glorified straw, a long glass siphon used to steal sips of wine from its aging barrel. And when Chris Simpson and his wife, Sophie, first came across such a device at a winery in Virginia, they were struck by what the samples it drew revealed about the virtues of a little time. The thief's draft of young 90-day-old wine was "pretty rotten," he said. The taste of a similar wine aged three years, however, had rounded out quite nicely into something far more worthwhile.
FOOD
October 15, 2009 | By Michael Klein, Inquirer Columnist
Luxe-hotel operator Kimpton enters the Philadelphia market this week with the Hotel Palomar at 17th and Sansom Streets. Kimpton is positioning its two-level bistro - Square 1682 (121 S. 17th St., 215-563- 5008) - as a separate entity. It's one of Center City's few hotel restaurants with an entrance off the street, and is open for breakfast, dinner, and late night. Lunch starts Oct. 26. Decor is dramatic yet intimate art deco. The first floor encompasses the bar, lounge and open kitchen, while the second floor has a dining room and private dining.
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