October 26, 2008 |
Stephen Starr has often said the "most fun" aspect of his business is the process of creating his restaurant "children" - a brood of 18 stretching from Walnut Street to Atlantic City to New York. But when the kids turn out to be as gargantuan and unruly as Parc, the mega-bistro he has conjured up for Rittenhouse Square, a little extra attention to the after-care is also in order, in both the dining room and the kitchen. I can only imagine the fun Starr and designer Shawn Hausman experienced in putting together Parc.
September 7, 2008 |
Slow economy? You wouldn't know it by the openings lighting up the local dining scene, going through its biggest growth spurt in recent memory. And we mean "big," from the mega-size of these new restaurants to the hefty checks and the big names behind them. Upscale ethnic eateries, power steak houses, ambitious pizza bars, and bold new places for the suburbs have also changed the eating landscape dramatically. Rick Nichols offers a primer to catch you up on hot spots you might have missed this summer.
August 31, 2008 |
Dressing down can be a tricky affair, especially for famous French chefs and fancy hotels. When it doesn't go smoothly, it can be as awkward as watching a rich uncle step out in tube socks and loafers. So I was intrigued to visit 10 Arts and discover what brand of casual chic would emerge from the collaboration between Philadelphia's Ritz-Carlton, the marble-columned temple of classic stuffy, and the modern French perfection of super chef Eric Ripert from New York's Le Bernardin. The Ritz, reliably upscale but lacking culinary personality, could use some star-power pizzazz.
August 10, 2008 |
It isn't often a restaurant feels compelled to provide a map and bullet-point directory to help navigate its inner workings. Then again, it isn't often that the shell of a former supermarket is transformed into a maze of gastronomic ambition the size of Maia. So I found it handy to study the poster-size flow chart near the entrance titled, "Maia is many things. . . . " To the left is the cafe with mod yellow chairs where students from nearby Villanova and I-476 commuters fuel up on Illy lattes and house-baked pastries.
July 24, 2008 |
Three days into its world premiere on Rittenhouse Square last week, Parc, the French bistro, was still four deep at the zinc bar, awash in first-wave beautiful people, at work on its sea legs. "Table 406?" the waiter inquired of owner Stephen Starr, approaching his curbside table with bowls of what looked to be trout amandine. "No," Starr said. He'd been chatting with a guest, studiously ignoring a cutting board - already served - heaped with country pate, salami, prosciutto and mustard: " This is Table 407. Table 406 is behind me. " Behind him, stretching half a block north on 18th Street, and almost as far around the corner on Locust, the cafe tables under crenelated awnings lent a distinctively - persuasively - Parisian mood to the place.
June 22, 2008 |
It isn't every day that visitors get razzed by a pack of rowdy Eagles fans for having the wrong license plates - and still fall in love with Philadelphia as the destination of their dreams. But Jason and Cindy Caminos, oblivious to the Eagles-Redskins game underway during their day trip from Washington D.C. that October afternoon in 2006, knew they'd found a home for Swallow, the bistro they'd envisioned since they were both students at the Culinary Institute of America. They found those hecklers in the Italian Market "kind of charming," says Jason.
June 8, 2008 |
The color looked different when Brian Held saw it in a book. It reminded him of the warm red of a rouget, the coveted Mediterranean rockfish that inspired the name of his restaurant near downtown Newtown. When translated into paint on the dining room walls of this 1800 farmhouse, though, that Provençal blush suddenly looked more like a sponge bath of Pepto-Bismol pink. It's a jarringly powder-puff hue, especially for an ambitious kitchen trying to distinguish itself from the building's recent history as a teahouse and a salon named Sparkles.
June 5, 2008 |
Joe Brown, successfully fusing Louisiana and Italy for 14 years at Melange Cafe in Cherry Hill, has ventured into Haddonfield with another BYOB, Melange @ Haddonfield (18 Tanner St., 856-354-1333). The larger spot, which opened last month, represents a new role for Shadee Holden, one of Brown's proteges. The East Camden-raised Holden started working for Brown while in high school. He went to Johnson & Wales (class of 2006), landed at Alphabet Soup and the late 707, and returned to Brown in Cherry Hill.
April 17, 2008 |
Count five days in the life of Time (1315 Sansom St., 215-985-4800), the posh "modern country-club/comfort-food" spot from Jason and Delphine Evenchik, around the corner from their wine bar/bistro Vintage . Time came about last year when Tony Goldman, their landlord, bought the building, which at the time housed Ludwig's Garten. Initially, they had considered opening a Vintage in another neighborhood. "But with a space this big to play with, we thought [a concept like Time]
March 30, 2008
With the number of restaurants opening and closing frequently in South Jersey, the Discreet Diner greatly appreciates readers' recommendations on neighborhood favorites. Paula J. Storck of Mount Laurel recently e-mailed: "I would like to suggest you try Marcello's Fresh Catch Bistro. . . . This was formerly the Pacific Grill, which myself and my aunt had frequented on a regular basis. I recently dined there on two different occasions (one time trying the three-course special) and was more than pleased!