February 12, 2016
Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat of Feb. 9, 2016: Reader: Which is a worse dining holiday - New Year's Eve or Valentine's Day? Craig LaBan: Wow. That's a tough one. I prefer to dine out neither of those nights because of limited, overpriced fixed-price menus, and expectations that are rarely met. I guess I'd go with Valentine's Day over NYE because you have a chance of getting creative with something off-the-grid (provided the object of your affection is down with that)
December 28, 2015 |
Philadelphia's chefs looked to nostalgia for new inspirations in 2015. They took whole-animal cooking to new heights. They turned on some bright lights in emerging neighborhoods and brought modern riffs on traditional Asian flavors to more established dining zones. And many of them also headed south, as more than a quarter of the restaurants I reviewed this year were in South Philadelphia. But from the ever-growing nexus of new restaurant energy on East Passyunk Avenue to the Great Northeast and the bucolic hills of Chester County, the local dining scene showed absolutely no sign of slowing ambitions.
December 11, 2015 |
Moorestown Mall now has the region's first outpost of Yard House , which offers a staggering 110 beer taps and a pub menu only slightly smaller than most cities' phone book. The Irvine, Calif., chain boasts that it has five miles of individual beer lines encased in stainless steel. Leigh Maida, Brendan Hartranft, and Brendan Kelly (Memphis Taproom, Local 44, Strangelove's, Coeur) have opened Clarkville (4301 Baltimore Ave., 215-387-4992), a bar across from Clark Park in West Philadelphia, just a few blocks from Local 44. The colorful drop-in serves 11 beers, 5 wines, no bottles, no liquor.
November 26, 2015 |
Back in the swim Mike Stollenwerk, one of Philly's most visible seafood chefs before stepping out of the scene nearly two years ago, is back with 26 North BYOB (26 N. Third St., 267-239-5900). With the revived Bistro 7 down the street - where Michael O'Halloran has gone for romance with a renovation of his 11-year-old dinner-only, French BYOB - this is an intriguing time for the slice of Old City north of Market. At 26 North, the Jersey Shore-bred Stollenwerk (Little Fish, Fish)
November 13, 2015 |
Vietnamese BYOB StreetSide , a low-key, budget-priced Vietnamese BYOB at 165 W. Girard Ave. (267-737-9165), across from the liquor store in Northern Liberties, joins a small collection of nearby Viet storefront eateries, including SameSame in Northern Liberties and Stock in Fishtown. Co-owner My Huynh, who grew up in South Philadelphia, has 14 seats on the ground floor. There's seating upstairs for a couple dozen more people. The easy-to-decipher, somewhat politically incorrect menu includes vermicelli bowls, fried spring rolls, rice paper rolls, dumplings, banh mi, baked mussels, edamame topped with "Viet crack" (chili salt)
September 4, 2015 |
Crab-Apple Salad Season There's a reason Audrey Taichman hasn't been seen much lately during the dinner hour around 20th and Spruce, the corner where nearly two decades ago she helped launch the minimalist chic spirit of Philly's BYOB boom with her iconic Audrey Claire. She's been putting kids to bed. Within the last three years, she had a baby boy, adopted the young twins of her sister, Leslie, who tragically died of cancer, and then became stepmother to two more sets of older twins through marriage this year.
May 31, 2015 |
A lot of the merchandise on the Wildwood boardwalk has a bit of an edge to it. Cheesy T-shirts advertise sex, drugs, even rock and roll (if that's still considered edgy). Stores offer tattoos, temporary or permanent. Other shops sell pipes and bongs "for tobacco use only. " Over the last year or two, however, the boardwalk has added another type of product among the oceanfront shops. The signs advertise vaping, and the stores sell electronic cigarettes. E-cigarettes come in various forms but all work on the same general principle: Liquid nicotine at one end is heated into vapor that is is inhaled through a mouthpiece.
May 29, 2015 |
Forest & Main changes Ambler brewpub Forest & Main is rolling out a few changes, including a new tasting room in the fall. Johnny Della Polla, who formerly ran Kennett in Queen Village and helped set up tasting rooms for Yards and Conshohocken Brewing, is helping owners Gerard Olson and Daniel Endicott. Chef Kelly Fischer, who starts next week, is streamlining the dinner menu to be more pub-friendly. What's new Lee Quach, who has owned several Vietnamese restaurants in South Philadelphia, is the Lee behind Lee's Cafe & Bistro , a stand-alone family-run shop at 522 Washington Ave. (267-273-0922)
February 20, 2015 |
Pho has become a thing, all right. Add a new Lower Northeast Philadelphia branch of South Philadelphia's Pho Ha Saigon to the mix. The new location (575 Adams Ave., 267-538-5600) is a contemporary Vietnamese BYOB with a ballroom-size dining room and an easy-on-the-budget menu of large-portioned dishes as well as the signature soup. A takeout counter is on the way, too. The same family also is behind the two-week-old Pho 20 in Chinatown (234 N. 10th St., 215-413-2020), a more spartan BYOB that replaced the long-running Charles Plaza.
December 26, 2014 |
Coyote Crossing , at age 18 one of the region's longer-running Mexican restaurants (800 Spring Mill Ave., Conshohocken, 610-825-3000), has reopened after a dramatic renovation. Owner Carlos Melendez did more than reconfigure and revamp the bar and dining room, playing off the vaulted ceilings yet keeping the warmth. He brought in a new chef, Jose Antonio Hidalgo. The men met in Mexico while Melendez was there developing a line of Coyote Crossing mezcal, the agave-based spirit that now is a specialty at the bar. He also hired his former wife, Jennifer Melendez Lazorcheck, as general manager.