August 24, 2008 |
Every great trend hits a moment of sudden saturation when the buzz of novelty wears off and expectations ratchet up to a higher level. That time has come for the gastropub, the exuberant hybrid of hipster bar and neighborhood restaurant where craft beers coexist with serious cooking. It's been a signature trend here for years, helping Philadelphia to secure its growing national reputation as one of America's beer meccas. But a gush of recent newcomers has flowed into the city so fast that the concept's limits are being tested, like a pint of ale frothing over from a hasty pour.
January 3, 2010 |
Having toiled in the beer-soaked land of the jukebox for most of his career, it's perhaps only natural that Brendan Hartranft sees the budding gastropub empire he's built with his wife, Leigh Maida, in terms of Elvis Costello records. "Accessible but with an edge," he says of his Costello-esque approach to crafting, in the short span of less than two years, a trio of taverns in up-and-coming neighborhoods around the city. If Kensington's Memphis Taproom was their My Aim Is True debut, a straight-from-the-heart corner-bar hit that toed the delicate style line between beer-geek cool and easy local consumption, Hartranft calls their less-polished second endeavor, Local 44 in West Philly, his version of Costello's harder-edged This Year's Model.
May 7, 2009
Crabtastic! The growing gastropub scene has been a boon for South Philly. Not only has the neighborhood's craft beer selection gone gangbusters, even the "crab fries" are getting better. Actually, the fledgling Tap Room on 19th (at Ritner) wouldn't dare use that name on their menu, since it's the patented signature dish of nearby sports-bar juggernaut Chickie's & Pete's. But the Tap's "Chesapeake Bay" fries are a major upgrade on the competition, nonetheless. Not only are they scattered with plenty of sweet lump crab (oddly missing from the original)
April 15, 2010 |
Jonathan Adams is in the upstairs kitchen at Pub & Kitchen, the gastropub at 20th and Lombard, fiddling with his second batch of practice crepes. The first batch had come out like pancakes, not a good look for Crepes Marcelle, plump with cognac pastry cream. It is 12:23 p.m., and he is alone, save the wail of the Stones' '70s classic Sticky Fingers . As a hip, cutting-edge chef (at Salt and Snackbar) Adams, 32, was better known as "Jonny Mac," a master of methylcellulose and edgy molecular gastronomy.
January 15, 2009 |
Darlene Boline Moseng, who did catering and private chef-ing, is into her third week of A La Maison (53 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, 484-412-8009), a rustic French BYOB in the Main Line storefront that was Jewel of India. Moseng, a graduate of the Restaurant School, is keeping it traditional on a blackboard menu - coq au vin, short ribs, steak frites (dinner entrees: $21 to $28). She's backed in the kitchen by Maurice deRamus (Zen in Northern Liberties, Kujaku on the Parkway), and Marabella's alumna Lori Sexton is running the front of the house.
May 26, 2010 |
On the eve of Philly Beer Week, a talk with Tom Peters of Monk's. The Heineken that Tom Peters ordered on his maiden voyage to Brussels (en route to Paris) in 1984 was as ho-hum as the ones he'd had back home in Philadelphia. Would he like to try a "real beer"? the bartender asked. He would indeed. Which is how it came to pass that he had his first Duvel, golden and effervescent, the head so tall and creamy that he had to be instructed to tilt the glass and sip from under it. The Earth moved.
June 7, 2009 |
The bar officially called 12 Steps Down Group Therapy Bar - 12 Steps Down, to its devoted patrons - is exactly 12 steps down from the northeast corner of Ninth and Christian, which if you know anything about the geography of the Italian Market, is the equivalent of Hollywood and Vine. It is the kind of place where on Quizzo night, someone at the bar (which is smoky and underground and close) will bellow after a question announced by the Quizzo Master: "When you ask who said: 'How do they expect a one-party system to work in a country with 246 cheeses?
November 28, 2010 |
The twilight struggle for the soul of Old City is played out on the lower blocks of Chestnut and Market, permanently papered-over storefronts next to exquisite restorations, handsome Fork bistro not far from Rotten Ralph's. Not many years ago there were visions of a history-themed promenade starting at Fourth Street and running down to Front along Market. But since then - and for better and worse - a more organic (some would argue jarring ) streetscape has ebbed and flowed. It has been 15 years since the bacon-and-eggs Continental Diner dropped the "diner" in its name, morphing into a bustling martini bar/cafe - retro replacing, well, the original item.
September 9, 2010 |
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.
June 25, 2009 |
It's the age of the duopoly, in which two restaurant concepts share a building, a liquor license, management, and many fixed costs. While chains mostly practice this (such as McCormick & Schmick and William Douglas Steakhouse, and Blue2O and Chili's, both in Cherry Hill), an independent team is giving it a whirl across from the Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Horsham with the new naBrasa , a Brazilian steak house, and Iron Abbey , a gastropub. The site (680 N. Easton Rd.)