December 6, 2009 |
Bourbon and burgers have long been two of my favorite food groups. But when I behold them side-by-side in their highest forms, posed on the zinc bar-top at Village Whiskey, it's clear this duo is the ultimate height of low-down American decadence. With 150-plus bottles of bourbon, Scotch, and rye majestically arrayed before the mottled bar mirror to choose from, this is surely one of the city's deepest wells of dark-spirit luxury. Add to this mix a splash of super-chef Jose Garces, and rest assured that the burger itself has also been given its gastronomic due. Ground in-house daily from grass-fed, naturally raised Maine beef, with different grind sizes for the various cuts in the blend, and an ingenious shaping technique that results in patties with a perfect end-grain (as opposed to one big bouncy smush)
November 23, 2009 |
Jose Garces, Philadelphia's "it" chef-restaurateur, was announced last night as the newest member of the Food Network's Iron Chef America team - not only earning him bragging rights, but also directing an international spotlight on his fast-growing empire run out of Old City. On last night's episode of The Next Iron Chef, Garces, 37, won a cooking duel against New York chef Jehangir Mehta, capping a season that began Oct. 4 with 10 contestants. Garces hosted a boisterous viewing party last night at his West Philadelphia Mexican restaurant, Distrito, that attracted several hundred fans and members of his close-knit staff who shrieked at the announcement shortly before 10 p.m. Chef Seamus Mullen, who was eliminated on last week's show, came down from New York to see Garces and Mehta create a multicourse meal out of various ribs.
October 8, 2009
Craig LaBan: Jose's ever-growing and multi-belled restaurant empire (Amada, Tinto, Distrito, Chifa, Village Whiskey) is a chat-room's favorite. But this visit is timely, because Sunday was the debut episode of his quest to become the Food Network's Next Iron Chef . Garces handily won the first challenge, to create a comfort food starter, with an Ecuadorian stew of annatto chicken broth and queso fresco. Things got scary in the next round with the some frightening ingredients ranging from duck tongues to unlaid chicken eggs.
March 13, 2009 |
Even in this economy, there are celebrations and times to splurge. Still, you want to feel your money was well-spent and worth the pinching elsewhere to make it happen. Chifa Restaurant, the 4-week-old addition to Jose Garces' stable of small plate restaurants riffing on Latin flavors, looks as though it is up to the challenge. Chifa is named for an authentic cuisine in Peru and was created by Cantonese immigrants using Latin ingredients to make dishes of their homeland. Garces, who has three other restaurants in the city, describes his chef de cuisine Chad Williams as indispensable.
March 1, 2009 |
If you are craving predictability on the restaurant row (Eastern Division) that is the 700 block of Chestnut Street, you might want to walk right on past Chifa, the newest Jose Garces contender: The prime steaks are next door at the vaulted-ceilinged Union Trust; the comfort food is at Jones across the street, where "Thanksgiving Dinner," should you have missed it (or have an off-season hankering for it), is on the menu every night. At the Peruvian-Chinese hybrid called Chifa you will find, instead, bowls of chaufa rice, a stir-fry dotted with chorizo and topped with sweetly tender soy-glazed scallops, and diminutive ceviches far more complex (and the flavors far more balanced)
November 16, 2008 |
There are two characters cagily circling the plates of spice and wonder at Distrito, West Philly's hot new taco and tequila palace. And I'm not talking about the Mexican wrestlers in sparkly masks who smack flesh in the lucha libre movies continuously projected over this loco pink-and-green dining room. Jose Garces is grappling with the ghost of his first big success. These days, of course, he's become the Latin cruiserweight champ of Philly chefs, an Iron Chef-slayer extraordinaire, our Spanish tapas king.
September 25, 2008 |
Jose Garces was Latino way before Latino was cool. Before it was prefixed with nuevo. Before the Chicago of his childhood had a single Latin restaurant - "zero," he recalls - though the occasional taqueria had begun to sprout. He is a stocky, serious, focused 36 now, the toast of the town - a recent Iron Chef win under his belt, three tapas restaurants, Amada, Tinto and Distrito, climbing the charts, with one (Peruvian-Chinese Chifa) on the way. Maybe two, if you count the low-key-burger-high-end-whiskey joint he has up his sleeve.
August 28, 2008 |
LEAVE IT to Jose Garces to capture the crazy, wonderful, delicious world of Mexico City's cuisine under one roof. He's done exactly that at Distrito, the energetic two-story space he recently opened at 3945 Chestnut St. in West Philadelphia. "What I love about Mexico City is how it can be so urban, with street food everywhere, and so sophisticated at the same time. There's two different spectrums in terms of food," said Garces, who, along with his culinary and design team, spent eight days chowing his way through the city in February.