February 6, 2015
FACE FULLY obscured but voice fully audible, Tom Bee rummages around the compartments of Franky Bradley's host stand, leading a one-man search party for something. Suddenly, his hand pops up like a periscope, waving a yellowed magazine half-shrouded in a black plastic bag. "Is this your Playboy ?" His cousin Mark Bee, owner and primary resurrector of this historic Center City space, shoots it a quick glance and nods. "Oh, yeah. There's a couple really good articles in there.
January 29, 2015
ALL OF THE recent chatter about local restaurant food safety had me thinking that, as bad as the statistics are, it's really far worse than what most people can even imagine. The restaurant industry has an appetite for one thing: profits! Restaurants don't really care about your health or nutrition, let alone food safety. Let's take, for example, the "healthy" grilled vegetable salad with salmon, sold at a local mid-level chain. This healthy-sounding, $20 salad has a whopping 1040 calories, if we can believe their website (content is often underestimated)
January 22, 2015 |
A resurrected seafood house on the site of Bookbinder's. A pub serving fried bologna and roast beef sandwiches. A 1980s theme restaurant bringing back the surf and turf. A vintage-styled dinette, slinging Western omelets. Suddenly, it seems that the newest local trend in food isn't about the future at all - it's about looking back. Just when you thought it was safe to hock your fondue pot on eBay, here comes all the food you haven't seen on menus for a couple of decades. The good news is that verbs and conjunctions might also return to menus as chefs forgo their molecular aspirations to get back to the basics.
January 11, 2015 |
Has your favorite Center City restaurant ever been closed for food-safety violations? Has it been taken to court? Or is it squeaky clean? In Philadelphia, it can be tough to tell. The city does post all inspection findings online, but they're not easy to find, and it can take a detective's zeal to decipher them. No A-B-C letter grades are posted out front, as in Los Angeles and New York. There's no consumer-friendly summary that is mandatory in New Jersey ("satisfactory/conditionally satisfactory")
January 11, 2015 |
Nearly half of food-borne-illness outbreaks are linked to restaurant food. The microbes that cause them are invisible and taste just fine. So how can you lower your odds of getting sick? "Go look at the bathroom," suggests Ken Gruen, a retired Philadelphia restaurant inspector ("sanitarian") who advises food establishments at Philadelphia International Airport. "If the bathroom is kept in good condition - it's clean, there is soap, there are paper towels, there is not a lot of litter on the floor - probably the kitchen is the same.
January 9, 2015 |
When it comes to restaurant trend forecasts, there's sometimes a tendency toward the frivolous: Is kale finally wilting? Are doughnuts the new cupcakes? Will this be the year crickets become a mainstream protein? But when chefs and forecasters look to 2015, they see more substantive changes ahead. Those have less to do with what's in fashion than with evolving technology, looming concerns about sustainability, and a pressing need to manage costs as restaurant workers seek higher wages.
January 9, 2015
VEGAN restaurants tend to share an origin story: Earnest vegans, cooking food to nourish the heart, soul and planet, share their culinary activism with the public at large. Sometimes it works, sometimes there's more sincerity than cooking aptitude. But in Jenkintown, the new Flora is a novel case: a vegan restaurant started by nonvegans (with a nonvegan chef) on the notion that it's good business. "Yeah, in-between Blue Sage [Vegetarian Grille, in Southampton] and Center City, there weren't a whole lot of vegan dining options," explained Dan Brightcliffe, a co-founder who also doubles as low-key host and waiter for the cozy, 16-seat venue, on Old York Road between Greenwood and West avenues.
December 23, 2014 |
YESTERDAY marked a week since Vito Maglio, 69, mysteriously disappeared after leaving a restaurant in his Northeast Philly neighborhood, and although investigators and relatives have searched feverishly, a police source said yesterday that no new clues have surfaced. But things aren't looking good. On Thursday morning, Maglio's car was found - torched - near a field along a seedy stretch of Beechwood Street near Grange Avenue, in East Germantown. Investigators have said they found no indication that Maglio had been in the vehicle when it was burned.
December 16, 2014 |
R OBERT IRVINE is getting people buff in Philly for the Food Network. My spies spotted the "Restaurant: Impossible" host at the Sporting Club at the Bellevue last week working out with a hefty partner. Sources tell me that Irvine is working on a new show called "Fitness: Impossible" that will get a Food Network debut next month. I hear it's "a cooler version of 'The Biggest Loser.' " The show is being filmed all over with Philly, Bucks County and New Orleans as locations.
December 12, 2014
ONCE IN a great while, too many cooks in the kitchen is a good thing. Earlier this month, a gaggle of South Philly chefs showed up, knives in hand, to work in the line at Lynn Rinaldi's modern Italian restaurant and wine bar, Paradiso. And, though their culinary styles and cooking proclivities pinged multiple points on the map, they shared a straightforward goal: satisfying a sold-out room full of diners celebrating Rinaldi's 10th year in business on East Passyunk Avenue. The menu of 10 distinct dishes (a course for each year, of course)