June 26, 1991 |
Now that the official opening of the summer outdoor eating season is upon us, we pose this riddle: When is a cookout not a cookout? When it's a salad bar! The meal-size, serve-yourself salad bar is the ideal alternative to the fuss and mess of the backyard barbecue - particularly if you don't have a barbecue (or a back yard.) You can entertain on the patio or porch, balcony or rooftop, deck or dock, or in the den or dining room when the weather won't cooperate. It's also the ultimate in do-ahead ease, especially important if you're not just the host but the mother of the birthday boy or father of the grad with lots to tend to. Visit your favorite restaurant salad bar to borrow inspiration on how your salad bar/buffet might be set up. Note that the traffic pattern has been carefully thought out: A logical "assembly line" starts with bowls and silverware, moves along to salad greens, then to other vegetables, past meats, poultry and heartier ingredients, and finally arrives at dressings, toppings and garnishes.
April 5, 1991 |
If you lust after things like crab legs and shrimp, you might want to catch an all-you-can-eat special at O'Hara's Fish House in University City. O'Hara's doesn't look like the typical old-time fish house. The restaurant is large and attractive, with a bar; comfortable dining areas mixing booths and tables are separated by half-walls, posts and aquariums. Along with the regular menu, there's a "Dining With Heart" listing of appetizers, sandwiches, entrees and desserts that are lower in fat, cholesterol and sodium.
September 16, 1990 |
The new Cafe La Spada in Cherry Hill is an astonishing place. Open six months, the restaurant offers massive portions of tasty, home- cooked southern Italian cuisine at bargain prices. Indeed, dinner for two with more good food than you probably can eat will cost less than $30, including dessert. The restaurant has no liquor license, so you will save there too. La Spada replaced Akbar, the good Indian restaurant at the rear of the Market Place on Route 70. The new, pleasantly informal bistro decor includes red-and-white checked tablecloths, white laminated placemats, paper napkins, silk roses and a luminescent glow from pearllike candleholders.
June 27, 1990 |
The following Declaration of Independence should be posted in every kitchen in America this Fourth of July: I, the principal cook in this household, heretofore declare myself independent from the tyranny of the range. No longer will I be chained to four burners and an oven while the temperature in the kitchen - and my own blood - reaches the boiling point. The principal cook hereby renounces the multi-part recipe that includes making a marinade, then a sauce, then a garnish - before ever starting on the entree.
June 10, 1990 |
It's tough to fault a restaurant where, as the evening's entertainment, a huge cruise ship looms out of the mist somewhere behind your dinner partner's left shoulder. The Regent Star, newly extricated from the Delaware River mud, had limped by as we were being served our entrees; it filled the Chart House's long wall of windows, thrilling all who saw it. Gawking at the Regent Star wasn't the evening's only big moment. There was the pleasure of arriving to find that the dramatically designed riverfront restaurant had been refurbished.
October 6, 1989 |
After four years of darkness at 516 S. 5th St., a new restaurant is open where one called Wildflowers used to be. It's called Charles, and if my musty memory serves me correctly, the newcomer's two dining rooms look exactly like those of the previous occupant. Charles has even kept the same phone number. Wildflowers was one of the most precocious offsprings of the 1970s restaurant renaissance. For a time during its 13-year lifespan, it was one of the most popular places in the city, best known for a bountiful salad bar and a brunch with fanciful offerings like duck crepes.
September 29, 1989 |
Amazing. After nearly four years, the Chart House - a chain restaurant, no less - is still securely moored along Delaware Avenue near Lombard Street, and is doing a tidal wave of business. In that time, a number of city restaurants have foundered and drifted off into the sunset. Why the contrast? A good question, for which there seem to be some good answers. For one thing, the Chart House menu does not rock the boat - nothing tricky or trendy, just good-quality steaks, ribs, fish and seafood.
July 30, 1989 |
"Let's go out for dinner tonight" may be one of the most joyful phrases in the English language, mainly because dining out means no food shopping, no cooking and no cleaning up. But for some people, going out to a restaurant - whether it's McDonald's or Bookbinder's - can also mean no common sense. Even health-conscious folks who routinely eat nutritious meals at home become more than a bit careless with their food selections once they enter the doors of a public foodery. Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, those same people who carefully avoid fatty foods and high-calorie cocktails at home suddenly become gluttons for punishment - literally - when they sit down to a restaurant meal.
June 9, 1989 |
Philadelphia's Chart House, which recently sailed into its third year on Penn's Landing, continues to do boffo box office. That's an apt choice of words for this dramatically designed, on-the-waterfront enterprise that looks more like a theater than a restaurant. This is the most popular Chart House in the 62-restaurant chain, and because no reservations are taken, two-hour waits are legend. Why do Philadelphians flock here while more intimate, more imaginative restaurants quietly fold their napkins and vanish into the night?
October 16, 1988 |
Although the Lobster Pot and Steak House in Wawa has been around a long time, this popular restaurant has never been known for culinary excellence. Still, it you choose carefully, you can discover modest delights: The salad bar is a safe bet and some of the two dozen seafood dishes on the menu seem promising; despite its name, the restaurant serves mostly seafood. Although it is unlikely you will find anything unfamiliar on the salad bar, the ingredients are nicely fresh and crisp, and it is easy to fashion a decent salad from among iceberg lettuce, fresh spinach, plump cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, pickled beets, chopped egg, wonderfully fresh mushrooms, chick peas, Bermuda onions, alfalfa sprouts, black olives and store-bought croutons and bacon bits, to name most of the offerings.