It’s about time.
Ever since moving from Philadelphia to the NYC area, we’ve struggled to find restaurants that in some way approximate the eclectic, yet sophisticated mix of cuisine and attitude to which we’ve become accustomed in that city of brotherly love.
But in the past few months, we’ve found a couple places that tap into that Philly flair.
The first (pictured) is Perilla, a great little restaurant nestled into the back streets of the West Village. We arrived there very randomly one night, having made a reservation in haste when I realized some out-of-town friends were coming into the city for the night. After a whole lot of web browsing and a few phone calls, we ended up with an 8:30 reservation at one of many NYC restaurants I never knew existed before that night.
You know how sometimes things just work out? Well, from the restaurant choice on, this was one of those nights.
Posted in new jersey, NYC, Philadelphia, Restaurants, Ridgewood
Tagged barbecue, chickpea fries, Gazelle Cafe, hanger steak, homemade doughnuts, new york, Perilla, pork belly, pork tenderloin, restaurant, Ridgewood, striped bass, sweet potato sticks, West Village
I know I’m still severely behind on posts, but I just had to put this up.
Best marketing ever? Yes.
Everywhere I look, someone’s writing about food carts.
Details magazine just put up a compilation of the best in the nation. Then there’s one of my new favorite sites, Midtown Lunch, who do a semi-scientific survey of the meat-over-rice carts around the area of Bryant Park. It’s a piece they like to call Street-Meat-Palooza.
Even the UPenn crowd is getting more sophisticated about their carts. The new Penn Food Trucks site carefully rates, organizes and maps the various mobile eateries around campus.
So, why the increased focus on food carts? Maybe it’s the economy, or maybe it’s just the personalities.
But one thing’s for certain: those people you buy all this luscious food from aren’t just vendors. They’re members of the human race.
If you still have the energy, check out the only cart I wrote up in Philly.
Between the classic Standard Tap and its slightly newer, more neighborhoody cousin, North 3rd, the Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties has cornered the market on gastropubs.
I don’t know why I’m still surprised that these “bars” consistently serve as good or better grub than most of their food-focused bretheren, the restaurants. But surprised I was when my friend dragged me to north of Spring Garden for my last meal as a resident of Philadelphia.
After ordering a glass of wine – off the also surprisingly decent wine list – and my friend a pint of the day’s special microbrew, we perused past the regular menu to the specials. I began with fresh gazpacho, while my friend went for the chicken empanadas. The cold gazpacho was refreshing, though a bit heavier than I was used to. The dollop of guacamole in the center was a nice compliment to the dark and spicy soup. While I could only finish half, my friend’s empanadas disappeared in half the time.
For my entree, I chose another special: seared scallops with red pepper, corn, potato and andouille fricassee. It was beyond delicious. The scallops were humongous, but cooked to perfection, while the fricassee (which I believe was mislabeled – isn’t it supposed to have chicken?) provided ample flavor support.
Following a large bottle of some killer Belgian brew, we unfortunately had no room left for dessert. But no matter – It was still a fitting cap to my eating adventures in Philly.
Let’s hope North Jersey and New York City live up to the legacy.
Posted in Drinks, Philadelphia, Restaurants
Tagged chicken empanadas, fricassee, gastropub, gazpacho, North 3rd, northern liberties, Philadelphia, seared scallops, standard tap
This is Erin O’Shea and she is directly responsible for the best meal I had in Philadelphia.
As the new executive chef of Marigold Kitchen, O’Shea was given the task of reinventing the menu of this nearly 70 year-old restaurant location yet again. And for inspiration, all she had to do was look south.
Yes, we’re talking grits, bacon and plenty of old-fashioned butter. But this is no country style breakfast joint. Marigold serves some of the most sophisticated Southern fare this side of the Mason-Dixon, and O’Shea has won over the local Yank population with an endlessly inventive menu of new classics.
So let’s get to them, shall we?
Posted in Philadelphia, Restaurants
Tagged #1 restaurant, best, chive gnocchi, cornbread, Erin O'Shea, grits, halibut, Marigold Kitchen, orange blossom cake, Philadelphia, pork chop, shrimp, Southern food, strawberry rhubarb shake
I like this photo so much that I’ll start this review by giving props to its creator, James Muspratt. He’s a graduate student at Yale and has some great design and photography work online. Check out his site.
The thing I love about this photo is that it shows the back alley entrance (or exit) to one of the fanciest restaurants in the United States. It demonstrates that even a venerable institution such as Le-Bec Fin has something to hide.
What they’ve been hiding recently, according to the scuttlebutt around town, is a growing unpopularity and creeping irrelevance. So the owner, Georges Perrier, took action, remodeling the stuffy restaurant into a (slightly) dressed down, a la carte dining room.
Having not had the opportunity (i.e. the money) to try Le-Bec before this blockbuster re-imagining, I was a bit apprehensive to be among the first patrons of the new, mainstream Fin. And as if proving my intuition to be correct, my experience there was a decidedly mixed bag.
It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally updated the list of my favorite Philadelphia restaurants.
Since I’m bad at decisions and love alliteration, ten has become fifteen. And why “final?” Well, that’s another story entirely.
The short version is that I’ve moved out of Philadelphia. Maybe I’ll get to the long version eventually, but for now, I will be bringing you the latest food news, restaurant reviews and random opinions from beautiful northern New Jersey.
I still have a few more Philly stories to push out before I switch over completely. I hope you enjoy the new list and these last Philly posts as much as I loved living and eating in the City of Brotherly Love.
I’ve been waiting for a serious attempt at high-end Indian food since I moved to Philadelphia four years ago. Bindi, from the people behind one my favorites, Lolita, has ended that wait.
The first thing you should know about Bindi is that it’s not authentic Indian. Just as Lolita heightens and contemporarizes Mexican spices and flavors, Bindi takes the same approach to Indian tastes. In other words, leave your chicken tikka craving at home.
Again like Lolita, Bindi offers pitchers of drink mixers. These can be paired with either rum or vodka (as opposed to tequila for Lolita’s margarita mixers) and taste so phenomenally good that they are a legitimate danger to you and your loved ones. We ordered a pitcher of the Nimbu-Pani (Indian style pomegranate-ginger lemonade); I doubled the suggested dose of vodka and still couldn’t taste the alcohol. As I said, dangerous.
The food – that’s a different story. But before we get to that mixed bag, I feel forced to add a disclaimer: Because we went here over a month ago and the menu had just changed (and is not yet updated online), food details may be a little sketchy in this review. Bear with me.
Unlike the night before, I had made reservations for graduation dinner months in advance. The location: Rae, a chic, contemporary new restaurant in the chic, contemporary new Cira Centre.
Occupying about a third of the ground floor of this busy skyscraper, Rae seems to be designed for the hip, rich after-work crowd.
Though not exactly a parental utopia in terms of atmosphere, our group was more than pleasantly surprised by Rae’s quality of food. In short, dinner was spectacular.
Posted in Events, Philadelphia, Restaurants
Tagged beef tenderloin, caesar salad, caramel apple walnut pie, Cira Centre, horseradish ice cream, Philadelphia, Rae restaurant, raw tuna, risotto fingers, salmon, variations of chocolate, West Philadelphia
I’m bad at making reservations. Especially on weekends.
So even though I knew for months that my parents were coming for UPenn graduation weekend (where my lovely and talented wife officially became a doctor of veterinary medicine), I had not made reservations for their first night in town.
As anyone from Philadelphia can tell you, this is a big mistake. Restaurants are booked solid throughout that weekend as proud parents wine and dine their graduating progeny… and themselves.
Fortunately, this mistake was easily rectified with a last-minute reservation at Caribou Cafe. I had heard great things about this place but could never muster up the enthusiasm to give it a try, especially with so many restaurants ahead of it on my “need to try” list.
I’m pleased to report that only one visit to Caribou completely cured me of that enthusiasm problem and I’m well on my way to recovery.
Posted in Dessert, Philadelphia, Restaurants
Tagged Caribou Cafe, chocolate mousse, French bistro, graduation weekend, mocha pot de creme, Philadelphia, rainbow trout, resaurant, salmon