Category Archives: Philadelphia

Finding Philly… in New York and New Jersey

perilla_table

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.

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A Very Hot Dog Interlude

I know I’m still severely behind on posts, but I just had to put this up.

Best marketing ever? Yes.

Food Cart Craziness

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.

Gastropub Greatness: North 3rd

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.

Marigold Kitchen

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?

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Le-Bec Fin… finally

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.

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The New (and Final) Philly 15

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.