It hasn't exactly been smooth sailing for Le Bec 2.0. There have been chef shuffles, owners coming and going and all sorts of menu 'reinventions,' in other words all signs pointing to nowhere good. And in not so shocking news, yesterday we found out that Le Bec is retiring come June.
The Insider tapped local restuarteurs and chef, asking them to share their thoughts on the end of Le Bec's era.
So what's next for the iconic space at 1523 Walnut Street? Looks like Le Bec vet Chris Scarduzio is stepping in as director of ops and assisting Justin Bogle, a Philadelphia born Michelin starred chef Justin Bogle is going to be taking over space and relaunching come fall. Buzz words for the new concept include progressive American, local farmers and foragers, bistro food, and speakeasy cocktails.
Stay tuned for more info about this curious yet kind of predictable turn of events.
Note: In the latest issue of Meal Ticket Magazine we talked to a bunch of Philly food folks about their first jobs. We couldn't fit them all in the issue so over the course of the next few weeks we're going to be bringing you more tales of first restaurant gigs. First up is Jeff Ziga, co-owner of Little Baby's Ice Cream.
"I started early. I bussed tables and washed dishes at a family-owned Italian restaurant in the suburbs run by three brothers who constantly talked about women's "rubbernecks" and would coerce one of the bartenders to unbutton another button or two in the name of better tips. At that same place, I was paid time and a half for dishwashing shifts because I "worked twice as fast as the Mexicans" who they had on staff. I was a host at a corporate pizza chain in an affluent suburb where assholes tried to bribe me for a shorter wait time and the servers wouldn't invite me to hang out at parties because I gave them too many "two-tops" (tables with two people). The assistant managers were industry lifers who drank too much. Later on, I delivered catering for a local downtown chain where the coked up owner accused me of stealing a bottle of orange juice on my second day (I didn't), and later told me that I was personally responsible for a scrape on the paint job of the delivery van and made it clear to me that I had to drive to AutoZone and take care of the problem on my own dime or I wouldn't have a job the next day. Fortunately I wasn't a girl or else I'd have been subject to a slew of other shit.
Now that I own a place and people work for me and rely on me for their livelihood, I don't engage in any of this type of behavior because you don't have to fuck people over to survive."
When our favorite South Philly Review restaurant critic visited the NoLibs outpost of Honey's Sit 'N Eat back in September she was more than pleased with their bunch offerings, so pleased in fact that she wanted to return to survey their lunch options. But as is the life of a food critic, a busy schedule of checking out newly opened restaurants kept PSN from lunching at Honey's.
But Honey's (2101 South St.) new location on South Street proved to be the perfect opportunity for PSN to make her way back.
With loyal dining companion/husband Edward and a bottle of Côtes du Rhône in tow, PSN settled in for dinner. The duo began with a bowl of matzo ball soup that earned a "huzzah" for a chicken fat twinkling broth and fluffy matzo balls. Crisp and grease-free fried green tomatoes served with ranch brought smiles all around.
PSN has caught ramp fever siting that they "have been lighting up the culinary Twitter sphere for the past month." Honey's take chargrilled the wild leeks and paired them with a romesco sauce that had her scraping every last bit from her plate.
Although brisket was served in tacos on Honey's menu, PSN requested a platter and she was given nicely seasoned if not a little tough shredded brisket served with grilled just right asparagus, never before seen triangular latke, golden on the outside and creamy within and a warm biscuit with irresistible house-made peach jam.
The evening's only disappointment came in the form of Edward's Reuben which came on limp rye with strangely sweet corned beef.
All said, Honey's got a solid three tips of the toque from PSN who was so impressed with the service so much that she gave her server, Mike, a shout out in the review.
Afternoon Snacks: Victory garden propaganda, Regrettable food, What it means to be excellent, Meat thermometer basics
Modern Farmer pulled together these "12 Fantastic Victory Garden Posters" from WWI and WWII, and guess what? They are actually fantastic—particularly the directive to "Can vegetables, fruit, and the Kaiser, too."
Our favorite French-Vietnamese bakery, Artisan Boulanger shut its doors at the end of April readying for a move to new digs at 1218 Mifflin Street and now it looks like we're going to be back in the baguette-pistachio croissant game pretty soon. Passyunk Post grabbed this shot of the new signage for the spot and is reporting that the plan is to reopen sometime in May. They've also got the scoop about Le Bec alum Chris Scarduzio's plans to take over the old location, tearing it down and rebuilding it suit his new 50-seat Italian-American concept.
Calling all you aspiring realityTV stars/bumbling line cooks, want to be berated by Gordon Ramsay on national television? Of course you do!
We've caught word that Hell's Kitchen is going to be casting in Philly some time within the next six weeks. So if you're into doing fun stuff like getting screamed at, possibly taking helicopter rides and participating in the dreaded/hilarious blind tasting challenge (is that banana? No, wait, it's American cheese. Damn, it's a pickle!) all you have to do is email the casting company and include the following information:
"Name and city in the subject line and in the email include your name, where you live(city/state), age, present occupation, a photo of yourself, contact information, about your culinary experience and why you think you would be a good fit for the show. No info is too much. The more info the better."
Hope to see lots of Philly faces next season!
This Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Walnut Street is home to the Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival. The street is blocked off from Broad to 19th and lined with all sorts of options for shopping, entertainment and most importantly tons of stuff to eat and drink. Here's a look at some of the edible highlights of this self-proclaimed "most upscale festival":
Sample plates from fancy-pants Rittenhouse favorites like Il Pittore, Sbraga, Vernick, The Dandelion, Lacroix and Village Whiskey plus more casual fare from Hip City Veg, Underdogs, Shake Shack and Capogiro.
The PLCB is setting up tasting stations throughout the fest with samples of Chairman's Selection wines and cocktails plus an on-site pop-up to take a few bottles home. Other cocktail options are coming from the Whisper Outdoor Lounge with music and drinks from Franklin Mortgage, the Corner Foodery and Whisper.
Be on the look out for a Starr culinary demo stage as well as a Starr Smallwares sidewalk sale were you can deck out your place with discounted kitchenwares from Starr restaurants.
This week we've got Adam checking in on new beer garden Brü where vibes might be fratty and self-serve draft beers are not self explanatory but the sausages and pretzels are solid.
Meal Ticket Magazine hits the streets today with our intrepid team goes back-of-the-house at local restaurants plus tales of Philly food folks' first cooking gigs.
To be honest, when visiting Vox Populi (319 N. 11th St., thirrd floor) we usually aren't thinking too much about eating (okay, maybe a few beers) but this Sunday they're hosting an ice cream social and artist talk with members of the collective along with scoops courtesy of Little Baby's and Franklin Fountain. Artists will be on hand to discuss their works in an exhibition entitled Spark Gap. What is a spark gap exactly? Well, in electronics terms it's that magical meeting place in which bursts of energy - sound, light and heat - appear. Or it could just be that magical gallery show with FREE ICE CREAM.
No word yet on flavors but for a preview of the works head on over to Vox's site.
It's that time of year again, Night Market is officially back in session beginning tomorrow night at 6 p.m. This season's first stop is 22nd and Fairmount Avenue and while the full line up hasn't been disclosed quite yet (it's coming atcha tomorrow a.m.) Foobooz got a peek at a handful of this year's vendors.
Some exciting newcomers to the Night Market scene include The Tot Cart dishing up all sorts of topped tater tots, Hawaiian fare from Poi Dog Snack Shop, fried cheese curds from The Cow and The Curd plus never-before-mobile options from Le Bec Fin and Alla Spina.
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