Archive: March, 2009
Open for a little under two weeks, Bish Bish Cafï¿½ has taken over the old Philly Falafel space at 18th and Sansom (1740 Sansom St., 215-568-2333 bishbishcafe.com). The menu is pizzeria-style fare (stromboli, sandwiches/wraps, burgers) with a few specialty pies (a meat lover's features bacon, ham, sausage, and kebab-cooked beef or chicken), but they also do breakfast (omelettes, pancakes, French toast) and a Medi/Middle Eastern eats like falafel, shawarma and hummus.
GrubHub.com, a database and ordering service that directs consumers to restaurants that offer delivery or carryout, has expanded to the Philadelphia region.ï¿½ The Web site provides delivery hours and ranges, as well as some menus,ï¿½ for more than 1,500 local restaurants.ï¿½ Users who create an online profile can store their past and favorite orders, write reviews, use coupons, order food through the Web and leave notes for delivery drivers on how to access their building.
GrubHub CEO and founder Matt Maloney tapped two of Philadelphia's famous-name restaurateurs for endorsements.
GrubHub.comï¿½s online service provides an easy and efficient way for people to order from their neighborhood restaurants, and it drives profits directly to those restaurants,ï¿½ said Stephen Starr.ï¿½ ï¿½Working with GrubHub.com will allow us to expand our opportunities for growth.ï¿½
ï¿½The economic landscape has changed dramatically over the past year, and restaurants who want to survive this tough market need to look for more innovative ways to compete,ï¿½ said Philadelphia chef and restaurateur Susanna Foo. ï¿½We feel partnering with GrubHub.com will help increase our delivery business."
GrubHub's main competitor is the well-entrenched Menupages.com, which is less a delivery/carryout directory than a menu database of over 2,311 Philadelphia-area restaurants.
Do you think this service will thrive in Philadelphia?ï¿½ Maloney states,ï¿½ ï¿½The recession has thus far done little to hamper our momentum. With an increasing number of cost-conscious consumers opting to stay at home and get their food delivered rather than eating out, we thought this was an opportune time to expand our business in Philadelphia.ï¿½
Has the recession affected your ratio of eating out to taking out?
Open Chef-A-Me (like "sesame") is an "open mic night for local chefs" dreamed up by IT professional Jesse Middleton, his brother Louis and friends Evan Kaplowitz and Bart Mroz. The concept: The team finds amateur chefs who think they have what it takes to prepare a meal in a real restaurant kitchen, and round up diners who pay a mere $25 to sit for hors d'oeuvres and a three-course dinner.
The idea, says Middleton, was developed in the manner all great ideas are developed ï¿½ "over four or five Guinnesses apiece" at the Dark Horse. "We were discussing how much we enjoyed karaoke and open mic nights, then we came across the idea of 'Why isn't there a way to do that with the food industry?'" he says. A friend at the Headhouse Square pub put the guys in touch with Langostini at Front and Morris, leading to the birth of the inaugural Chef-A-Me night, scheduled for this coming Monday, March 30. (The restaurant's closed to the public on that night.)
Though it's already sold out, the first chef will be co-founder Mroz, who actually has some pro experience behind the stove: His parents owned a catering company. The native Pole, who runs round3media, will offer fare like a spring green salad, a Polish cauliflower dish with browned butter and breadcrumbs and beef braised in Victory Baltic Thunder Porter (they've secured the Downingtown Brewery as a beverage sponsor).
The frequency of the events will be contingent on the success of Monday's meal, but Middleton says it will most likely be held ï¿½ at different locations ï¿½ on a monthly basis. Interested in more details or want to audition for a future Open Chef-A-Me night? Check out openchefame.com or e-mail Middleton at email@example.com.
Felicia D. recently chatted up Ansill Food + Wine chef/owner David Ansill about some of his offal tendencies (lamb hearts, veal kidneys) and his sweet happy hour, which runs from 6 to 8 weekdays and features $1 oysters, $5 glasses of Prosecco, etc.
Examiner.com is hosting a poll for Best Beer City USA. Right now Portland is holding a commanding lead with 41 percent of the vote; Asheville, North Carolina is posting 25 percent, and we are way down at third with 11 percent.
Get out the vote, people! We can't let a bunch of kumbaya hippies and slacker West Coasters beat us at our own game. Besides, we have one thing Portland and Asheville can only dream about ï¿½ Fergie.ï¿½ Also, deodorant and a championship sports team.
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
|Publican-about-town Fergie Carey, hosting Unibroue brewer Jerry Vietz|
- Newspaper feature without recipes: Craig LaBan
- Outstanding Service: Vetri
- The Rising Star: Michael Solomonov
- Outstanding Restaurateur: Stephen Starr
- The Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic: Jose Garces
The field of semi-finalists is now cut down to 3 to 6 finalists in each category. Awards for media (like LaBan's newspaper feature without recipes) are handed out on May 3, while the "food Oscars" for nominated chefs and restaurateurs are awarded on May 4. You can view a complete list of the finalists here.
Meal Ticket caught up with a few of the finalists and got their take on getting sooo close to the big win.ï¿½ We asked them all the same question: What is it like to be nominated for the top award in your field, and do you think you'll win?
Craig LaBan: It's a great honor. Competitions like that are kind of funny. They never matter unless you are nominated to be a finalist. These are great food writers from around the country.ï¿½ It's nice to be recognized for the work we do every week.
Meal Ticket: Which story are you nominated for? [The Philadelphia Inquirer, "The Tender and the Tough"]
Craig LaBan: I wrote about John Bucci of John's Roast Pork, which focused on his pre-leukemia and bone marrow transplant. I hung out with him on his last night at his luncheonette, the last night before he closed up to get a bone marrow transplant. I've covered him as one of the great cheesesteak and pork sandwich places, and this was a unique opportunity to tell his story from the other side of the lunch counter, something I don't get to do often.ï¿½ John's is a great restaurant, a real part of the city, and they are much beloved by those who knows them. It was an opportunity to remind people that food writing doesn't have to be just about food, but about the people who make food, too. I'm glad to say he's doing well. I have no idea what judges are thinking. When it falls in you favor, it's very exciting.
Michael Solomonov: Uhhhh. I don't know. Probably not gonna win. I'm really honored to be nominated. I'm proud of my team. Opening the restaurant [Zahav] was pretty nuts. Everyone worked really hard. Honestly, I am just really excited to be nominated. It's all I can ask for. I'd have to squeeze into a tuxedo, which would be weird. I'm in the company of great chefs, who are heroes of mine. Seeing the people who have inspired me to be a chef will be pretty cool.
Meal Ticket: Is this the first time you've been nominated?
Mike Solomonov: I was nominated a couple of times at Marigold. This is my first finalist, though.
Stephen Starr: I'm very honored and humbled to be nominated in this group.ï¿½ Drew [Nieporent, Myriad Restaurant Group, NYC] I've known for years ï¿½ he's an icon in New York. Richard Melman in Chicago is Lettuce Entertain You [Enterprises], and he's been around for 30 years. Keith McNally owns Balthazar, Lucky Strike, Pastis ... he's had more influence on the pop culture of restaurants in New York than anyone. I feel like I'm in the company of superstars.
Jose Garces: It's an honor to be nominated again. I'm hoping this is the year. This is my third nomination,ï¿½ all in the same category. I don't know if I'm going to win. The committee can be kind of fickle. I'm unsure, hoping for the best and keeping an open mind.
Meal Ticket: Marc Vetri won Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic on his third nomination.
Jose Garces: Yeah, Marc won on his third nomination. He guaranteed I would win last year. I just talked to him and he said he guarantees nothing this time.
[Ed. Note: Jeff Benjamin returned Meal Ticket's call, and we missed it. At time of publication, we had not spoken to Jeff Benjamin or Marc Vetri at Vetri.ï¿½ When we get in touch, we will update here.]
After the jump, check out the menu for The Blockley Pourhouse as well as a working menu for Mary Oaks. Located at 38th and Chestnut, Ned Taddei and Patrick Hughes' project is two separate entities ï¿½ The Blockley's an indoor beer garden with space for live music, while Mary Oaks will carry more of a gastropub feel, with small/medium/large plates, 24 craft brews on tap, an 80-item bottle list and 40 wines available. The grand opening, originally set for March 28, has since been pushed back to sometime in April.
Ross Essner, who ran the now-defunct Django before moving on to Taproom on 19th, is the executive chef for both spots. Laz Evans, Essner's sous chef from Django, is taking over the kitchen at the Taproom as well as food operations at The Green Room at 20th and Green. (Many of the Taproom's more popular menu items are now available there.)
What do we want to eat? At The Blockley: Chesapeake bay fries with jumbo lump crab (popularized at the Taproom); the infamous Quebecois specialty poutine (fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy, which will be done here with beef short ribs and caramelized onions); and the New England clam roll. As for Oaks? Digging on the crispy sweetbreads, chorizo/charred baby octopus bolognese and the maple- and bourbon-braised lamb shank.
THE BLOCKLEY POURHOUSE
MEEK, ARROGANT OR OBNOXIOUS WITH CREAMY BLUE CHEESE AND CELERYï¿½ $8
JERKED CHICKEN "NUGGETS"
CHARRED PINEAPPLE CHUTNEY $6
TINY TEXAS TOMMY CORN DOGS
BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLE CHIPS, BEER MUSTARD $5
WILD MUSHROOMS, TALEGGIO FONDUE AND WHITE TRUFFLE OIL $7
CRISPY FRIED OYSTERS
SPINACH, CARROT, AND PICKLED RED ONION, BLUE CHEESE, BACON AND BBQ SAUCE $10
VERMONT CHEDDAR, CREME FRAICHE, PICKLED JALAPENOS AND TORTILLA CHIPSï¿½ $5
CHESAPEAKE BAY FRIES
CREAMY VERMONT CHEDDAR, JUMBO LUMP CRAB AND GREEN ONIONS $8
A BIG BASKET OF HOUSE CUT FRIES
GARLIC AIOLI, HEINZ 57 KETCHUP AND TRUFFLED PARMESAN CREME FRAICHEï¿½ $5
BEEF SHORT RIB AND CARAMELIZED ONION GRAVY,ï¿½ HOUSE CUT FRIES AND SQUEAKY CHEESE $8
YUKON GOLD POTATO AND MELTED LEEKS, CREAMY LOBSTER NAGE $8
CURRIED BUTTERMILK ONION RINGS
TANGY RANCH DIP $7
SALT BOILED NORTH CAROLINA PEANUTS $4
GARLIC CROUTONS, CHOICE OF GRILLED CHICKEN OR JUMBO SHRIMP $9
MIXED YOUNG LETTUCES
TOMATO, ONION, CUCUMBER AND MAPLE SHERRY VINAIGRETTE $6
THE BLOCKLEY COBB
CHICKEN, SHRIMP, GREENS, EGG, AVOCADO, TOMATO, CHEDDAR, ONION AND ROASTED PEPPERS, BROWN DERBY VINAIGRETTE $10
HANGER STEAK SALAD
SLICED STEAK, GREENS, TOMATO, ONION, CRUMBLED BLUE CHEESE, 12 YEAR OLD BALSAMIC AND HOUSE CUT FRIES $10
PETITE GREEK SALAD
INDIVIDUAL SPINACH PIE $9
PRIME SIRLOIN BURGER
LETTUCE, TOMATO AND ONION, CHOICE OF CHEESE, HOUSE CUT FRIES $9
GRILLED CHICKEN BLT
LETTUCE, TOMATO, ONION AND AVOCADO, HOUSE CUT FRIES $9
CHICKPEA AND FRESH FAVA BEAN FALAFEL
HUMMUS, TZATZIKI, FAVA BEAN AND CUCUMBER SALAD $8
RUSTIC TURKEY MEATLOAF
FRIED ONIONS, SWISS CHEESE, RICH MUSHROOM GRAVY, HOUSE CUT FRIES $8
GARLIC AND ROSEMARY SCENTED SLOW ROASTED PORK
ROASTED PEPPERS, BROCCOLI RABE AND PROVOLONE CHEESE, HOUSE CUT FRIES $9
CRISPY NEW ENGLAND CLAM ROLL
COCKTAIL AND REMOULADE SAUCE, SLAW, HOUSE CUT FRIES $10
GRILLED FILET MIGNON
RED WINE MUSHROOMS, CRISPY ONIONS, HORSERADISH CREAM, HOUSE CUT FRIES $12
IPA BEER BATTERED FISH AND CHIPS
COLE SLAW, TARTAR SAUCE AND MALT VINEGAR, POTATO WEDGES $13
TENDER FLEMISH STYLE BEEF SHORT RIBS
WILTED GREENS, CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND HORSERADISH POTATO PUREE $15
CRISPY PORK CHOP SCHNITZEL
GRAIN MUSTARD GREEN BEANS, GERMAN STYLE POTATO SALAD $14
FRIED SHRIMP IN A BASKET
COLE SLAW, COCKTAIL AND TARTAR SAUCE, HOUSE CUT FRIES $14
GRILLED BANGERS AND MASH
WILD BOAR SAUSAGES, BACON STUDDED CHOUCROUTE, BEER MUSTARD REDUCTION, SCALLION FORK MASHED $13
CRISPY ORGANIC FRIED CHICKEN
BUTTERMILK BISCUIT, SPICY SAUSAGE GRAVY, MASHED POTATOES $13
WHEAT BEER, SHALLOTS, GARLIC AND HERBS, GARLIC MAYONNAISE AND HOUSE CUT FRIES $12
MARY OAKS DINNER
SPINACH AND BACON SALAD. SHERRY SHALLOT VINAIGRETTE.ï¿½ $5.
PATRICKï¿½S + GUSï¿½ PICKLES.
MARINATED OLIVES + GRILLED PITA.
GARLICKY HUMMUS. SMOKEY MOUTABEL. CREAMY FAVA.ï¿½ $7.
ALMONDS.ï¿½ BROWN BUTTER. $6.
3 OYSTERS ON THE HALF SHELL. CRAB. APPLE + HORSERADISH. $10.
PARSLEY. CAPERS. LEMON + PURPLE MUSTARD. $8.
FOIE GRAS TORCHON.
PEPPERED BLACKBERRY JAM. PEPPERED FUNNEL CAKE. $16.
BACON + MAPLE ROSATED MARCONA ALMONDS.
ROASTED TOMATO SOUP.
GRILLED CHEESE TRIO $6.
SAUSAGE. ESCAROLE + WHITE BEANS. $12.
HOUSE CUT FRIES.
WILD MUSHROOM RISOTTO.
SAGE. PARMESAN. PORCINI BROTH.ï¿½ $12.
BLACK PEPPERED BEEF CARPACCIO.
PETITE CAESAR. FRIED YOLK. PARMESAN + BOQUERONIES.ï¿½ $12.
HEARTS OF PALM + ROASTED BEETS.
AVOCADO. POMELO. CITRUS-HAZELNUT VINAIGRETTE. $12.
ESCARGOT POT PIE.
WILD MUSHROOMS. CELERIAC. SWEET GARLIC. CHAMPAGNE CREAM. $12.
ARTISAN MEATS + CHEESES.
SURF + TURF.
PETITE FILET MIGNON SLIDERS. PETITE LOBSTER ROLLS. POTATO CHIPS. $18.
ROASTED MARROW + PARSLEY SALAD.
OXTAIL + RED PEPPER JAM.ï¿½ TOAST POINTS. 12.
CRISPY CLAMS. BACON. PEPPERS. ONION + GARLIC. SMOKED PAPRIKA AIOLI.ï¿½ $12.
CRISPY SWEETBREADS + ROASTED SWEET ONION.
TRUFFLED POTATO PUREE. VEAL CHEEK RAGOUT.ï¿½ PARSLEY PUREE.ï¿½ $12.
SHAVED SALAMI + BLUE CHEESE.
FRISEE LETTUCE. CANDIED GARLIC. AGED BALSAMIC. $10.
MIXED VEGETABLES. LEMON + BASIL GASTRIQUE. GARLIC AIOLI.ï¿½ $9.
CHORIZO + CHARRED BABY OCTOPUS BOLOGNESE.
ORCHIETTE PASTA. MANCHEGO CHEESE. LEMON ZEST. $12.
SPICY CASHEWS + CHARRED RED ONIONS.
BIBB LETTUCE. CURRIED BUTTERMILK RANCH. $10.
THIN SLICED RAW TUNA. VEAL SAUCE. ARUGULA. GREMOLATTA VINAIGRETTE. $12.
SEARED DIVER SCALLOPS.
CARAMELIZED CAULIFLOWER. MARCONA ALMOND. SEA URCHINCREAM. $16.
PORCHETTA + BROCCOLI RABE.
GOAT CHEESE GNOCCHI. LONG HOT JUS. PARMESAN. $12.
GRILLED LAMB CHOPS.
LAMB + OLIVE STUFFED CALAMARI. GREEK SALAD. CALAMARI CROUTONS. $34.
TWICE COOKED WHOLE ORGANIC CHICKEN.
SPRING VEGETABLES. SAUSAGE STUFFING. RICH POULTRY JUS. $32.
ROASTED SPRING VEGETABLES.
SPINACH MALFIOTTI.ï¿½ SWEET GARLIC.ï¿½ BROWN BUTTER + PARMESAN.ï¿½ 22.
MAPLE + BOURBON BRAISED PORK SHANK.ï¿½
BOSTON BAKED BEANS. GREEN BEAN SALAD. $26.
GRILLED WHOLE AMERICAN RED SNAPPER.
ROASTED PEPPERS. CREAMED LEEKS. ROASTED TOMATOES. BASIL PUREE. $34.
GRILLED PRIME HANGER STEAK.
CREAMED SPINACH. WILD MUSHROOM SKINS. ROASTED SHALLOT JUS. $28.
PORT SCENTED CREME BRULEE.
BLUE CHEESE MADELEINES. $.7
WHITE PEACH BREAD PUDDING.
DRIED CHERRIES. CREME ANGLAISE. PEACH ICE CREAM. $7.
CHOCOLATE ALMOND TERRINE.
FUDGE SAUCE. ALMOND ICE CREAM. $7.
BLACKBERRY ICE CREAM.ï¿½ FLAMING BLACKBERRY PUREE. $7.
KEY LIME TART.
GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST. WHIPPED CREAM. $7.
HOME STYLE COOKIE PLATE. $7.
|On the set of Jihaad in Philly
This Daily News piece by Regina Medina about the spineless rip-off-hardworking-Philadelphians scheme that was the local production of the Bollywood film Jihaad proves that it's affected more than just those in the film industry ï¿½ members of our hospitality biz are getting the shaft, too.
The jist of the story: Australia-based production company Swish Films oversaw the area filming of Jihaad, which stars Bollywood icons Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor. They allegedly skipped town without shelling out half a million dollars owed to various actors, crew people and other service providers.
Among the screwed ï¿½ Tiffin owner Munish Narula, who was tapped to provide catering for the production.
He hired more staff to accommodate as many as 60 people a day on "Jihaad," the second Bollywood film for which he'd been hired to cater.
But two weeks into the "Jihaad" shoot, according to Narula, he and his restaurant were suddenly fired.
"'We love your food,'" Narula said he was told by Swish's Mitu Bhowmick-Lange. "'The service is great. Dharma has found somebody else, so we have to fire you.'"
At first, Narula said, he was incredulous: He had fed everyone on the set for 15 days and never saw a penny. He tried to negotiate with Bhowmick-Lange and Dharma officials, then hired a lawyer, he said.
The restaurant owner sued Swish and Dharma in Philadelphia small-claims court for breach of contract. Neither Swish nor Dharma showed up in court, he said. The court ruled in Narula's favor, but he doesn't think he'll get his money.
"None of them are based in the U.S.," he said. "They don't have any assets here. If we had a judgment against an American company, we could put a lien on one of their assets."
Here's hoping Narula and his employees get fairly compensated for their work. May Swish Films drown in an Olympic-size pool full of raita.
For what it's worth, Jihaad sounds pretty sweet. I would watch it:
The movie's plot involves an Indian woman wooed by a fellow countryman for her U.S. green card. The pair marry and move to New York, where she realizes that her new husband is part of a terrorist cell.
SNACK TIME: Shank's & Evelyn's movin' on up, flaxseed Cakesters to make at home, barter web work for food, scrapplemania, do you remember anything about Beer Week?
|Goodbye, my love.|
Every Wednesday, Meal Ticket pokes around the food blog world to see what's simmering.
- On Monday, Foobooz broke the horrible news that Souf Philly luncheonette Shank's & Evelyn's is shuttering their 10th Street shop on April 30 and movin' on up to a Center City location. Mike Klein at The Insider adds to the story, reporting today that:
[Pam] Poppa's mom, matriarch Evelyn Perri, has sold the building and wants to relocate to Center City. They have expressed interest in 120 S. 15th Street, the vacant sandwichery just above Sansom and across from the Union League. Poppa says the partnership that brought a Shank's location to the Northeast last year has dissolved.
- Apples and Cheese, Please attempts to replace Oreo Cakesters with a slightly more healthy cocoa snack cake. If it has flaxseed and whole wheat in it, that counts as a vegetable, right?
- Foodaphilia wants to know if there are any designers or web-savvy folks who are willing to lend their aesthetic eye to her site in exchange for edibles. We would have helped if E hadn't snubbed us on her Best Philly Food Blogs list for blogs.com. Are we bitter? Maybe a little ï¿½ but in a refreshing way, like Angostura in a Manhattan!
- Not only did Kitchenplay make their own scrapple, they attended ScrappleFest at The Reading Terminal Market last Saturday. Their personal fave? Leidy's offering, with its notable sage and less salt.
- Joe Sixpack reminds us on Beer Radar to fill out a Beer Week feedback survey. Not only will your fond memories (of how much loot you dropped on comestibles, liquid and otherwise) help shape next year's event, you will be entered into a drawing for free tix to Opening Tap 2010.
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