Archive: April, 2010
Team Meal Ticket hunkered down in the glamorous ProvenÃ§al setting of Bistrot La Minette (623 S. Sixth St.) last night for a chef's collaboration of epic proportions. The five-course meal, which we first wrote about in March, brought five of our most exciting "brothers in white" together in the kitchen, each interpreting classic French bistro fare in their own modern way. (It's the second installment a series the first dinner, involving many of the same chefs, took place last summer at MÃ©mÃ©.)
First course was MÃ©mÃ© chef/owner David Katz's take on truite meuniÃ¨re. A creamy, meltingly thin layer of cured trout was served over delicate frisÃ©e and tiny croutons; a citrus gelÃ©e added a sparkling note of acidity. Host chef Peter Woolsey stuffed stunning black-and-white agnolotti with braised oxtails for his fleischnacka de queue de boeuf, lit with a bright haricot vert purÃ©e.
L'Os Ã moelle, Pierre Calmels' course (Bibou), featured roasted bone marrow topped with mushrooms over watercress. Mixing the two components together, as our server advised, created a delightful chaud-froid experience that resonated with everyone at our table. The final savory course was entrecÃ´te d'agneau by Snackbar chef John "Chainsaw" Taus, a saddle of lamb over favas and melted leeks with preserved lemon, garnished with lamb's tongue that spent time in a ham brine. Dessert, a pineapple tarte tatin made by Michael Solomonov (Zahav), contained a concealed surprise a thin layer of speck, a smoked and cured ham similar to prosciutto.
At $55 for the basic ticket and another $20 for five generous wine pairings, this dinner was an absolute steal, especially with Solomonov and Calmels in the running for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic and Best Restaurant, respectively, in this year's James Beard Foundation Awards. We're still full.
Studiokitchen, the tasting-only restaurant proposed by chef Shola Olunloyo a few months back, isn't happening. What is happening is Speck, a 77-seat "new American", fully liquor-licensed restaurant that will include a five-seat chef's bar where adventurous diners can order "an allergy and food preference free tasting menu at the kitchen's discretion up to 10 courses."
Olunloyo's announcement on his blog also notes this chef's bar will be booked via "a fully paid, non-transferable, non-cancelable online reservation system almost exactly like the draconian proclivities of Momofuku KO."
An outdoor area will be set up for cocktailing, not dining, with dinner served Tuesday through Sunday and lunch Friday through Sunday as opposed to brunch. Closed Mondays. Location is in the Piazza at Schmidt's in Northern Liberties.
Adan Saavedra and Barb Cohan-Saavedra, whose lauded haute Mexican sit-down Paloma closed in Northeast Philly in late 2009, are taking their ball and heading south specifically to the Italian Market, where they'll resurrect their restaurant in early June, in what was Mezza Luna (763 S. Eighth St.).
Cohan-Saavedra, an attorney and former federal prosecutor who was also Paloma's pastry chef, tells Meal Ticket that she misses the restaurant game and in a way, this close-to-Center-City locale serves as a full realization of the restaurant she and Adan ran for a decade. "Castor Avenue was our training wheels," she says of their slightly far-flung original address.
"We'll have the same name and same concept, and a lot of the same dishes on the menu," adds Cohan-Saavedra of the new-look Paloma, which'll seat roughly 70 and will serve dinner only to start out. "There would be a stampede if we started changing too much." Apparently, folks are already e-mailing in the hopes of landing reservations at the new spot, which'll be BYOB. Right now they're in the thick of cleaning, painting and ordering equipment.
|River & Glen|
The expression "in the biz" may provoke irritation from those who regard restaurant work as an unskilled profession, but there's no sneezing at the economic impact of service industry workers on the restaurants they patronize. Hungry, thirsty and eager for a bite to brag about, food service staffers congregate at spots with satisfying food, strong drinks and a vibe with a pulse.
Smart restaurateurs tap into this market by providing in-the-biz discounts and industry nights with gratis treats. Owen Kamihira, owner of Bar Ferdinand (Liberties Walk, 1030 N. Second St.), offered a 20 percent discount off the $65 ticket price of his upcoming River & Glen sustainable seafood dinner today in a press release. This small local purveyor has earned major buzz among chefs and diners alike for his pristine selection of non-threatened fish and mollusks.
Tickets can be reserved for the Sun., April 25 dinner by calling Ferdinand at 215-923-1313; restaurant employees should bring a pay stub to receive their 20 percent discount. See the preliminary menu after the jump.
River & Glen sustainable seafood dinner, menu by chef David Kane
Mystic Oysters Three Ways
Bouchot Mussels with roasted grapes, tarragon and hazelnuts
Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops with foie gras stuffed morel mushrooms and sherry gastrique
Great South Bay Wild Hand-Harvested Clams
Line-Caught Chatham Bay Cod
When Meal Ticket chatted with Bobby Flay at his brand-new Bobby's Burger Palace (3925 Walnut St.) yesterday, we asked him if he's scoped out any of the many tasty burgers Philly has to offer. He said he that he didn't, on purpose. His full answer from our Q&A, which you can check out in print this week:
Have you had experience with other Philadelphia burgers? There are a lot of signature burgers here in the city.
I haven't, and I've done that purposely. There's lot of great burgers out there the one thing I don't want to be is influenced by anyone else's stuff. There are particular things about the burgers that we do here that are important to me, and I think that they are successful in getting people to crave them. That's really important. ... I only want to be our burger. I don't want to be influenced by something I really like, you know what I mean?
Looks like the Iron Chef might've have a change of heart according to Nishon Yagoobhian of Wild Flour Bakery and a handful of other Philly Twitterati, Flay just took in a burger at Rob and Maggie Wasserman's 500Âº (1504 Sansom St.), for which Wild Flour bakes the buns.
Eric Paraskevas of terra (243 S. Camac St.) and Mackenzie Hilton of Mercato (1216 Spruce St.) will take on ingredients like rattlesnake meat and red jalapenos in tonight's episode of Food Network's incredibly easy to watch cook-off show Chopped. It airs at 10 p.m. and again at 1 a.m. Paraskevas is doing a Victory beer dinner with an incredible-sounding menu this evening; over at Mercato's sister restaurant Valanni (1229 Spruce St.), meanwhile, they'll be hosting a viewing party for Hilton, with ROOT cocktails, that begins at 9:30 p.m.
Jeremy Duclut, chef at georges' in Wayne, took it home in an October Chopped episode that also featured Prive chef Peter Karapanagiotis and local caterer Barbara Esmonde.
Happy Hour is a place to vent daily frustrations and unwind, a time to reconnect with friends and coworkers you don't mind seeing beyond the boundaries of Cubicle Land. It's is also the ideal time to score a deal on your favorite gustatives and gulpables. Although my work scenario has me behind a kitchen prep station rather than a desk, I can appreciate HH just the same. For this feature, I'll hop bar by bar to HHs across the area and report back to Meal Ticket every Tuesday.
If you've been to this week's featured HH, tell us about it in the comments. I want recommendations for future trips, too!
Let's delve into it at Prohibition Taproom.
WHERE YOU AT?
On the corner of 13th and Buttonwood sits Prohibition Taproom (501 N. 13th St.). Its namesake is painted demurely on its two-tone black and tan exterior, but the best way to spot the joint is by looking for the neon sign in the sky reading âBARâ that points to it. Inside, there are about 20 bar seats, including two extended island-type sections that create face-to-face encounters with people you may not know. Lining the opposite wall is a banquette coupled with tables and chairs that may be yanked together for larger groups or pulled apart for intimate two-seaters. They've just received the go-ahead to introduce outlook seating, which they'll set up closer to summertime.
WHAT'S THE SCENE?
A friend and I drove in from Jersey amid heinous amounts of traffic, so I was happy to find a parking spot quickly, arriving just in time for 5 p.m. HH kick off. It was already slightly crowded, with a large group of suits hanging off to the side of the bar, leaving us to sit at one of those jutting sections. Luckily, two girls were just leaving so we quickly snagged their seats next to the taps. The suits kept coming and eventually occupied about 80 percent of the room. I asked out bartender, Jon Lyons, if this was typical. "Today there is a corporate party going on, but usually earlier is definitely business-type oriented," he told us. "Our late-night happy hour is a younger crowd, and people mostly chill and watch TV." Aside from the partiers, there were about 10 people hanging out, including an older guy with a notepad and pen, two people on a date and a few other thirtysomething dudes. Lyons' iPod provided the musical selection, but there is a jukebox if you want to choose your own tunes.
WHAT'S THE DEAL?
Monday through Thursday, ProTap offers two happy hours: 5 to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight. (On Friday, there is just one, from 5 to 7.) Both HHs offer $2 PBR and Lionshead and $1 off drafts and well drinks. I sipped two Unearthly IPAs and a Great Divide Colette Farmhouse Ale. (Also on tap was Yards Brawler, Sly Fox Instigator, Left Hand Milk Stout, Lost Abbey Devotion, Old Scratch Amber Lager and Coronado Red Devil â these switch up weekly.) There aren't any food special, and Lyons said they probably won't add any, but regardless you should order the grilled cheese with sliced fingerlings, jalepeÃ±os, bacon, cheddar and scallions. It's an actual grilled cheese, not a sandwich that's been smeared with butter and smashed on a flat-top. The hummus and pita was tasty, too.
|Courtesy of Newton Vineyard|
|The final Touch|
Glassblower, metalworker, lighting designer, motorcycle mechanic artist John Pomp plies many creative trades in his new East Kensington studio. This multiplicity of skills came about by necessity. "You can't buy the equipment needed for glassblowing," he said, gesturing to his handmade furnace glowing red at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. "It's so specialized there's no market for ready-made equipment, so you have to learn to make it yourself."
A graduate of Tyler School of Art's glassblowing program, Pomp's recent projects include lighting for the Andaz West Hollywood Hotel and accessories collections for Barneys and Neiman Marcus; his first pieces of a furniture collection debut this week at Gallery R'Pure on the edge of Chelsea. In December, Napa Valley winery Newton Vineyard tapped the artist for their second "Eco-Chic" collaboration, a commission to create a limited edition of a functional art object that embodies the winery's culture of sustainable, natural viticulture since its founding in 1977.
A visit to the winery estate inspired the fluid, raindrop shape of "the Touch," a decanter designed specifically for the varietals cultivated in Newton's hillside Spring Mountain vineyard. "When I went to Newton to learn about winemaking," said Pomp, "I felt their natural, organic sensibility in making wine was akin to what I do." Each piece includes 30 percent recycled glass and is entirely mouth-blown and shaped by hand. "Glassblowing hasn't changed much over hundreds of years," said Pomp, who has studied with the Italian maestros of Murano.
After each decanter is blown hot and gently flattened to make it comfortable to hold and pour, Pomp adds his final, literal touch to each piece (pictured). The central dimple serves to aerate Newton's unfiltered wines as well as ensure no two decanters are alike. Pomp likens working with molten glass to winemaking, saying "each piece bears the signature of my handiwork, much like a winemaker's hand shows in every bottle."
"The Touch" ($500) is available in a signed, numbered edition of 100 at newtonvineyard.com.
|Courtesy of Keith Primeau|
Flyers great Keith Primeau checked in to let us know that his Bain's Deli location, on the corner of Broad and Lombard, officially opened for business yesterday. He was offering a 50 percent discount yesterday; today's he's doing 40 percent off, tomorrow 30, through 10 percent off on Friday. Check our December post for some background info on the spot.
|Photo | Marc Steel|
My good friends Chris and Melissa came to visit me from Vermont last week. As per usual, they came bearing gifts. This time, they brought me a Vermatzah. A culinary delight for Semitic Vermonters, Vermatzah is a matzah made with ancient ingredients and baking techniques.
It's a lot tougher than typical Matzah, and definitely grainier, but I loved it. It has more of a cracker feel. I wouldn't recommend making Brei with it, but it would definitely make an interesting and tasty addition to any Seder.
I'll let Vermatzah.com take it from here:
Every piece of our Matzah is handmade with a blend of organic Vermont Wheat and Ancient Emmer, grown under the best sustainable agricultural practices from harvest through baking.
Following the journey of our ancestors from the desert to the Green Mountain hills of Vermont, we strive to re-connect the food we eat with the story of where it comes from. At Naga Bakehouse we follow the path of our Vermont grown grain from the field to the harvest to the baking meticulously guarding the entire process. We then infuse the 5,000-year-old tradition of baking matzah by the open fire in small, handmade batches ensuring the freshest quality.
Why Round? For the past 5,000 years, matzah was hand shaped, irregular. It wasn't until modern mechanization in the late 1800s that matzah became uniform and square with a recognizable pattern. Vermatzah is a return to the past. Our wood-fired ancient round unleavened bread is a symbol of simplicity a metaphor for getting back to the basics. Vermatzah is eco-kosher, connecting modern ecology with ancient dietary laws and ethical standards about food production, preparation and eating. from the Green Mountain State.
More pics after the jump.
|Note the dime for scale of thickness.|
|Topped off with chopped liver. Perfection.|
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