Archive: July, 2009
SNACK TIME: frozen Cake Shake, frozen fries at Starr's SquareBurger, Exit 11 a shore thing, East Passyunk developing Fond, Mexican hot dogs wanted
|The spread at SquareBurger|
Every Wednesday, Meal Ticket pokes around the food blog world to see what's simmering.
- Phoodie.info samples Stephen Starr's SquareBurger, and finds some satisfying and affordable, if not groundbreaking, park fare.ï¿½ The Butterscotch Krimpet Cake Shake, however, is something else entirely.
- More big news on the Starr SquareBurger front: The fries are frozen, and Grub Street Philadelphia gets the dirty details from Starr catering director Simon Powles. Hey, if it's good enough for Thomas Keller...
- Beer Lass Suzanne Woods clues you in on Flying Fish Exit 11, debuting tonight at Swift Half and Varga Bar. Taste a wheat beer with more than a little hop-to tonight, and look for Meal Ticket's review of the stuff that has M.A.D.D.'s knickers in a twist tomorrow.
--The Insider has the scoop on Fond, yet another restaurant opening on East Passyunk Ave. Check out the boldface names from Le Bec and Lacroix headed down Souf.
-- Hawk Krall of Drawing For Food pimps the latest in his hot dog painting series for Serious Eats, the Tijuana Dog. He also begs the question: why no bacon-wrapped Mexican hot dogs, like those commonly sold late night outside of bars in L.A., in Philly?
Over the years, my dear Cab has devolved into a preening overindulgent drama queen, demanding more and more from me, and giving less and less in return. For every great bottle, such as the one I am enjoying right now, there have been a dozen brutish nightmares of overpriced tooth-staining swill.
As with so many breakups, it comes down to money. The cost of Cabernet has become unhinged from reality. A bottle of these grapes, chosen at random, is likely a ripoff. The Wine Institute in California reports that the average price of a bottle of Cabernet on a wine list last year was over $86. The runner up, Pinot Noir, clocked in at just under $69. It gets worse as the wines get better. If you look at wine ratings from Wine Spectator as a litmus test, prices for Cabernet rated as "excellent" are now wildly more expensive than other red wines of the same caliber.
Click here to read the full piece, which features the use of the inspired term "wine bling."
Former attorney Kate Carrara, who runs Buttercream baking out of Philly Kitchen Share, says sweets-craving city dwellers will begin seeing her Cupcake Truck traipsing about the area in the last week of July or the first week of August. Right now she's in the thick of the oft-arduous city licensing and permits process.
The baker tells Meal Ticket that the truck, a mail delivery vehicle that's being revamped to resemble a gigantic cupcake (rendering above; check the progress on Carrara's site), will offer a selection of regular and jumbo-size cupcakes ï¿½ chocolate and vanilla with various frostings, and a rotating special variety. Prices will most likely be $2 for a regular and $4 for a large (the larges are BIG, promises Carrara).
In terms of locations for the truck, Carrara hasn't set anything in stone yet, though she is considering on a potential midday stop outside the Comcast Center at 17th and JFK. "I want to have one or two downtown lunch locations, and maybe a late-night location, as well," she says. She's going to be teasing her whereabouts via her Twitter feed, so get to following.
Want to sample Carrara's wares before she goes officially mobile? She'll be catering the Cupcake Bandit Film Festival, scheduled for Saturday, July 25 at Jefferson Square Park.
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
|L to R: Paul Kimport, Munish Narula and Alfredo Aguilar|
Last night, community development corporation The Girard Coalition hosted three of Philadelphia's notable restaurant owners for a panel discussion on what it takes to survive and thrive "in the biz."
Munish Narula (Tiffin), Alfredo Aguilar (Las Cazuelas) and Paul Kimport (Standard Tap, Johnny Brenda's) shared their accumulated knowledge with a diverse group of would-be restaurateurs. S.C.O.R.E., a free, nonprofit small business counseling service, facilitated the discussion and added "the lender's perspective" to the workshop.
The discussion ranged from acquiring financing (be prepared to personally guarantee all loans with your own assets, and you better have 20 percent of what you are asking for on hand) to the thorny problem of employee healthcare (anything you offer, you must offer to every employee). Though the discussion covered more topics than we have room for here, find the most critical points below.
The Business Plan Is All
Every restaurant owner could not over-emphasize the importance of having a well-developed business plan, including projecting the numbers on best and worst case scenarios. "Too many people run through all of their start-up money just to get open," said Narula. "You have to have enough money, and a plan to obtain more, to pay your employees and vendors for at least 18 months to two years. Sixty to 70 percent of restaurants fail in the first two years because they did not have the money to sustain operating losses."
Clarifying and expressing your ideas in writing, in the business plan, is critical to obtaining initial financing. "Every idea you have," said Kimport, "bounce off other people, finance professionals especially, and vet every idea. You have to defend your ideas and let everyone insult your precious plan to make sure they are solid."
All three restaurant owners took the hammer-in-hand approach to opening their first restaurant. They all advised doing as much yourself as possible, as well as shopping around for used equipment, which can save thousands of dollars ï¿½ except on refrigeration, which Kimport pointed out "you want the warranties and service for, because refrigeration is both tricky and critical. You could lose thousands of dollars in inventory if you have refrigeration failure."
Aguilar stated that he started Las Cazuelas with just one small dining room, then when word spread and guests started waiting an hour for a table, he expanded to a second dining room, using savings from the restaurant's cash flow. He later expanded once again to an upper floor, and purchased the building he was leasing. "Organic growth" and "sweat equity" were the watchwords for all three entrepreneurs.
Know Your Numbers
Narula's background in finance has served him well in operating Tiffin, evidenced by his brand's rapid expansion. "Too many restaurateurs do not know their numbers," he said. "If you don't know your expenses, your food cost, your overtime, you could have a very successful restaurant and still not make it." Though all three owners had extensive experience (15-20 years, on average) in restaurants before they struck out on their own, due diligence with the numbers, not cooking a mean omelette, was what kept them showing profit.
|Photo | James Saul
When the dog-day weather screams G-funk and you need to crack a cold one, Sierra Nevada Summerfest is perfect for those grill-and-chill rites of summer. Its crisp, bright smoothness comes from an extra-long lagering period, which means that itï¿½s good at sitting around ï¿½ just like you. The 5 percent ABV Summerfest is so tasty, it even made our Top 5 Summer Beers list last year.
A case will set you back about $35, depending on where youï¿½re buying. Please enjoy responsibly ï¿½ if you look up in the sky and the lights of the Goodyear Blimp suddenly read "Ice Cube's a Pimp," it's probably time to switch to water.
City Paperï¿½s restaurant database is stuffed with useful information on nearly every eatery in the city, including hours, bar status, handicap accessibility, a smart synopsis ï¿½ and comments. Readers submit their own experiences, adding even more useful information and opinions to each listing.
Except for Chima Brazilian Steakhouse. A strange rumor/disease afflicts all Chima commenters, who do only one thing: plead for 2-for-1 coupons. Food/Meal Ticket/Web Editor Drew Lazor attempted to stem the tide a few months ago by stating that City Paper is a print/web publication and not, in fact, a churrascaria, to no avail. The begging goes on unabated.
For the last time: We do not have 2 for 1 coupons! What we do have, however, is a partnership with Half-Off Depot, which is offering City Paper readers $39.50 Chima gift cards for $19.75, for a limited time only.
Visit halfoffdepot.com/philly to pick up major dealage at Chima, Rembrandtï¿½s, S&H Kebab House and Mugshots Coffeehouse & Cafï¿½, and please, leave our comments out of it.
|Enough, you leeches!
Chef Brian Bosch, formerly of the free-bread-slangin' Parc, is doing food with a Puerto Rican bent, as Institute co-owner Charlie Collazo hails from that commonwealth. Meatier options include bacon-wrapped and mofongo-stuffed (!) chicken breast topped with sofrito; hanger steak in a house marinade; pan-seared red snapper in a coconut/white wine sauce with mango salsa and mashed yams; and beef or veggie empanadas. There's also an entire vegetarian/vegan section (Living on the Vedge got a preview back in April) and a small selection of sides and desserts.
Check out the menu in full at institutebar.com.
Lacroix's Bar 210 (Rittenhouse Hotel, 210 W. Rittenhouse Square), which opened about a year back, has unveiled a happy hour deal they're running Monday to Friday from 5 to 7. Sommelier Eric Simonis has put together a selection of $6 cocktails, $5 wines and $4 beers, and chef de cuisine Jason Cichonski, who's been holding it down on the Square since Matt Levin's late-'08 departure, will offer complimentary hors d'oeuvres. Check out his current bar menu for an idea of what to expect.
The world has been consumed by buttercream and obsessed with 70/30 lean-to-fat ratios ever since two of the biggest and most enduringly edible food trends came and stayed: cupcakes and cheeseburgers.
The clever photog has inspired legions of copycats who post their efforts on Flickr, but so far not a one has topped her for eye appeal.ï¿½ Pencil in a few hours to try it at home, but don't offer us any mid-rare.
|Sprinkles on Facebook|
Lots of chatter about frozen yogurt ï¿½ alright, we'll call it "froyo" as long as you promise to not make fun of us too much ï¿½ in Philly recently, with the openings of Sweet Ending and Yogorino around Rittenhouse. Now here's word of another new spot ï¿½ Sprinkles Frozen Yogurt, which recently debuted its first store in Cherry Hill (above), will open at the corner of 36th and Chestnut sometime in August.ï¿½Run by Matt Mealey and his sister Ryan (of the Mealey's Furniture clan), Sprinkles offers 16 flavors of yogurt, more than 30 toppings and fresh-made waffle bowls. U-City's not the only stop for the growing brand, either ï¿½ the Mealeys are unveiling a West Chester location in August and a Malvern store later this year.
- barstool scientist
- Brew Revue
- Chef Salad
- Dirty Dishes
- Don't Front
- Eat This Immediately
- Field Trip
- Food and Art
- Food and Holidays
- Food and Movies
- Food and Music
- Food and Politics
- Food and Sports
- Food and Web
- Food Blogs
- Food Books
- Food Events
- Food News
- Food TV
- Happy Hour Hopper
- In Print
- Meal Ticket
- Menu Time
- Not So Quickfire
- Notes from the Weekend
- On Wheels
- Patio Drinking
- Philly Beer Week 2010
- Private Chef POV
- Product Placement
- Snack Time
- Stiff Drank
- Ticket Stubs
- Top Chef
- Weekly Candy
- Weird Regional Foods
- We're Here to Help
- Where'd We Eat?
- Drew Lazor's Ill-Advised Rant Factory
- Ill-Advised Ranting
- The Week Without Meat
- Philly Beer Week 2009
- Real Big
- Where'd I Eat Last Night?
- Top Chef Masters
- The Good Word
- Next Iron Chef
- Arterial Terrorism
- Food and Radio