Archive: August, 2009
... or more like the name, Marathon Grill owner Cary Borish tells Meal Ticket. The live music venue, bar and restaurant above the Marathon location at 40th and Walnut (200 S. 40th St.) ï¿½ long known as MarBar before switching to Panda Bar in June ï¿½ should now be viewed not as a separate venue, but as an integrated part of the ground-level restaurant. "Our intent is to make it feel and act as one space," says Borish. Same dï¿½cor, performance, food and drink approach as Panda, just not quite as furry anymore.
So here's your first look at the interior of Village Whiskey, Jose Garces' "neats and eats" bar at the corner of 20th and Sansom. (As of right now, it's up for a Thursday opening, but we hear there's a slight chance that may change ï¿½ we'll keep everyone posted.)
We did our best to take in the narrow, soon-to-be-bustling space ï¿½ lots of pretty dark wood behind the bar, antiquated bar stools, studded leather banquette, black and white hexagonal floor tiling ï¿½ as the staff ran through a tasting earlier today. Above, check out pics of the top half of the menu (we'll have shots of the rest soon), which boasts bar snacks, salads and pickled items (all pickled stuff is served with grilled bread, tapenade and whipped ricotta spread). We somehow missed grabbing a pic of the tater tots. Who knew tater tots could be so elusive?
We also got a peek at The Aviation (classic recipe: Gin, creme de violette, maraschino, lemon) and the De Rigueur (rye, Aperol, grapefruit, lemon, honey, mint, soda) from the Prohibition and Repeal sections of the cocktail list, respectively.
Tonight marks the debut of Fond (1623 E. Passyunk Ave., 215-551-5000), the South Philly BYO from chef Lee Styer and pastry chef Jessie Prawlucki (both formerly of Le Bec-Fin) and former Lacroix captain Tory Keomanivong. For some background, check out our recent chat with Styer, as well as his opening menu.
We just called over and Keomanivong says they're almost fully booked for this evening ï¿½ the only openings they have right now are around 5:30 and closer to 10. If you want either of those tables, we suggest calling right now.
Robert Halpern will officially reopen Marigold Kitchen (501 S. 45th St.) this coming Wednesday, Sept. 2. We already touched base with the chef to get a clearer idea of his modern inclinations. Now Meal Ticket's just grabbed a few photos of dishes that'll be on Halpern's September menu. Hit the jump to check out a fearsome food-porn foursome:
- : Seared Avocado, Fruit & Vegetable Medley, Chilled Almond Broth
- Grouper with Butternut Shortrib Hash and Aerated Mustard
- : Apple Salad, Saffron-Nutmeg Vinaigrette, Crouton
- Black Truffle, Sweet Potato Puree, Essence of Pineapple
|Courtesy of Marigold Kitchen|
Standard wage for tipped employees in Pennsylvania is $2.83 an hour, in case you ever wondered.ï¿½ Bartenders can sometimes score $5 an hour for their honesty with the very valuable booze, but after taxes are deducted on tips, a server's weekly paycheck is more often than not a big fat goose egg.
Cantina Dos Segundos (931 N. Second St.) turns that "this is not a check" check into a restaurant staffer's favorite thing, besides a double grat: a drink.ï¿½ Bring in your void paycheck any time Cantina is serving and trade the in the paper for a free draft beer or margarita. Don't be greedy, it's one per guest per visit.
And don't forget to tip.
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
You must act fast when faced with a surplus of fish. It doesn't happen often, but when the dinner guests don't touch a few fillets of cooked seafood, you have just a few options.
Fish soup, made with whatever aromatics you have on hand (onions, garlic, fennel, celery, carrot), fresh herbs, stock and a touch of cream is a gratifying use of leftovers. Break up cooked fish with a fork before adding it to the completed soup to heat through. Grill a few pieces of crusty bread for dipping and no one will guess this is a second-run meal.
Fishcakes are something I had never even desired to make, until the Tupperware full of lemon-butter cooked tilapia and mashed potatoes foisted on me by my stepmother actually demanded I give the humble cakes a try.
After flaking the cooked fish with a fork and combining them with grated onion, herbs and the mashed potatoes, I gently patted them into small cakes and gave them a dip in egg and breadcrumbs. Fried to a crisp exterior, the simple cakes were tender and surprisingly delicate. Their neutral flavor profile makes them a good match for a variety of partners: eggs, green salad, cocktail sauce and a soft roll, or The Philly Combo: two fishcakes and a split-grilled hot dog with raw onions and "Greek sauce" on a double-wide bun.
After the jump, learn how to turn yesterday's unloved fish into today's hot cake.
This is a proportional recipe; it can be adjusted to use up leftovers, no matter how little or how much you have.
Go Get This (out of the pantry and fridge):
Three parts cooked fish fillets, pin bones removed
One part mashed potatoes, cold
One part onion, grated on a box grater (or more, to taste)
Palmful of fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, chervil, parsley, tarragon, whatever you got; reduce amount to pinches if using dried herbs, which are much more intense)
Pinch dry mustard powder
Neutral-flavored oil, like canola
Now Do This:
In a bowl, flake the cooked fish with a fork into small-ish chunks. Don't pulverize it. Add the grated onion, mashed potatoes, dry mustard powder and herbs; gently mix with the fork to combine.
In a bowl, whisk the egg until yolk and white are combined. Pour breadcrumbs into a shallow, rimmed plate.
Gently pat the fish and potato mixture into small cakes. Remember, they should be thinner instead of thick, because you want to heat the cake through without making it tough or dried out. The primary ingredients are already cooked, so you are really just crisping the outside and warming the inside.
Dip each cake, first in the beaten egg wash and then the breadcrumbs to coat. Set aside on a plate.
Place a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add enough oil just to keep the cakes from sticking; a splash or two should do it.
When oil is shimmering, gently place fish cakes in pan. Fry on each side for 1-2 minutes, until brown and crisp. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain.
Serve with a green salad, scrambled eggs or on a sandwich.
Made it out to Greensgrow this Saturday to get some eating done at the Philly-4-NOLA Shrimp Boil, a benefit organized by chef Corbin Evans to raise funds for Ray Brandhurst, a seventh-generation Louisiana shrimper who's battling lung cancer. Read Kim Severson's 2005 NYT piece and her more recent post on Diner's Journal for more on Brandhurst's story and why he and his family are so respected in cooking circles.
Evans, who lost two NOLA restaurants to Hurricane Katrina, recently moved back to Philly, the city where he cooked at a number of places 10-plus years back. He came to know the Brandhurst family through his involvement with the Crescent City farmers market. Accordingly, the chef prepped a big ol' Louisiana-style boil ï¿½ 100 pounds (!) of red shrimp, potatoes, zucchini, celery, red onion, you name it ï¿½ to go along with some perfectly cooked red beans and rice studded with andouille. Other excellent eating/drinks came in the form of endless fried chicken drumsticks from Mï¿½mï¿½ chef/owner David Katz, a light slaw from London Grill, desserts from Standard Tap, Hurricanes from Southern Comfort and beers from Philadelphia Brewing Co.
Though the sky opened up like mad midway through the event, the worst of the rain passed within minutes, providing the patient with three things: 1) a brilliant rainbow; 2) the opportunity to take photos of pretty flowers; 3) the chance to park it on a damp stack of mulch bags and recommence the glorious sucking of shrimp heads.
Kudos to everyone involved for a great time ï¿½ for a good cause.
Monk's Cafï¿½ (264 S. 16th St.) will be closed for an undetermined amount of time while the building it occupies is inspected for structural deficiencies, following Sunday's tragic fall of two persons from the apartments above the Belgian restaurant.
A man and a woman fell from the fourth-floor fire escape early Sunday morning after a railing gave way. The man was pronounced dead at the scene, while the woman is in critical condition at Hahnemann Hospital. The Inquirer states that the building's owner, who is not listed on city records, will meet with the currently evacuated apartment tenants and bar staff on Friday at 11 a.m. to discuss the building's status.
The Good Word is a new weekly Meal Ticket feature where we ask Philadelphia food people questions. Weï¿½re going to start by highlighting the cityï¿½s many excellent food writers and bloggers, with eventual plans to extend beyond the scribeosphere. The questions will be different every week unless we come across a really sweet one we want to reuse. Want to nominate a future Good Word candidate (yes, you can nominate yourself), or submit ideas for questions? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this installment of The Good Word, weï¿½re chatting with Joy Manning, freelance food writer, Philadelphia Magazine restaurant critic and cookbook author. Joy also writes What I Weigh Today, a blog about how a professional eater fights the scale.
Like a lot of us food nerds, you're an avid Twitterer. But since you rely on anonymity for your critic gig (see right), are you ever afraid that you'll be IDed if you Tweet that you're on location somewhere?
I am on guard at all times about my anonymity; if I tweet that I am somewhere, you can interpret that to mean I just left. And I never tweet the name of a place I am or might be reviewing, though there are sometimes hints.
As a critic for Philly Mag, you're probably approached all the time by out-of-towners looking for recommendations. Is there a certain facet of the city's dining scene that you find visitors are often surprised by?
I am, in fact, often approached for recommendations. One thing that surprises people, especially New Yorkers who haven't eaten out much here, is the sophistication of our fine dining scene. People think cheesesteaks when they think Philly and are surprised to learn how many excellent high-end options we have. Vetri and Osteria, Amada and Tinto, Lacroix and The Fountain are the antithesis of the cheesesteak stereotype.
Fall's nearly here. What summer-season produce item will you be particularly sad to see go? And what was one of your favorite dishes you tried this summer using the ingredient?
I'm dejected over the lack of good tomatoes this year, but that's not the question, is it? I've been using a lot of slender baby eggplants from my CSA, Red Earth Farm. In addition to my work at Philly Mag, I'm also a recipe developer, and I've been working on a batch of vegetarian grilling recipes for another magazine. I did a grilled bread salad with grilled eggplant and basil vinaigrette. It was so good (if I do say so myself) that I could hardly believe it was not only vegetarian, but vegan. Such is the power of fresh, glossy, meaty, Red Earth Farm eggplant.
If you could have any chef in Philly as your in-home personal chef, who would it be and why?
I have been very lucky to sample food from the city's best chefs, and that makes it really hard for me to choose. My first reaction was to answer Michael Solomonov, because Zahav is hands down my personal favorite restaurant. From the moment I first tasted the hummus, flatbread, and salads served there, I could easily imagine eating nothing else for the rest of my life.ï¿½ But, on the other hand, Zahav is pretty affordable and I can go there any time I want. You know whose food I can't have any time I want? Shola Olunloyo. Non-food nerds might have no idea who he is, because he doesn't cook in a restaurant, but anyone who has attended one of his "guest chef" events knows where I'm coming from. Shola served a Snake River Farms beef fillet topped with an oxtail gyoza at an event he did at Snackbar in 2007, and I still dream about it. No one knows delicious like Shola.
Chef Guillermo Tellez just checked in with some great info on Square 1682, his up-for-fall restaurant in the Hotel Palomar by Kimpton (121 s. 17th St.). A native of Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Tellez was the longtime chef de cuisine at the renowned Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, and more recently worked for Stephen Starr as both a menu consultant and the executive chef of Striped Bass. He's planning a menu of globally influenced New American cuisine, with a serious focus on local, organic and sustainable sourcing.
Kimpton is well-known for the "chef-driven" restaurants in its hotels. How did you become involved with this project? Did it help that you had experience here in Philly?
I think they figured Iï¿½m familiar with this market here, and also my background working with small farmers and organic, sustainable agriculture. Iï¿½ve been doing sustainable cuisine for the past 30 years, so that was a big part of what they were looking for in a chef for this restaurant.
Square 1682 aims to become the first LEED-certified restaurant in Philadelphia. What must be addressed to ensure the food meets the requirements?
[To earn LEED certification], you must undergo a review. I am very careful of the farms weï¿½re selecting. This is a little bit of a challenge, though, because some farms are not certified organic officially ï¿½ï¿½ they practice being organic and they follow all the guidelines, but unfortunately, to be able to get certified is very expensive for them, so theyï¿½re not able to call themselves organic because of the financial part of it. I live in Downingtown, so I always go to Amish country and many small farms to try and get some good stuff for us. I just had a meeting with a farm called Shellbark Hollow ï¿½ they gave me some unbelievable samples, and Iï¿½m going to use them for goat cheese and for yogurt. Really, really good.
How will the global influences promised for Square 1682's menu be conveyed, considering all the local products you'll be using?
The main proteins will be sourced from local farms around here, farms that follow hormone-free guidelines and raise free-range animals. There will be flavor influences, but [full-on global dishes] are not going to be the main staples. Itï¿½ll be a couple spices, a few ingredients ï¿½ curry, just to throw an example out there, might be paired with seafood or some kind of meat. Iï¿½m going to have some Latino influences in there, and Asian influences, too ï¿½ a little bit of everything. But theyï¿½ll be more like finishing touches.
Many people view your former boss Charlie Trotter's 2002 decision to stop serving foie gras as the tipping point for the foie controversy in America. Philadelphia has also been a hotbed for the debate. Will foie be on the menu at Square 1682?
We totally believe in animals being raised in a very humane way. [Working for Charlie Trotter's], we toured a lot of the foie gras farms, and I got to see everything. The particular farms that we toured, their whole systems were very good, so we didn't have a problem serving foie gras. I love foie gras. But back then, they didn't have a high demand, so they were able to work and raise the animals in a humane way. When the demand started pressuring them, though, that's when people started falling out of the circle. When we found out, we sent some people to check it out, and indeed they were doing something that we did not agree with. That triggered the whole thing. Foie gras is a great thing, and I love to have it on a menu, but it's all about the principle.
For Square 1682, I can't tell you I'm not going to have it on the menu, but I can't tell you that I will have it. Right now, I don't have it on the menu, but you never know when you'll come across a small farm that does it right.
The seafood you'll serve will also be sustainable, adhering to the guidelines set by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program. Is maintaining high standards with fish more difficult than with meat or produce, since the threatened species change so frequently?
Itï¿½s not easy. [You have to be] really willing to go the distance. Itï¿½s just a matter of researching and doing additional things. Weï¿½ll be using wild and line-caught seafood ï¿½ things that are not endangered. If you work closely together, you can stay on top of the changes.
I think a lot of [chefs ignoring sustainability] comes from laziness. We donï¿½t want to read about it, we donï¿½t way to stay in tune. But the guidelines that they give you ï¿½ itï¿½s a lot of seafood. Youï¿½re not limited to just three or four kinds. Itï¿½s quite a few things, and itï¿½s up to you as a chef to really develop your menus around it.
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