The week between Christmas and New Year’s is not generally one of the most exciting in the restaurant world. For the most part, restaurant crews are either preparing for Christmas service, recovering from Christmas service, preparing for New Year’s Eve parties or worrying over all of the million things that can go wrong when huge crowds of champagne-soaked revelers are thrown together in a crowded room which, by nature, buzzes with a kind of end-of-all-things vibe. New Year’s Eve in a restaurant can often be one of the weirdest, wildest nights of the year–kind of like St. Patrick’s Day with a little bit of Christmas Eve, a little bit of 4th of July and a little bit of Armageddon thrown in just for kicks.
In other words, it’s usually a week where the restaurant business turns inward with a siege mentality. Which was why we spent much of the past few days looking back over the year-that-was and forward into the future of 2012. Here’s what we found.
And that, my friends, is the year that was–2011 in all its glory and ridiculousness. So all of you out there have a safe and happy New Year, and we’ll see you back here on Monday with all the news, all the rumors and all the gossip you’ll need to get 2012 started right.
Oh, and don’t forget: If you’re still looking for some place to go on New Year’s Eve, check out our Flyer Flow for all the best events this weekend.
For more than 20 years, Bridgid’s in Fairmount has been a neighborhood place with fine, though not remarkable, food. It was also the first place – and still the only one in Philly – to pour Yards through its gravity tap. But now, in the wake of the foodaphilia currently gripping Philadelphia, a decision has been made to develop the food side of things.
Over the past few months, the restaurant’s interior has been redone. The menu has been changed and new chef, Dave Clarke (former sous at Morimoto and exec sous at Osteria–which is a damn fine resume for a guy running the line at a neighborhood joint), has taken over ops in the kitchen.
“We decided to renovate now because we feel that the Art Museum area is really coming into its own,” said Chris Ryan (son of Bridgid’s owner, who also happens to be named Chris Ryan). “We want to be a part of this.”
Now that Art has had his say about what he thinks 2012 will bring to the Philly food scene, I figure it’s my turn.
For starters, I agree wholeheartedly with all of his prognostications. Ramen will finally have its moment in Philly (followed speedily, I hope, by a dumpling revolution). Burrata, inasmuch as it isn’t already everywhere, will be everywhere even more. Italian beer will, in fact, become the alcoholic darling of the well-heeled brew snob (thanks, primarily, to Birra and Alla Spina) and our year without Starr will, in fact, be just as Starr-filled as any other year because, in this town, one just can’t escape the gravity of his money and name.
But that’s not all that the New Year will bring our way. Because we’ll also be contending with…
Yes, that headline is real. Doc Halladay was recently in the Amazon with Chris Carpenter (boo) and a bunch of other friends on a fishing trip. Halladay came across a naked guy sitting on a tree. The guy was a local who was trying to catch tropical fish to sell to aquariums when an anaconda attacked him. The guy was bitten on the ass but managed to escape before the snake wrapped him up. After missing its prey, the snake wrapped itself around the motor of the guy’s boat and ripped it off, stranding him in the middle of the Amazon. Doc came along and helped him flip his boat and gather his stuff before towing him back into town. We’ve got Croce hunting pirate skeletons, Doc rescuing snake-bite victims in the Amazon and Bryz wrangling the enormity of the universe. If an Eagle thwarts a bank robbery anytime soon the Philly-sports super hero battalion will be complete. Any chance the city would lend funds to build them a lair? [Zoo With Roy]
Philly.com has published an online editorial detailing how Philadelphia’s tax dollars were spent in 2011. The good, the bad and the ugly are all pretty well represented. The good included a new zoning code and a crackdown on campaign improprieties. The bad included (surprise!) Arlene Ackerman’s buyout. [Philly.com]
Philadelphia, again, had the highest homicide rate of the nation’s ten most populous cities in 2011. In 2007, 392 people were murdered in Philadelphia. That number had been reduced to 302 in 2009. But, last year the number climbed to 306 and this year 324 people were killed in Philadelphia. [Daily News]
I’ll take a pint of the Cantillon Brewery’s traditional Lambic Lou Pepe and Highway 61 Revisited.
Okay, so that’s not exactly what you will be able to do at The Bottle Shop at Local 44 in West Philly (44th and Spruce), when it opens this spring as part of a Local 44 expansion. But the vision of owner Brendan Kelly is that his 400-plus bottle shop will be like a record store for the world’s top quality microbrews and craft beers, vintage and rare.
Two NYPD officers appeared to be visibly intoxicated while aboard a Greyhound bus in Philadelphia Tuesday night. The driver asked them to leave and they refused. Eventually, the situation was quelled when one of the officers was handcuffed and physically removed from the bus. Also, can we have a brief conversation about the hat that guy in the video is sporting? [FOX 29]
Unlike the Mayans I am not predicting the end of the world in 2012. Instead I have four other predictions for 2012 in the Philadelphia food scene.
Ramen finally happens in Philadelphia – Philadelphia food nerds have been hoping, predicting and anticipating ramen joints opening in for at least a couple of years now. With the announcement of Royal Izakaya and Ramen Boy, we finally have locations to watch, sadly not much progress can be seen, yet. And then there are the several unannounced ramen concepts that have been whispered to me over the last few months. Established Philadelphia restaurant people whispering that they are preparing to roll out a Japanese style noodle shop but swearing me to secrecy, lest their plans be foiled.
In Philadelphia, 2011 wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns for sports fans. Another year without a championship in Philly was marked by missed opportunities, shortcomings, and media gaffes. Here’s a list of some of the worst moments in Philadelphia sports that 2011 had to offer. Just remember, though, that 2012 is only a day and a half away and the Flyers are in first place. Oh, and—for those of you keeping score at home—50 days ’til pitchers and catchers. Read more »