Taste: What We’re Eating
Bryan Sikora and Aimee Olexy seem very happy here, in their welcoming new prepared-food market in downtown Kennett Square. Hopefully, the couple that gave us five years at the seminal BYOB Django will forgive their Philadelphia following for being less than thrilled about that. The city craves this type of easygoing space. A farmer’s table is the centerpiece, and chatting patrons settle there to snack on house-baked bread and a cheese from the selection Aimee oversees with the same enthusiasm she brought to the Django cheese tray. The shelves are sparse and pretty, with displays of Dalla Costa pastas and Catalonian honey, but the refrigerators are fully stocked with Bryan’s better-than-homemade meals: chicken potpie, mushroom ravioli, smoked tomato sauce. 102 West State Street, Kennett Square, 610-444-8255; talulastable.com.
Not much has changed at Ortlieb’s, Northern Liberties’ two-decades-old jazz haven, now under new ownership — unless you’re one of the club’s many regulars. Those cats can detail every difference, starting with the tan coat of paint on the formerly Smurf blue exterior. The kitchen got an overhaul, too, with new chef Michael Suminski, known for the affordable, flavorful fare he cooked up at nearby Azure. Here, he’s built a mean basic bar burger, 100 percent ground sirloin, loosely formed, on a compact kaiser roll well suited to soaking up the meat juices. But he hasn’t yet hit his stride on the menu items that channel New Orleans. Evidence: limp and flabby pan-fried oysters. Better to leave N’Awlins to the jazz. 847 North 3rd Street, 215-922-1035; ortliebsjazzhaus.com.
Harrah’s Waterfront Buffet
The B-word is not one to typically grace these pages — why eat steam-table food when a freshly cooked meal is an option? But if you find yourself in Atlantic City with a throng of screaming kids or slot-crazed grandparents, Harrah’s new Waterfront Buffet is more practical than the Borgata’s star-chef spots. The breakfast setup is forgettable, but the $28 lunch/dinner shift features dim sum, sushi, Mongolian BBQ, Brazilian rodizio, pasta and salad bars, and piles of steamed Alaskan crab legs. Dining amidst 22-foot ceilings and dozens of chandeliers, you feel like you’re living the high life as you return for thirds. Harrah’s, 777 Harrah’s Boulevard, Atlantic City, 609-441-5000; harrahs.com.
Nuevo Latino cuisine isn’t exactly, well, nuevo in Philadelphia anymore. Pasión, the restaurant that started the trend, is almost nine years old, and its longtime chef, Guillermo Pernot, has stepped out of the kitchen to join the growing Cuba Libre empire. But the relaxing spa-like dining room at Pasión is still a destination for a vibrant Latin-influenced meal. Under chef de cuisine Ben Davison, watermelon gazpacho is laced with jalapeño granita; orzo stands up in a paella update; and the vegetariano empanadas are a thoughtful use of veggies, not an obligatory entrée. Only the ceviche hasn’t stood the test of time: Tuna with candied ginger and garlic chips is a balance in contrasts, but the oily orange marlin is a muddle of flavors. 211 South 15th Street, 215-875-9895; pasionrestaurant.com.