Christopher Lee’s Sophia’s Settles Into A Family-Style Groove

GeneralDisarray

Okay, so I really have no idea what to make of this.

I got the press release about the new concept at Sophia’s (Christopher Lee‘s bid for new relevance on East Passyunk) about two hours ago and have been staring at it ever since, trying to figure out just what in the hell it is trying to say. It uses a lot of words and phrases that are completely contradictory. It presents a vision for the restaurant that makes it seem like a place I would NEVER want to go to. And the menu itself is just dull and backward and weird in more ways than I can count.

So rather than trying to parse the whole thing and hack my way through all the PR-speak, I’m just posting the thing, in its entirety, below. There’ll be a few specific comments after, but if you don’t care about weird, insider-y restaurant PR bullshit then you can totally skip it and just know that Sophia’s on East Passyunk is now going to be some kind of strange small plate/anti-small-plate/family-style/neighborhood/destination restaurant mutant serving cheesesteak soup dumplings and paella.

For reals.

Chef Christopher Lee Releases Menu

And Fresh Direction for Newly Minted Sophia’s

Philadelphia, PA— The team at Sophia’s — including Executive Chef Christopher Lee, Chef de Cuisine Oris Jeffers and Partner Joe Massara — spent their opening month of January sampling dishes and asking patrons for feedback on offerings. This week, Lee and his team release a new menu that is the result of their planned testing period.

The new menu is meant for sharing — and features an eclectic array of world-spanning New American-style dishes with European and Asian influences. The twist on the menu is that though intended for sharing, the main offerings pivot on larger plates, rather than the ubiquitous small plate concepts.

“When I really like something, I want more than a bite or two of it,” Lee explains. “And after talking to guests for the past month, I think this menu brings something fresh to the neighbor mix.”

The heart of the menu includes Rustic and New American sections. The Rustic section brings large-format dishes Pasta Orecchiette, Seafood Paella, German Bratwust, Grilled Whole Branzino and Braised Lamb Shank. The New American dishes are more refined in presentation with the likes of L.I. Peking Duck Breast, Atlantic Spotted Skate, Diver Sea Scallops. The New American dishes are well presented with a side starch such as basil potato puree with the duck breast and fingerling potatoes with the New York Strip. Pricing for these dishes range from $17-$27. The dishes in the Rustic and New American sections are larger than traditional small plates. The dishes are served family-style, unless otherwise requested.

Sides & Salads include Baby Root Vegetables, Broccoli Rabe, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Sautéed Spinach, and salads such as Watercress & Frisée and Caesar. Prices range from $4-$9.

“This way our guests get exactly what they want,” Lee says. “We’re not looking to reinvent the wheel, we just want to give our guests the most satisfying experience possible,” Lee adds. “Whether you’re at the bar or upstairs in the dining room; whether it’s a casual Wednesday or a special date on Saturday night, there’s something perfectly suited and delicious on this menu for you.”

The Bites section is available both at the bar and in the second-floor dining room and includes tempting smaller plates, which can work with the Sides & Salads for a complete casual meal, a satisfying and savory bar snack, or a delicious way to start a full, multi-course dining experience.

Sophia’s Bites include Philly Cheese Steak Dumplings, Mini Tuna Sashimi Tacos, Sophia’s Meatballs, House Blend Sliders, among the offerings. $7-12.

Also new at Sophia’s is a new late-night weekend happy hour, Friday and Saturday from 10pm-Midnight with the same generous offerings at Sophia’s Tuesday-Friday, 5pm-7pm Social Hour — including $3 select beer, $5 wines, $6 featured cocktail.

Sophia’s brings a unique blend of impeccable culinary standards and neighborhood charm to the hottest restaurant strip in Philadelphia— East Passyunk Ave. Chef Christopher Lee and his all-star team achieve a delicate balance of providing guests with not only delicious dishes, but also a complete dining-out experience that is not to be missed with Sophia’s new menu meant for sharing.

Okay, so I have a few thoughts.

Thought 1: What the fuck does the sentence “The dishes in the Rustic and New American sections are larger than traditional small plates” even mean?  That would be the definition of a regular sized plate: Bigger than the little one over there. “Larger than traditional small plates” should mean, like, regular sized fucking plates, right? But no. Not at Sophia’s. Because these bigger-than-small-plates-but-not-regular-sized-fucking-plates are also “served family-style, unless otherwise requested.” And maybe I’m the one who’s being an idiot here, but doesn’t “family-style” mean “big”? As in, a giant plate full of food that you and several members of your family might share? Which, if I’m not mistaken, would also mean significantly larger than a regular-sized plate. So the question I’m left with is, what is Christopher Lee doing at Sophia? Is he serving regular-sized plates that regular-sized humans can eat or is he just plunking down a bucket full of branzino and mashed potatoes in front of a family of us fat fucks and letting us shovel it in with our hands?

Thought 2: Christopher Lee himself says that his reason for re-inventing the normal-sized plate is because “When I really like something, I want more than a bite or two of it” which is, you know, a fascinating look inside the mind of a chef.

Thought 3: His new menu at Sophia’s starts with a menu of fucking small plates. From this I can only surmise that these are plates that Lee thinks suck so bad that no one (including Lee) would want more than a bite or two of them. Which, considering one of the options is for “Philly Cheese Steak” soup dumplings, is probably true.

Thought 3a: Don’t start giving me shit for hating on something that I haven’t tasted yet. The very concept of a “Philly Cheese Steak” soup dumpling hinges on the notion of mixing melted cheese and soup together in one bite and there is no universe in which that is a good idea.

Thought 4: If the month of January has been retroactively declared a “planned testing period,” then give everyone who ate there their money back. Seriously. NOW.

Thought 5: “The new menu is meant for sharing — and features an eclectic array of world-spanning New American-style dishes with European and Asian influences. The twist on the menu is that though intended for sharing, the main offerings pivot on larger plates, rather than the ubiquitous small plate concepts.” See thoughts 1 & 3. Also, these two sentences contain the exact number of contradictory clauses necessary to induce rage hemorrhages in the brains of sensitive readers–a limit heretofore known as The Sophia’s Terminus.

Thought 6: Mini tuna sashimi tacos? Really? Will they be served to me by some 80′s villain in a popped-collar Izod shirt and penny loafers with no socks? The last time mini tuna sashimi tacos were cool was when Nobu was serving them to Laura Dern and that guy from Blind Melon.

Thought 7: Taking all of the above thoughts into consideration, here is the menu that Sophia’s will be laboring under going forward.

Bites

“Philly Cheese Steak” Soup Dumplings (6pc)9

Grilled Shrimp Skewers pineapple, shiso (4pc) 10

Mini Tuna Sashimi Tacos avocado, shishito peppers (4pc) 11

“Sophia’s” Meatballs creamy polenta, basil (5pc) 8

House Blend Sliders aged brie, bacon, grilled onions(3pc) 12

Spanish Fries chorizo, manchego cheese 7

Rustic

Pasta Orecchiette classic bolognese, parmesan cheese 16
Seafood & Shellfish Paella saffron rice, green olives, piquillo peppers 25
Grilled Whole Branzino lemon, oregano, roasted garlic oil 23
German Bratwurst herbed spaetzle, coarse grain mustard sauce 21
Braised Lamb Shank cranberry bean cassoulet, mint 22

New American

Apple Chestnut Ravioli’s pecorino cheese, sage brown butter 15
Atlantic Spotted Skate fregola, raisins, moroccan curry sauce 19
Diver Sea Scallops cauliflower, capers, kumquats, pistachio nuts 21
L.I. Pekin Duck Breast basil potato puree, black olive jus 24
NY Strip Steak fingerling potatoes, brandy peppercorn sauce 27

Salad & Sides

Watercress & Frisee Salad blood orange, goat cheese, walnuts 9

Caesar Salad 7 minute egg, parmesan cheese, black pepper 8

Baby Root Vegetables lemon parsley butter 6

Broccoli Rabe garlic, evoo, chile flakes 5

Roasted Brussels Sprouts smoked bacon 5

Sautéed Spinach garlic, black pepper 4

My final thought is simply this: Maybe it’s going to be awesome. Maybe this menu is going to be the best thing ever and will make you grow six inches and crap rainbows for a week. Christopher Lee is a chef with a helluva reputation, East Passyunk is a neighborhood in the throes of a massive boom and maybe this is precisely what Philadelphia wants and needs right now. Maybe I am just a bitter, jaded asshole getting pissy over some ill-turned phrases and overdone gimmickry.

But to me, this menu (and the accompanying everything-for-everybody-all-the-time-happy-forever PR documentation) smacks of the worst kind of lowest common denominator desperation. It feels like fence-sitting and reads like a playbook crowdsourced from a room full of management consultants operating under the guiding principle that any restaurant can be made awesome if only everyone involved says all the right buzzwords fast enough and loud enough. And that’s bullshit because a restaurant–even a shitty restaurant–is supposed to be about something. There should be some kind of organizing, defining, animating principle at play in the genes of the place that makes it more than just a box with some food inside. Think about Sophia’s neighbors. Le Virtu, Stateside, Fond, Will and all the rest. They all have this. Sophia’s, at least from where I’m sitting, does not. And unless Christopher Lee can mount some stirring defense of his love for mini tuna tacos and family-style/bigger-than-small=plate/neighborhood restaurant date night bar food, my biggest fear is that the lack of coherence in the explanation of the concept represents a lack of coherence in the actual concept. If no one can explain what the restaurant is about it’s generally because no one really knows.

But fuck it. What do I know. Maybe steamed soup and cheese is just motherfucking delicious.

Sophia’s [Official]

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  • mich

    “The very concept of a ‘Philly Cheese Steak’ soup dumpling hinges on the notion of mixing melted cheese and soup together in one bite and there is no universe in which that is a good idea.”

    I guess your universe does not have French onion soup. Mine does, and it’s awesome.

    • Jesse

      also french onion soup dumplings (Continental?)

    • Jason Sheehan

      You know, that’s a fair point. And I do like French onion soup. But there’s just something about a cheesesteak soup dumpling that strikes me as wrong and unwise.

      • PMcI

        I think that, as a concept, they have the potential to be tasty. But I think your raging against them as a concept in context is merited.

        • JA

          There’s no merit to his raging. If Jason wants to rage perhaps he should do it at his own concept by way of his own creative menu…it could be themed as a blog and left open to comments, criticism and tweaks by the food geeks!

  • tonyjlive

    You mad, Bro?

    • Jason Sheehan

      Left it all on the page, bro. I am full of sunshine and puppy dogs now.

  • Peter Breslow

    This is the best response I’ve ever seen to a press release. Bravo, Jason Sheehan. I bow to you!

  • bjb

    The melted cheese and soup thing is done to perfection at Stanton Social in NYC too (French Onion Soup Dumplings). I understand hating gimmicky PR speak, but your anger over the soup dumplings doesn’t really make sense. I guess we’ll wait and see on this one.

  • Nice girl

    I think that Philly mag’s idea of being cool and relevant is to use inappropriate language. As my mom always said, people that use the f-word gratuitously really don’t have much to say.

    • Jason Sheehan

      Your mom was a wise woman. But not one of those f-words was fucking gratuitous.

      • JA

        But a professional doesn’t have to use the f word or any other expletive to make their point. I’m by no means offended by the words…more offended that you use it to sound cool. Also, it figures that a certain PR person would shout your praises! As far as Christopher Lee’s menu concept…it’s his restaurant, he can cook whatever the he wants to…vote with your dollars and credit cards! I couldn’t care less if the menu is small plate, big plate, new wave, fusion, old school, new school…whatever. In the real world if the food is above average, the service decent and the cost of the meal is in line with other restaurants people will come….at least for a while.

  • locustst

    “planned testing period” indeed. i was there three weeks ago and not a single thing we ordered is still on the menu.

  • professionalismisdead

    “Maybe I am just a bitter, jaded asshole getting pissy over some ill-turned phrases and overdone gimmickry…”

    Bingo. You should probably know better than to continue speaking/writing if you have to say something like that, and just scrap the whole thing. I remember the good old days when restaurant criticism was something more than whiny, “look at me,” Yelp-like rants. Sigh.

    Or, maybe it’s me who is the bitter, jaded asshole getting pissy over some ill-turned phrases and overdone gimmickry…

    • Tim

      No, I was thinking the same thing. Jason is just a yelper with his own platform. It is pretty awful.

  • ??

    I have to say, as much as I dislike the path foobooz has taken since it was overtaken, I was also seriously perplexed by the menu as well. I read the story and menu first on eater (since foobooz is not as swift as it once was on breaking news, sigh), and thought, wtf?! Clearly no one edited this mish mosh, or if they hired someone to write that press release and menu, I’d ask for a refund.

    • Alimentarian

      Same for me, and same reaction. I also agree with Sheehan on this one.

    • lampo

      I agree with your comments on the PR and menu, as well as your initial
      criticism of foobooz, but you lose me with the interjection that foobooz
      is somehow not obsessed enough with FIRSTIES. Check out the post on
      Pennsylvania 6. They probably got it out first of the major Philly food
      blogs, but it’s a list of bulletpoints, mostly pulled word-for-word
      from the press release. By insisting on blogs just getting word out
      first, you’re not giving them time to investigate or develop coverage –
      you’re contributing to the culture of bad press releases dictating
      coverage.

  • herman

    Since the sentence “The dishes in the Rustic and New American sections are larger than traditional small plates” doesn’t actually appear in the press release, I believe it means you Jason are stupid, disingenuous or can’t read. Perhaps one of the chefs from the best restaurant or second best restaurant (that now might be the first best restaurant) in Philly might explain it to you.

    A few additional thoughts:

    Thought 1:In fairness, (perhaps the chefs can explain that to you as well) the press release was poorly written and did appear to promise something to a number of different and perhaps disparate constituencies. Also in fairness, it is probably a safe bet that the press release was not written by Chef Lee.

    Thought 2: Considering all the stupid mash-ups, stoner food, and self serving, food based promotions foisted on Philadelphia’s dining patrons in the last year, it is absolutely insane for you to rage against the “Cheese Steak Soup Dumplings”!!

    Thought 3: I’m buying breakfast for the first 20 people who post good examples in the comments. For reals.

    Thought 4: Mini Tuna Sashimi Tacos are RETRO, DUDE!! They will be served by bearded, ironic t-shirt wearing, tattoo necked hipsters. ‘Cause that’s not trendy. Apologies to the aforementioned hipsters.

    Thought 5: Since day one your strident, immature, foul-mouthed style and lack of discernible professional standards has not resonated with Philly readers (see comments from professionalismisdead and nice girl). You don’t have anywhere NEAR the connection to Philadelphia that Chris Lee does.

    Thought 6: Taking all of the above into consideration, where is Kirsten Henri when you really need her?

    • Jason Sheehan

      A charming recitation, Herman. But check paragraph 4, lines 8 & 9 of
      the included press release. “The dishes in the Rustic and New American
      sections are larger than traditional small plates.” Comprehension
      matters when you’re accusing someone of being stupid, disingenuous and
      illiterate. Would it help you if I used smaller words next time?

      • JA

        What would help is for you to prove that you could do better than those you “blog” about. I have to constantly remind myself this is just a “blog” trying to sell advertising, get the occasional comp and have spineless industry people kiss up to the bunch of you in hopes of positive exposure!

  • apostrophe

    The real problem with this menu is this:

    Apple Chestnut Ravioli’s

    1. ravioli is already plural
    2. YOU DON’T MAKE THINGS PLURAL WITH AN APOSTROPHE-S

    good god the grammar is wrong in two languages at once.

  • Tomaaas

    I think I finally find something I agree with Jason Sheehan on.

    The menu is entirely cliched and stupidly written.

    “Philly Cheese Steak” Soup Dumplings
    The idea is ridiculous pandering. Creativity is Philly is not defined by making a cheesesteak based dish. Just idiotic.

    Mini Tuna Sashimi Tacos avocado, shishito peppers
    2 cuisines in 1 dish. They are raw tuna tacos not “Sahimi”

    House Blend Sliders aged brie, bacon, grilled onions

    There are no “house blends”. All the meat suppliers sell basically the same thing to different groups of people. Nobody has their own specific blend. Total Bullshit.

    Pasta Orecchiette classic bolognese, parmesan cheese 16

    As opposed to a non-classic bolognese?

    Seafood & Shellfish Paella saffron rice, green olives, piquillo

    Do you really need to say a Paella has saffron rice?

    German Bratwurst herbed spaetzle, coarse grain mustard sauce

    There is no fine grained mustard. Coarse grain mustard is redundant and stupid.

    Braised Lamb Shank cranberry bean cassoulet, mint

    Its just a bean stew served with the lamb. It is not a cassoulet which is a dish that stands alone.

    Atlantic Spotted Skate fregola, raisins, moroccan curry sauce
    Spots on skate mean nothing besides the skin is peeled off.
    There is no such thing as “moroccan curry” in Morocco.

    Diver Sea Scallops cauliflower, capers, kumquats, pistachio nuts
    Nobody dives for scallops. Bullshit.

    Caesar Salad 7 minute egg, parmesan cheese, black pepper

    The dining public does not give 2 shits how long an egg is cooked and chefs need to stop fellating themselves by highlighting meaningless technique.

    Broccoli Rabe garlic, evoo, chile flakes 5

    Really ??? EVOO???
    What is this the Rachel Ray show??

    • Nice 2

      A diver scallop is a sea scallop that has been hand-picked off a rock by a scuba diver.

      Diver scallops are more ecologically friendly and less gritty than the boat-harvested variety, which are dragged along by chain nets that skim the ocean bed. Divers select mature scallops from areas with strong water currents, which helps assure that they have firm, plump flesh and nice color. Diver scallops tend to be fresher, since they are shipped directly and not held in boats while they are sorted.

      Diver scallops are more expensive but worth it. Divers are allowed to pick scallops from November to April.

      • Tomaaas

        That is an even bigger bullshit answer. You buy your seafood from Samuels and sons in South Philadelphia. Diving for scallops is extremely rare. Most Diver Scallops come in the shell and are so expensive they are sold almost exclusively to high end Japanese restaurants who can afford them. You use “dry U-12″ scallops probably from Barnegat Light. They are not “diver” scallops. Most Seafood is held in boats on ice so that concept of freshness is meaningless. You are better of saying “Dayboat” scallops but I am 99% sure your scallops are NOT diver scallops at the menu prices of a casual neighborhood place.

    • Nice 2

      Cassoulet (French pronunciation: ?[ka.su.l?], from Occitan caçolet [kasu?let]) is a rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the south of France, containing meat (typically pork sausages, goose, duck and sometimes mutton), pork skin (couennes) and white haricot beans.

      The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides.[1]

      In American restaurants, the term “cassoulet” is often applied to any hearty bean-based casserole, with innovations such as salmon cassoulet.[1]

      • Tomaaas

        First Salmon cassoulet is neither cassoulet nor an innovation. An “innovative” farm raised salmon dish. Really !!! Nobody but amateurs use European main dish preparations as side dishes. Lame American chefs do that. Same applies to Risotto. It is not a side dish.

        You guys list black pepper on your menu as in ingredient in a Caesar salad. How lame is that. You should burn this menu and start again.

  • bobby

    Why are people bashing this restaurant; before anyone eats there -ESPECIALLY based on the grammar and wording? The wording of a menu does not have any correlation to how the food is. Take a look at Ducasse’s menus across Europe and tell me how they read.

    Chris Lee’s food was great at Striped Bass and I look forward to his return. Where do you get the nerve to bash his work and the hard work it is to open a new restaurant before stepping foot and tasting the food?

    Jason – I used to read your articles, but after this, I lost a lot of respect for you.

  • Mike

    Really unhappy about this. Locked in Valentine’s Day reservations under the old menu, which looked much better. Nothing on this new menu seems to fit with the other. It’s like the Cheesecake Factory. I also really find the whole cheese steak thing insulting — yes, I know I live in Philadelphia, but people here are sophisticated enough to eat out without needing some twist of a cheese steak on the menu. And those who aren’t know where to find Pat’s or Gino’s. I was really excited about trying Sophia’s under the old menu. But now I’m kind of dreading it, and it’s too close to Valentine’s Day to go elsewhere (except maybe a Cheesecake Factory in the burbs?). Very disappointing. Expecting better from a chef with such high acclaim.

    • Nice Girl

      I have had several fine meals there and am sure that you will enjoy your dinner. Happy Valentines’s Day.

    • http://philadelphia.foobooz.com/ Art from Foobooz

      Mike, how was your Valentine’s dinner?

  • rk

    My hope is that each dish isn’t quite as obvious as its description (or, at least, some aren’t). As for some of the comments:

    -house blend–if they grind their own meat, yep…that’s a house blend

    -7 minute egg has meaning. It’s a form of soft-boiling and it matters how long it gets boiled (how runny is the yolk?). 7 minute egg indicates a thicker yolk than I prefer, personally, but maybe it’s sous vide to a specific temperature. I don’t know. Again, that’s where I’m hoping there’s a twist to the dish.

    -ZOMG, a menu with a typo/stupid grammar error. THE HORROR

    As for Sheehan’s freakout…yeah, it’s a PR mess of a release. Yeah, there’s a really, really good chance this is the dumbest menu possible. But it also potentially reads like it has a concept like continental’s original mission: take completely played out ideas (sashimi tuna w/ avocado, cheese steaks, sliders, fries, etc.) and make them relevant. It’s retro without being fully retro. I can see that potential (I think the rustic part of the menu doesn’t fit–I’d guess they’re scared of going too far with the idea), and it’d be nice to wait to criticize them for not having a vision without maybe, I don’t know, trying the food or at least calling them to say “yo, what’s the vision? I don’t see it.” It didn’t take me long to see that vision–one that, again, could go well or very poorly (sadly, I’m betting on poorly).

  • JTP

    Thomaaas, there are absolutely house blend burgers, I have personally ordered blends I created that was made exactly to my specifications by George Wells Meat Co. Moreover, they were even accommodating enough to send me test batches with different ratios of different cuts of beef until I was happy with the mix. They will even press your blend into burger patties for an extra 15 cents per pound. So if you are in the industry, your sales rep must hate you, you order your meat from Sysco, or you’re just an idiot.

    • Tomaaas

      JTP You lying hack. Wells is a second rate meat company. You did not “create” any blends. They simply brought you the same samples of ground beef they bring to every restaurant and you picked the one you wanted. The blend is also not made in your restaurant so it is not a house blend. the fact that you buy pre-formed burgers shows how much of a shoemaker you are. P.S. call Pat LaFrieda and get some decent ground beef. Who is the idiot now.

  • barrygster

    Wow so Sheehan’s prose can be interesting and entertaining when he actually has something to say. Good post.

    As much as I agree with the criticism of the cheesesteak soup dumpling, if I ever find myself at this restaurant, I will definitely order it.

  • muthapit

    Love ur comments your right….. wwwwwwwwwwwwtttttttttttttttttffffffffffffffis he doing…???? Its kaos at its finest!!!!! good luck

  • uddershok

    I’m just amazed that in a city that sold out a Four Loko tasting dinner and screamed “genius!!” at the creation of Tastycake Sliders while swigging Butterscotch Krimpet milkshakes and eating almost anything on PYT’s menu, that ANYONE can be so outraged at the suggestion of cheese steak soup dumplings! Not saying that the dumplings, or any of the items are good OR bad. Just saying that’s how we do nowadays! They are all the same genre, love (or hate) one , love ‘em all! I think they are all silly and probably good examples of bad cooking, but somebody is paying for them or else no one would still be “creating” them. In context, the extreme reaction just blows my mind.

  • herman

    Hi Jason, it must be very uncomfortable sitting there with your panties all bunched up. My apologies! Apparently you can read. You are still disingenuous and what’s worse, unprofessional. To answer your question, I don’t think your words could be any smaller. However, you might want to look up the definition of recitation. Just sayin’.

  • cho cho

    Friggin hilarious …love the rant…so true. I’ll bet if Lee was actually going to cook at this place on a regular basis and had some pasion for what was going on there he would never throw this lame ass concept out there

  • drjane

    I completely understand the description of the plates. The “small plate” concept usually implies that the folks at the table order a number of different small plates and share the contents among the group, so everyone gets to taste the dishes. Chef Lee clearly thinks that diners want more than a bite of each dish, so he is offering larger sharing plates so that when the dish is passed around, each diner gets more than one bite. Makes sense to me.

  • Rob

    Went last night and experienced the “new” menu. It was really bad. No cohesion, and the food was not good either. I would like to know how Christopher Lee, who is supposed to be an accomplished chef, thinks this menu is supposed to work and puts his name on any of this food. Bites include cheese steak dumpling soup, mini tacos, meatballs, fries, shrimp, sliders — what?! Entrees were really lackluster. It seems like they are not doing as well as they hoped, and are getting ready to abandon ship. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is closed in the next couple of months.

  • rk

    having bothered to do something like, I don’t know, EAT the food there, here’s an opinion:

    Tangent:

    This is all PR bullsh*t. But the problem is this type of PR bullshit gets pumped out because of blogs like this one and the new media that determined that being a traditional review isn’t their venue nor is objectively passingly along information their goal (BRING BACK ART’S FOOBOOZ!). So PR people now have a niche of selling a restaurant that otherwise didn’t really exist. You helped make this possible.

    Anyway, this is quite simply a neighborhood bistro with apps, entrees, and side vegetables instead of incorporating vegetables into the entrees. The bites are trying to be plays on classics (oh, btw, my mom–who is not a gourmand–knew exactly what a 7 minute egg was) and are the least interesting part of the dinner. My table tried the dumplings (tasted like cheesesteak in a dumpling, no soupiness, a little dry where they baked the cheese on it), the tuna taco (good tuna, dull dish), the ceasar salad (it’s a good ceasar salad). The entrees were very good–we had the strip, the duck (olive jus was really tasty and I normally am ambivalent about olive flavors when overpowering, and this was a strong olive flavor), the bratwurst (very tasty), and the scallops (excellent). Nothing was inventive.

    Now, imagine that the menu was released without the PR puffery. Be honest, would you have posted the menu? Would it have gotten any attention? Nah.

  • antonoel

    this is offensive. philadelphia is not new york. east passyunk has been born from the collective soul of young philadelphia food culture. this is not a place for some formulated, fashion-it-up-and-drop-it-in-place business model. again, it ain’t new york.

    i grew up in philadelphia restaurants, and now i live in new york. the aspects of philadelphia life i miss are many, and much regarding the restaurant community. chris lee may have been a “philly dude” of the past, but he is long forgotten (striped bass, etc.) and, after championing Hormel (or whatever big box bs brand) chicken stock in Saveur (or whatever other food related magazine) can anyone really believe that this guy is showing up with heart and soul? i would guess that it is exactly what sheehan says – a consultant team regurgitating those “strategic key words” to “hit the mark” and “speak to everyone”. formula’s are lost cause operations in places where people are intrisically critical of what is put in front of them. again, philadelphia is not new york. in new york, if plop the right neon sign outside, enough of the heard will gravitate to it and it will be “successful”. see, make money for the absent investors and partners.

    • antonoel

      sorry – “if ‘one’ plops the right neon…” ;-)

  • antonoel

    so, really, if it’s not clear, i agree with sheehan, and understand why his reaction is gutteral. i live in williamsburg now in new york, and spent many years in south philly. willaimsburg (hipster fucking 30 year old skateboard dick blick half head shaved trust fund 3 flannel shirt at a time wearing douc-sorry, people) is the kind of plae where you don’t see starbucks. and, in this way, it can be related to east passyunk. a neighborhood where people just ain’t gonna go for some on-paper-formulated restaurant model. the aspects of philadelphia that were most impressionable include, more than anything, regard hones criticism.

    ok. enough excessive punctuation and blathering. chris lee, you are probably just like all these other insulated new yorkers, whose wallets buffer them from the realities that the rest of address – especially when operating a smalll business. who want’s to be the exec that puts a starbucks next to the family owned coffe shop?

    respectable reaction mr. sheehan. it’s clear you share some of these sentiments, and, you know, in that “brotherly love” sorta way, a picke-back on a shot of powers might be called for here. rage it, man. keep the glazed over monkeys in the suburbs, or in their offices in manhattan.

    • antonoel

      honest criticism. damn cracked screen ipad.