Two Retro Reviews from the Weeklies

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Olde Bar | Photo by Arthur Etchells

 

Brian Freedman visits Olde Bar for Philadelphia Weekly while Adam Erace reviews Franky Bradley’s for City Paper. Freedman is in love with the fried clams at Jose Garces’s redone Bookbinders and he’s even more impressed with the redo.

The Olde Bar is a Jose Garces project—the kitchen is helmed by Chef de Cuisine Mike Siegel—but it feels different from his other restaurants around town. Indeed, in his attempt to honor the legendary space, he has accomplished something both difficult and important: Bringing the past into the present, without peddling in either preciousness or hokey nostalgia. The Olde Bar feels both classic and vibrant at once, just like that fried clam.

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A Review of Girard’s Actual Food

The menu at Girard

The menu at Girard

Girard, the restaurant made famous for its no-tipping policy, rarely gets press for the food it serves up. Adam Erace rectified this oversight in a review for City Paper, writing about what actually concerns people when they read restaurant reviews: the food.

It’s a shame the tipping situation has gotten the most publicity because Oliveira’s cooking is what should really be in the limelight. He can be heavy-handed with salt, but I really enjoyed what he cooked for me, beginning with a smart little avocado toast topped with grapefruit segments, wheels of watermelon radish, tarragon oil and Sichuan pepper.

Girard [City Paper]

Girard [Official]

Lo Spiedo Reviewed

Murals by "Distort," the same artist who did the much more wild artwork at Alla Spina.

Adam Erace has a new favorite Vetri restaurant and it’s Lo Spiedo. The newly opened restaurant at the southern end of Broad Street impresses the City Paper critic with its cocktails, its burger and its pasta. Surprisingly, he isn’t in love with the entrees that come off Lo Spiedo’s namesake spit but he has does have praise for other dishes coming off chef Scott Calhoun’s wood-fired grill.

Scott Calhoun is a stud that deserves as much of the credit as his mentor. I couldn’t quit the Lancaster native’s smoky spit-roasted cabbage in a crock of Gorgonzola fonduta, or the sponge of cornbread soaked in rotisserie drippings. Al dente rigatoni tossed with spit-roasted tomato sauce and ricotta salata had such depth of flavor, I barely believed him when he told me it was vegetarian.

 

Vetri’s latest, Lo Spiedo is firing on all cylinders at the Navy Yard [City Paper]
Lo Spiedo [Foobooz]

La Peg Reviewed

La Peg at FringeArts | Photo by Kevin Monko

La Peg at FringeArts | Photo by Kevin Monko

Citypaper’s Adam Erace recently reviewed the Philadelphia brasserie, La Peg, praising the restaurant’s architectural aesthetics, comfortable energy, and window view. However, while Erace enjoyed various classical options at La Peg, he was critical towards any diversions from the traditional French cuisine offered on the menu.

“At La Peg, there’s a freewheeling spirit you don’t get at the beautiful and severe Minette, but a little of the latter’s discipline could help sharpen the experience here. Sriracha turned up a lot, which felt like a trick of a lesser restaurant,” he said.

“The picnic-friendly Parisian sandwich could use ham with more character (and smoke) than the timid French import filling its buttered baguette,” Erace criticized. However, when the last course of the evening, the apple tart, was served, he said he forgave all other imperfections: “I savored the last bite and view. Perfect, both of them.”

French Fares Well at La Peg [City Paper]
La Peg [Foobooz]

The Yachtsman Is Fun

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Adam Erace weighs in on the cocktails at the Yachtsman and happily reports, the tiki drinks are fun and good. But most importantly, fun.

Making cocktails has been elevated to such high art, at times they can elicit a why-so-serious backlash, but with Yachtsman’s menu of high-octane punches, sneaky frappes and colorful rum coolers, Phoebe Esmon and Christian Gaal have managed to weave together drinks that feel joyful as well as thoughtful. Like the Bird of Paradise, a frothy cross between a Clover Club and a Ramos gin fizz with a subtle orange blossom perfume, or the grass-green Missionary’s Downfall, a frosty, refreshing rum, peach-and-pineapple situation whose color comes from a jungle of blended-in fresh mint. The velvety Tree Frog, a Don Q banana daiquiri mix with an undercurrent of galangal, allspice and star anise, is flat-out delicious; I want to make it a part of my daily breakfast routine.

Also revealed in Erace’s review, his high school AIM username.

Review: Tropical breezes and tiki reimagined at the Yachtsman [City Paper]
Yachtsman [Foobooz]

Cafe Ynez Has Adam Erace Longing for More

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Adam Erace notes that you can’t have a vibrant neighborhood in 2014 without a good Mexican spot. And with the addition of Cafe Ynez at 2025 Washington Avenue on the Graduate Hospital/Point Breeze border, both neighborhoods can boast they have their Mexican restaurant.

Erace’s only complaint, he wants more. “More food, more hours. Fortunately, both are in the works later this summer.”

A new Mexican place comes to GradHo and Point Breeze [Foobooz]
Cafe Ynez [Foobooz]

Three Critics Walk Into a Chat Room

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Craig LaBan’s online chat this afternoon will feature LaBan talking with City Paper’s Adam Erace and Philadelphia magazine’s Trey Popp. Stop by Philly.com at 2 p.m. to ask the trio about restaurant criticism, anonymity or what their favorite restaurant is (because we’re sure they never get that question).

UPDATE: Here’s the direct link to the archived chat.

Craig LaBan Restaurant Chat [Philly.com]

Serious Food at Sancho Pistola’s

Photo by Neal Santos

Photo by Neal Santos

Adam Erace visits Sancho Pistola’s in Fishtown and has praise for chef and partner Adan Trinidad’s food.

The tomato-based Veracruzana sauce forming a crimson moat around the whole snapper is like a Mexican puttanesca — punchy with crushed olives, salty capers and fresh cilantro. The fish’s salamander-broiled skin shone and crinkled like tinfoil, its flesh beneath moist and glistening as it flaked into the chunky sauce dammed by tender peanut potatoes and sweet fried plantains. I’d put it up against any whole fish in the city.

Sancho Pistola’s brings solid Mexican fare and a righteous beer list to Fishtown [City Paper]
Sancho Pistola’s [Foobooz]

 

Adam Erace Falls in Love with the Bar at Avance

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City Paper’s Adam Erace dines upstairs and down at Avance. He finds plenty to like on both floors but falls in love with the bar and burger.

The bar is also where you’ll find my favorite thing at Avance. Garnished with onion marmalade, harissa mayo and feta, the perfectly cooked Border Springs lamb burger arrives on a bronzed, sesame seed-speckled potato bun, part of the restaurant’s extraordinary bread program. It is the finest burger I have ever eaten. That it’s served at the old Le Bec makes me love it, and Avance, even more.

Out with the old French guard and in with Avance at the former Le Bec-Fin [City Paper]
Avance [Foobooz]

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