Opening Menus for Whetstone Tavern

Photo by Brian Leahy

Whetstone | Photo by Brian Leahy

Whetstone Tavern, the American restaurant from Brauhaus Schmitz chef Jeremy Nolen is scheduled to open this Wednesday, July 15th at 700 South 5th Street. The restaurant, saw several setbacks as it approached its opening day, including water damage, inspection woes, and even a visit from an inflatable rat. But that’s all behind Nolen and Doug Hager, the Brauhaus Schmitz owner who is a partner in Whetstone. The food veers away from the German food that has brought him notoriety at Brauhaus. Instead expect dishes as diverse as Kung Pao chicken wings and Passyunk Pork, a 12-ounce bone-in pork chop prepared, with a tip of a cap to Philadelphia’s roast pork sandwich, with sharp provolone polenta, broccoli rabe and pork cracklings.

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Restaurant Review: Vesper

Vesper Bar | Photo by Neal Santos

Vesper Bar | Photo by Neal Santos

Two men walk into a bar.

“May we go downstairs?” one asks, gesturing toward a bookcase that conceals a secret stairwell.

“Do you have the password?” the hostess replies, flashing a flinty sidelong stare. Read more »

Of Vinyl, Ramps and Stinging Nettle: Helm Reviewed

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Tortellini with brussels sprouts | Photo by Jason Varney

You knew this was coming. In Philadelphia, where chefs are constantly popping up in one another’s kitchens or dueling each other at Cook, it was only a matter of time before two of them would notice a FOR RENT sign as they carpooled home one night and decide to take the next logical step and move in together. Read more »

Three Bells for Mainland Inn

Courtesy the Mainland Inn

Courtesy the Mainland Inn

Craig LaBan finds a much needed wake up to the farm-to-table trope at chef Ezra Duker’s Mainland Inn in Harleysville. La Ban finds lots to praise in Duker’s use of Quarry Hill Farm, the farm two miles away that is owned by Sloane Six, who also owns Mainland.

The extraordinary lamb dish, meanwhile, was a snapshot of two farmyard generations on one plate. A roulade made from a yearling, its braised neck meat shaped into a disk glazed coal-black with olive puree, anchored one end, while the long bones of two amazingly tender chops from a milk-fed baby arced over a spring montage of new onions, favas, and a salsa verde piquant with sorrel and boquerones.

Three Bells – Excellent

Mainland Inn: Direct from the farm, with flair and flavor [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Mainland Inn [Foobooz]

Restaurant Review: Aldine

Photos by Courtney Apple

Photos by Courtney Apple

Everyone knows that opening a restaurant is the surest path to an empty checking account, but George and Jennifer Sabatino know better. For truly shredding your bankroll, nothing beats not opening a restaurant — as the couple spent an agonizing year doing before the first customers finally came to Aldine in October.

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Juniper Commons Launches Brunch

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Juniper Commons adds brunch to its repertoire, just a week after adding lunch service. Brunch is available on Saturdays and Sundays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and Sundays are particularly special with complimentary champagne and a jazz band from 12 p.m.to 2 p.m. The 1980s inspired restaurant is of course offering quiche as well as strawberry compote but has a full menu of breakfast and lunch dishes to get you excited.

You can also expect several Bloody Marys to choose from as well as a list of cocktails made with sparkling wine–because what would an ’80’s restaurant be without sparkling wine coolers?

Full menus »

Opening Menus at Kensington Quarters

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Tonight, Kensington Quarters opens on Frankford Avenue in Fishtown. The combination butcher shop, restaurant and classroom is unique to Philadelphia and it will be interesting to see how the concept grows and evolves.

For now, we have the opening dinner, dessert and drink lists. The restaurant is starting off with a tight menu of small plates, starches and entrees. The menu runs from $11 for rare beef to $26 for a pork shoulder entree, served with potato torta and mustard greens. Though Kensington Quarters does include a butcher shop, the menu is far from strictly carnivore as the menu includes dishes that are or can be prepared for vegetarians.

For drinks, Kensington Quarters offers wine ($8 to $10.50) and beer ($5 to $6.50) on tap plus a list of cocktails.

Tomorrow, we’ll have a report on opening night.

Check out some photos and the opening menus » 

Tale of the Tape: Lo Spiedo

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Marc Vetri’s seventh restaurant, Lo Spiedo officially opens today. Located just inside the gates at the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia, Lo Spiedo aims to be a lunch option for the Navy Yard’s 11,000 plus employees as well as a dinner destination for Philadelphia diners.

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Two Bells for Society Hill Society

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Craig LaBan enjoys much of what he eats from chef Yun Fuentes’s menu at Society Hill Society. In particular he enjoys brunch and the fresh Pilsner Urquel.

His ode to pierogi are delicate, their handmade sour cream dumpling skins stuffed with truffled mashed potatoes over molasses-sweetened Vidalia onion jam. He tapas-izes chicken pot pie, tucking a creamy velouté of leg meat, carrots, and peas into croquette sticks that would please even the toughest Amish Spaniard. His summer peach soup is simply a gazpacho-good tribute to ripe local summer fruit, the sweet pureed peaches tanged with a hint of vinegar and garlic, sparked with salty bits of shaved ham and tiny floating spheres of creamy goat cheese.

Two Bells – Very Good

For another opinion on this Society Hill restaurant, read Trey Popp’s review of Society Hill Society from the October issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Society Hill Society inspired by the past [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Restaurant Review: Bank & Bourbon

 

Photo by Mike Persico

Photo by Michael Persico

Pity the Philadelphia hotel restaurant. City dwellers will flock to food trucks, night markets, pop-up gardens and pizzerias with no seats, but just try getting us to eat in a building full of minibars. For every A.Kitchen, there are five Winthorpe & Valentines (a place that really exists, no joke). With Bank & Bourbon, the downtown Loews is now targeting the ground in between.

As the successor to the awkwardly named SoleFood (again, not kidding), which merged corporate decor and loads of dead space under Miami Vice lighting, B&B clearly yearns for some kind of contemporary relevance. Its whiskey-bandwagon name and predictably rustic trappings—now dominating restaurant design so utterly that Fortune 500 conglomerates are doing it, too—are enough to make a cynic roll his eyes and sigh, “Here we go again.”

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