On the third Thursday of November, Beaujolais Nouveau hits the world. It is the first taste of the 2015 vintage and in France, it’s a celebration of wine, the year and the region. And in Philadelphia we hate to miss a party, so many Philadelphia bars and restaurants offer pours, specials and in one case, a dinner cooked by a former Le Bec Fin executive chef.
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There’s something you have to understand about this year’s 50 Best Restaurants list. If a restaurant is on it at all–whether in the coveted first slot or the 50th–that restaurant is a great restaurant. It’s not like the place in the #2 spot did something wrong to wind up there that its neighbor did right. With one notable exception, you don’t really get to do anything wrong and still be on the list.
In this city, and at this time in the development of our culinary identity, the competition is so ferocious that I’d have to drop down to around the 70th or 80th position before I could name a place where something went significantly sideways during our meals. But we don’t do that. Every two years we name our fifty. We rank them, top to bottom, with a combination of science, subjectivity and debate, and put that list out there into the world to be argued over.
And then I name the city’s fifty-first-best restaurant which, this time around, is Bistrot La Minette.
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This week, we’re running daily surveys, polling readers about where they believe certain restaurants will land on Philadelphia magazine list of the 50 Best Restaurants.
Answer the poll question now, and if you aren’t already subscribed to Philadelphia Sunday, add your email address after submitting your answer and you’ll get the whole list in your email box, early Sunday morning.
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If life was fair, we’d all be living differently.
That’s what I would’ve told our contestants last night before they started cooking, had I had the chance. Partly because saying that and walking away would’ve been creepy, but mostly because it would’ve been rock-solid advice. If things remained consistent in our Open Stove events, then it would make sense that the theme of the 24th Open Stove, on May 5th, would be Mexican food. I mean, every time we’ve done a theme, it has been in congruence with the surrounding date, month, or season. For God’s sake, one team had been there only two months before, for an event near St. Patrick’s Day, and we threw Guinness and Irish whiskey at their faces.
So, of course, they’d anticipate a Mexican theme. But Jason Sheehan (the Open Stove ring leader) gets bored quickly, and last night, he didn’t even bat an eye when he shouted “Chinese-American fusion!” at the Mexican-ready and “I’ve only ever cooked French” teams.
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Chefs Alex Boonphaya (of Circles) and Peter Woolsey (of Bistrot La Minette) were just going to get together for a plain old collaboration dinner in celebration of the upcoming Thai New Year. But then they thought, “Hey, you know what would be more fun? Let’s turn it into a battle!”
Which is exactly what they’re doing–a 3-course by 3-course, head-to-head cook-off wherein 40 guests will get to determine who is the best Thai cook in the house. And if you’re up for it, you can be one of those 40 judges.
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Tonight, Bistrot La Minette is launching happy hour. The French restaurant is offering half-price appetizers and some excellent drink deals.
The deal runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday and the specials are only available at the bar and on the terrace.
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It is hard to believe sometimes that we have been doing Foobooz Open Stove Nights at COOK for as long as we have. But by the somewhat suspect accounting of the COOK staff, Wednesday night was our 21st outing and we celebrated it with two great teams, a potato-based challenge, shots of potato vodka, and cases of beer from those potato-loving Czechs behind Pilsner Urquell.
It was a wild night, full of drinking and rivalry and potato chip garnishes and coxcombs. But when the dust settled and the scores were tallied, there could be only one victor. And while only 20 or so people actually got to see the competition first-hand, we’ve come home with photo evidence of how things shook out (which is good, because everyone’s memories are probably a little bit fuzzy right now). So if you couldn’t be there yourself, click through the jump and check out what happened once the shots were poured and the tater tots hit the tables…
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Peter Woolsey | Photo via COOK
Peter Woolsey has been the face of Bistrot La Minette since it opened almost six years ago. But with another restaurant project on the horizon, Woolsey is turning over the day-to-day running of his restaurant to Kenneth Bush, a longtime employee who also has had experience working for the Garces Group.
Woolsey wouldn’t go into details regarding the new project but we have previously reported that Woolsey has been tagged as the man in the kitchen for the restaurant coming to the FringeArts space at Delaware Avenue and Race Street.
In Woolsey’s own words »
The new FringeArts venue at Race Street and Columbus Boulevard opened back in October and has hosted a handful of shows since then. But the restaurant/bar component that FringeArts head Nick Stuccio has promised is still very much in the works. Now, we can confirm that Bistrot La Minette chef/owner Peter Woolsey will be in command of the kitchen. Read more »
A table spread at Marie Turney and Valerie Safran’s enchanting Little Nonna’s, which gets our prize for Best New Gayborhood Restaurant. Photo courtesy of Jason Varney.
GAYBORHOOD RESTAURANT: Amis
You don’t have to spend the mortgage at Marc Vetri’s eponymous townhouse to get that delicious Vetri Italian cooking. This exposed-brick, slightly industrial-feeling space has food that will simply knock your socks off, including our fave, the addictive tonnarelli. Sit at the counter, sip some very good wine, and watch the masters do their thing. 412 S. 13th St., 215-732-2647, amisphilly.com.
NEW GAYBORHOOD RESTAURANT: Little Nonna’s
Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran’s latest is a step back in time to the cozy kitchen of some little Italian granny—one who wants to put some meat on those bones. Loosen your belt and dive head first into the homemade meatballs sopped in “Sunday gravy” and a plate of the fluffiest gnocchi this side of Trastevere. 1234 Locust St., 215-546-2100, littlenonnas.com.
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