Like a Nice Cabernet, Every City Wants a Sip of Philly’s BYOB Culture

Philadelphia BYOB laws

Delicious, and affordable. | Shutterstock.com

There are more than 200 BYOBs in Center City alone, some of which count among the very best restaurants in Philadelphia. They’re an essential part of the city’s dining culture, and a legit engine of neighborhood economic development. Many people, including Craig LaBan, have credited BYOBs with shaping Philly’s dining scene in a unique, patron-friendly (no 3X markups!) way.

And none of it would be possible without the state’s permissive laws on restaurant patrons bringing in alcohol. The state’s BYOB law has given restauranteurs who can’t hope to afford one of the limited number of liquor licenses a chance to open new dining establishments nonetheless.

Diners aren’t so lucky everywhere in the country. Over a dozen states, including Ohio and Wisconsin, ban BYOB policies. Last year, the city of Atlanta cracked down on them, enforcing a little-understood policy that requires any establishment with patrons providing their own liquor to buy a special license from the city. Read more »

Helm To Open Mid-March

helm-drawn-logoThere comes a time in every baby bird’s life when he must leave the safety of his mother’s nest and strike out on his own. For two up-and-coming Philly chefs, Kevin D’Egidio and Michael Griffiths, that time is now. The duo is opening up a BYOB called Helm at 1303 N. 5th Street (just north of Girard), hopefully in mid-march.

Between the two chefs, they have quite the culinary pedigree. D’Edigio has worked at (the now closed) Tangerine and Lacroix, was the sous chef at Will and the executive chef at Stateside. Griffiths has been the sous chef at Lacroix, and worked at Ela, Rittenhouse Tavern, and most recently at Fork where he left his sous chef position at the end of last week.

According to Griffiths, Helm is going to be low-key. “This is definitely not fine-dining. It’s going to be a more casual, fun atmosphere,” he says. The blackboard menu will change daily based upon the most seasonal and available vegetables, and as such, will be “largely vegetable based.” Entrees will be in the low-to-mid $20 range.

Foobooz can’t wait to see these two flap their wings.

Helm [Foobooz]

Laurel Goes Exclusively to Tasting Menus

Photo by by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Photo by by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Starting in May, Laurel will be moving to only offering tasting menus. Currently, Nick Elmi’s East Passyunk BYOB offers the option of a la carte during the week with tasting menus only on Fridays and Saturdays. Elmi tells us, 70% of weeknight guests are now choosing the tasting menu and “it really doesn’t make sense for a small space like ours to carry a full menu.” Elmi says it has always been the goal to go tasting menu only at Laurel, and the restaurant’s reception has allowed him to speed up the process.

The number of courses and pricing remains the same, 7 courses for $85 per person.

May reservations will be available beginning on Tuesday, March 3rd, starting at noon.

Laurel [Foobooz]
50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia – 2015 [Foobooz]

Blackfish Brings Back Downton Abbey Dinner

Downton-Abbey-Dinner-940Blackfish’s Downton Abbey themed dinner is back on Sunday, March 8th. Inspired by the popular British TV show, chef and owner Chip Roman and his team are creating a meal fit for the Crawleys.

Highlights from Mrs. Patmore’s Roman’s menu include:

  • Smoked Salmon Rillettes with stone ground mustard, crostini
  • Royal Miyagi Oysters with champagne vinegar mignonette
  • Mrs. Patmore’s London Particular with petite pois, smoked ham hock, yorkshire pudding
  • Escargot A La Mrs. Hughes with fermented garlic, parsley, oyster mushroom, grilled bread
  • Downton Estates Wild Boar with stewed barley, madeira, green peppercorn
  • English Eccles Cake with black currant, sweetened yogurt

Read more »

One Bell for Fishtown’s Girard

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The burger at Girard was one of the things Craig LaBan did like.

Craig LaBan savages Girard, the BYO on Girard Avenue that made headlines before it even opened, with its no-tipping policy. LaBan found poor execution and something even more surprising, a line on the check for tips.

But too many dishes failed to connect good ideas to a plate of complete success. Oliveira’s signature omelet was textbook perfect, stuffed with avocado, creamy cheddar and bacon. But the side of charred grapefruit, grilled face down (letting the sugar fall off) instead of brûléed with a torch, was bitterly burnt. The lamb ragu had an intriguing daube-like inflection of olives and orange, but was literally braised to a mush that was poorly paired with doughy gnocchi. A torchon of foie gras, usually a luxuriously creamy disk of delicately poached liver, was an off-tasting smudge of tan butter on toast overwhelmed by a thicker smudge of fig jam for $13.

One Bell – Hit or Miss

Bold but confusing Girard Brasserie and Bruncherie in Fishtown [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Girard [Foobooz]

Luna Cafe Opening In Old City

Luna_Cafe

Luna Cafe is a small 30-seat BYOB that will open Friday, February 20th at 317 Market Street, where Panini’s Trattoria was located. The menu will feature American bistro-style cuisine and all ingredients will be locally sourced from products grown on farms within 100 miles of Philadelphia.

Owner Sarah Levine is taking the leap after her own experience working in the restaurant biz, from wait staff to line cook, in places such as Chart House and Westin’s Winthorpe and Valentine. She earned a BA at Temple University for business administration and an MBA at Drexel University for entrepreneurship.

Read more »

Chestnut Hill’s Heirloom Heads to Louisiana

heirloom snowThis week’s ROAM menu at Chestnut Hill’s Heirloom is inspired by Louisiana. And though Louisiana is a hot state, few things are as appealing on a cold Philadelphia night than the prospect of a bowl of seafood gumbo.

ROAM is Heirloom’s exploration of regional cuisine across the United States. The next regions up include; Savannah, Mississippi Delta and The Plains. The Louisiana menu is available all week and is just $24.95 for three-courses.

Check out this week’s menu »

Two Bells for Blue Duck Sandwich Co. in Northeast Philly

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Craig LaBan ventures to Northeast Philadelphia this week and finds Kris Serviss (COOK Masters alum) and Joe Callahan’s Blue Duck Sandwich Co., a BYOB that’s waking up the neighborhood.

[W]hile Serviss plays with ingredients that would be at home on any trendy Center City menu – black garlic, sunchokes, crispy tri-color cauliflower (very loosely inspired by Zahav) – the core items here are simply the kitchen’s whimsical updates to familiar comfort flavors. They up the savor quotient on the classic blue-plate special with meatloaf made from wild boar (delicious, though it could use a little more softness) and earthy, sweet mashed parsnips. Tender gnocchi play sweet on spice, swapping sweet potatoes for the usual white spuds, and adding the hot spark of shaved jalapeño rings to the nutty gloss of sage brown butter.

Two Bells – Very Good

Blue Duck Fills the Bill in N.E. Philly [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Blue Duck Sandwich Co. [Foobooz]

Enjoy the Food of Santa Fe in Chestnut Hill

roam heirloomHeirloom in Chestnut Hill is hosting a series of events highlighting different regional cuisines from across the United States. Next up is Santa Fe. Available only tomorrow, Wednesday, December 10th, the BYOB will offer a three-course menu for just $24.95.

The special dinners coincide with Chestnut Hill’s Stag & Doe Nights where local shops stay open later and refreshments, roasting chestnuts and carolers add to the holiday scenery.

Heirloom will also be exploring the cuisine of  the Mississippi Delta, Savannah, Georgia, Oregon and the Borderlands.

Heirloom’s Santa Fe Menu »

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