Where We’re Eating: Bareburger

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Bareburger is a chain with most of its locations in New York. It’s expensive. (I paid $16 for a burger and fries without really trying.) And it’s a new burger place in a city that already has some pretty good burger places. And yet, Bareburger (so named for its organic bona fides) does have this one thing going for it. That expensive burger? It was good. I mean seriously good. It was a specialty burger called the Southern Caviar that consisted of a bison burger topped with pimento cheese, country bacon (read: ham), stout-simmered onions and a horseradish rémoulade, all leaking out of a great brioche bun. Messy, gooey, hot and delicious, it was up there among the best overloaded burgers on the scene right now. And the cool, fast-casual ambience of the shop itself doesn’t hurt.

Bareburger [Foobooz]

Originally published in the November, 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine

Valanni Is Offering a “Banged Up Brunch” on Saturdays

valanni-banged-up-brunchEvery Saturday, Valanni Restaurant is throwing a “Banged Up Brunch” featuring happy hour drink specials and a selection of brunch favorites, tapas style for $5. No need to decide sweet or savory, just select tapas plates like cinnamon French toast and applewood smoked bacon grilled cheese for the best of both worlds.

The brunch runs from noon to 3 p.m. every  Saturday and includes drink specials like half-off sangria, wine and specialty cocktails. Bloody Marys and mimosas are also available for $5.

Read more »

Mitch Prensky Finds Storefront for His Biscuits

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Scratch Biscuits at Night Market

When did Supper chef Mitch Prensky know that his love of making biscuit sandwiches was worthy of its own bricks-and-mortar location? The first time he sold one. (We agree – and named it one of the five must-try Philly sandwiches.

You’ve probably seen his Scratch Biscuits tent popped-up at festivals, Phish shows, farmer’s markets and Night Markets (at the one Night Market he sold a whopping 1,100 biscuits in less than three hours). Now, he’s signed a lease at 1306 Chestnut Street for an actual location.

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Two Bells for Charlie was a sinner.

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Craig LaBan reviews Charlie was a sinner. this week and gives the “plant-based” restaurant in Midtown Village two bells, though he does find more than a few things wrong.

Some otherwise beautiful dishes still need tweaks: The elegant sunchoke soup, pureed and poured over intricate garnishes, was spun off-kilter with too much sweetness from Asian pears. The potato gnocchi with favas were dense and doughy minus the levity of the usual egg. I saw more sweet-tart raisins than barley in the mushroom-barley toast.

Also of note, opening chef Michael Santoro has moved on, Max Hosey is now in charge of the kitchen.

Two Bells – Very Good

Call it ‘plant-based’ or vegan, Charlie is a winner [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Charlie was a sinner. [Foobooz]

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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Robeks Fresh Juices & Smoothies Opens First Storefront

robeks-smoothies-healthy-eatsRobeks, the fresh juice and smoothie chain has been getting its name out there via their food truck since July. Today they open their first storefront at 1035 Chestnut Street. Robeks started in California in 1996 and is looking to open 36 franchises in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Robeks makes their juices and smoothies to order, promising to use only the freshest fruit and featuring a proprietary Greek yogurt with more protein and less carbs. The store also offers dairy-free, soy and almond milk options. “Boosts” of added vitamins and minerals promising to increase energy, improve the immune system, reduce cholesterol and help digestion can be added.

Robeks – Center City [Foobooz]

The Revisit: Vedge

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Consider the radish…

When I reviewed Vedge two-and-a-half years ago, that was my opening line. Sometimes I wonder how many people stopped reading after the third word. But I don’t regret it. Plenty of things on Rich Landau’s menu sounded more appetizing, but the black slate bearing his “fancy radishes” was a dish that changed my whole way of thinking—not only about that lowly stepchild of the brassicas, but about vegan cooking altogether.

Five varieties came five ways, from roasted to half-roasted to raw, with an artful precision and a cup of smoked tamari soy sauce that boldly begged comparison with top-shelf sashimi. It was a definitive dish: the last word on an ingredient nobody else was really even offering a first word about. So if anything was bound to stay on Vedge’s menu, it was the radishes. As an emblem of Landau and Kate Jacoby’s galvanizing approach to vegetables, it was too perfect to replace.

Yet not too perfect to improve upon, as I discovered on a recent, belated return to a restaurant that I’ve spent the last two years sending people to.

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Knead Bagels Gets Needed Oven

knead-bagels-ovenChef Adam Willner and his wife Cheri are in the process of creating Knead Bagels at 725 Walnut Street. Chef Willner, who got his bagel start doing brunch at Matyson is going to be offering traditional bagels as well as original takes on the doughy ring. The shop will offer kettle boiled bagels as well as sandwiches, soups, salads and Elixr coffee.

Construction is ongoing but the very important oven has just arrived.

See more updates on Knead Bagels’s Instagram page.

Knead Bagels [Foobooz]

22 Excellent Center City Restaurants Not Participating in Restaurant Week

Rotolo | Courtney Apple

Rotolo | Courtney Apple

We’ve hit that point during Restaurant Week where people realize they don’t have reservations for that date, business meeting or girls night out and people are panicking there aren’t any reservations to be had in Center City. One option would be to head to East Passyunk, Chinatown or Fishtown. But another option is to hit a spot in Center City that isn’t participating. So if you’ve always dreamt of a date at Vetri, been meaning to try a meal at Fork or waiting for the perfect time to return to Parc for another luscious dessert, that time is now.

21 Center City restaurants not participating in Restaurant Week » 

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