I don’t look for much in a jazz cafe—a stiff drink, a solid menu and, hopefully, good music. But at Chris’ Jazz Cafe, when I had to clarify that my Negroni needn’t have salt on the rim—and when it arrived watery, with a few bobbing ice cubes and no garnish—I realized this place was, still, only about the music. New chef Laurent Leseur’s menu ranges from Asian spring rolls to escargot and frog legs to pasta primavera to jambalaya to a four-course chef’s tasting that I, unfortunately, took a chance on. A dry field greens salad was a bed for chewy confit chicken gizzards, topped with a knob of foie butter that made no sense. My “boneless” frog legs came bone-in, with nothing resembling the promised potato-stuffed choux pastry. The duck parmentier’s salt seared my tongue; the dish was crowned by mashed potatoes browned and piped in the 1970s. This city is crying for a good jazz cafe, but with its dated food, nonsensical menu and I-can’t-believe-there-are-still-teal-tablecloths, Chris’ just ain’t it.
Chris’ Jazz Cafe [Foobooz]
First appeared in the March, 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.
Beginning on Thursday, March 6th, Oyster House will be bringing back classic dishes from the Mink family’s 60+ years in the seafood business. They’ve dusted off their old school menus from Sansom Street Oyster House as well as Kelly’s on Mole in order to feature a special Throwback Thursday dish every week.
Things kick off today with Oyster Pan Roast, oysters lightly poached in a creamy tomato broth and served with blackened shrimp-buttered crostini.
Other throwbacks will include Crab Imperial, and Dockside Flounder. The full schedule of chef Brett Naylor’s Throwback Thursday plates will be announced via social media. So follow @PHLoysterhouse on Twitter and Instagram or Like them on Facebook.
Oyster House [Foobooz]
According to Craig LaBan, Pierre Calmels is hitting on all cylinders at his new Le Cheri. LaBan’s list of favorites appears to be most of the menu.
I can’t remember a better steak tartare than Le Chéri’s finely diced filet, edgy with Dijon and glossed with raw yolk, mounded atop the crispy potato lattice of fresh gaufrette chips. The onion soup is deeply sweet from onions caramelized for hours, but balanced with wine and stock, then sealed beneath the nutty tang of molten Comte. Familiar steak-frites gets an upgrade with earthy bavette (flat sirloin) and shallots soaked in Marchand de Vin gravy. The potatoes “Darphin,” crispy rails of shredded spuds in clarified butter, are the hash-brown sticks of my dreams. The choucroute is a classic crock of kraut beer-stewed to brown with bacon, foie gras fat, and house-made duck-pork sausage, then topped with a crispy blade of braised pork belly and mildly salted but flavorful duck confit.
Three Bells – Excellent
Calmelses’ Le Cheri: Back to Bistro [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Le Cheri [Foobooz]
House cured and smoked pork shoulder, smothered in Cayenne dry rub.
In early February we told you that Plenty was dropping its excellent Tasso Ham Panini. The news left us bitterly disappointed and we considered descending on the sandwich spot with pitchforks raised. Luckily that won’t be necessary as the tasso ham panini is back for at least a limited time. The official reasoning is that its for Mardi Gras but with the tease that it might be extended, we’re putting this one in the win column.
Plenty – Rittenhouse [Foobooz]
Plenty – East Passyunk [Foobooz]
Handcut Fries at Shake Shack | Photo by Evan Sung
The Shake Shack at 20th and Sansom may have been Philadelphia’s first but it is the last to offer non-frozen fries. But that’s over today as Center City’s Shake Shack is on the fresh-cut bandwagon.
And in honor of the changeover, Shake Shack Center City is giving away free fries with the purchase of a Brooklyn Brewery ShackMeister Ale.
The offer runs until the keg is kicked.
Shake Shack – Center City [Foobooz]
According to Trey Popp, the Art Alliance may have finally found its restaurant in Pierre and Charlotte Calmels’ Le Cheri. Popp bestows three stars on the French bistro, despite being served testicles under the guise of “pistachio fries.”
Calmels cuts his boudin noir—another “Bizarre” selection—with extra flour, pushing the sometimes-crumbly texture of that blood sausage into the realm of dense chocolate cake. Best I’ve ever had.
And if there’s ravioli on the menu, get it—even if it sounds boring, like the delicate cream cheese ones whose tangy fillings turned out to be infused with truffle peelings one night.
Three Stars – Excellent
Restaurant Review: Le Cheri [Philadelphia Magazine]
Le Cheri [Foobooz]
After more than two-and-a-half years Rotisseur is going to be open seven days a week. The rotisserie chicken and banh mi haven will now be open on Sundays.
The full menu will be offered and Aaron Matzkin tells us he’s taking suggestions for Sunday Supper Specials. Would you like to see suckling pig on the rotisserie? Lamb? Barbacoa?
Let Aaron know here in the comments or tweet him @rotisseurphilly.
Remember what a big deal it was when Crumbs Bake Shop came to town? We reported on the announcement, tracked the location in Rittenhouse Square and it even made the news when their awning went up. Cupcake aficionados were honestly excited about this publicly-traded, bi-coastal operation coming to Philly.
Well, now the Rittenhouse location is closed. It lasted just over a year in its space, and such a rapid departure for a proven operation like Crumbs has us thinking: Does this closure say something about us as a city?
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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]
Designed by Philadelphian Conrad Booker, the textile mural is inspired by Volver’s logo.
Volver, Jose Garces’ culinary showcase is set to open in April at the Kimmel Center. The space will feature a caviar and champagne lounge as well as a forty-seat performance dining area. Garces, architects KieranTimberlake and interior designer Marguerite Rodgers have collaborated to design a space that highlights the arts, culinary and otherwise.
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