Crow & The Pitcher Opens on Rittenhouse

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Alex Capasso quietly opened his Rittenhouse Square restaurant, Crow & The Pitcher on tax day. The revamp of C19 makes the space more rustic with pub tables in the front and a more formal dining area beyond the bar. Capasso’s old boss Georges Perrier was hanging out when we swung by to grab a copy of the opening menu. The menu ranges from $6 for a salad with Boston lettuce to $28 for a rib-eye steak.

The restaurant and bar will be open Tuesday to Sunday, from 4:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Check out the full menu »

Farm Fest Comes to the Parkway

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The Oval returns to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with Farm Fest. This Thursday, April 17th through Saturday, April 19, the Parkway will once again a gathering place for people looking for games, music, food and some Victory Brewing Company beers.

Thursday’s event takes place from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with food trucks and Victory Brewing Company’s brewpub on wheels showing up at 5 p.m. Farm Truck, Street Food Philly, Reuben on Rye, Little Baby’s Ice Cream and Calling Card Confections from the Greensgrow Commissary will all be on hand. TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb will be performing.

More Farm Fest at the Oval events » 

Chip Roman’s The Treemont Opens Today

treemont-accent-wallChip Roman’s The Treemont opens today at 15th and Locust. It is the fourth restaurant for Roman, who also owns Blackfish, Mica and Ela, as well as Tradestone Confections and Tradestone Cafe. The former Tietra has been revamped with an updated interior and will offer a menu of modern American fare with an emphasis on seafood. The menu is broken down into snack, land, sea and entree sections. Prices range from $4 for spiced almonds to $26 for a veal tenderloin prepared with green olives, fermented barley and wild onions. The menu also offers a couple plates for two, including a dry-aged Berkshire pork chop for $46 and a fish of the day at market price. 

The Treemont has a liquor license and offers a dozen beers by the bottle or can and twelve wines by the glass. The cocktail list includes six house cocktails plus a list of alcohol-free refreshments.

The Treemont Opening Menu (PDF)

The Treemont [Foobooz]

Where We’re Eating: Vernick Food + Drink

Photo by Karrisa Olsen

Photo by Karrisa Olsen

I can remember, a long time ago, back when Greg Vernick was first opening his eponymous restaurant on Walnut Street and the early reviews were just coming in, talking with my food-nerd friends about the place—about how good it already was, and the weird feeling we all had that it somehow had the potential to get even better. Now, two years in, it seems to have arrived. The menu, with its oysters and small plates, simply roasted fish and chicken and brilliant toasts, is solid and welcoming and comforting while at the same time inventive enough to never be dull. The short cocktail program is well thought-out, and the service has mellowed and relaxed into a perfect upscale-neighborhood-restaurant model, with easy smiles all around. While there have been some complaints that the menu doesn’t change often enough, the benefit of this (relative) stability has been a crew brought up on consistency and attention to detail, which shows through on every single plate.

Vernick Food + Drink [Foobooz]

Where We’re Eating: Tria Taproom

The team behind Tria Cafe has opened a pizza-and-beer joint. That would be one way to describe Tria Taproom, but not a particularly apt one. The Taproom offers flatbreads, not pizzas. A co-worker wondered if the only difference was pretense, but from my point of view, the Tria team can call them whatever they want as long as they keep making them, whether topped with burrata, balsamic onions and lemon zest or gorgonzola, duck confit and foie gras mousse. The Taproom lives up to its name as well, with 24 beers on tap from a system that’s one part work of art and one part peek into the future. The tap handles are mounted on an illuminated marble backsplash. iPad-based menus describe the beers, which come from Norway, Nebraska and Downingtown. The iPads also illustrate just how much beer remains in the keg, so you’ll always know when one is getting down to the dregs. The wine program is also entirely on draft—a system that promises fresher-tasting wines and incidentally befuddles the city inspectors trying to enforce Philly’s mandatory recycling program: What do you mean there’s no waste? Since this is a Tria operation, cheese, the third fermentable, plays a part on the menu, with options ranging from Approachable to Racy—which is an altogether accurate description of what you get at Tria Taproom.

Tria Taproom [Foobooz]

First appeared in the April, 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

In the Kitchen at Volver

Kyle Baddorf, Josh Massaro and Jose Garces testing recipes.

Kyle Baddorf, Josh Massaro and Jose Garces testing recipes.

Last Thursday I checked out how menu testing was going over at Volver with Jose Garces, Natalie Maronski and the rest of the Volver team.

I was lucky enough to eavesdrop on the team as they discussed the best way to plate their salad with greens from Garces’ Luna Farm. I smelled water that had the fragrance of pot soil. I sampled “Kentucky Fried Sqab” from the performance kitchen’s pressure fryer. And I got a bite of perhaps the best fish I’ve ever tasted.

Read more »

Philadelphia Restaurant Review: Avance

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Foie gras mousse. Photography by Courtney Apple.

Karl Marx once wrote that history repeats itself: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. And Avance is what happens the third time around.

Ninety minutes, 120 bucks and one bite into dinner for four at 1523 Walnut Street, the successor to Le Bec-Fin and all its reboots was careening. We’d already been told our table wasn’t ready (as the minute hand smacked solidly against our reservation hour) and been sent to pay tribute at the downstairs bar. Two sips into cocktails there, and a hostess appeared to reclaim our glasses and ferry us past a bevy of empty tables in the soaring slate-gray dining room, bringing us to one of several more vacancies on the mezzanine. A self-congratulatory announcement prefaced the replacement of white napkins with black ones (for the benefit of the ladies’ pants, of course), yet when the silver tongs appeared later to replenish the linens a second time, it was back to white again.

And then, 20 minutes after we’d ordered an audaciously marked-up white to accompany appetizers, our server airily chirped, “The sommelier’s upstairs. I assume she’s having trouble finding it.”

Read more »

Elephant and Castle Closes

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Psst, want a phone booth?

Elephant and Castle has closed on 18th Street between Chestnut and Market. The British-style pub has been a fixture on the block for almost twenty years. The Sonesta Hotel (formerly Crowne Plaza) which housed the pub is undergoing extensive renovations which include a new art gallery, bar and lobby. The E&C wasn’t part of these upgrade plans but offer the hotel another space to upgrade.

Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia [Official]

Where We’re Eating: Chris’ Jazz Cafe

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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.

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