Crews Battle Three-Alarm Fire in Center City

[Update 7 am] “A multi-alarm blaze inside a building under construction in Center City Philadelphia has been declared under control,” 6ABC reports. Traffic on surrounding streets is still affected by the ongoing response, however.

More than 100 firefighters helped bring the blaze under control, according to reports.

[Original 5:39 am] Philadelphia fire crews battled a three-alarm fire in Center City on Tuesday morning, reportedly at the site of a restaurant under construction. Read more »

Meltkraft Is Open in Center City


The menu at Center City’s new Meltkraft.

Grilled cheese specialist, Meltkraft has opened its second Center City location and first standalone storefront in Philadelphia. Meltkraft, which shares space with Valley Shepherd Creamery in the Reading Terminal Market has opened a bi-level location at 46 South 17th Street.

The grilled cheese shop offers a similar menu to the Terminal location,  with favorites like the Valley Thunder sandwich of brisket and baked macaroni and cheese, as well as the Somerset, Gruyere, cured ham, cornichon pickles and wholegrain mustard. Of course if you are a grilled cheese purist, the classic is three Valley Shepherd cheeses and nothing else.

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First Look: The New Season At Volver

We’ve said a lot of things about Volver over the past two years. From excitement over its potential, to bewilderment over its policies and pricing, to amazement at our first experience with a full-on performance dinner, to more bewilderment as the menu resolutely refused to change over the course of many, many months even as the concept got tweaked to make it more approachable in the second “season”.

Along the way, Volver picked up the only 4-star review that Trey has ever handed out at Philly mag, warranted a special, extra digression online after the review went up, discussing the booze, the price, the stars and the fish with its own TED Talk, and then frightened us all deeply when it announced a summer vacation–a two month long summer vacation which, not for nothing, seemed extraordinary and odd. I mean, what restaurant just gets to close down for two months in the middle of summer? What is this, France?

The team promised that they’d be re-opening on September 2nd (with Bar Volver debuting early–this Wednesday, as a matter of fact), reinvigorated and with brand new menus. We were skeptical, but hopeful. Volver has had a weird, bumpy run. We have been both fervent supporters and aporetic assholes, loudly voicing our worries and complaints in public. But the place still served me (and several of my colleagues) some of the best plates we’ve had in years, and considering the professional mouths I associate with, that’s no small thing. So when they invited us down to the kitchen late last week to show us what they’ve been working on during their summer vacation, we wasted no time.

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The Expert Guide to Center City Restaurant Week

restaurant-weekYes, it’s that time again. Center City Restaurant Week starts today, Sunday, August 2nd and, as in years past, it is a huge thing with something like a hundred participating restaurants, all competing for your sweet, sweet dollars. The basic deal is the same as always: a three-course dinner for $35 per person (not including drinks or tip) and, at many places, a three-course lunch for $20.

But here’s the thing… You people, you don’t want the basic deal, do you? If you’re reading this, you’re already used to the regular Restaurant Week rigamarole (booked-solid restaurants, long waits, exhausted staffs, SO much salmon), and are looking for something more. Read more »

Prince Theater Updates Marquee to Reflect Name and Logo Change

The Prince Music Theater hasn’t been the “Prince Music Theater” since Philadelphia Film Society purchased it in March and changed the name to a simple and straight-forward Prince Theater. The name, they’ve said, better reflects the mission of the theater, which has been hosting much more than music-centric events since its new programming schedule kicked off this spring. Most importantly, though, they want people to recognize it as a movie theater—the only place in Center City where you can catch a mainstream flick, like Disney’s Tomorrowland or, more recently, Inside Out.

It’s been hard to adapt to the name-change, since it’s been called Prince Music Theater for years, but this week, the alteration finally became official with the incorporation of a new logo on its marquee that puts the new name in lights and better exemplifies their further-reaching mission. @ThePrincePFS tweeted out a photo of it this week. Check it out below:

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DanDan Offering Free Noodles Through Friday

Free Dan Dan noodles with the purchase of any meal through Friday.

Free Dan Dan noodles with the purchase of any meal through Friday.

DanDan opened over the weekend at 126 S 16th Street. The restaurant serves Sichuan and Taiwanese cuisine in Center City for lunch and dinner.

For now the restaurant is operating as a BYOB, but soon enough the restaurant will have a full liquor license. The restaurant is run by Kevin and Catherina Huang, former operators and managers of Han Dynasty’s University City location. As such, the dan dan noodles are a must order (even better, they’re free with any purchase through Friday). Even after bringing leftovers back to the office, several staff members put the noodles slightly ahead Han Chiang’s renditions.
Highlights and full menus »

Restaurant Review: Vesper

Vesper Bar | Photo by Neal Santos

Vesper Bar | Photo by Neal Santos

Two men walk into a bar.

“May we go downstairs?” one asks, gesturing toward a bookcase that conceals a secret stairwell.

“Do you have the password?” the hostess replies, flashing a flinty sidelong stare. Read more »

Why Are You Walking Barefoot Around Center City?

Via Shutterstock.

Via Shutterstock.

It was 11 a.m. on a Friday at 15th and Locust when I saw it: a man, in nice khakis and a polo, holding his shoes and socks in one hand and his cell phone in the other. No, there wasn’t a fire, and, yes, he was totally barefoot and walking down the street like it was no big deal, chilling and chatting on his phone.

I had to stop and wonder if I wasn’t in some sort of Alice in Wonderland-type dream (more on those later), but, nope: This was real life and this dude was barefoot walking down a dirty Philly street. I’d say this was a strange, isolated incident, but it isn’t. I keep seeing people casually walking down the sidewalk with absolutely no footwear. And I don’t understand. Read more »

Mayor Nutter Confirms Security Fencing for Pope

Part of Philadelphia is going to get fenced in come September, when Pope Francis pays the city a visit as part of the 2015 World Meeting of Families.

After some speculation that Center City could be entirely fenced in for the Pope’s appearances, Mayor Michael Nutter refuted that notion on Thursday and gave some detail into the plans, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported this afternoon.

“Whoever is saying that somehow all of Center City is going to be shut down, has no idea what they’re talking about,” Nutter reportedly said at a press conference. “There’s never been any discussion with me where the idea of all of Center City being enclosed, encapsulated, shut down, has ever been discussed.”

Mayor Nutter did, however, confirm to The Inquirer that there will be fencing in the various parts of the city where Pope Francis intends to go. The nature of the fencing — height, type, etc. — is still to be determined. Fencing is a usual measure of security for large cities, The Inquirer said, as it helps secure a certain area and funnel the public through screening devices like metal detectors in order to see an important person speak.

“There was fencing out at the July 4 show just the other day … fencing is not a new concept in this city,” Nutter said at the presser.

Despite all the necessary security measures and street closings forecast for the late September event, Mayor Nutter said there is no reason for Philadelphians to escape the city. “The overwhelming majority of the city will be fairly unaffected by what’s going on in Center City. Again, there will be road closures, places that you can’t go and you’ll know all that over the course of the next couple months.”.

Underground Fire Knocks Out Power in Society Hill

An underground fire left about a hundred PECO customers in Center City without power on Thursday.

The transformer fire started near 2nd and Walnut Streets on the border between Old City and Society Hill. The first call, about smoking manholes, came in at 10:45 a.m. Most of the customers without power are in the Society Hill Towers. Read more »

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