Spruce Street Harbor Park Presented by Univest/Valley Green Bank and Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest have announced their food partners and the ante has been upped. Franklin Fountain, Shane Confectionery, Federal Donuts, and the revival of Chifa will all go a long way towards making 2015 a year to head to the Delaware River.
We know quite a few things about the new Cuban diner that Jose Garces is going to be dropping into the space on Chestnut Street that once housed his occasionally-underrated Latino-Asian fusion restaurant, Chifa. We know that there’ll be Cuban sandwiches and we know that there’ll be empanadas. That there’ll be an integral take-out component to the concept, with a counter selling completas and pasteles right inside the door. We know that there’ll be a rotisserie and a rum menu, that Yun Fuentes will be running the kitchen. And we know that the big man himself really wanted the place to be open 24 hours, but still isn’t sure whether or not that’s going to fly.
And now, we know two other very important things: The name of the place and it’s opening date.
In addition to the recent announcement that his Iron Chef-ness is swinging into action with a Washington D.C. steakhouse, Jose Garces also has two projects working here in Philly that have been getting his attention lately. The first is the as-yet-unnamed Cuban-style diner that he’s putting into the shell recently vacated by Chifa (which is now scheduled to open at the end of September or the beginning of October). And the second is his highly personal atelier called Volver, which is set to open at the Kimmel Center…at the end of September or the beginning of October.
“Opening restaurants is like a baby being born,” Garces said when I got him on the phone this afternoon. “They come when they come.”
This Saturday, July 13th Jose Garces will close his Chifa at 707 Chestnut Street after a four year run. Garces will replace the Peruvian-Cantonese concept with a Cuban diner this fall in the same location. The Cuban diner will offer the likes of empanadas, Cubano sandwiches and Ropa Veija. And in keeping with the diner theme, there will be a malta fountain that will offer milkshakes.
Garces says “It is now time for a new flavor to hit Washington Square. We want to appeal to the neighborhood’s day and nighttime scenes, to both locals and tourists alike.” Garces has a background in cooking Cuban food, one he honed at Alma de Cuba, where he was once executive chef.
This is the first closure of a Garces restaurant. The Chicago raised chef has been on a meteoric rise since opening Amada back in 2005. Since then he’s opened 15 restaurants across the country, become an Iron Chef, written two cookbooks and started a charitable foundation.
Jose Garces Group [Official Site]
With just three short nights left in Center City Restaurant Week, we’ve decided to call out individually excellent dishes at participating restaurants–just to remind you, in case you haven’t yet had a chance to try them.
Oh, Chifa… If ever there was a better Peruvian/Ecuadorian/Chinese/Japanese fusion restaurant named after a Latin version of fried rice, I’ve never found it. And for Restaurant Week, it’s awful sweet that you’re serving two of my favorite plates in your pick-two first course list.
The pork belly bao buns with pickled daikon and togarishi mayo are a must-order. And because you get to choose two dishes for the first course, pair them with the duck confit and housemade kimchi tacos. Then, when the second course comes around (which also allows you to pick two items), just order the same thing again. And then maybe some extra bao for dessert. Of course, if your server won’t let you do that, ordering the chaufa or the pork ribs as a second course is a perfectly reasonable fall-back position, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, right?
All Restaurant Week Coverage [Foobooz]
Looks like the always busy Jose Garces is in town this week for a good cause. This Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Garces and his restaurants will be making an appearance at The Porch at 30th Street Station to support Philabundance. Five of the Iron Chef’s restaurants will be represented at The Porch. For a $10 donation to Philabundance event goers will be treated to samples from Amada, Chifa, Distrito, Guapos Tacos, and JG Domestic. What’s more, Garces himself will be doing a cooking demonstration at the event from noon to 1 p.m.
Celebrate (or mourn) the end of summer this Sunday September 23rd at 4:30pm at Chifa. Chifa’s End of Summmer Barbecue will feature all-you-can-eat grilled meats plus starters and sides. The family style meal is $35 per person.
Decisions, decisions, do you prefer your Allagash beer with Jose Garces’ Latin-Asian food or with go-go girls at the Trestle Inn. That’s the choice this week as Allagash is at Chifa on Thursday and the Trestle Inn tomorrow.
On tap at the Trestle Inn will be:
Bourbon Barrel Black, a Belgian style stout aged in Jim Beam barrels.
Allagash Odyssey, a dark wheat beer aged for ten months
Saison Mihm, a Belgian farm-house style ale brewed with local honey
Allagash White, a wheat beer brewed with a generous portion of wheat and spiced with coriander and Curacao orange peel.
The fun starts at 7 p.m.
On Thursday, March 1st Chifa is hosting the nineteenth incarnation of its popular beer dinner series. For $65 per person, guests will sample Chifa’s Latin-Asian cuisine paired with beer from Allagash Brewery in Maine.
Chifa’s chef de cuisine Natalie Maronski is creating a menu that will include: