Philadelphia Restaurant Received “Million Dollar Review”

Coren at Vedge. He called Vedge "the best vegan cooking I have ever had."

Coren at Vedge. He called Vedge, “the best vegan cooking I have ever had.”

Times of London restaurant critic Giles Coren was in Philadelphia this spring filming his TV show Million Dollar Critic for Canada’s WNetwork. The show visited five Philadelphia restaurants in order for Coren to bestow one of them with his million dollar recommendation (because the review could be worth more than a million dollars in business).

Coren visited Vedge, Cheu Noodle Bar, Avenue Delicatessen, The Mildred (now closed) and Kanella. In the end, Coren heaped the most praise on Kanella, the Cypriot BYOB by Konstantinos Pistillides.

Kanella is the sort of place I wish I could review every week: a buzzing local taverna on a lively city corner, people of all ages and ethnicities sitting at outside tables, simply decorated inside, full of laughter, friends and family, and charming staff serving a cuisine rooted deeply in a foreign culture rather than just ripping it off, with a deadly serious chef at the helm.

Read the full review of Kanella on Huffington Post’s Canadian edition.

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Kanella Looks To Be Expanding Southward

village-belle-papered-windowsAn eagle-eyed tipster alerted us to a liquor license transfer placard in the former home of Village Belle at 757 S Front Street. The applicant name is Kanella South. Could this be a new restaurant from Konstantinos Pitsillides, the owner of Kanella at 10th and Spruce Streets? The new license application isn’t in the system yet, so we reached out to Pitsillides but haven’t heard back yet. Back in March, Pitsillides sent us a teasing email, “Kanella will buy a new bigger space.or maybe,they just did.” At that time the chef did return any further messages for details. 

A property search doesn’t return any recent sales for the address though its value did just go up by a factor of eight.

But if the name is any proof, it looks like Queen Village will be noshing on Cypriot bites while looking out over the Mediterranean Delaware.

It’s a Sunday Tasting Menu that Won’t Break the Bank at Kanella

Photo by Frances Olson

Photo by Frances Olson

Brian Freedman provides the lowdown on chef Konstantinos Pitsillides’s Sunday Cypriot mezze dinner at Kanella. The menu changes each week but  you can count on it to be “honest, exciting, deeply comforting experience that, on a Sunday night, is the perfect way to begin a new week.”

Where We’re Eating: Kanella, Still Compelling

34_Kanella_Emily Frances Olson

Kanella, the endearingly small, five-year-old Cyprian BYO sits at the corner of 10th and Spruce, containing wicker chairs, wooden tables, and exposed brick walls graced with copper cookware. Anything more would be a disservice to the chef. Food is the focus here, and there’s a certain nece­ssitarianism to Konstantinos Pitsillides’s coo­king—an effortless persuasion that this sort of cuisine should only be prepared by him, that there is exactly one way to compose each dish, and that Pitsillides is the only chef in the world doing it correctly. Soak your bread in the brightly spiced yogurt sauce that accompanies the lamb dumplings, and let his famed “katsiki” stew’s layers of flavor unwind for a lifetime. His food is convincing, his talent is compelling, and his restaurant is still worth a visit. Or a hundred.

Kanella
1001 Spruce Street
215-922-1773

Photo by Frances Olson

First appeared in the May, 2013 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Can We Interest You in the Pork?

village whiskey pork sammy

The Beer Lass skips the burger at Village Whiskey and instead goes with the pork sandwich.

Chef Dave Conn tosses the pork in a whiskey barbecue sauce then adds a creamy coleslaw atop.  It was served with fried pickles as a side.

Village Whiskey’s Pork Sammy [Beer Lass]

The intriguing Konstantinos Pitsillides of Kanella has dropped his popular and long-running goat stew from the menu and replaced it with a suckling pig entree.

Twenty-five bucks gets you a plate featuring meat from 20-pound whole baby porkers Pitsillides rubs with lard and his own spice blend before slow-roasting for up to three hours; he serves up the pork with love letter pasta tossed with cheese and sweet peas.

Out with the goat, in with the pig at Kanella [Meal Ticket]

What’s In the Window at Kanella

precision

We’ve been meaning to stop at Kanella for too long now, not just for the for the Cypriot fare but to take some good photos of Konstantinos Pitsillides‘ “vintage twitter.” The posts hang on individual sheets of paper in the window of his kitchen.

Grub Street captures a sheet that takes a shot at the catering profession. Us, we have this photo regarding precision, restraint and simplicity.

It prompts an interesting discussion, as much for the posts as their content.

Vintage Twitter at Kanella [Grub Street]

Our transcription after the jump.

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How Many Bells For Kanella?

kanella

Well if you believe everything or even a portion of what you read online it’s 2 bells for Kanella. But for those who prefer Sunday breakfast with ink-stained fingers, the result is 3 bells. So which result is correct? With all this praise we’re thinking it’s 3-bells.

  • “Cyprus’ loss is our gain”
  • “several memorable meals”
  • “soulful stews”
  • “uncompromising conviction of a great folk singer”
  • “masterful at redeeming the nearly lost art of the braise and the stew”
  • “one of the most profound dishes I’ve eaten all year”
  • “humming happily after that meal”
  • “I’m still savoring the list of highlights”
  • “sublimely tender rabbit”

Update: Three Bells – Excellent is the correct rating.

Kanella [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Kanella [Official Site]

How Many Bells?

Craig LaBan was off yesterday but he’ll be back handing out bells this weekend. In his sights will be Kanella, the Washington Square West Cypriot BYOB.

How many bells for Kanella?

  • 2 Bells (60%, 77 Votes)
  • 3 Bells (22%, 28 Votes)
  • 1 Bell (10%, 13 Votes)
  • 4 Bells (7%, 9 Votes)
  • 0 Bells (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 128

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Kanella Serves Top Breakfast

kanella

Esquire Magazine comes up with the 59 best breakfast places in America and Philadelphia’s Kanella makes the list. We’ll pay no attention that Holiday Inn Express also is in there and we’ll ignore that Kanella’s web site doesn’t mention breakfast or even brunch. But those are just details, it’s Friday and we’d rather celebrate that Philadelphia’s lone Cypriot  restaurant has gotten some national accolades.

The Cypriot breakfast plate tastes heartier and more serious than its American counterpart: Sunny-side eggs fried in olive oil have a thick yolk and crunchy underlining, grilled halloumi and lounza (ham) are salty slabs, and the coffee is made Turkish-style by boiling finely powdered roasted beans (mixed with sugar) over a propane burner. Let the dregs settle.

Best Breakfasts in America [Esquire]
Kanella [Official Site]

More Love For Kanella

Kanella Lemon Mousse
If you haven’t been to Kanella you’re really missing out. Elisa Ludwig is the latest to heap praise on the Cypriot BYOB on Spruce Street.

Kanella is a fresh, fantastic addition to the local BYO lineup. For one thing, there’s no other kitchen serving this food — the cuisine of Cyprus is an unmistakable amalgam of Greek and Turkish influences augmented by notes from France, Italy, Lebanon and elsewhere — in the region. Chef/owner Konstantinos Pitsillides has created a well-edited menu that makes his native cuisine accessible without dumbing down its distinct flavors. Even more notable is the cooking itself, which eschews fancy innovations for authenticity and simplicity. It’s honest, good food. If there’s a gimmick here, it’s that what you see is what you get.

The Transporter [City Paper]

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