On a cold night in December, we threaded our way through the crowds on Sansom Street and found the unobtrusive door. We pushed through the heavy curtains hung to keep the drafts out and stepped into the front room hung with green and living things like a Charleston sunporch, then into the massive, vaulted main space of Harp & Crown, Michael Schulson’s newest experiment in feeding and watering Philadelphia.
I have lied thousands of times.
Across countless dinners in half a dozen cities in four different states, I have been asked more times than I can recall: How is everything tonight?
How are you enjoying your tofu and pomegranate potpie? How is that ridiculously undercooked quail? Why are you just pushing those mushy snails around on your plate and not really eating them?
And, oh, I say, everything is fine. It’s wonderful. Excellent. I’m just not as hungry as I thought I was, but can I maybe get a box for the rest of this grilled guinea pig? I can’t wait to have it for lunch tomorrow. …
At Southgate, the bartender stopped by to see me at the end of the bar. He asked, “So how’s that cheeseburger?”
Tap Room on 19th in the Girard Estate neighborhood has received positive note since Michael Strauss and his team took over. Part of that praise included the kitchen, run by Jennifer Choplin. But today, Strauss tells us that Choplin and the Tap Room have parted ways. Strauss has brought on Elijah Milligan who has been working on Nick Elmi’s team at Laurel and before that, succeeded George Sabatino at Stateside.
Milligan begins today and he’ll be getting his cooking out there through the Tap Room’s specials and further down the line, across the menu. According to Strauss, that menu will still include “upscale, comfort, stoner food.”
Tap Room on 19th [Foobooz]
If you’re comfortable looking a bartender straight in the eye and asking for a Sex Panther, then girl, does Jason Cichonski have the bar for you.
That Granny Smith-and-cranberry cosmo isn’t the only cocktail on offer, of course. You could also order a Red Hot Mama (black cherry margarita) or a Mr. Muffin (gin and tonic with strawberry and sage) — though, as with the Pirate Hooker (red currant Bellini), propriety would seem to dictate tacking a “for my friend” onto such requests.
But then, hitting Old City for the propriety is like going to Thailand for the cheese.
Craig LaBan revisits Pub & Kitchen at 20th and Lombard and finds that the corner hot spot has gone from gastropub to restaurant with a bar. And a mighty fine restaurant at that.
A perfectly seared fillet of fluke came over a sweet dice of yellow rutabaga with lentils and whole-grain-mustard crème fraîche. Tiny, tender calamari were stuffed like sausages with spicy house-made chorizo over a milky almond-anchovy puree with grilled celery stalks that had been tanged with lemon. Giant head-on prawns, brushed with a tangy spring barbecue glaze of rhubarb and aji amarillo chiles, paired with toasted farro and a vivid green puree that also snapped with whole fresh sweet peas.
Three Bells – Excellent
Today is the official opening of The Butcher and Barkeep in Harleysville. The bar and restaurant is being run by two former Standard Tap bartenders, Cody Ferdinand and Gerard Angelini along with chef Jeffrey Sacco, who comes from the Craft Ale House in Limerick.
The doors swing open and dinner begins at 5 p.m., lunch service will start on Monday November 25th.
Adam Erace returns to Jose Pistola’s to try the menu of Adan Trinidad. The former El Vez kitchen-hand has returned to Philadelphia after a stint in New York and he has Pistola’s firing.
Some of Trinidad’s plates, like the glistening tiradito of raw fluke splashed with yuzu and freckled with togarashi, made me want to take a sledgehammer to the overbearing sound system, twist 200-watt bulbs into the overhead sockets and lay a white cloth over my table. Fruity, spicy, sour and fresh, the food demanded a bit more attention.
Jose Pistola’s [Foobooz]
Looking for brunch plans this weekend? We’ve got you covered with our brand new brunch guide. Part of the Food Lover’s Guide, the brunch guide offers brunch suggestions no matter what you’re looking for. Whether it be:
- Weekday Options
- No Wait
- Day Drinking
- Fancy Pants
Check all of them out in the new Philadelphia magazine Brunch Guide.
Food Lover’s Guide to Philadelphia Brunch [Philadelphia Magazine]
Adam Erace checks out the second act of the popular Pub & Kitchen where the interior has been redecorated and Eli Collins is the new chef.
“I wanted to get away from the English pub mold,” Collins says of his initial alterations to P&K’s menu, a change echoed by renovations that freshened the furniture and whitened the dining room. There are still tureens of mussels and a noteworthy burger (double patties, American cheese) with fries that are still called chips, but looking beyond, for instance, to the bread service, you’ll find slices of semolina with cloud-like interiors and crusts that crackle like M&Ms shells. Collins scents the loaves with fennel, working honey into the dough for a subtle sweetness, a thread connected by the bee pollen dusted on the softened butter. Ingredients often link up this way on Collins’ menu. Flowering lemon thyme and candied lemon peel reinforced the lemonade-like citrus notes in gingered chicken-liver mousse studded with pickled blueberries.
Photo via Mark Stehle
Buzzworthy news coming from Strangelove’s today. At 11:30 a.m., the Center City beer bar will be tapping Russian River Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig and Damnation.
Strangelove’s is also the first bar from Brendan Hartranft, Brendan Kelly and Leigh Maida to be sign on to Twitter. Follow the bar @StrangelovesBar.
Strangelove’s [Official Site]