Photo by Claudia Gavin
Last May Nick Elmi went to work on securing a liquor license and expanding into the former coffee shop that is next door to his Laurel. The initial plan was to add some seating and install a bar. But here we are more than seven months later and that hasn’t happened.
So when we caught up with Elmi at Philly Cooks, we asked him what was up. Elmi, whose Laurel has been named the top restaurant in the city for the past two years, has decided not to mess up the good thing he has going at Laurel. So Laurel remains BYOB though he does now offer a $60 wine pairing for those interested.
About the bar »
The new 50 Best Restaurants List | Photo by Samuel Markey
If it seems too soon for another 50 Best Restaurants issue, you’re right. For a long time, this list was something we put together every two years. But now that’s changing. Because it has to.
Philadelphia’s restaurant scene moves fast today—too fast for the kind of monolithic thinking that says a list of the best restaurants in this city could possibly stand, fundamentally unchanged, for two years. Fortunes rise and fall over weeks, not years. Opinions shift. Focus drifts. There was a time when a list of the best restaurants in Philly could have some breathing room—would be just as true (or nearly as true) six months or a year later as it was on the day it hit the stands. But today that sort of thinking seems as quaint as cedar-plank salmon or those bicycles with one big wheel in front—an artifact of another time.
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The three Philly contenders
Ben Franklin once said, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” I’m like 80% sure he was talking about voting in this year’s Food & Wine People’s Choice Best New Chef competition.
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Photo by by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia
Starting in May, Laurel will be moving to only offering tasting menus. Currently, Nick Elmi’s East Passyunk BYOB offers the option of a la carte during the week with tasting menus only on Fridays and Saturdays. Elmi tells us, 70% of weeknight guests are now choosing the tasting menu and “it really doesn’t make sense for a small space like ours to carry a full menu.” Elmi says it has always been the goal to go tasting menu only at Laurel, and the restaurant’s reception has allowed him to speed up the process.
The number of courses and pricing remains the same, 7 courses for $85 per person.
May reservations will be available beginning on Tuesday, March 3rd, starting at noon.
50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia – 2015 [Foobooz]
Professional mouth (and Philly native) Alan Richman has come out with another list of the 25 Best New Restaurants in the United States for GQ magazine, and Philly has made the cut–twice.
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The Foobooz Speakeasy from Philly Cooks 2014
Get your tickets for Philly Cooks Big Event before the end of day on Friday, January 9th in order to save 15%. After that the tickets go up to $100. The Big Event will feature food from more than 40 of Philadelphia’s best restaurants including this year’s number one restaurant, Laurel.
The event will also feature the chance to try food from Philadelphia’s newest restaurants including Brick and Mortar, Bing Bing Dim Sum, Palladino’s and more.
Get your Philly Cooks Big Event tickets now before the prices go up.
Philly Cooks [Philadelphia Magazine]
From left, Laurel chefs Kyle McCormick, Edmund Konrad, Nick Elmi, and Paul Becker.
| Photo by Michael Persico
Three months. That’s about how long it takes us to eat at every important restaurant in the city. And then eat there again. And, sometimes, again.
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Today, OpenTable revealed its Top 100 restaurants “fit for foodies” in America. The list was determined by OpenTable’s analysis of more than five million reviews of more than 20,000 restaurants across the country. The list includes twelve restaurants from Philadelphia, the second most restaurants from one city, only Portland, Oregon had more.
The list includes a high concentration of restaurants from California, Oregon and Pennsylvania but not as many from traditional restaurant cities like Chicago (five restaurants), Los Angeles (five), New York (four) and San Francisco (one).
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Cheu Noodle Bar, home to some of Philly’s most beloved noodles, is hosting its fourth Ramen Rumble on Monday, September 29th at 6 p.m. And this one looks to be an epic battle. Greg Vernick of Vernick Food & Drink will rumble with Nick Elmi of Laurel Restaurant to produce the best noodles of the night.
The event costs $25, which will get you 2 mini-ramen bowls, a beer and a voting card. The event is also first come, first served; however, the chefs make plenty of ramen so don’t let a line scare you.
Cheu Noodle Bar [Foobooz]
There was this moment, shortly after the finale of Top Chef: New Orleans had aired, shortly after Nick Elmi had been named the winner, when another chef walked up to him at one of the big food events in town, shook his hand, congratulated him, and asked him what the hell he was thinking, opening a 22-seat restaurant.
Because, seriously? When you win Top Chef, you suddenly become one of the most famous chefs in America. At least temporarily. Shoot, even losing on the show can be enough to raise you up out of obscurity and turn you into a brand — a known name who can draw down the dollars just by having been featured on the jumping box for a few hours. Cookbook deals, product endorsements, cruise-ship gigs — it all comes to you. And a big-ass restaurant with high-volume turnover on the floor? Of course. That’s just a given.
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