Headhouse Crab and Oyster Co. is celebrating oysters this month. In addition to daily buck-a-shuck oyster deals, chef Mike Stollenwerk is preparing oysters in different ways for the month that ends in ‘R’. Among the options, baked oyster and chorizo, fried oyster tacos and to wash it down, oyster shooters.
Oysterfest menu »
This week, Headhouse Crab & Oyster Co. opened to the public in the space once occupied by the short-lived Ralic’s on South–and considering that Ralic’s on South was a seafood restaurant opened by David Ralic and the new Headhouse Crab & Oyster Co. is also a seafood restaurant opened by David Ralic, we’re guessing the changeover wasn’t all that tumultuous.
One other thing that probably helped? Getting itinerant chef-about-town Mike Stollenwerk to run the kitchen. Ex of his own mini seafood empire (Fish, Little Fish, Fathom) and most recently Branzino, Stollenwerk is a guy who knows a thing or two about cooking seafood. His explanation of what’s happening at the new joint?
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Stollenwerk with Branzino owner Luan Tota
Mike Stollenwerk’s run at Branzino is over at four months. Now the former star behind Little Fish and more Fish incarnations than we’d care to remember is heading to South Street. Michael Klein tells us Stollenwerk is going into business with David Ralic of Ralic’s on South. But Ralic’s itself is undergoing a rebranding. Within a few weeks the seafood eatery will be rebranded Headhouse Crab & Oyster Co.
Stollenwerk out of Branzino, headed to South St. [The Insider]
It hasn’t been an easy time for Mike Stollenwerk. He once looked like he was heading for an empire with Little Fish, Fish and Fathom Seafood House. But today Little Fish has been sold and the other two have closed. Most recently, Stollenwerk has landed at Branzino, the Center City oldtimer that’s been solid but hardly revolutionary for a long while now. Brian Freedman discovers that there’s still talent in Stollenwerk and it is coming out at the Rittenhouse BYOB.
[H]he’s delivering on the promise of his talent. Branzino is the Rittenhouse stalwart that, if reliable, hadn’t been terribly exciting in some time. Stollenwerk arrived there a couple months ago, and the change is nothing short of astounding: The menu now reads like his own (minus desserts, which will be transitioned shortly), with line after line boasting dishes you really want to eat. And the flavors of the platings are excellent.
Chef Mike Stollenwerk is back, this time at Rittenhouse mainstay Branzino [Philadelphia Weekly]
Branzino [Official Site]
Mike Stollenwerk, last seen among the damp ruins of Rhino Bar and Fish (in its 3rd incarnation), has surfaced with a new gig. He’s now standing as exec at the Rittenhouse BYO Branzino. All we know right now is that he’s there, that owner Luan Tota (pictured above, with his new chef) is planning on building a brand new 2,500 square foot kitchen for Stollenwerk (which will include a space dedicated to house-made charcuterie) and that Branzino is planning on adding Sunday brunch service, starting on Mother’s Day–because rolling out a brand new menu on one of the busiest days on the food service calendar is just bound to go flawlessly, right?
Oh, and Branzino has a new dinner menu, too. Check it out after the jump.
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The rocky existence of Fish took another turn last night as Michael Klein reported that Mike Stollenwerk has left Fish. No details are yet available but with the summer’s short shutdown, the moving of Fish around the corner and all the other drama that seemed to follow Stollenwerk and business partner Evan Prochniak, it isn’t exactly shocking.
Stollenwerk burst on the scene with his postage stamp-sized Little Fish on 6th and Catharine. National praise from Bon Appetit put Stollenwerk on the map in 2008. In 2009, Little Fish begot Fish at 1708 Lombard Street. Fish also won plenty of accolades before departing its Graduate Hospital location for bumping 13th Street in early 2012. Since then Fish closed temporarily over the summer and just this fall, moved around the corner to a smaller location, as big Fish made way for Rhino Bar.
What this means for Stollenwerk, Fish and Rhino Bar is still unclear. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Michael Klein names Stollenwerk’s successor at Fish. It will be Adán Trinidad, the current chef de cuisine.
Stollenwerk leaves Fish [The Insider]
Having your restaurant named in a top-ten list by a national magazine isn’t typically a cause for regret. But sometimes I’ve wondered if it might be for Mike Stollenwerk.
After Bon Appetit trumpeted his cooking at Little Fish in a December 2008 roundup of “new-style” fish houses, it seemed like the chef with the Popeye forearms was on his way to becoming the Poseidon of Philly’s pescetarian scene. The BA squib begat enthusiastic reviews from the local press (usually it works in the other direction). In 2009 he opened Fish on Lombard Street, adding about 40 seats and a liquor license to his portfolio. A year and a half later he debuted Fathom, a down-home seafood bar in (where else?) Fishtown. Soon there was chatter about two more places in the works in Brewerytown—and then the announcement that Fish was moving to a marquee address on 13th street, where it would double its capacity.
Flash forward to May of 2012. Stollenwerk had sold Little Fish, unloaded the underachieving Fathom to his partner, and there was nothing happening in Brewerytown. Then Fish itself went dark on 13th Street amidst a wave of rumors and conflicting reports.
“It wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be,” Stollenwerk told me when I called to ask him about the dwindling of his restaurant empire. “It was more like babysitting. An ice machine’s broken here. The fridge is out there … I spent all day just driving around.”
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Over at the Independent Hotel, Mike Stollenwerk’s Rhino Bar (which took the place of his flagship Fish after it moved into smaller quarters inside the hotel) is getting ready for its grand opening party.
Tonight, from 6-9pm, there will be $3 drafts, $4 cocktails and beers in cans for just two bucks. Also, it looks like the kitchen is putting out a half-price menu for the festivities, and here’s to hoping that it includes all the stuff on this chock-full-’o-guilty-pleasures board that we want to eat. Like, for example, the tempura fish tacos, meatballs in South Philly gravy, lobster grilled cheese sandwiches and–gasp!–confit chicken drumettes with Buffalo wing sauce, Jasper Hill blue cheese dip and celery.
Rhino Bar [Official]
It looks like Mike Stollenwerk has now got both of his new operations up and running inside the Independent Hotel at 13th and Locust. Recently, he moved his flagship Fish to smaller digs inside the hotel after it (and its odd seafood small-plates menu) failed to catch fire in the bigger space. And now, the Insider is reporting that he’s pulled the trigger on his Rhino Bar concept in the now-former home of Fish.
Rhino Bar is sporting 8 taps and a raw bar, plus a kitchen that’ll serve late (1am on weeknights and 2am on the weekends)–which will make a nice addition to the neighborhood. The Insider has a menu, too, so check it out.
Rhino Opens at 13th and Locust [The Insider]
Fish did indeed open in its new location in the same building last night. And it also rolled out a new menu. Gone is the short-lived seafood tapas concept and back is a menu that reads first course and second course.
The latest Fish menu »