26 North Is Launching A New Prix Fixe Lunch Service (And A New Dinner Menu)

26 North, BYOB by Michael Stollenwerk

26 North, BYOB by Michael Stollenwerk

Those of you who read my review of Mike Stollenwerk’s Old City BYO 26 North a few weeks ago will no doubt recall that I had a few problems with the lunch service. Actually, that’s putting it mildly, I guess. I pretty much hated every minute of it.

The dinner was excellent–smart and comforting and delicious and, basically, everything that lunch wasn’t–and I was mystified at how a single space could house, essentially, two different restaurants. But now there’s some good news. I just got word from the 26 North team that they have a new lunch service that they rolled out very quietly yesterday, and things look like they’re headed in a good direction.

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Smooth Jazz and Skate Wing: 26 North Reviewed

Skate wing at 26 North

Skate wing at 26 North | Photos courtesy of Mike Stollenwerk

The 1990s were a bad time for the American restaurant scene. We were, as an emerging culinary entity, in our first youth—like awful (if precocious) toddlers who’d gotten into Daddy’s special juice. All we did was copycat, put things in our mouths and stagger around blindly from impulse to impulse. Sure, we were occasionally cute. Occasionally (accidentally) brilliant. There were great restaurants that somehow managed to avoid all the foibles and excesses of the age, but on balance, almost everything was terrible all the time.

Consider a brief list of things restaurateurs and chefs thought were good ideas in the 1990s:

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How This Philly Chef Lost 160 Pounds

Chef Mike Stollenwerk before his 160-pound weight loss and after.

Chef Mike Stollenwerk before and after his 160-pound weight loss.

You might’ve seen Chef Mike Stollenwerk’s name floating around in the past few months, probably in regard to his newly opened seafood-centric BYOB restaurant, 26 North, in Old City. But along with whipping up culinary creations on the daily and dealing with the grind that comes with a new restaurant, Stollenwerk has also been working at something else: keeping off the 160 pounds he’s lost in the past few years.

We chatted with Stollenwerk — who, fun fact, studied food science at Drexel — to find out what kinds of challenges he faced as a chef trying to lose weight (we guessed many), what he thinks of the “fat chef” stereotype (a dying breed, it seems) and, of course, what tricks he uses to transform what could be dull food into a delicious meal (hint: he loves avocado just as much as your friends who won’t stop posting avocado-toast Instagrams). Below, see what Stollenwerk had to say about all of the above and more. Read more »

Mike Stollenwerk’s 26 North Is Now Open

26 North, BYOB by Michael Stollenwerk

26 North, BYOB by Michael Stollenwerk

Last night was the official opening of Mike Stollenwerk’s latest restaurant, 26 North. The Old City BYOB features a seafood-centric menu of Stollenwerk’s greatest hits. Yep, skate wing with truffled spaetzle is on the menu, as is salmon belly and seared octopus. The space feels particularly large for a BYOB. The 48-seats in the long space with high ceilings provides plenty of room between tables. A marked difference for the chef who first got noticed in the tiny kitchen and restaurant of Little Fish. In addition to the seafood hits, 26 North also offers lamb for meat lovers and a vegetarian entree.

The space features exposed brick walls with dark wood accents. The wall art features pages from the Philadelphia Inquirer and other publications. A marble bar in the center of the room is a leftover from when the space was going to be a coffee shop but will be put to good use, especially at lunch.

The restaurant is currently dinner only but weekday lunch will be starting shortly with a “Hand Helds” section.

Check out the opening menu »

Mike Stollenwerk Is Back with 26 North

26-north-facade-400Mike Stollenwerk, who won a legion of fans with his seafood at Little Fish and Fish has bounced around in recent years. Spending time at Branzino and Headhouse Crab & Oyster Co. Now he’s back with a new Old City BYOB, 26 North.

The restaurant at 26 North 3rd Street is aiming for a November opening. The BYOB will be open for lunch and dinner, with some classic Stollenwerk dishes including his signature skate wing with truffled spaetzle, leeks and parmesan broth. Expect another four or so seafood-focused entrees plus vegetarian pasta, meat and fowl dishes. Appetizers will include Portuguese fish soup, Sepia a la Plancha (grilled cuttlefish), char-grilled octopus, seared diver scallops and more.

For lunch, Stollenwerk is planning a casual selection of salads, soups and “handhelds,” (burger, crab cake, etc.) and entrees. There will be less of Stollenwerk to see when he opens his restaurant. The chef has lost nearly 140 pounds over the past couple of years.

26 North [Foobooz]

Lights Out For Headhouse Crab & Oyster Co.

headhouse-crab-and-oyster-oysterfest

Not sure if this is going to come as a surprise to anyone, but it looks like Headhouse Crab & Oyster Co. is just about ready to pack it in.

The Insider is reporting that David Ralic (who opened this spot at 117 South Street as a steakhouse called Ralic’s On South, but then quickly changed course after opening, re-branding it as a seafood joint and bringing in Mike Stollenwerk to oversee the kitchen) is saying that Headhouse Crab & Oyster will be going dark some time in the next couple weeks.

The good news? All the liquor and beer behind the bar is being discounted 50% until everything is gone.

Headhouse Crab & Oyster Co. To Close [Insider]

Winners Announced in Dog Days of Summer Cook-Off

On Saturday afternoon South Street hosted its third annual Dog Days of Summer Cook-Off, an afternoon of hot dog-eating and beer drinking under the historic Headhouse Market building. By all accounts it was the best-attended Dog Days of Summer event so far. Folks were standing in lines 20- to 30-deep to munch on wieners served up by local joints like Hot DiggityBrauhaus Schmitz, Serrano, and more.



At the same time, there were a few contests going on—one for the local restaurants serving hot dogs that afternoon, and a topping contest for Philly amateur cooks. Here’s the list of wieners, I mean winners:

Best Dogs

1st Place: Chef Michael Stollenwerk of Headhouse Crab & Oyster
Hot Dog: “The Sea Dog” with Sabrett’s hot dog, spicy pepper relish, crab salad, split-top bun, and a splash of Old Bay.

2nd Place: Chef Nick Mezzina of Misconduct Tavern
Hot Dog: “Sriracha Pork Dog” with sweet Sichuan chilli.

3rd Place: Chef Keith Garabedien of Hot Diggity
Hot Dog: “Corn Salsa Dog” with fire-roasted corn, 1732 meats, paprika-bacon salsa, radish tortillas and cilantro.

Amateur Toppings Winners

1st Place: Lily Vamberi
Hot Dog: “Dickmom Dog” with Elixr Coffee BBQ sauce, Kenzinger battered onion strings, roasted long hot relish.

2nd Place: Brant Williams
Hot Dog: “Pho-natic Dog” with pho beef bullion paste, mung bean sprouts, cilantro, Thai basil, thinly sliced jalapenos, lime hoisin.

3rd Place: Gabrierl Raab
Hot Dog: “Tova Dog” with amba Sauce, pickled vegetables, falafel crunch

Peoples Choice

Chefs Ricardo Rodriguez & Anthony Santiti Jr of Bistro Romano
Hot Dog: “Scala Duck Ragu” with grilled romaine, shaved parmigiano-reggiano, pancetta.

Headhouse Crab & Oyster Co. Now Open

HeadhouseCrabLogoThis 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 Out at Branzino; In at Headhouse Crab & Oyster Co.

StollenwerkBranzino

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]

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