Dinner with George Sabatino and Some Light on Aldine

Photo by Neal Santos

Photo by Neal Santos

City Paper’s Caroline Russock reverses roles on local chefs in her “Turning the Tables” series. This week she cooks dinner for George Sabatino and his wife, Jennifer. Russock pulls off citrus-and-herb-roasted pork shoulder and much more. She also gets some good details on Sabatino’s upcoming restaurant, Aldine.

The plan is to offer herbivore and omnivore tasting menus at $55, along with a small a la carte menu and beverage pairings both boozy and non-alcoholic. The set menus will be a series of small bites interspersed with larger plates. He shares a sample menu that he recently demonstrated for investors in New York with elegant and intriguing combinations — spot prawns with fennel and oyster tartare and coconut, granola and white chocolate.

For more on Aldine and dinner at Caroline’s, hop on over to City Paper.

I invited chef George and Jennifer Sabatino for dinner at my place [City Paper]
Aldine [Foobooz]

Nick Elmi’s Laurel Called “Stellar”


Brian Freedman reviews Nick Elmi’s Laurel for Philadelphia Weekly. Freedman calls the East Passyunk BYOB “stellar.”

Berkshire pork lavished in its triumvirate of treatments, and each one, from silky slices of belly to roasted loin to a crepinette of braised shoulder meat secreted inside a cocoon of crisped-up brioche enshrouded in caul fat, had me longing for it days later. Dragging one bite through the mashed chestnuts, dunking another into the shimmering huckleberry-kale vinaigrette, and leaving a third one unadorned became an in situ study in the range and vision of this kitchen.

New East Passyunk BYOB Laurel serves brilliantly imaginative seafood [Philadelphia Weekly]
Laurel [Foobooz]

Marigold Kitchen Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Menus

2_MARIGOLD_Samuel Markey

Marigold Kitchen is doing away with menus. Now the only choice to make when you sit down to dinner at chef/owner Robert Halpern’s West Philadelphia BYOB is seafood, meat or vegetarian for the main entree. Beyond that, you’re in the chef’s hands.

The $85 prix fixe dinner includes up to fifteen courses consisting of bite-sized amuse bouches, small plates and an entree. Vegetarian options are available and other dietary considerations can be accommodated with notice.

Halpern says “this was always the plan” but he was still nervous about how customers would react. But three weeks in and customers tell Halpern, “that decision-free dining is more fun and that’s what Marigold is all about.”

Marigold Kitchen [Official Site]

Photo by Samuel Markey

Tavro 13 Reviewed


Terence Feury goes to Swedesboro and opens Tavro 13. But Trey Popp asks, is he what Swedesboro wants?

Feury is cooking as compellingly as ever. A crisp-skinned fillet of black bass made that clear. Sauced with shrimp jus and topped with blood orange suprêmes, with a bergamot hollandaise to provide a second-level spin on the citrus theme, the fish was exquisitely cooked and emblematic of the focused flavors that distinguished the chef’s work at Fork. And by no means did that dish lack company. A sea scallop entrée glistened with ginger butter, the fat accentuating the ginger’s fruity fragrance and attenuating its heat, but not so drastically as to deprive the accompanying sweet parsnip puree of a slightly spicy dance partner.

Two Stars – Good

Restaurant Review: Seasonal American Eats at Tavro 13 [Philadelphia Magazine]
Tavro 13 [Official Site]

Review: Chris Kearse Opens the BYO of the Year

Trey Popp calls Will on Passyunk Avenue the “BYO of the year” and praises the cooking of Chris Kearse.

You could label Kearse’s approach French, or seasonal, or postmodern, and be right every time. But add it all up—a red-wine béarnaise of almost liqueur-like depth; the Mexican cucumbers, as small as caper berries, that Kearse scored cheaply from a farmer at Headhouse Square; the crunchified quinoa and puffed wild rice that joined those micro-cukes in a late-season tomato salad—and what you really have is ADHD cooking.

But that’s praise, not criticism. Dish after dish here offered a busy variety that bordered on impatience but never fell victim to it.


Three Stars – Excellent

Philadelphia Restaurant Review: Will [Philadelphia Magazine]
Will [Official Site]

Fond’s New Menu Has Us Salivating

We’re not sure anyone does a better risotto in Philadelphia than Lee Styer at Fond. And now he’s added luxurious lobster, hazelnuts and truffle to the dish. That’s when we started drooling, the rest of the menu is just as appetizing.

Read more »

Ela Adds Brunch Starting This Sunday

Ela - Photo by Jason Varney

This Sunday Jason Cichonski kicks off brunch at Queen Village’s Ela. Biscuits, Benedict, bone marrow and butternut squash highlight the fall flavors, and that’s just the “B”s. Among the other brunch highlights, ginger snap pancakes, cranberry crepes and short ribs benedict. Accompanying Cichonski’s food will be craft Bloody Marys, spiked Vietnamese iced coffee and a caramel apple mimosa.

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Tale of the Tape: The Mildred

Chefs and friends, Michael Dorris and Michael Santoro are opening The Mildred this evening in Bella Vista. The restaurant will showcase seasonal American cuisine with influences from the pair’s experience in Europe. Santoro will handle the kitchen and Dorris the front of the house. Both are committed to creating a fun and inviting restaurant that welcomes the neighborhood.

Read more »

Three Stars for Vernick Food & Drink

Trey Popp reviews Vernick Food & Drink, the first solo restaurant of Cherry Hill native Greg Vernick.

[F]or the most part, simplicity is Vernick’s watchword. Sidle up to the smooth poured-concrete bar to nibble on crispy potatoes with shishito peppers, and bask in the breeze wafting through the windows, wide open to Walnut Street. Or belly up to the kitchen counter in back, past the stack of split cordwood, and tug at cool tubes of fresh mozzarella—pulled twice daily—spattered with rhubarb jam and crumbs of pumpernickel toast. The upstairs dining room offers another distinct atmosphere, splashed with light streaming in through the balconied windows but cozy beneath the short ceiling.

Three Stars – Excellent

Philadelphia Restaurant Review: Vernick Food & Drink [Philadelphia magazine]
Vernick Food & Drink [Official Site]

Good Stuff and a Slip-Up at Rittenhouse Tavern

Photo by Felicia Perretti

Oops, a foie gras froth winds up on the plate of Christina Perachio’s pescatarian guest at Rittenhouse Tavern.

The next dish is a doozy: five large day-boat sea scallops, perfectly seared on top with a golden-brown crisp sitting in a heavy-handed amaranth truffle butter sauce with fresh and tender chanterelles and turnips that stand on their own. They are gorgeous, rich and delicious. And their inclusion in our meal comes as a result of my companion’s request for an entrée fit for a pescatarian. Which is why, the next day, when I call to double-check the ingredients, I’m startled to learn that they the scallops were topped with a vanilla foie gras froth.

Simple and Seasonal Fare at Rittenhouse Tavern, With an Unexpected Surprise [Philadelphia Weekly]
Rittenhouse Tavern [Official Site]

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