Stephen Starr landed a major restaurant plaudit in the New York Times today.
Well-respected critic Pete Wells, famed for his scathing reviews of Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar and Señor Frog’s, put Starr’s Le Coucou at number one on his Top New York Restaurants of 2016 list.
“The genius of this project from the chef Daniel Rose and the restaurateur Stephen Starr is that it gives us almost everything we loved about New York’s old-line French restaurants without the things we didn’t,” Wells writes. “The dining room isn’t stuffy, the service isn’t snooty, and people don’t get seated in Siberia if their pronunciation of boeuf bourguignon doesn’t have the right backhand spin.” Read more »
Philadelphia has become like a strange dreamworld for New Yorkers and those other Big City devotees who read (or write for) the New York Times. It’s a place they come to deliberately have their expectations exceeded, to begrudgingly fall for while they’re here and then pine for while away. We are the Westworld of cities at this moment–the place you come to make all your dreams come true.
And also to murder robots.
So today, the Times ran a piece by Robert Draper titled “A Four-Day Feast In Philadelphia.” And alliteration aside, it did exactly what I mentioned above. First, there was the de riguer mention of those same tired cultural touchstones (gritty neighborhoods, soft pretzels and cheesesteaks). Then the sudden “discovery” that there are things here which are like the restaurants in New York, only, you know, not in New York, which seems to always confuse New Yorkers. The fact that these restaurants are good? That this entire city is not peopled entirely with sweatpants-wearing troglodytes gruntingly double-fisting hoagies while squatting around trash fires in the Italian Market like some lost tribe of East Coast cargo cultists? That’s almost too much to take in at first. The shock too extreme.
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Once, Philadelphia did lose to New York.
OK, not “once” — it’s happened lots of times. But this big one was in 1946. Looking back on it, it seems incredible: Philadelphia was going to be the headquarters of the United Nations. It was almost a done deal! The UN would be in downtown Philadelphia if not for John D. Rockefeller’s last-minute gift of the site on the East River where the UN headquarters stands today.
Besides sports, this is the last time I can figure New York beat out Philadelphia on a major scale. Too bad that not too many people know about it. Literally: The academic journal I linked above actually opens with the sentence, “It is not usually remembered that Philadelphia was almost selected in 1946 to be the permanent headquarters of the United Nations.” And that was written in 1976! The story has faded even more since then. I didn’t learn of this incident — this theft! — until I was well into my twenties.
And, you know, thank God. Sometimes I think about this and wonder what Philadelphia would be like if it had gotten the UN HQ. Center City Philadelphia, where I’ve lived for almost 10 years, would be a much different place had the UN placed its headquarters here. The plan was to put it near Independence Hall.
And yet, we have an inferiority complex. At least per the New York Times.
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Chris Christie has been in London the last few days on a trade mission. Let’s get to the most important part of this story first: His London trip did not stop him from commenting on the video 94 WIP released at Wing Bowl of him falling off a chair.
The trip was viewed by some as a disaster, as he made controversial comments on vaccines. The trip could cost Jersey taxpayers $40,000, per the Asbury Park Press. Most costs were defrayed by Choose New Jersey, a trade org that encourages investment in the state, but taxpayers still have to pick up the travel bill for Christie’s security detail. In London, Christie and his team stayed at the expensive Corinthia Hotel.
And, according to a long piece on Christie in the New York Times today, he has long enjoyed the finer things in life — when someone else picks up the tab.
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So Philadelphia, it seems, is having something of a moment.
There was the Bon Appetit piece on Reading Terminal Market. There was the New York Times naming Philly as one of the “52 Places To Go In 2015,” and putting us third on the list behind Milan and Cuba–which means, yes, first in the United States.
Now, Travel + Leisure has just come out with their list of the best new restaurants in the world, and has given Philly a page, noting, “This unsung destination has blossomed into one of the U.S.’s most exciting restaurant cities—Portland East?—with a fierce indie spirit and world-class kitchen talent.”
Nice, right? Local names given a specific shout-out include Serpico, Michael Solomonov (Zahav and FedNuts, sure, but more lovingly Abe Fisher and Dizengoff), and both Fork and High Street On Market which gets the closing line, reading, “The artisanal breads and the caraway-rye rigatoni with pastrami ragù are reasons alone to go to Philly.”
So we’re awesome is the point here. At least for today. But in the immortal words of the legendary Dirk Diggler, “We can always do better. I’m gonna keep trying if you guys keep trying. Let’s keep rocking and rolling, man!”
Travel + Leisure – Best New Restaurants [Official]
Photo courtesy High Street On Market’s twitter
Spruce Street Harbor Park | Photo by Matt Stanley
The New York Times released a ranking of “52 Places to Go in 2015” today and there’s a pleasant surprise that should make you smile from ear-to-ear: Philly is ranked third in the entire world just behind Milan and Cuba and tops in the United States, edging out Yellowstone National Park at number four.
It’s a glitzy list that includes a mesmerizing animated GIF of the scenes from the new Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk. So, what makes Philly the place to be in 2015?
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On Sunday, the New York Times ran an article on how where you live influences your spending decisions. The article has a trove of data on what people in major cities spend on a variety of items versus the national average.
Philadelphia, for instance, spends 28 percent more on books than the national average. And 95 percent less than the national average on “mutton, goat and game.” Thus confirming the old stereotype about our town: It’s not a big place for mutton.
Here’s another chart from the Times on what Philadelphia spent more and less on:
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A week ago, the New York Times published an op-ed by Jonathan Tepper titled “Why I’m Giving Up My Passport.” The economist, who insists he is “not a tycoon”, says tax laws are too onerous for him to continue being a citizen.
“If America makes it so difficult to be American, I’ll happily just be British,” he wrote. Tepper has spent just eight of his 38 years living in the U.S. and has voted in only one presidential election, so it doesn’t seem like that much of a loss for the country.
Yesterday, responding to the article was none other than local columnist and lawyer Christine Flowers, who actually opens her two-paragraph letter with a Peggy Noonan-style personal anecdote.
Life is filled with ironies. Stopping by a Starbucks after a hearing in immigration court, I opened up the paper and read the essay by Jonathan Tepper explaining that he was renouncing his United States citizenship because of tax filing requirements. At a cerebral level, I could appreciate if not agree with his fiscal reasons for relinquishing his passport.
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The Inquirer seems to be ahead of the Times.
Last Friday, The New York Times ran a column titled “The Bro Hug: Embracing a Change in Custom,” this month’s installment of Henry Alford’s “Circa Now.” It’s about the evolutions in how men greet each other, and the perceived uptick in hugging among men.
A fun story. But less fun if you’d happen to read “More young men friends embracing — which has the amazing URL slug “younger-men-older-men-more-men” in the Philly.com archives — that ran in The Philadelphia Inquirer in June.
The piece, by the Inky’s Samantha Melamed, was not the first piece about men hugging. But both it and the Times story months later cited several of the same sources.
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The New York Times writes today of the success Philadelphia has had with its homeless population. For example, Philadelphia’s homeless population fell 2.3 percent from 2012 to 2013; it rose 27 percent in Los Angeles and 13 percent in New York.
The Times’ Jon Hurdle writes about Project HOME’s Sister Mary Scullion, “a Roman Catholic nun who is known for her ability to cajole politicians and business leaders into supporting her clients.” Joel Mathis recently interviewed Scullion on Project HOME’s 25th anniversary last month.
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