By The Numbers: A Fantastic Year For Philly Restaurants

Never did this finely wrought food feel fussy.  | Photo by Jason Varney

Photo by Jason Varney

I was talking with Philly mag restaurant critic Trey Popp the other day, and we were discussing (as we so often do) the state of the restaurant scene in Philly. More specifically, how weirdly awesome this past year has been for restaurants in general, but for restaurants in Philly in particular. It’d gotten so that he was actually concerned with the numbers of 3 star reviews he’d been handing down lately–not because any of the restaurants on which he’d bestowed the stars were undeserving, but because he was worried that, after a while, a whole lot of 3 star reviews in a row just become noise.

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We’ve Got A Surprise For You…

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For the longest time, we’ve had this problem.

Because of the lag time in the production of Philadelphia magazine–because of the schedules we keep and the choices we make–we here at Foobooz have often found ourselves in a bind regarding writing about new restaurants that haven’t yet been reviewed in print. And the bind has simply been that, in many ways, we haven’t been able to write about them. Not as much as we’d like, anyway. Often not in the ways we’d like, either.

Why? Because while our critic, Trey Popp, has often had his say a month or so before the print issue in which any given review will run actually hits the stands–has put his criticisms down on paper, checked his facts and crafted his opinions–we haven’t been able to write anything about his reviews until weeks later. The issue that’s on the stands right now, for example? In which Trey rips into Jason Cichonski’s The Gaslight and falls hard for Petruce et al? We’ve had those reviews in our hands since mid-April. We’ve known about the issues at the Gaslight’s bar and the incredible feasts to be had with Petruce’s family-style entrees, about the long-ago possibility that the Petruce brothers might’ve opened a pizza joint rather than the restaurant they did. We’ve had Trey’s expert dissection of the menus, wine lists and cocktails sitting and waiting for a publication date that always seemed too far away and, while we’ve been waiting, we haven’t really been able to say anything about them online because, well, the reviews run in the magazine, right? And we’ve never wanted to give too much away before the magazines are actually out there in the world every month.

But in the care we’ve taken in separating what we do here at Foobooz with what we do in the pages of Philadelphia magazine, we’ve deliberately been exempting ourselves from conversations about restaurants in the moments when those conversations are most vital–those first few weeks of a restaurant’s life span which, like it or not, have become the most important few weeks of its life.

And starting tomorrow, that is all going to change.

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Igloo Frozen Yogurt Shop Opens Location in the Gayborhood

igloo froyo philadelphiaThe Igloo, a healthy and all-natural frozen dessert emporium, opened its doors to its second location, located in the Gayborhood on the corner of 12th and Walnut streets, on March 1, and given the amazing selection of homemade yogurts and gelatos available, this is one place where you won’t mind the chill.

Owner Isaac Parker opened his first Igloo store on Grays Ferry Avenue several years ago. There, he and his team created a carefully curated collection of wholesome, high-quality frozen desserts which became quite popular with Philly locals, especially the homemade frozen Greek yogurt.  The new Gayborhood shop, housed in the former Yogorino location next to Starbucks, continues that tradition, but adds a few fresh twists that are unlike other self-serve yogurt franchises throughout the city.

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Ocean Prime Philadelphia Review: Pretty But Also Pretty Lousy

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When Cameron Mitchell’s steak-and-seafood emporium Ocean Prime debuted in Philadelphia in September, local gossip/photographer/blogger HughE Dillon posted on Facebook about the opening party, writing that the restaurant “must have a lot of confidence in their food” because “they comp’d 500 dinners.” I found that a bit odd, since comping 500 dinners might suggest the opposite. In any event, Dillon added that “the food was delicious.” But that was not my experience on Wednesday night. Read more »

Philadelphia Restaurant Review: Carmine’s Creole Café Act II Turns It Up to 11

Shrimp and crawfish etouffee at Carmine's Creole Cafe Act II

There are many food menus at Carmine’s Creole Café Act II, and none of them list the most important thing John Mims cooks there.

This is not an oversight. Mims, a New Orleans native who has worked more or less his whole life in restaurants, has sense enough to keep some things between himself and his refrigerator. But if you were to sneak into the walk-in at his Narberth BYOB—located in the exact same digs he left in 2006—you’d see the containers that conceal the soul of this restaurant. They’re the ones labeled SWAMP WATER.

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Philadelphia Restaurant Review: Choose Your Own Adventure at Serpico

Chilled dashi soup at Peter Serpico's Serpico restaurant on South Street in Philadelphia.

You make your way to Peter Serpico’s new home on South Street, among the head shops and tattoo parlors and neon entreaties for the purchase of gold, in a state of mounting wonder about what sort of restaurant Stephen Starr lured the Beard-honored Momofuku lieutenant to this particular corner to run.

Down from the anarchist bookstore and past Atomic Comics, you slip through a tinted glass door into a darkly radiant box. A stainless steel kitchen glimmers within the glossy skirt of a deeply stained wood bar. Black slate walls cast a sexy mood beneath a band of blond bricks glowing with straw-colored light. And your question resists a straightforward answer.

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