Photo by Mike Arrison
There are two ways a restaurant can be and remain successful: It can stay relevant, or it can become a classic. Sometimes, when the planets align and the gods approve, the two happen simultaneously. Pumpkin has lived at 17th and South for what’ll soon be 10 years, the anniversary of the day when owners Ian Moroney and Hillary Bor grabbed hold of a space nobody believed in and created (and kept) the BYO atmosphere we all know and love.
Alas, with the surrounding restaurant neighborhood explosion — the fancy toasts, the small plates — tiny places like this can get lost in the scrum. But Pumpkin stayed true and stayed exciting. Fregola sarda (toasted beads of Sardinian pasta) risotto with an English pea salad on top was not only comforting, but a texturally fun play on popping peas and smooth risotto. And it was the succotash that brought the sweet, tang and heat (from Styer Orchard chili peppers) that tiny gobbets of snails reveled in.
It’s easy eating at Pumpkin — not dated, not too precious, not clinging to trends, but not losing sight of what Philadelphia wants, either. It’s a restaurant that’s both current and classic, and that still harks back to a day when Philadelphia began to do what we do best: bring our own.
Originally published in the September 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.
Pumpkin Restaurant at 1713 South Street is doing a “just for the fun of it” three-course dinner for $35 tonight.
Read more »
Pumpkin Market’s parklet from Spring 2013
Ian Moroney and Hillary Bor are South Street West pioneers. The couple opened Pumpkin Restaurant in 2004, next came Pumpkin Cafe and then Pumpkin Market in 2008. The Cafe and Market merged in 2011. And now comes word that Pumpkin Market will be closing. On Facebook, the reason given is that the landlord is asking for a 65% increase in rent.
Pumpkin Restaurant will remain open.
Pumpkin Market [Facebook]
Pumpkin Restaurant [Official Site]
There’s the glitz and the glam, and then there’s the humble and the honest-to-goodness, the unaffected and the unassuming. To each his own, but I prefer the latter.
I get a kick out of the quirky buildings’ awkward seating arrangements and tiny menus—menus that need not say much, and food that says all too much; the chef-driven and food-focused holes, often orienting themselves in such a way that the preparer and prepared are shown off, experienced only through an intimate three-part channel between the chef, his food, and his guest. When done well, the following few weeks (or longer) will pale in comparison. That’s why the tasting menu is so important; it’s a facilitation of exchange between the hand of the cook and the consumed palate it feeds.
Some tasting menus you’ll find in places that don’t deserve them, and others are just a second menu to the main. Some are only available on weekdays, but there are those you can only take part in on a single day: Sunday, perhaps.
An ode to the tasting menus of Sunday »
Be Well Philly asked a dietician for advice on eating healthy during Restaurant Week. She’s got five tips to live by and also suggests what to order at seven participating restaurants including a.kitchen, Butcher & Singer and Lacroix.
Cheat Sheet: A Dietician’s Guide to Philadelphia Restaurant Week [Be Well Philly]
Restaurant Week Guide [f8b8z]
Tonight, ten local pumpkin beers will be pouring at the Standard Tap. But what makes the event especially fun, for $10 you can drink from a small carved out pumpkin. Refills are just $2. Get there when the fun begins at 4 p.m. because pumpkin quantities are limited.
Pumpkin Head at Standard Tap [Facebook]
Chef Ian Moroney of Pumpkin will be at Headhouse Farmers Market every second Sunday of the month starting this Sunday, June 10th. Pumpkin fans and patrons are welcome to join him at the Food Trust stand, right in the center of the market, as he shops for the restaurant throughout the farmers market at his favorite vendors from 10:30 to 11 a.m.
Anyone who loves the farm-to-table trend will enjoy this outing as they get to see how chef Moroney makes his choices for the week throughout the market at 2nd and Lombard. The free event will include mingling with the chef, vendors, farmers, and the community at large as well as vendor samples throughout the market.