The newest seats at V Street.
Craig LaBan visited V Street this weekend, three months after Vedge chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby opened their Rittenhouse spot.
Vedge fans can get a more casual, globe-trotting taste of Rich Landau’s culinary magic at this affordable Rittenhouse Square ode to international street foods, which just happens to also be vegan. From Hungarian fritters to Latin-inspired carrot “asado,” borders melt away on these small plates, thanks to Landau’s inventive vision and uniquely wide-ranging command of bold ethnic flavors. The long and minimalist three-room space is an intimate and cozy haven to graze, watch chefs work the grill at the back kitchen counter, or sip an excellent cocktail at the airy front bar while 19th Street strolls by.
Three Bells – Excellent
V Street [Philadelphia Inquirer]
V Street [Foobooz]
Photos by Courtney Apple
Everyone knows that opening a restaurant is the surest path to an empty checking account, but George and Jennifer Sabatino know better. For truly shredding your bankroll, nothing beats not opening a restaurant — as the couple spent an agonizing year doing before the first customers finally came to Aldine in October.
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Craig LaBan ventures to Northeast Philadelphia this week and finds Kris Serviss (COOK Masters alum) and Joe Callahan’s Blue Duck Sandwich Co., a BYOB that’s waking up the neighborhood.
[W]hile Serviss plays with ingredients that would be at home on any trendy Center City menu – black garlic, sunchokes, crispy tri-color cauliflower (very loosely inspired by Zahav) – the core items here are simply the kitchen’s whimsical updates to familiar comfort flavors. They up the savor quotient on the classic blue-plate special with meatloaf made from wild boar (delicious, though it could use a little more softness) and earthy, sweet mashed parsnips. Tender gnocchi play sweet on spice, swapping sweet potatoes for the usual white spuds, and adding the hot spark of shaved jalapeño rings to the nutty gloss of sage brown butter.
Two Bells – Very Good
Blue Duck Fills the Bill in N.E. Philly [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Blue Duck Sandwich Co. [Foobooz]
Photo via Brigantessa
We expect a lot from restaurants these days. If they don’t transform liquids into powders or barrel-steep cocktails with homemade bitters, they’d better serve chickens that roamed freer than our children do. So when a forneria bowls you over even before the door whooshes shut as you enter, it’s time to ask what really matters most.
I’m not the only winter-bitten soul to feel that way crossing the threshold of Brigantessa, where great blasts of heat from a Vesuvian-ash pizza oven ripple along a bar teeming with platters of sausage-stuffed long hots and oil-poached swordfish and wood-grilled octopus salad. Chef Joe Cicala’s sophomore effort on Passyunk Avenue has been rollicking since it opened in October.
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The Pub gets in the holiday spirit | Photo by Dan McQuade
Danya Henninger reviews The Pub for the Courier-Post and finds that the throwback steakhouse is still worth a trip, for the drinks, the all-you-can-eat salad bar and of course, the steaks.
No seasoning is added to the choice cuts, but the char over hickory is enough to saturate even the biggest cuts of meat with flavor. A 12-ounce filet mignon was surprisingly easy to polish off — I don’t think I’ve ever seen three quarters of a pound of beef disappear so fast.
At $35.99 (including salad bar and sides), that giant filet is a good value. The stuffed flounder ($25.99) was less exciting, but still a good deal, since the huge mound of seafood was full of big, sweet jumbo lump crab, and the fish was perfectly flaky.
Dining Review: The Pub
The Pub [Official]
Last year when Philly’s Finest Sambonis competed on the Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race, we had a bit of fun at their expense. In Philadelphia magazine, Jason Sheehan wrote, “Philly’s Finest Sambonis truck never vended in Philadelphia before appearing on The Great Food Truck Race. Which is why I am hereby declaring myself the King of Bulgaria and the prettiest Eskimo in Atlanta, Georgia. Because apparently that’s just how this shit is done now.” But the team of friends from Philadelphia made the finals of the show and started hitting locations around Philadelphia. But it wasn’t till yesterday that I was able to catch up with the truck while they vended at the Porch at 30th Street Station.
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Adam Erace has a new favorite Vetri restaurant and it’s Lo Spiedo. The newly opened restaurant at the southern end of Broad Street impresses the City Paper critic with its cocktails, its burger and its pasta. Surprisingly, he isn’t in love with the entrees that come off Lo Spiedo’s namesake spit but he has does have praise for other dishes coming off chef Scott Calhoun’s wood-fired grill.
Scott Calhoun is a stud that deserves as much of the credit as his mentor. I couldn’t quit the Lancaster native’s smoky spit-roasted cabbage in a crock of Gorgonzola fonduta, or the sponge of cornbread soaked in rotisserie drippings. Al dente rigatoni tossed with spit-roasted tomato sauce and ricotta salata had such depth of flavor, I barely believed him when he told me it was vegetarian.
Vetri’s latest, Lo Spiedo is firing on all cylinders at the Navy Yard [City Paper]
Lo Spiedo [Foobooz]
As Serious Eats pointed out in its rundown of Philadelphia cheesesteaks, under seasoning is a big issue. Even spots that aren’t just phoning it in often lack adding any salt or pepper. Under seasoning is not an issue on the Train Wreck at Beck’s Cajun Cafe. This Philadelphia take on the Po Boy adds Andouille sausage and salami to the traditional cheesesteak.
Today we take the Train Wreck for a spin and see how the Creole take on the cheesesteak stacks up.
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In a region overrun with Italian restaurants, this trendy goombah-and-gravy joint from Philly expat and Florida/Vegas restaurateur Steve Martorano is one of the best and most fun, even if it is majorly gimmicky. You won’t find anything here that needs explanation. The Famous Meatball & Salad is exactly what it sounds like. There’s chicken cutlet parmigiana, spaghetti pescatore and Sunday gravy. It’s like dinner at your grandma’s, only with tight-dressed hostesses, Italian gangster movies on the flat-screens, a maître d’ who’ll jokingly tell you you’ll be sleeping with the fishes if you don’t watch it, and a bumping, liquor-fueled dance party that erupts late in the evenings and on weekends. So, actually, not really like dinner at Grandma’s at all, unless we had very different grandmas.
A Mexican restaurant in your neighborhood is a way of knowing you’ve arrived. An attractive BYOB serving breakfast nachos and carne asada salads and offering dinner specials like poached tilapia is a subtle clue that house prices are rocketing skyward and you’re happy you bought when you did. That’s what Cafe Ynez does for both the Grad Hospital and Point Breeze neighborhoods. The husband-and-wife team of Evan Malone and Jill Weber (Jet Wine Bar and Rex 1516) have created this third restaurant as a companion to Malone’s NextFab Studio. But it’s the neighbors who make out best in the deal. Whether it’s the huevos rancheros that don’t need to take a backseat to any in the city, or the rotisserie chicken that can anchor a dinner platter or be a key ingredient in the Tinga burrito, a meal at Cafe Ynez is affordable, tasty, and just what this neighborhood needs.