Adaptive Reuse Proves Difficult at La Peg

La Peg at FringeArts | Photo by Kevin Monko

La Peg at FringeArts | Photo by Kevin Monko

Rick Nichols checks in at La Peg, Peter Woolsey’s two month old French brasserie at the once-upon-a-time pump house that is now the home of FringeArts. Nichols finds that the transition from early 20th century high-pressure water station to present day restaurant has been difficult.

That its menu takes liberties with disciplined bistro classics doesn’t help matters. My bowl of Vietnamese beef-noodle pho consomme was cloyingly sweet. And while my wife was happy with her steak-frite, as was I with a small plate of roasted striped bass, my choucroute garnie – so wonderful when the sauerkraut is cooked long and slow enough to soak up the flavors of the sausage – tasted as if a bag of crunchy, coarse-cut kraut had been warmed up at the last minute, then layered with grilled sausage, entirely missing the point of the dish.

Reinventing pump house as eatery proves daunting [Philadelphia Inquirer]
La Peg [Foobooz]

Rick Nichols on Le Bec Fin’s Second Act

“But in its latest edition, Le Bec no longer had the field to itself. The entire dining scene in the city had moved on, and up, and in many cases surpassed the gold standard Le Bec had set in a less competitive market decades ago. It’s a shame that neither Georges Perrier or his successor could fully absorb just how profoundly the menu, the dining-room stylistics, and the eating habits of 21st century Philadelphia had changed. You have to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. The architects of Le Bec’s second act were clueless on that front. And sadly, instead of going out on top — where it deservedly reigned for decades — it suffered that most ignominious of endings: It threw a party and nobody came. It had worn out its welcome. The emperor, once so resplendent, no longer had clothes.”Rick Nichols, requiem for Le Bec Fin

D’Angelo Bros. Gets a Reprieve

sausage2smRick Nichols is in the Inquirer today, telling the story of Sonny D’Angelo of D’Angelo’s Bros. butcher shop in the Italian Market. Sonny may not be sunny, but he provides everything from kangaroo chili to python filets. It looked like time might be up for the shop as the family voted to sell the building.

D’Angelo Chops and Frets [Philadelphia Inquirer]
D’Angelo Bros. [Official Site]

Marcus Samuelsson, Eric Asimov and Rick Nichols At First Person Arts

This year, the First Person Arts Festival has a bit of a gastronomical slant, bringing in three serious food people to talk about (among other things) wine, adoption, Swedish food, fried chicken, chocolate and themselves.

First up, on October 24, is Eric Asimov, wine critic for the New York Times, who’ll be in town to talk up his combination memoir and manifesto, How To Love Wine. There will be a dinner (with paired wines, natch), Asimov will talk and the whole thing will be hosted by Eric Miller, founder of Chadsford Winery. It’s $125 for a dinner ticket, $250 for a VIP (which involves meeting Asimov at “an intimate pre-dinner wine tasting in the luxurious penthouse of the Omni Hotel”) and more information can be gotten at

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Reading Terminal Dedication Week Kicks Off at 10 AM

Today is the dedication of the $3 million in renovations at the Reading Terminal Market that have created new restrooms, new vendor space, an expanded demonstration kitchen and a new multi-purpose room. Rick Nichols returns to the Inquirer to write once again about the Terminal, one of his favorite subjects, and what it’s like to have a room in the market named for him.

Who knew the room would go casting about for a name? I found out when I was being feted by my colleagues at The Inquirer on the occasion of my retirement from the paper a year ago. It was announced that a new Rick Nichols Room was about to take shape at the market (applause!), right next to the site of the fetid old restrooms (laughter!). I thought it was a joke. But it was for real. At 10 a.m. Monday, a gaggle of luminaries, including the mayor, will cut the ribbon and christen the renovations and the new room.

Rick Nichols: With $3 million in new renovations, the beat goes on at the Reading market. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Reading Terminal Market Dedication Week [f8b8z]
Reading Terminal Market [Official Site]

Around the Web: Le Virtu Preferred, Duck Eggs and Bargain Banh Mi

Of Osteria, Amis and Le Virtu, Mac & Cheese prefers Le Virtu. [Mac & Cheese]

After reading Rick Nichols’ account of the duck eggs from Paul Gavzy, the Duck Man you’ll be ready for a trip to Gull Cottage in Hopewell, New Jersey.  [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Two Eat Philly might not like hot dogs but they do like Underdogs. [Two Eat Philly]

$3 banh mi sandwiches at Iron Tower Deli? Yes please. Philly Phoodie finds them ” fresh, crunchy, filling and cheap.” [Philly Phoodie]

Food Events for First Person Arts Festival

The 10th annual First Person Arts Festival is set for November 10th to 20th. This year the festival is expanding to 11 days featuring local and nationally known artists in theater, film, literature, visual art, and storytelling — all inspired by real life experience. As always there are a number of worthwhile food events including a nightly happy hour at Khyber Pass Pub.

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Rick Nichols On Talula’s Garden

Huzzah! Rick Nichols is back in the Inquirer today with a prose-based tour of Talula’s Garden.

[A]s evening falls, the space transforms, the seed packs and jelly glasses, the dramatic drum lamps and wood flooring muting and blending, losing their identities, becoming background music.In the classic, tall-ceilinged space, the room rises a short level or two under the drum lights toward an altarlike, 2,000-pound salvaged stone counter – the stage for Olexy’s star performers, her pet artisanal and farmstead cheeses.

Intimacy writ large [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Talula’s Garden [Official Site]

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