The menu board and Cornish pastries at Stargazy | Jason Varney
This year, the restaurants that didn’t quite make the cut say almost as much about our city as those that did.
Things in Philly are changing. Things in Philly are always changing, but these past couple years have been more tumultuous than usual.
Fine dining has taken a big hit. On our entire list of the best restaurants in the city, there are only a handful that could be considered fine dining. Fast-casual has become a viable local model. Some of our best eating is now done at the bar, late at night. The gastropub revolution that took hold so firmly here has become a base onto which we’ve built something new and not yet really named—a Philly cuisine that has as much to do with how you eat as with what’s on the plate, the table or the wine list.
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South Park’s Cartman would appreciate this pie fest.
In what we hope becomes a long running tradition, on Christmas Eve, Thursday, December 24th, Aldine chef/owner George Sabatino is inviting his long time friend Sam Jacobson, chef/owner of East Passyunk’s British pie and mash shop, Stargazy, to come over and celebrate the holiday.
And instead of turkey, ham, seven fishes or even Chinese food, there will be pies. An all-you-can-eat pie buffet to be exact. The event will cost $40 per person and will include Stargazy staples plus special pies like, pulled beef cheek; chorizo and mussel; chana masala (vegetarian), and winter pumpkin with house ricotta (also vegetarian).
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On the menu right now, a collab pie with Chris Kearse.
It’s not like Sam Jacobson needs help making wonderful pies at East Passyunk’s Stargazy but that doesn’t mean he’ll turn down a good idea.
Today and through the rest of the week, he’s teamed up with Chris Kearse of Will BYOB to create a special dessert pie. Kearse took Epoisses de Bourgogne cheese and combined it with chopped chestnuts and handed it over to Jacobson, who baked it into the middle of his Bosc Pear Pie.
The results can be yours through the rest of the week, or until they’re all sold out.
Who knew we needed a British pie shop? | Photo by Emily Teel
The best time I had at Stargazy was on a rainy afternoon when I was going somewhere else. I hadn’t even been thinking about pies (which is odd for me), but then there I was—like a block away, walking through the drizzle—and I thought, You know what would go nicely with this weather? A sausage roll.
I pushed in through the door and watched the cooks in the tiny backroom kitchen squaring pies on sheet pans. The sausage roll cost something like four bucks and was hot and greasy enough to stain the bottom of the brown paper bag it came in. Perfect, in other words. I stepped back out into the gray and ate it walking, in its c-fold wrapping, picking apart the crisp, flaking crust with my fingers. That was a good day.
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Though this past weekend was perhaps the first time in a long while that Autumn fare has had true appeal, Stargazy—Sam Jacobson’s new, traditional British pie shop–has been selling out daily since it first opened two weeks ago.
Jacobson has helmed the kitchens at Southwark, Sycamore, and, most recently, at Leila’s Bistro in Jenkintown, but Stargazy is his first solo endeavor. Located in the former home of Ms. Goody Cupcake on East Passyunk Avenue, the cozy space houses a walk-up counter and a handful of tables, plus a flat-screen TV because, according to Jacobson, the primary purpose of a pie shop is as a place to watch the game (Tottenham Hotspur, if you please), with the pies themselves coming in second.
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Today is Sam Jacobson’s birthday and he’s celebrating by offering a preview of his East Passyunk pie shop, Stargazy.
The British bakery is offering a limited menu of pies and mash, tea and some other treats. Philadelphia’s food man about town, Holly Moore has already called Stargazy, 5 Grease Stain worthy.
Stargazy is serving today but will be closed this weekend. Look for an official opening on August
26th or 27th 28th.
East Passyunk’s ranking as a culinary destination has been cemented for some time now. But the diversity of its offerings are continuing to grow. The stretch boasts French, Italian, New American and even Dutch eateries, and in about a month, it will see the opening of Stargazy, a British bakery from chef Sam Jacobson at 1838 E Passyunk Avenue (the former Ms. Good Cupcake). Jacobson has cooked in-and-around Philadelphia for a decade now, turning Lansdowne’s Sycamore into a culinary destination.
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Back in December, we told you Sam Jacobson was coming to Leila’s Bistro in Jenkintown. Well, tonight is his first (official) night at the cafe and he’s bringing a whole new menu with him.
While owner Jose Vargas is focusing on his new restaurant, Robert’s Block, located in Glenside, Jacobson (who you might remember from his time at NoBL, Sycamore and Southwark) will be manning the stoves at Leila’s–which will now be open Wednesday through Sunday.
Wanna see his new menu? We thought you might. Check it out below.
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He helped to open NoBL, and then helped close it. He did four years at sister restaurant Sycamore, and then left to travel, learn some new tricks, and find a new kitchen to call home. He landed next at Southwark (after working a bit in the Pacific Northwest, and at Cerise on the Main Line), where he took Nick Macri‘s position, but then left again after owner Sheri Wade decided she wanted to get back into the kitchen a bit more herself.
Now, it looks as though Jacobson has settled down again. He’s going to be behind the stoves at Leila’s Bistro in Jenkintown, running things in the kitchen while chef-owner Jose Vargas (who also owns Forcella just down the way) digs into his new project, Robert’s Block, which he’ll be opening in Glenside.
Jacobson doesn’t officially take over at Leila’s until February, but apparently he was so jazzed about the new gig that he’s decided to throw a party (at Leila’s, where he’ll be cooking) on January 4. Four courses, $45 a head, and while there’s no menu yet (it’ll be announced on Facebook once Jacobson figures out what he’s going to be cooking), reservations are already being accepted. Call Leila’s at 215-589-0736 to get yours.
Leila’s Bistro [f8b8z]
Typically, we prefer to toot our own horn here at Foobooz, but today we’ll admit that we’re really enjoying Danya Henninger’s column The Spot over on philly.com. In it, she profiles restauranteurs who have been in business for a decade or more. And while she hasn’t yet paid Southwark a visit (yet), they very well could be next on her list. Why? Because it’s turning 10, too, and is looking at some pretty substantial changes to the menu and in the kitchen.
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