“Keep your head down and cook from the heart. The gimmicks? They’re not gonna work.” That’s the advice offered to our current Top Chef contestants by Kevin Sbraga—Philly’s only big winner to date. Here, he walks us through one perfect four-course prix fixe at Sbraga—with fallback options for those who don’t share his deep and abiding love of octopus and pork products.
Kevin Sbraga is hosting chef Michael Laiskonis on Wednesday, November 6th for an “inspiring” Lithuanian menu. Is your eyebrow raised? Well maybe you don’t know enough about Laiskonis. The classically trained chef was Le Bernardin’s pastry chef and is now the creative director at New York’s Institute of Culinary Education. He’s also won accolades from Guide Michelin, the James Beard Foundation, Bon Appetit and the New York Times among others.
Laiskonis is also proud of his Lithuanian heritage and much like he’s doing at COOK, he’s showing off the traditions and flavors of Lithuania in his creative menu.
The dinner is $150 per person including beverage pairing and all taxes and gratuity.
In the most recent Best of Philly issue, we gave Sbraga an award for “Best 2nd Year.” And, come October, chef Kevin Sbraga is going to be celebrating that milestone with a new counter menu that draws on everything he’s learned over the past two years.
It’s a “truly momentous” menu, according to the crew. Six courses. $75 (with an optional $50 beverage pairing add-on). Available from October 7 through the 31st. And because they’re only doing one seating per night (at 6pm), availability is severely limited. You want a reservation? You actually have to pick up a phone, call the house and ask for one. No Open Tabling this one.
Check out the (deliberately minimalist and likely misleading) menu after the jump.
Today, Global Philly 2013 kicked off with a special event at Zama. Hiroyuki ‘Zama’ Tanaka and Kevin Sbraga were on hand to unleash the “Sbraga Roll.” The sushi roll is the latest collaboration from Tanaka who has conspired with many of Philadelphia’s best chefs and top celebrities to create a series of unusual rolls. Chef Sbraga suggested some of his favorite ingredients for the roll that will be served at Zama over the course of Global Philly 2013, from September 15 to November 1. The Sbraga Roll is a sushi roll with dill, jalapeno, avocado and crispy shallot topped with a Panko-crusted bite of dorado.
Global Philly is an international exposition, presented by the Global Philadelphia Association. Sbraga, who is leading the culinary part of the initiative, has rounded up some of his chef contemporaries to participate in the month-and-a-half long event to offer “Global Philadelphia” appetizer specials.
Starting at $12, the appetizers will be found at Sbraga’s eponymous modern American restaurant as well as at restaurants like Tashan, Bistro La Minette and Zinc , La Calaca Feliz, Zama and Han Dynasty.
- Sbraga will feature a steak tartar with French onion dip and a pea tendril salad.
- Tim Spinner (La Calaca Feliz) will spotlight the Al Pastor Pork Taco.
- Bistro La Minette’s Peter Woolsey created a salmon tartare with lentils and a blood orange vinaigrette.
- Han Chiang of Han Dynasty will offer a lamb dumpling with garlic sauce vinegar sauce.
- And of course Zama will feature the Sbraga roll.
GlobalPhilly 2013 [Official Site]
Kevin Sbraga has recently returned from a culinary tour of Norway, and apparently he came back inspired.
His next Chef’s Counter tasting menu is obviously influenced by his time among the fjords (that’s Norway, right?), and is just full of things like salmon, cabbage, dill, more dill, pickles and tiny little toasts with stuff on them. The menu will run from August 7 to the 29th, will run you $75 for six courses (with an optional $50 beverage pairing), and reservations are both limited and sought after–so call Sbraga soon to reserve your spot.
Check out the full menu after the jump.
Kevin Sbraga is focusing on barbecue at his chef’s counter. The Top Chef winner is serving up a menu that includes barbecued glazed salmon, roasted pork belly with smoked pig ear mac-and-cheese and jerked beef brisket.
The $79 per person menu (with optional $50 beverage pairing) will be available from July 15th to August 1st. Call 215.735.1913 for reservations.
The power is out at Broad Street’s Symphony House, Inga Saffron’s favorite pink condo building. The building also holds Kevin Sbraga’s restaurant. So the Top Chef winner is showing the adaptability that helped him win the show and is breaking out his roasting box (doesn’t everyone have mobile roasting box?) and will be preparing an alfresco two-course dinner for $25.
Sbraga [Official Site]
You know it’s a bad sign when a restaurant’s worst item offers its best food for thought.
Such was the case for the “cheesesteak soup dumplings” at Sophia’s when I reviewed it last month: a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad dish that articulated a vision of Philadelphia cuisine so beholden to kitsch that it made me feel embarrassed for the city itself. It wasn’t just that the dumplings were soggy on the bottom and heat-hardened on the top, or that their parmesan crust made them more like sad nachos than a sandwich, or that the whole sorry show was staged on an escargot plate. It was more the idea that the cheesesteak itself remains the lodestone of Philadelphia’s food culture, and that we, as Philadelphians, can still be counted on to lap up any homage to it, no matter how forced or half-witted, as though the entire last decade of culinary development never happened. As though everything from Paesano’s to Vedge, Taquitos de Pueblo’s Headhouse Market truck to Little Baby Ice Cream, Stateside to Bluecoat gin just never saw the light of day in this city.
Crab salad with prosciutto and white asparagus at Sbraga.