Photo by Arthur Etchells
By my own estimate, I consumed 13 billion calories at Urban Farmer the last time I was there. Maybe 13 and a half. I’m not very good at math, but I’m still pretty sure I’m right. And if I’m not, it surely felt that way. So much red meat. So much starch. So much cornbread, hot Parker rolls with melting butter, crumb-topped creamed spinach spooned from a cast iron bowl. So many sea creatures. And all of it—all of it—was so good.
There were problems, sure. The service varied between charmingly bumbling and infuriatingly incompetent. The bathrooms looked, from the outside, like you were entering through a giant shipping crate (which was at least in keeping with the faux-homespun style of the place) and, on the inside, like some kind of throwback to black marble Rat Pack Vegas, missing only the elderly man offering breath mints and Brylcreem (which was not at all). And the dissonance between the foie gras and the gingham—between the rustic Amish barn-raising decor at this third Urban Farmer steakhouse from Sage Restaurant Group and the ultimate price tag, which ran to more than a hundred dollars a head—was disturbing. It creates an all-hat-and-no-cattle kind of cowboy situation. Like some soft-handed politician throwing on a new-off-the-rack Carhartt jacket and a pair of stack-heel boots that have never touched mud and trying to prove his down-home bona fides by eating fried chicken with a fork and knife.
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The Palm Restaurant is closing for an extensive renovation that will see the Broad Street restaurant close on February 29th and not reopen until late in the fourth quarter at the earliest. With the extended closure, the Palm’s long tenured front-and-back-of-the-house pros were looking at an uncertain future.
Today, SugarHouse Casino and the Palm Restaurant have announced that SugarHouse will offer jobs to all of the Palm’s staff. SugarHouse is completing a $164 million expansion that will add seven food and beverage outlets that will include its own steakhouse, Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House.
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The Palm at the Bellevue will close after service on Monday, February 29th for a complete overhaul. The restaurant expects to be closed until late 2016 or early 2017.
The revamped Palm steakhouse will have seating for more than 150 guests. A new bar will anchor the dining room and the private dining room will be relocated to the main level of the restaurant.
Have no fear, the caricatures which are so much a part of the Palm will continue to be a part of the restaurant.
Palm at the Bellevue [Official]
LP Steak at the Valley Forge Casino | Photo by Nick Valinote
The steakhouse is the dullest kind of restaurant.
There’s no surprise in a steakhouse. No shock, no awe. The best things you can hope to happen in a steakhouse are that someone grills your hunk of meat to the temperature you find most pleasing and doesn’t leave any shells on the shrimp in your cocktail. That’s success in the steakhouse world. The bar is low. With the proper motivation, a cat could work the line in the average steakhouse kitchen (imagine the hairnet!), and I say this having worked at a couple myself. The hardest thing about working a steakhouse job? Counting to 40, because that was how many steaks I could fit on the grill in front of me at any one time. And while, granted, this was at a time in my life when my successfully counting to 40 was by no means a guarantee, I still managed it. Because I knew Mittens the calico was out there gunning for my gig.
With all this in mind, I can also say that a great steakhouse is a rare and wonderful thing. Because of their simplicity, their elemental charms (meat, fire, paintings of horses) and their lack of anything whatsoever challenging to the appetites or worldviews of the majority of American eaters, steakhouses can be comforting. They can be the blank canvas onto which are written epic nights. (The martinis help.) Almost all of us have a steakhouse we love, tucked away somewhere in our past.
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Last year we said goodbye to a Philadelphia institution and a standard bearer of fine dining, The Fountain at the Four Seasons. Now, there’s a new kid in town. Urban Farmer Steakhouse opened a month ago in the historic restaurant space in what is now The Logan hotel. Just as Avance was always compared to Le Bec Fin, so too will Urban Farmer be compared to The Fountain, and the two are very, very different dining experiences.
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It’s might be a bit unfair to compare Urban Farmer, the new steakhouse opening Friday, December 18th at the Logan Hotel, to the Fountain at the Four Seasons, but comparisons will definitely be made as the former takes the latter’s spot at 18th and the Parkway.
Sage Restaurant Group out of Denver is opening this steakhouse at the just transformed Logan Hotel. It is the third location for the Urban Farmer concept. The steakhouse was born in Portland, Oregon and has since opened in Cleveland. Though not a local concept, the Urban Farmer concept does make an effort to connect with local farms, fisheries and breweries. Therefore you’ll find some of your favorite merchants from local farmers’ markets on the menu, including Griggstown Farm, Birchrun Hills Farm and the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative.
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Today, as we predicted, SugarHouse Casino announced that Chicago’s Gibsons Restaurant Group Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House in the expanded casino that is expected to open before 2015 ends.
Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House will be located in the northwest corner on the first floor of SugarHouse’s second phase. The restaurant, with its bar and dining rooms will accommodate more than 300 guests.
The restaurant will offer steak, chops, fresh seafood, featuring lobster, king crab legs, oysters and a variety of fish. Exclusive to SugarHouse’s Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House is the Philly Cut. A 12-ounce ribeye cap aged 50 days and cooked with smoked provolone, crispy shallots and fried herbs.
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SugarHouse Casino is intending on opening its 300,000 square foot expansion before the end of the year, and the riverfront casino is including a higher end restaurant in the new space.
An announcement regarding the new restaurant and exclusive caterer for the casino’s new event center is set for Wednesday, September 2nd. The event will include a grilling demonstration and taste of a special “Philly Cut” steak. The press release also features a hashtag, #froginPhilly. After briefly hoping this would mean the return of Rib-It or Steve Poses’ Frog, we applied some positively Sherlockian deduction, (we googled frog+steakhouse and clicked the first result) we’ve concluded that the new restaurant will be from … Spoiler ahead »
Valley Forge Casino CMO Jennifer Galle and Luke Palladino | Photo via VFCR
Luke Palladino, who has a history with casino restaurants is adding another LP Steak at Valley Forge Casino Resort to his portfolio. The upscale steakhouse will open this October at the King of Prussia casino. The restaurant will be an upscale steakhouse with seating for up to 205 people in the main dining room plus 25 seats at the bar, 30 seats in the lounge area, and two private dining rooms.
LP Steak will replace Pacific Prime in the Valley Forge Casino, and will join other new features of the casino including the recently opened Valley Beach Poolside Club and the relaunch of the Valley Forge Music Fair.
LP Steak joins the Luke Palladino Hospitality Group, which also includes Palladino’s on Passyunk and Luke Palladino Seasonal Italian Cooking in Linwood, New Jersey.
LP Steak at Valley Forge Casino Resort [Foobooz]
Photo by Arthur Etchells
HughE Dillon was the first to report that the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at 260 S Broad Street is looking to relocate to the Sonesta Hotel at 18th and Market Streets. The location was the longtime home to Elephant and the Castle and has sat empty since March, 2014. Though the deal hasn’t been confirmed, all parties believe it will be soon.
Rumor: Ruth’s Chris Steak House is on the Move… [PhillyChitChat]