East Passyunk Avenue is hosting its own restaurant week starting on Sunday, February 21st and running through Saturday, February 27th. The week of deals on Philadelphia’s hottest restaurant stretch come in three flavors. There are $15, $25 and $35 options that are available for lunch/brunch or dinner. Of the 24 restaurants participating six of the restaurants participating are in Philadelphia magazine’s latest 50 Best Restaurants list.
If it seems too soon for another 50 Best Restaurants issue, you’re right. For a long time, this list was something we put together every two years. But now that’s changing. Because it has to.
Philadelphia’s restaurant scene moves fast today—too fast for the kind of monolithic thinking that says a list of the best restaurants in this city could possibly stand, fundamentally unchanged, for two years. Fortunes rise and fall over weeks, not years. Opinions shift. Focus drifts. There was a time when a list of the best restaurants in Philly could have some breathing room—would be just as true (or nearly as true) six months or a year later as it was on the day it hit the stands. But today that sort of thinking seems as quaint as cedar-plank salmon or those bicycles with one big wheel in front—an artifact of another time.
Some restaurants host events every single week, but others wait until they’ve got something special going on; a distinctive bottle or two to open or some out-of-town visitors to fête. Such was the occasion last week at Townsend when the sweet spot on Passyunk hosted Sierra Foothills winemakers Caroline Hoel and Hank Beckmeyer from La Clarine Farm.
Natural to the core, these down to earth, yet broadly knowledgeable vintners waxed eloquent on their unorthodox grape blends and the exciting nature of natural winemaking. The biodynamic model of minimally invasive agriculture can be considered at best capricious, and at worst reckless, but is undoubtedly the cutting edge of wine culture internationally. Finding these dynamic, challenging (and often delicious) wines paired attentively and successfully with Townsend Wentz’s take on classic French cuisine was a pleasure.
A man can’t live on gin and tonic alone.
Well, he can, I suppose. And god knows I try. But the changing seasons here don’t just affect what’s for dinner at Philly’s better bars and restaurants, they also mean changes to cocktail lists across the city. We poked around a little bit, and here’s what we found: Almost a dozen cool-weather cocktails that you should be drinking this weekend.
For seven years now we’ve polled bartenders, beer reps, booze writers and professional drinkers of all stripes, and asked them to pick their most-loved bars in the area. We then add our own favorites, do a little cocktail-napkin math and come up with the 50 Best Bars in Philadelphia. This year the Best Bars list includes dives, gastropubs, cocktail lounges and even an awesome little spot in Port Richmond.
This year’s list features a new number one bar, but that’s far from the only interesting tidbit on the list.
Philadelphia’s Dizengoff and Townsend are among the 50 nominees for Bon Appetit’s “America’s Best New Restaurants 2015” list. Dizengoff gets the nomination for its hummus, which is described as “preposterously smooth, ethereally light, very generously drizzled with olive oil, and guaranteed to spoil you for the grocery-store stuff forever.”
Over at Townsend, Bon Appetit is thrilled to see that French food and white tablecloths still have a place in American restuarants.
The 50 nominees will be whittled down to the final list of ten on August 18th.
The 50 Nominees for America’s Best New Restaurants 2015 [Bon Appetit]
Dizengoff [Bon Appetit]
Townsend [Bon Appetit]
On Wednesday May 27th, Passyunk’s Townsend is dishing out a five-course prix fixe meal in celebration of surviving their first year. The menu will showcase favorites from the restaurant alongside new dishes, and everything will be paired with wines from Townsend’s cellar. Sommelier Lauren Harris is bringing experts David McDuff, Seth Biederman, Jason Malumed, James Nolan, and Sean Faeth to join and discuss the pairings served at the meal.
Are you all about the sweetbreads, headcheese and tripe? Then we want your opinion. What are the best offal dishes around town. Are you all about the tripe sandwich at George’s in the Italian Market? The headcheese tacos at South Philadelphia Taproom? The sauteed sweetbreads at Townsend?
Let us know in the comments.
For those baffled by the art of cocktail making, Drexel is opening a limited number of seats in their new class “Spirits and Mixology” to the general public. The class will explore the history and processes of major spirits, as well as cocktail-making, from basic to innovative. Lesson number one? No one who knows better ever calls it “mixology” anymore.
A few months ago, we told you about a beautiful, inspiring short documentary made about Chris Kearse from Will. Videographer Oliver Gallini told us then that this was just the first in a series of docs on local chefs and the stories behind their restaurants, their careers and their foods.
Well, today he made good on that claim. He’s now released the second short film in his series–this one focusing on organic-chemist-turned-chef, Townsend Wentz, and his eponymous restaurant.
As was the case with the first video, this one is gorgeously shot and smartly put together. It captures both the chaos and the grace of kitchen work, the beauty of the plates, and the story behind how Wentz ended up cooking for a living rather than working in a lab.
If you’ve got a couple minutes, you should totally check it out.