Next Thursday night, yoke up your oxen and head down to East Passyunk. Townsend, chef Tod Wentz’ Francophile restaurant and bar, is hosting The Oregon Wine Trail — a dinner that will highlight the best of the state’s wines.
Gordana Kostovski is a big deal in the Philly wine community. The Macedonian Master-certified sommelier was awarded two of Wine Spectator’s Awards of Excellence, including a Best of Award of Excellence. And for close to three years, she’s remained the driving force behind Volvér’s wine program — easily one of the most consistent (and consistently great) aspects of the restaurant and bar. Last year, she was credited in the Wall Street Journal for inspiring a major New York wine purveyor to bring his business to Pennsylvania, despite the state’s restrictive conditions. To say the least, she’s been a major player in helping shape this city’s burgeoning wine scene.
Yesterday, at Philly Cooks, when I found her in front of Townsend’s table and not Volvér’s, I thought nothing of it — she’s married to Townsend’s chef-owner Tod Wentz. But lo and behold, she actually works there, too.
Ever see a guy drinking a beer with tongs as hands? Me neither–at least not until Wednesday night when chef Matt Stebbins of Townsend did just that.
And that was just one of the night’s Open Stove challenges, but we’ll get back to that soon.
On this, the 40-something Open Stove night at COOK, it was chef Thalita Costa and sous chef Chal Houng of R2L versus Stebbins of Townsend and sous chef Felias Peralta of Marigold Kitchen.
The night began out with Team Townsend looking confident and Stebbins cracking jokes while Peralta chopped away at some mangoes. Meanwhile, on the other side of the kitchen, Team R2L was looking pretty chill (maybe a little nervous), just sipping on their Modelos and waiting for everything to go wrong.
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.