So yesterday, I was tweetering about a story from the annual food show on CBS Sunday Morning that had to do with the (totally untrue) “Return of the Tiki Bar.” It was a trend story, which made it highly suspect right from the start. It was a trend story hooked to a pre-holiday broadcast, which made it doubly-suspect. And finally, the entire “Return” portion of the tiki bar “Trend” was hooked to just two joints in NYC–Otto’s Shrunken Head (which actually opened 9 years ago) and PKNY (which has been having problems of its own lately).
The worst part about the whole thing? I love tiki bars and wished like hell that Sunday Morning was actually onto something. Of all the dead trends that I wouldn’t mind seeing resurrected (see Potato Skins below, courtesy of Art), tiki bars–along with tiki drinks served by tiki girls–are near the top of the list. I will trade you a thousand cupcakes, bacon martinis and high-end cheeseburgers for one decent place to get sloshed on Mai Tais and scorpion bowls, is what I’m saying. Basically, one can not say that there is a tiki bar trend happening until there are as many tiki bars on the streets as there are shitty “Prohibition Speakeasies” clogging up the cocktail scene. And here in Philadelphia? We got nothin’.
It was a somewhat schizophrenic week here at Foobooz World Headquarters, high atop 1818 Market. On the one hand, we had the fun of beer week happening all around us and our responsibility as shameless lushes responsible journalists to cover that as thoroughly as we could. On the other, there was real news happening as well–equally as important, if not quite so deliciously alcoholic.
We did what we could to balance our competing urges for scandal, action, hops and barley. But just in case you missed some stuff during the course of the past five days, here’s the best of the week’s stories, broken down into two convenient sections.
Remember a few days ago when we told you all about Tweed closing temporarily because of a problem with the roof? Yeah, well someone else was apparently paying attention to Foobooz that day, too–namely Howard Taylor, who owns the building at 114 South 12th Street where Tweed had lived for just a year. And he was concerned because, as far as he knew, there were absolutely no problems with the roof, the HVAC system, or anything else that the folks from Tweed were saying were causing them to go suddenly dark.
But just to make sure, Taylor decided it would be smart to hire someone to go and check it out. Which he did just a few days ago. And this investigation yielded two things:
First, there were no issues with the HVAC system and the roof wasn’t collapsing, as Tweed had claimed.
Second, the space had been completely stripped bare.
Can you guess how excited we are about Philly Beer Week? Yes, the answer is very. Still, we did manage to restrain ourselves and cover some actual news, too. Here are some of the things you might’ve missed…
Tapas in the ‘burbs That would’ve been such a better headline if it’d been topless in the ‘burbs…
XXX Action in Northeast Philly We’re talking about XXX Shine, the almost-moonshine from Philadelphia Distilling, but you see what we did there, making it sound dirty?
A quick note for those of you who might’ve had plans (like we did) for a dinner at Tweed in the upcoming weeks: You’re going to have to choose somewhere else to dine.
Why? Because as of Wednesday night, Tweed has been closed. And it wasn’t the economy that did it. It wasn’t a lack of trade. It was, in fact, the roof. More specifically, that the roof of the building at 114 South 12th Street which has been home to Tweed for almost a year on the nose is currently collapsing and the owners (and a whole lot of contractors) are currently trying to figure out why.
We know you love to eat (because it would be weird if you were reading this blog but ate all your meals from the vending machines at the Amtrak station). We know you love to drink (because we just don’t have that many Mormon readers these days). And we know that everyone loves a good party.
So guess what? The Restaurant Club and Philadelphia magazine are both getting together to throw one, complete with fine china, good grub, paired booze and excellent company. And yeah, you’re invited.
Craig LaBan has plenty of good things to say about Tweed and chef David Cunningham.
Cunningham nailed a perfect balance of complex flavors. A tart sheep’s milk yogurt, tingly with chile flakes, basil, and mint, was the ideal link for a duet of lamb, a tender shred of shoulder braised with curry, eggplant, and kale, set beneath perfectly pink tiles of seared loin fanned on top. A “T-bone” slice of halibut was so thick, it was meaty enough to handle a rustic garnish of bacon-studded cabbage ringed by garlic butter and Concord grape verjus. A stylish update on homey pot roast, meanwhile, goes deluxe with thick slices of veal, meltingly soft alongside woodsy portobellos and a rich dark froth of herbed Madeira veal stock.
So how will Craig LaBan like Tweed. The Center City restaurant received just 1 1/2 stars from Trey Popp in Philadelphia Magazine. And LaBan’s been in a surly mood, three of his last four reviews were single bellers.
Trey Popp visits 12th Street’s Tweed and finds it an uneven affair.
Some of the chefâ€™s most enjoyable items are his most plainspoken: a squash-heavy zucchini gratin, or scalloped potatoes perked up with savory boiled ham from Newtownâ€™s Ely Farm, both cooked in miniature cast-iron casseroles that grant their contents a crisp you canâ€™t get any other way. His roasted chicken has some of the crunchiest skin Iâ€™ve ever encounteredâ€”the dark meat could almost fool you into thinking itâ€™s friedâ€”and its mustard-carrot sauce is intense but not overwhelming.
But the menu is all over the map. Thereâ€™s spaghetti and (too tough) meatballs; hiramasa sashimi flanked by splendidly spicy chipotle sauce, dreadfully dull curry sauce, perky wasabi sauce and crÃ¨me fraÃ®che; a flat-tasting duck burger outshone by cherry chutney.
Here’s an idea to combine two good deals in a single night. hit Tweed’s happy hour for one of their tasty $5 cocktails and maybe even a tier of taste (a combination of 3 appetizers) and then stay for a Restaurant Week dinner.