When the month of my birth rolls around, I tend to celebrate for the entire 30 days. The Twisted Tail seems to have the same idea: as July marks their fourth year, they will be celebrating on all the days of the month that have the number 4 in them.
So weird that we’d have a whole month to celebrate a bunch of 16th century French and Spanish kings. I mean, Henry the IV? He was a good guy. Made a lot of work for portrait painters. Penned the Edict of Nantes granting rights to Calvinists. But a whole month?
Oh, wait. We’re talking about the drinking kind of bourbon? Well that’s WAY better. And the Twisted Tail (which certainly stocks a fair amount of drinky bourbon) is running all sorts of specials throughout September to celebrate.
This Saturday, July 19th, the 3rd Annual Dog Days of Summer Cook-Off is back and bigger than ever. Last year’s event featured 11 restaurants and food trucks, and this year’s will feature 20. The judges’ decision will be much more difficult and as a visitor, your stomach will be much more full.
Starting at 1 p.m., guests are welcome to sample the hot dogs, enjoy craft beer from Victory Brewing Company, jam out to live music and even vote for their favorite dog of the day. General admission is free, but food/drinks tickets cost $10 for 4 and $30 for 15. Or, if you’re looking for that VIP treatment, spend $30 and get early access at noon, a VIP gift, and 20 food/drink tickets. Proceeds will go to the preservation of the Headhouse Square Shambles. To purchase tickets, click here.
With Thanksgiving looming and the holiday season descending upon us, we bet you’re going to need some new drink recipes. In the December, 2013 issue of Philadelphia magazine we asked George Reilly of Twisted Tail, Phoebe Esmon of Emmanuelle and Lê of Hop Sing Laundromat to help us create twelve winter holiday drinks.
The 12 Best Winter Holiday Drinks [Philadelphia Magazine]
The Grit Invasion of Philadelphia may be long in the tooth by this point, but that hasn’t kept new armadas from lashing the city with ever-growing waves of cream-soaked, butter-fatted, cheesed-up swells of coarsely milled corn.
And with each new entry into the city’s unofficial shrimp-and-grits competition, you could be forgiven for wondering if grits should be classified now as a dairy product rather than a grain. That’s all fine and good, as its goes. Not exactly shocking that restaurant kitchens still like butter and cream in 2013.
But consider the recipe provided by Anson Mills–the South Carolina grain specialist whose grits have become the gold standard in high-end restaurants. It’s a simple ingredient list: grits, a bit of salt and pepper, and water. Plus a pat or two of butter to mix in at the very end. Pretty austere, right?
The thinking at Anson Mills is straightforward: too much dairy fat eclipses the flavor of the corn they take so much pride in growing and milling.
This philosophy sprung quickly to mind not long ago at, of all places, The Twisted Tail, a blues venue that got an awful lot wrong about Southern cooking back when it opened two years ago. But those memories of mediocrity faded away in the light of many of new chef Leo Forneas’s dishes, not least his Louisiana-style shrimp and grits.
Back in 2011, on the day Joey Vento died, I attended a “media night” at Twisted Tail with a dozen or so other writers. That night, I walked out before the entrées came, because the food and service were just plain terrible. Subsequent reviews by critics pretty much backed me up on that. Well, I am happy to report that a recent meal—featuring both a new chef and a revamped menu—was remarkably better. Standout dishes included the oxtail rillettes, a fantastic Pennsylvania trout, charcoal-grilled corn and oyster mushrooms, and a simple but delicious mac-and-cheese that had our table of six fighting over the last bite. Quite the turnaround.
509 South 2nd Street
First appeared in the October, 2013 issue of Philadelphia magazine.
Headhouse Square’s The Twisted Tail is amidst its own little renaissance. Its original scathing reviews imprinted a below-average name to a place with a lot of potential, and then all was fixed. There’s a bunch of whiskey events happening this week at the southern food/whiskey and blue’s lovin’ joint (for National Bourbon Heritage Month), but there’s something that stands out among the rest:
Adam Erace returns to Twisted Tail two years after its opening and finds the addition of chef Leo Forneas has made the Southern restaurant and bar, a destination worth checking out for more than just the bourbon and shuffleboard.
Back for dinner, he [Leo Forneas] redeemed himself with an array of vibrant tapas cooked on the Maine hardwood charcoal-powered grill: strips of smoky veal bacon in a garland of pickled red onion; tender marinated quail whose dainty legs I dragged through tomatillo chimichurri; lime-splashed pork-belly squares not unlike the kind Forneas ate as a kid in the Philippines. Forneas comes from a family of food people. His grandfather owns a butcher shop, his grandmother a fishing boat. The chef is at his best when pulling from his heritage, connecting dots between the tropical island of his youth and the American South of his imagination — dots that seem to surprise even him.
Once disappointing, the Twisted Tail makes good with a new chef [City Paper]
Twisted Tail [Official Site]
Photo by Neal Santos
The Twisted Tail, George Reilly‘s Headhouse Square “passion project” (a brown-liquor-heavy bar and a kitchen serving Southern-inflected comfort food) never really sparked the affections of Philly’s foodie class when it opened under the command of chef Michael Stevenson. But recently–and very quietly–Reilly has been retrenching with a little bit of that New York transplant magic that has so positively affected so many other restaurants in this city recently.
The guy he lured into the 215 area code was formerly the chef at Silk Road Tavern in the Flatiron. He was exec at Robert (the restaurant inside the New York Museum of Art and Design), worked under Marcus Samuelson at Aquavit, as a sous at Jean Georges Vongerichten‘s 66 in Tribeca and as a line cook at Oceana. In between those 212 gigs, he also stood as exec at Sampan right here in Philly, and Reilly brought him back to revamp the board and run the kitchen at Twisted Tail. That guy is chef Leo Forneas.
The South Street Headhouse District is presenting the Dog Days of Summer from July 18th-23rd in honor of National Hot Dog month and to celebrate the family-owned businesses of South Street that have developed the area.