Lemon Bar by pastry chef Marqessa Gesualdi
Adam Erace approaches Kevin Sbraga’s The Fat Ham with a bit of a raised eyebrow. Can Kevin Sbraga really cook Southern food and is it good?
And mostly, it is. When dishes started arriving, clean execution and confident flavors quickly trumped geographic culinary authority. The sweetest lobster tail got country-fried (and countrified) in a buttermilk batter that cooked up crunchy and thick. The panko casing on wheels of juicy green tomato was different — light, crisp and laced with Locatelli Romano. Boiled peanuts replaced tahini in a smart hummus that was delicious (albeit fridge-direct frosty) and paired with superior house-baked rye-and-wheat bread.
Kevin Sbraga’s sophomore effort, The Fat Ham, brings a shot of Southern comfort to University City [City Paper]
The Fat Ham [Foobooz]
Photo credit: Bradley Maule via Hidden City
Putting the spotlight on yet another lesser-known history of Philadelphia, Hidden City features Bradley Peniston’s insight into the man who gave his name to Clark Park in University City.
A Rhode Island native, Clarence Howard Clark moved to Philadelphia in 1837 when he was just four years old. Following a period of financial troubles, his father, Enoch W. Clark, went onto become a millionaire (he even had a hand in financing the Mexican-American War). Clark eventually joined his father’s firm and became partner at just 25 in 1858.
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Photo via University City District
Starting this April, the University City District is expanding its food options at the Porch. Lunch will be served every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with breakfast on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The University City District has issued a request for proposal for mobile food vendors. The proposals are due by January, 31st. UCD is looking for three savory vendors and one sweets vendor for each lunch.
Request for Proposals | Mobile Food Vending at the Porch [University City District]
Craig LaBan reviews the modernist cuisine of Marigold Kitchen in West Philadelphia, where chef Robert Halpern is turning out vivid avant garde dishes.
The most memorable course, though, unfolded before us in a multistage presentation that teased several senses. A jam jar filled with a dried porcini, red chile, a bay leaf, and a Japanese orchid petal was covered tableside in warm mushroom dashi and set to steep. Two aromatic minutes later, it was poured like a woodsy tea over a bowl of soy-cured hamachi sashimi. With a “forest” of exotic mushrooms perched like a still life on the bowl’s rim for extra-earthy punch, the entire composition was a deeply layered umami bath – but also remarkably light. The sensation that lingered most was still the luxurious snap of the succulent raw fish.
Three Bells – Excellent
50 Best Restaurants – Marigold Kitchen, #2 [Philadelphia Magazine]
Delectable dishes beyond the razzle dazzle [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Marigold Kitchen [Foobooz]
Photo by Charles Mostoller via the Metro
On December 2nd, the Metro ran a story about the Pennsylvania State Senate considering a bill that would make it illegal to breed cats and dogs to eat. It would be only the seventh state to enact such legislation. Author Tommy Rowan asks George Bogle, the Pennsylvania SPCA’s director of law enforcement if he knew of any such circumstance. He recounted the story of a West Philadelphia restaurant that was butchering cats in its basement. Bogle refuses to give the name or address since the restaurant has since closed and reopened under new ownership.
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University City’s City Tap House is honoring Eagles quarterback Nick Foles with a dish, Catfish #9. The entree is Foles’ favorite, fresh catfish. At City Tap House, chef Chad Vetter is soaking the fish in buttermilk and then deep frying it. The catfish is accompanied by cornmeal crusted green tomatoes, Andouille white cheddar grits and Creole cocktail sauce. The Catfish #9 is $21 and 25-percent of the sales will be donated to the Eagles Youth Partnership.
Chef Vetter, who specializes in Southern cuisine was excited to learn the red-hot quarterback’s favorite food is fried catfish. ”We’re big Eagles fans here at City Tap House, and we have caught Nick Foles mania over the past few weeks” said Vetter. He and his staff might even don number 9 jerseys this week.
The Catfish #9 will only be available for a limited time. Foles, will hopefully remain hot for a long time.
City Tap House [Foobooz]
Wishbone is a curious name for a chicken shop that can go weeks without serving any sort of bone at all. Alan Segel and Dave Clouser’s successor to the longtime Lee’s Hoagie House in University City promises “craft fried chicken,” but that turns out to mean boneless, skinless chicken nuggets coated with dried pretzels. I can’t be the only customer surprised by that discovery. But hey, who’s to deny the craft in separating breasts and thighs from their skeletons?
Chicken nuggets have had a rough run lately. A 2013 analysis of nuggets from two unspecified national chains determined that chicken muscle only accounted for about half the content of one specimen, and a mere 40 percent of the other. Plenty of ground-up blood vessels, nerve tissue, and bone fragments, though!
So in fact there is a decent case to be made for taking the industrial revolution out of the chicken nugget, and putting some craft back in.
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Philadelphia’s Top Chef winner, Kevin Sbraga is opening his second restaurant today. The Fat Ham will bring a broad swath of the South to 3131 Walnut Street, just across the Schuylkill River in University City.
We stopped in yesterday to take a look at a restaurant still very much being touched up for its premiere, despite hosting a couple of nights of friends and family dinners this week. Among the local culinary dignitaries that stopped in, Jose Garces and Georges Perrier. Perrier held court on the deck and even brought his dog with him.
Photos of the interior and dishes »
The Daily Pennsylvanian has the latest on the upcoming CoZara project from Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka. The bi-level space at 3200 Chestnut will be an izakaya, focusing on Japanese pub food and drink. On the food side, expect to see dumplings, buckwheat noodles, ramen and yakitori. For drinks, CoZara will offer sake, sake cocktails plus local and Japanese beers.
The project has seen some delays and is now aiming to open in late January.
New Japanese restaurant will offer pub style atmosphere [Daily Pennsylvanian]
Country fried chicken lobster | Photo by Vanessa Beahn
In just a few days Kevin Sbraga will open the doors at The Fat Ham–his new Southern-inspired spot in the former Tria wine bar space at 3131 Walnut Street. Obviously, there will be pork in abundance, but you can also expect inventive veggies as well as dishes and flavors that pull from all over the South. Here’s our first peek at the opening night menu.
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