Headlines: Councilwoman Presents Reuse Plans for 4601 Market

Photo credit: Laura Kicey

Photo credit: Laura Kicey

Rumors about rehabbing the long-vacant Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building at 46th and Market go as far back as March 2012, but now official requests have been made.

The push came last Thursday when City Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell of the 3rd district submitted two bill proposals. Both presented the idea of the city borrowing close to $250 million for the restoration and reuse of 4601 Market, and moving in three possible tenants: The Philadelphia Police Department, the Medical Examiner’s Office, and some Health Department offices.

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3601 Market Breaks Ground

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Ice sculpture rendering of 3601 Market.
Photo courtesy of Slice Communications.

Yesterday ground was broken for 3601 Market, the 28-floor residential tower project from the Southern Land Company, BLT Architects, and the University City Science Center. At the event, BLT Architects Principal Michael Prifti said he and the BLTA team “envisioned a modern building that would be both practical and appealing to the local community.” Southern Land CEO Tim Downey predicted “the building will be a modern jewel for West Philadelphia.”

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Sbraga Takes His Shot at Southern Cooking at The Fat Ham

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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]

Morning Headlines: The Secret History Of Clark Park

Clark Park Photo credit: Bradley Maule via Hidden City

Clark Park
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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Food Options Expanding for The Porch, Vendors Wanted

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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]

Three Bells for Marigold Kitchen

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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]

West Philly Restaurant Falsely Accused of Serving Cats

Photo by Charles Mostoller via the Metro

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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City Tap House Celebrates Nick Foles With Catfish

foles number 9University 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]

Cheap Eats: Wishbone

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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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