Wednesday, June 21st marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere — the time when the tilt of Earth on its axis puts us closest to the sun. That makes it the longest day of the year, and three of Queen Village’s top restaurants have teamed up to make the most of it with a street festival on Bainbridge Green tomorrow night.
A while ago (like all the way back in 2015), there were two big concepts driving new restaurant openings in Philly: the upscale neighborhood tavern and retro-American cuisine. Places like Bud & Marilyn’s, La Peg and Kevin Sbraga’s Juniper Commons were all inspired by this one-two punch of edible nostalgia, and while not everyone who chased this style was successful in the big, loud way that we expect restaurants to be (Juniper Commons closed after six months, La Peg went through some massive concept and menu changes), Jeremy Nolen’s Whetstone Tavern made its mark in a different way. It succeeded quietly.
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Jeremy Nolen has been at the helm of Whetstone Tavern for quite some time now while, at the same time, overseeing kitchen operations at Brauhaus Schmitz and Wursthaus Schmitz–two of the other properties owned by Doug Hager. But now, he’s stepping back in order to focus his attention more fully on Brauhaus and its sausage-centric modern German cuisine, and one of his long-time Whetstone cooks is stepping up to take over the kitchen himself.
On Tuesday, July 19th, Whetstone Tavern, the bar/restaurant of Jeremy Nolen and Doug Hager (Brauhaus Schmitz) is celebrating its first birthday with an evening long happy hour.
The night will feature $3 Pilsner drafts, $4 wines, $5 Dad’s Single burgers and $6 punch. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres from Whetstone’s just released Summer 2016 menu will also be served along with popular items from the original menu like Kung Pao wings.
Kennett Square is the next ‘burb getting in on the beer garden game. This Friday, June 3rd, The Creamery pop-up beer garden will open.
The beer garden is located in the completely revamped creamery which had been empty and in disrepair for years. Owner Michael Bontrager collaborated with Philadelphia’s Groundswell Design Group (PHS Pop Up Gardens, Talula’s Garden Spruce Street Harbor Park) to turn the site into “lush, open pop-up space” featuring the beer garden, performance venues, garden courtyards and local art.
I really liked Jeremy Nolen‘s Whetstone when I checked it out a few months ago. It was one of the places that shaped the way I review neighborhood restaurants, and became a point of comparison for a lot of them that came after.
And now, with the new season, Whetstone is going through some changes. They’ve got a new menu, a new cocktail program, and a new (though very recognizable) face behind the bar.
We have a wall at the office entirely given over to a Post-It Note snapshot of everything happening in the Philly restaurant world at this given moment. Hundreds of yellow squares, on which are written the names of restaurants, initials, arrows and mysterious heiroglyphs that only Art and I (and mostly I) can understand.
The Post-Its move. Get grouped, get broken up. The restaurants we love and the restaurants we hate are all represented (in wildly unequal numbers). Restaurants that are coming–addresses chosen, opening dates optimistically scheduled–have their own space, as do established and open restaurants whose reviews are in the works. Lately, that particular section of wall has been growing crowded. There are just so many goddamn restaurants coming (it’s spring, that happens) that it feels overwhelming.
So with six months of (mostly) weekly reviews behind me, and dozens of new openings incoming, I figured this might be a good time to look back and highlight the best moments of the past six months–places that you might’ve missed, places that you really ought to get to (if you haven’t already) before the lure of new-new restaurants becomes too overpowering.
So let’s start with…
It’s National Breakfast Week (no, really), so we thought it was about time to compile a list of some of our favorite new (or new-ish) places in the city to get breakfast.
It’s the most important meal of the day, after all. And generally the only one that involves pancakes. So dig in.
Whetstone Tavern has begun a Late Night Happy Hour. From 10 p.m. to midnight, the Queen Village bar and restaurant is offering $3 beers and $3 house wines every day (yes, including weekends). Chef Jeremy Nolen is also offering his Dad’s Burger (1 patty) and Roast Beef sandwich for $5. That’s just about half-price for the sandwiches.
There will also be a rotating sandwich special as well. Right now that’s the pictured braised pork belly with Korean Napa cabbage slaw. Expect the specialty sandwich to change every three to five days as the culinary team gets creative with the special.
For more late night deals, check out these Late Night Happy Hours.
Whetstone Tavern [Foobooz]
At the conclusion of last week’s 3-star Stargazy review, a reader asked a very difficult question:
So what about this doesn’t say four stars? The fact that it’s stuff-yourself delicious, worth going out of your way for, has value or that each of your experiences has been a win? Sounds like a straight flush to me. A rarity for Philadelphia, or anywhere for that matter.
A Confused Glutton
And it’s true. I loved Stargazy. I’ve been dreaming about the banofee tart (pictured above) and the sausage rolls for a week. So why doesn’t a place like this deserve four stars?