White Dog Wayne and Village Belle Reviewed

Trey Popp ventures to the new White Dog Cafe on the Main Line, but not before recalling a less-than-stellar experience at the pre-Marty Grims version of the University City location.

The first meal I ever ate in Philadelphia taught me a lesson that I probably could have gleaned, at deep discount, from the dietary journals of Mohandas Gandhi: Social activism is a poor indicator of good cooking. It was at the White Dog Cafe in the 21st year of Judy Wicks’s reign as the gustatory conscience of West Philly, and the only thing sadder than my ham-handed fish fillet was the fact that I’d abandoned the culinary utopia of northern California to get it. But the worst part was that I required a second session for the lesson to sink in — during which a sinewy piece of flavorless strip steak got lodged in my esophagus for half an hour. “Attention!” I tried to shout. “Does anyone here have an endoscope? Or a toilet snake?!”

He also checks out Village Belle:

At Village Belle, where painted owls peer down from cream-colored lamp shades and banquettes are upholstered in “Twin Peaks” red, the servers want more than tips. They also want praise. In writing. They deliver checks in Moleskine notebooks, tucking diners’ damage reports between pages blooming with hand-penned raves. “The atmosphere was wonderful, the wine was terrific, and the food was to die for!” and so forth. It’s kind of like reading the carefully monitored comments on Sarah Palin’s Facebook page: Every one’s an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

White Dog Cafe: Marty Grims Lets Out the Leash: [Philadelphia Magazine]
Village Belle: Not Quite Ready for the Ball [Philadelphia Magazine]

*Photo by Jason Varney