Forsythia and Rex at the Royal Launch Industry Nights
Plus: a Puebladelphia cheesesteak, and news from 1-900-Ice-Cream and Van Leeuwen.
We’re switching up our approach to Philly restaurant news here at Foobooz. (Sorry that sentence rhymed; it was an accident.) Today, you’ll see the artist formerly known as the Monday Round-Up Leftovers section. Which means this piece is full of Philly’s latest openings and closings, plus cool stuff happening around the city that your friends should know about. Got a tip? Send it to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forsythia and Rex at the Royal Launch Industry Nights
Here’s some news for all the restaurant crews out there — or those who just like hanging out with restaurant crews. There are two new industry nights in town — one at Forsythia (which has been on an absolute tear lately with small, one-off events), the other at Rex at the Royal. I’ve also got some additional news about Rex, but let’s deal with the industry night stuff first.
At Forsythia, Chris Kearse is welcoming in all front- and back-of-house staff, bartenders, and associated trade staff on the last Monday of every month for a serious, cocktail-focused party featuring some notable guest tenders (of the bar variety, not the chicken one). For the inaugural event on Monday, April 25th, Shawn Miller is prepping a drink list that includes the “Cara Me Home,” made with cara cara orange amaro and soda, a “Basil Rathbone” (bourbon, smoked brown sugar, basil, and lemon bitters — fucking yum), and “The Smoking Carrot” with mezcal, carrot ginger cordial and lemon. They’re all selling for $10, and the house is also pouring French wines by-the-glass for $8 and local beers for $5. Kearse will be whipping up some snacks and French-style pizzas from their wood-burning oven, and it all promises to be a damn fine time. The party starts at 7 p.m. and goes ‘til 11 p.m.
Meanwhile, over at Rex, they’re doing an industry night every Sunday from 8 p.m. to midnight featuring $7 Citywides, cocktail specials from bar manager Josh Scheid, New Trail Hazy IPAs for $5, and big plates of house cornbread with honey butter for $3. It’s a solid deal for those of you looking to unwind a little after a shift (or on your night off).
In other Rex news: They opened up their patio last week, and also announced that the daytime operation and bottle shop are up and running. The cafe has drinks from Green Street Coffee, plus a food menu that essentially turns the place into an all-day cafe. There are hot breakfast sandwiches and pastries in the morning, a mini-version of Rex’s dinner menu at lunch (think She-crab soup, oysters, pulled pork and pimento grilled cheese sandwiches). The new hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., followed by the regular dinner service which starts at 5 p.m.
Here Come More Van Leeuwen and 1-900 Ice Cream Shops
It might feel like Brooklyn-born Van Leeuwen Ice Cream just opened its first Philly shop on 13th Street, but they’re already back for round two. Their brand new Rittenhouse location opened Friday at 115 South 18th Street, offering up honeycomb, black cherry chip ice cream, and even a lemon birthday cake flavor dedicated to a local Philly news anchor. But that’s not the only news from Van Leeuwen: They’re also looking at a Fishtown store at 1601 Frankford Avenue.
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Sticking with the ice cream theme for a moment, how’s this for good news? The local Instagram sensation and pandemic darling, 1-900-Ice-Cream has opened a new pint shop at 229 South 20th Street in Rittenhouse.
For those of you who remember the days of five-minute pickup windows, ice cream vans, and the mad scramble for weekly flavor drops — this is huge news. The 20th and Locust location will operate “with random, limited hours” for now, according to owner Ryan Fitzgerald and the 1-900 crew, but 1-900-Ice-Cream’s new spot will shortly become a full-service scoop shop.
For anyone who doesn’t know the 1-900 story, it’s a twisty one. Once upon a time (meaning back before the pandemic), Fitzgerald ran an underground restaurant called Boku Supper Club. At the end of each meal, he’d serve handmade ice cream sandwiches. These became so popular that the self-taught chef decided to spin them off into their own thing — a retro-style ice cream operation that started producing high-quality ice cream tricked out with wild swirls and mix-ins. We’re talking strawberry jam, marshmallows and crumbled shortbread to make “Strawberry Dream Poofs,” or cold-steeped coffee ice cream with chocolate cake, fudge frosting, crunchy peanut butter sauce, a caramel swirl and Ruffles potato chips for “The Snuggle Jungle.”
Fitzgerald worked with local chefs on flavor collaborations. He found a production facility, started selling ice cream online, shipping pints nationally and announcing secret pick-up locations. When COVID hit, he got a van and rolled around town to various spots where people who bought online could pick up their pints through a half-cracked window and dropped pints off at hospitals for medical workers.
The demand for 1-900-Ice-Cream has been huge. Everything sells out, sometimes in minutes. But now, with a scoop shop already operating on Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore, a regular pint pick-up location in Fishtown (102 West Berks Street) and this new spot in Rittenhouse, maybe scoring your own taste of Italian Spirit Tunnel, Ego Death, Oreo-and-birthday-cake Space Sex or the brown sugar-cinnamon and snickerdoodle Cozy Boi Slumber Suit will be just a little bit easier.
The Garden at Cherry Street Pier Reopens
The Garden at Cherry Street Pier is scheduled to open for the season this weekend. They’ll be kicking things off on Saturday and Sunday, April 16th and 17th, from noon to 10 p.m., with the schedule going forward dependent on the weather.
The Garden has 20,000 square feet of seating, views of the water, and a beer garden vibe. Matt Deutsch is handling the drinks, assembling a list that leans heavily on local beers, frozen margaritas and lemonade infused with hibiscus vodka. In terms of food, new chef Miguel Angel Hernandez Mota is bringing his spin on Puebladelphian cuisine — named for a growing community of people from Puebla who now call Philly home. That means tacos, birria, paletas from La Newyorkina, and the “Puebladelphia Cheesesteak”— brisket, poblano rajas, onion and queso chihuahua all on a seeded long roll with chipotle mayo. I have a deep and abiding distrust for stunt cheesesteaks, but I don’t know how to feel about this one yet. Looking at it, I think it might be awesome.
Keep An Eye Out For La Chinesca’s “Lo-Fi Live” Parties
La Chinesca threw the first of three “Lo-Fi Live” acoustic events over the weekend to celebrate an album release by Fishtown’s own Cosmic Guilt. The party sold out, but La Chinesca is promising two more events in the series — one this summer and another in the fall. Keep your eye on their Instagram for updates on the next one.