Taste: What We’re Eating October 2007
Philadelphia restaurants we consider worthy of trying this month.
Dock Street Brewery and Restaurant
The waitress’s black tee says “Bohemian,” and it’s a statement about Dock Street’s new brewpub as much as an advertisement for the brewery’s popular soft pilsner. When Dock Street reimagined its brewpub concept for a former firehouse on this reawakening block in West Philly — far from the swankier Center City locations that closed years ago — it dotted its wood-fired-oven menu with once-fringe food ideas: hormone-free ham and chicken, fair-trade coffee, Pennsylvania wine. And, still unusual in the City of the Cheesesteak, equal time is devoted to vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options. But beers take center stage in this casual, cacophonous dining room, and the bar has the glassware to back up the easy-drinking suds, brewed on the premises. 701 South 50th Street, 215-726-2337, dockstreetbeer.com.
Pretty Sweet Bakery
This new addition to cozy Haddonfield could serve just desserts, because they are spectacular, especially the excessively gooey sticky buns, espresso flourless cake, vanilla-bean bread pudding, and chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting. But the savory side of the menu really has us hooked. There’s a fontina/Italian sausage quiche that makes an ideal Sunday-brunch nosh, party-perfect “savory breads” filled with spinach and feta or pepperoni, and quick-bite tomato-basil-mozzarella sandwiches on Pretty Sweet’s own, respectable baguettes. The bakery also does custom cookies (think wedding favors) and a cupcake-baking camp for tykes’ birthday parties. 427 Haddon Avenue, Haddonfield, 856-429-0063, prettysweetbakery.com.
Will websites replace waitstaff? Goodeatsphilly.com does have all the qualities you look for in a waiter: there whenever you need something, knowledgeable about the menu, with a good memory for your order. Behind this friendly interface is Manna Catering’s first foray into high-end delivery: well-presented (if, therefore, hard to reheat), varied, even healthy lunches and dinners, delivered to your home or office daily with instructions that even the non-cook can comprehend. But convenience isn’t cheap. Restaurant-style dinners — grilled duck breast with cranberry quinoa, Asian-marinated grouper with bok choy, skirt steak with ratatouille — are $18 to $20. Goodeatsphilly.com.
With Pif closed, chef/owner David Ansill is most often found in the kitchen at his eponymous Queen Village restaurant. In the wood-tabled dining room, his presence can be felt in the streamlined menu. It’s back to basics in a restaurant where “basics” is defined as a cracked quail’s egg balanced on a petite tower of steak tartare, a tangle of simply grilled scallions in a romesco sauce, and rich, crispy lamb’s tongue cut with bitter baby greens. Fewer menu options focus attention exactly where Ansill intends: on small but not precious dishes of unusual ingredients. Come on, try a few bites of bone marrow. 627 South 3rd Street, 215-627-2485, ansillfoodandwine.com.