Best of Philly 2005: Restaurants & Food

Our cheat sheet on where to eat

Brunch for the organic-minded: Grass Roots Café This unassuming Manayunk restaurant spotlights local farm-fresh, all-organic ingredients in its simple but full-flavor dishes. If you like what you taste, they’ll take a farmer-direct produce order for you (110 Cotton Street, Manayunk; 215-482-0300).

Brunch for the adventurous: Café Sud A brunch that goes far beyond traditional omelets. Come to this Queen Village pastry shop for the tandoori chicken omelet and even more unusual options, like kefta (Moroccan spiced beef patties) and eggs, served in a tagine (801 East Passyunk Avenue; 215-592-0499).

Brunch for the really patient: Sabrina’s Café
It’s an egg lover’s dream—with the required omelets and scrambles, along with less traditional offerings like pear, orange and mint stuffed French toast. The weekly specials, large portions and West Coast vibe make this worth the wait, which can be up to an hour on spring and fall weekends, but is under 20 minutes on summery Sundays (910 Christian Street; 215-574-1599).

Sneaky way to eat your veggies: Plate’s vegetable ice cream Twenty-five-year-old pastry chef Angela Tustin is already an accomplished ice-cream maker, churning out Plate’s sweet treats in alluring flavors like white chocolate raspberry, strawberry cheesecake and white chocolate lime. Now she’s gone to the savory side. Her vibrant and vegetal vanilla-beet and surprisingly creamy and intense mushroom ice creams, made with cooked, pureed vegetables, are adventurous meal-enders (Suburban Square, Ardmore; 610-642-5900).

Meat (uncooked): Porky Porkie “Raw meat” and “buffet” don’t sound like they should commingle, but at this Korean restaurant, they do, swimmingly. Diners select a wide variety of marinated meats from the icy buffet and cook them tabletop while munching on fiery kimchis (1111 South 11th Street; 215-468-8389).

Meat (cooked): Prime rib at Brasserie Perrier Available only on Thursdays, this meltingly tender marvel gets a rubdown with fresh garlic and herbs before it roasts for 12 hours at a very low temperature (1619 Walnut Street; 215-568-3000).

Meat (book about): Field Guide to Meat Local chef and author Aliza Green’s handy 300-page guide to all things meaty explains how to choose, cook and store everything from beef and chicken to ostrich and elk pizzle (available at local bookstores).

Dinner party: Fork Etc. On Wednesday nights at seven, Fork restaurant’s gourmet shop spinoff is the site of the most convivial dinner party in town. Chef Thein Ngo has free rein in the kitchen, often cooking up Southeast Asian-inspired recipes, and he finds time to mingle with the odd assortment of guests (308 Market Street; 215-625-9425).