There is something magical about a cauldron of bubbling broth when it's brought to the table. Heads turn in the dining room to gawk. Crowds of friends huddle around its aromatic warmth. Platters of pristine raw ingredients arrive beside the flame, piled majestically high like offerings to the hot pot gods. And the pace of dinner slows to a leisure
Before plunging too deeply into the existential profundity of The Emptiness Is Eternal, it should be noted that Tired Hands Brewing Co.'s "Emptiness" series of barrel-aged seasonal fruit saisons takes its name from a spoof lyric from the ultimate rock-and-roll spoof pic, This is Spinal Tap.
Beatrice Loayza's approach so far at Inka Wall - her late-blooming career - has been cautious with spice and seasoning. But there's no mistaking her commitment to cooking from scratch, a real find in a region where authentic Peruvian kitchens are sparse, save for a pair of El Balconcitos in Northeast Philly and Juliana's Kitchen in Wilmington.
It began with the gift of homemade jam, a lovely homage to Kevin Sbraga from a devoted regular at the chef's namesake first restaurant. She was understandably unhappy, though, if general manger Ben Fileccia is correct, that her handmade preserve eventually ended-up as an experiment in Sbraga's cocktails. But I'm here to say that jam was not used in vain. It was a small sacrifice considering it might have changed the course of julep history, at least in University City.
Kevin Sbraga and Aaron Gottesman's cooking at the Fat Ham, sharply focused at Fat Ham in large part due to its theme, is more compelling than what I've eaten to date at Sbraga's fancier namesake perch on Broad Street. The uncluttered discipline of small plates, and at impressively fair prices, puts the focus squarely on good ingredients rendered with smart touches.
Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat: Craig LaBan: I'm pulling a cork to open a fine vintage theme for today's chat: local wine. I know there are many, many doubters that great wine can be made in PA and NJ. I hear from them every time I write a few positive words about local wines, like the
The next big show at the Kimmel Center is going to be one of its most expensive tickets: dinner. The performers? Celebrity Iron Chef Jose Garces and his team. The set? Volvér, a much-awaited jewel box dining room in the Kimmel Center. And not only will its tasting menus instantly become the city's priciest meal, with food alone fluctuating between $1
The recent run of star Philly chefs across the Ben Franklin Bridge to South Jersey has brought along a trunkful of expectations. But does the arrival of these indie operators amount to an instant upgrade over the corporate restaurants that have dominated the mall-corridor wedge between Routes 70 and 38?
"I know a lot of people look at my quenelles and say, 'What is that?' " Pierre Calmels was clearly reading my mind. Because that was exactly the phrase that popped into my mind when his quenelles arrived at our table at Le Chéri. I'd witnessed several plates of unequivocal beauty over the course of my meals at this rambling new restaurant that he and wife, Charlotte Calmels, recently opened in the Philadelphia Art Alliance.
Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat: Reader: I live in the Southwark neighborhood and like a cool new place, the Good King Tavern, a cozy little place serving brasserie fare at friendly prices. They have an all-French wine list, a carafe program for good table wine, and serious classic cocktails and beer. Have you had the chance to go?
Live chat: Join Craig at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays in the chatroom.
Book: The Philadelphia Inquirer Restaurant Guide
4 Bells: According to Craig, the best restaurants in the Philadelphia area.