Phoenixville is a solid food and drink destination. A cafe and market specializing in bacon, though? The pig-outs begin today. Also, I look at this week’s hot newcomers: a fried-chicken shop on East Passyunk and a tavern in South Jersey. Craig LaBan is here to chat about his favorite New England-style IPAs. (We’ll allow just this one New England reference.) If you need food news, click here and follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Email tips, suggestions, and questions here. If someone forwarded you this free newsletter and you like what you’re reading, sign up here to get it every week.
High on the hog in Phoenixville
Customers of Malvern’s short-lived Bacon Press grunted their disapproval at the closing, so former partner Wes Reeser has delivered a squeal-quel, setting up Bacon Me Crazy Cafe & Market in a former Moose lodge at 119 Main St. in his hometown of Phoenixville. Jan. 31 is the opening day.
It’s a breakfast-and-luncher (omelets, pancakes, bacon cheesesteaks, bacon-wrapped mozzarella sticks) with something extra: a retail section of porcine products including specialty bacon varieties (Hawaiian, mesquite, cinnamon chipotle, and jerk), candied bacon, and cinnamon rolls, plus an all-day lounge with comfy couches and wi-fi. Sit-down service runs from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., the market goes from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the lounge from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What we’re drinking
A Very Stable Genius, at Royal Boucherie
This has to be the drink name of the year, so far.
Royal Boucherie, the new French bar in Old City from Nick Elmi and the Royal Tavern team, makes this towering orange-topped creation of vodka, Aperol, vanilla-orange cordial, and Allagash White. It’s discounted to $8 on the late menu. Maybe this will make America date again.
Where we’re eating: Redcrest Fried Chicken, Center Square Tavern, Bluefin
Adam Volk did the whole New York chef thing before he and his veterinarian wife and kids moved into her childhood home in South Philly. At Redcrest Fried Chicken, now open across from the Singing Fountain on the corner of 11th Street and Passyunk Avenue, he’s turning out deliciously crunchy fried chicken, decadent sandwiches, sides, and desserts (including soft-serve ice cream, shakes, floats, sundaes, bread pudding, and apple pie). Vegan options, too. It’s mostly takeout/delivery; there’s a standing counter only for eating.
Everyone’s talking about the doughnuts stuffed with chocolate-chip cookie dough at Jim Malaby’s family-friendly Center Square Tavern in Woolwich Township, Gloucester County, about 10 minutes from blueplate, his farm-to-table BYOB. Menu is studded with fun foods and old favorites, and you can hang at the bar, drop into a side room to watch the chefs prep, or sit away from the bar in the comfy dining room.
Yong Kim has been delighting sushi lovers for more than a decade, when he launched Bluefin in a Plymouth Meeting strip mall. After moving up the pike into sumptuous quarters in East Norriton and opening B2 in Bala Cynwyd and a Bluefin in Eagleview, Kim has created an empire. Few local chefs get the prized fish that he scores, and you’re advised to sit at the sushi counter and ask the chefs for their recommendations. Or ask Kim himself. Most Tuesdays to Saturdays, he’s at East Norriton.
This week’s openings
At Ramen | Rittenhouse
Dubbed @Ramen SNSM, this branch of the Manayunk ramen-ator is expected to soft-open Feb. 5 at 1608 Sansom St.
Broadmoor | Lambertville, N.J.
Chef Alex Cormier revives his long-tested Italian/Mediterranean concept (formerly known as Rick’s) in a new location: 8 N. Union St. in Lambertville.
Clubhouse Sports Lounge | Rittenhouse Square
Nightspot beneath Davio’s (111 S. 17th St.) has an ice bar, opening Feb. 1. Talk about chillin’.
Concourse | Logan Square
Nightspot with a ball pit and grown-up fun at 1635 Market St. Opens Feb. 2.
Philly’s Gourmet Steaks | Old City
Steak sandwiches, salad bar, hot-food bar, 36 beers on tap – all from a former Bourse tenant that relocated to 114 Market St.
Rosa’s Fresh Pizza | University City
The second location of the “pay-it-forward” pizza shop is awaiting a city green-light at 16 S. 40th St.
This week’s closing
Alla Spina | Spring Garden
Corporate matster Urban Outfitters pulled the plug on the Italian beer bar that Marc Vetri, Jeff Benjamin, and crew opened at 1410 Mount Vernon St. in 2012.
Your dining questions, answered
Reader: I saw you’re a fan of the “New England-style” IPA trend. Can you recommend some local versions to try?
Craig LaBan: I’ve complained for years about the over-hopping of IPAs as the West Coast style took over American craft beer culture in increasingly exaggerated examples. I prefer subtlety and balance. More is not always more. Just as the hottest pot of chili isn’t always best, neither is a beer so intensely bitter with hops that it will peel the enamel off your teeth. But the recent boom in New England-style IPAs (also known as East Coast-style), where the hops are added much later in the process to accentuate the fruity flavors and aroma rather than bitter qualities, has been a revelation to me and given me a new appreciation for why people are crazy about various hop varieties to begin with. Hazy and unfiltered Vermont cult beers like Heady Topper helped launch the trend. But local brewers have taken up the style with fervor, too. Tired Hands in Ardmore has been a trend-setter in that genre around here, especially with some of its one-off special canned releases. But I’ve enjoyed several other examples, including Cloudy With A Chance of Charcuterie from Free Will Brewing to Cloudy and Cumbersome from Levante Brewing, to Stable 12’s Crowd Pleaser, and one of my new favorites, Fuego from Tonewood Brewing, which has brought the freshly brewed joys of dank and juicy IPA to South Jersey.