Merely farm-to-city concepts having achieved the status of what-else-is-new?, perhaps the time is ripe for MidAtlantic, which at 37th and Market (on the ground floor of a sterile ice cube of a Science Center, no less) is taking a slightly different bite of that chestnut.
Once upon a time, dating to 1840, German brewing in Philadelphia was a powerful presence; inhalable, in fact: "The air was as nourishing as vaporized bread," the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin noted, bemoaning the smothering hand that Prohibition visited on neighborhoods once populated by stout brewmasters, "titanic drivers in leather aprons," and giant draft horses, and on evenings that had been alive with drinking songs and "the guttural language of Goethe and Schiller."
Rick Nichols: It's never easy for the new kid. But after a rocky launch, Darling's at the Piazza at Schmidt's is aiming for that diner groove.
Owner Harry Darling is jotting down the wish list - for a genuine Northeast-style patty melt, creamed chipped beef, more stuff on bagels, bowls of oatmeal.
Were it located in the genteel wilds of Birchrunville, Chester County, say, or Malvern, even, green farmlands lapping at the doorstep, Osteria's poignant gesture to fresh and local might not be that much worth the noting.
A certain learning curve has been required in the case of Bebe, the latest of a small wave of barbecue joints - Oh, happy days! - to achieve toeholds in what might be described as underserved precincts of the city.
Rick Nichols is a Philadelphia native (a product of rowhouse Mayfair) who moved as a child to Lower Bucks County and later to New England. He graduated from the University of North Carolina and worked on the newspaper in Raleigh. After a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard, he joined The Inquirer in 1978. He was for many years a member of the Editorial Board, and has several journalism awards.