On Chicken Tuesday, bird and brew for $18
Here is an excerpt of Craig LaBan's online chat of Sept. 24, 2013:
Craig LaBan: I was at Resurrection Ale House to celebrate Chicken Tuesday, a new feature where the kitchen only turns out plates of chicken - two pieces, salad, and garlicky herb-butter-glazed corn bread, plus a can of Resurrection Ale from Brewer's Art in Baltimore - for $18. Nothing else will be served before 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, but really, what else is necessary other than bird+brew? The chicken was even better than I remember - shatteringly crisp outside, juicy inside, and just enough Sriracha heat added to the honey sauce that it didn't become cloyingly sweet.
Reader: Why doesn't PA have any great breweries? Troeg's and Yard's are OK, but not really up to the national standards.
C.L.: Are you trying to start a riot here? Read my account of spring's Brewvitational competition for local beer, and you'll see you are very wrong. So much variety here, so much craftsmanship . . . lots of exciting newcomers.
Reader: Are most of those beers available other than at the brewery? Neshaminy is, but it is average, same for Old Forge. I forgot about Weyerbacher, that is real solid.
Reader: [That reader] must not be looking hard enough. The greater Philadelphia region and PA at large has a ton of great breweries. Some adventurous local micros that come to mind: Spring House, Tired Hands, Earth Bread, Forest & Main. Plus the standbys like Dock Street, Nodding Head, and Triumph. Plus even the bigger boys such as Yards and PBC have some varieties well above average.
C.L.: He's not looking hard enough, or tasting enough. Victory and Sly Fox also deserve mention, as does McKenzie's Brew House. The suburban newcomers you mentioned - Tired Hands and Forest & Main - are especially interesting. So are the increasingly available beers from Shawnee Craft.
Reader: What beers do you usually pair with a good, old-fashioned, no-nonsense juicy burger? I usually go with Pikeland Pils because it's available in a lot of taverns, but I would really want to try something different, maybe Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale?
C.L.: Funny you should say that - DH's Indian Brown Ale is one of my top burger beers, for sure - especially if you decide to top it with blue cheese.
Reader: What's the difference in start-up cost for a restaurant in the city as opposed to the burbs? A lot of new openings popping up on the Main Line and in South Jersey that look promising.
C.L.: Well, the start-up costs range widely. You can start a bare-bones BYO in the city for $100,000 to $200,000 (and I've heard of a few doing it for less), an affordability that has been part of the allure to Philly for so much young talent. But you're talking smaller spaces here, and limited income without the liquor license. Suburban real estate is generally less expensive . . . but more expansive, and places like Cherry Hill, where liquor licenses have gone for over $1 million, have their own expense.
Reader: Have you tried the "Chinese Burger" at the place that replaced Szechuan Tasty House? Awesome version of Chinese pork in a bun.
C.L.: I've had a version of that at the Happy Noodle Bar nearby at 927 Race. Not bad. But am looking forward to digging into the rendition at Xi'an Sizzling Woks. Had some very good western Chinese fare there so far.