Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat:
Reader: What was the point of the article about Talula's other than it is hard to run a successful restaurant and stay married; interested in what you are doing; and successful if not teamed with a chain . . . like Stephen Starr. It seems making money in the restaurant biz is not easy as an independent.
CL: Those are some of the points, but more than that, I think Aimee Olexy and Bryan Sikora have been such an important presence on the Philly dining scene for so long, and made such an impact in terms of their craft, that people care what happens to that place, and to them.
Reader: Thanks for the Talula's article. I don't think I was the only one wondering how the place was faring after Bryan's departure, and what was going to happen to a one-of-a-kind place often compared to famous spots like French Laundry and Chez Panisse. Sad story, but I for one am glad the show will go on.
CL: Talula's is definitely a special place, and remains so. Aimee definitely has the skill and staff to keep it rolling.
Reader: I don't think that many people really care about them or the restaurant. You are looking at it through your eyes as a food writer and I think that may be a little self indulgent. . . . We may like reality shows, but it was much to do about nothing. I bet there are lots of husband-and-wife teams you could write about, or are they the only ones in Philadelphia?
CL: In my opinion, part of the reason this story was so compelling is because Philly DOES have so many husband-wife restaurant duos. It is part of what makes this city's dining scene so special, really, that personality and intimacy and the sense of ownership you get from eating in a small Philly BYO. So I think there was a cautionary tale in there, too. Running a restaurant is hard enough, running it with your spouse is a double challenge when things don't go well. So that virtue of having so many husband-wife restaurant teams has a flip side: it may also be one of our most vulnerable aspects too.
Reader: I live in Lower Bucks County and enjoy nothing more than a good pizza. We frequent Bertuccis strictly for its pizzas and find them quite good. Do you have any suggestions for any locally owned pizza places in Lower Bucks County?
CL: As chains go, Bertucci's is generally better than you'd expect. My advice is to stick with the pizzas (not pastas), and go for a simple pie. As for Bucks County, I'd give Jules Thin Crust (Doylestown, Newton and Jenkintown) consideration. It's quite different - really a thin, crispy sheet with light toppings that's sold by the inch, but I liked it a lot-especially the whole-wheat crust. Bucks County, though, is not far from Trenton, where the pizza is always good. I've yet to get to the newer DeLorenzo's location in Robinsville, but their pizza at the old Chambersburg place was epic.
Reader: Where have you found great versions of chilaquiles in town? The best I've had have been at Cafe con Chocolate.
CL: Andy - I don't get out for brunch often so my chilaquiles history is limited. The Dos Segundos version was pretty good. I actually remember also eating a good one at Memphis a couple years back. Given the number of great authentic taquerias we've got in town, I'm sure there are numerous others.
Reader: With the Head House market starting back up this Sunday, are there any vendors, or specific items you would recommend? I know there will be some new vendors as well, including a sausage truck.
CL: We are psyched as a family to return to Head House Square's market this Sunday. We've gotten a reasonably good market fix elsewhere in the past couple months, but I crave the produce explosion at Head House Market in spring. Blooming Glen, the produce place right at the southern end, usually has some gorgeous stuff. So does Weaver's Way. I'm going to have a hard time steering my crew away from the world's best tacos al pastor from Los Taquitos de Puebla-but a sausage truck just might do it.
Reader: Any suggestions for brunch spots in Rittenhouse? I always find myself trekking to NoLibs or Bella Vista to avoid Marathon and the delicious (but expensive) Parc brunch in Rittenhouse.
CL: Brunch is not Rittenhouse's best meal. But there is Ants Pants Cafe (2200 block of South), Cafe Lutecia (23d and Lombard), and Cafe Apamate (1600 block of South) to name a few. . . .
Reader: I am a big fan of pork cutlets. I have enjoyed the wonderful cutlet at Syrenka for years (Polish restaurant in Port Richmond). A side of their potato pancakes doesn't hurt. Do you know any place that makes a real good Italian style pork cutlet, such as milanese, in Philly or the burbs?
CL: I love Syrenka's cutlet. As for the Italian rendition, the best two I've had around here were at Osteria and Alba. (And Amis does another worthy variation with turkey . . . small, but nice).