Greetings. If you're a first-time "Let's Eat"-er, welcome. I'm Mike Klein and I've been writing about the Philly area's restaurant scene for 25 years. This weekly newsletter chronicles my jaunts around the region, digesting the openings and closings, hitting the new spots, and revisiting the old faithfuls. (Doubt you love your job as much as I do mine.)
This week, with fall in the air, I head up (to Attico Rooftop Bar) and outside (to the PHS Pop-Up Garden at 15th and South). I also drop in at Green Soul in Spring Garden, where soul food gets a fresh spin, and at Avola, a sharp-looking, ambitious Mediterranean in Malvern. (We suburbanites need to eat, too.)
You've heard the expression, "You can't eat the view." That's code for "the food can't possibly measure up." Now realize further that the lushly decorated Attico Rooftop Bar, now in soft-opening mode 16 floors above the street at the new Cambria Hotel on Broad Street across from the Bellevue, is a cocktail bar.
You might think this formula could work only if you seek simple snacks and beverages with coworkers. But a tasty dinner suitable for date night?
Bingo. Attico has a chef in charge (Ela's Jason Cichonski, managing the operation), as well as a solid hand in the kitchen. Matthew Gansert has worked in some of the city's better kitchens, including Will BYOB and Jaxon.
Menu isn't online, so I'll share it here.
You can opt for oysters or a cheese plate to accompany the cocktails and wines, but let Gansert cook for you. Maybe chicken liver mousse ($12) or shrimp and corn croquettes ($16) for starters, followed by New York strip carne salada ($27) with roasted shallots, fingerling potatoes, and mushrooms in a red wine jus; or a chicken-fried lobster sandwich ($26) topped with shaved fennel, lobster butter, and caviar on a Martin's potato roll; or the luscious pork and porcini ragu ($24) served over black-pepper radiatore made by Cichonski's Little Noodle company.
Elevated, in other words.
Attico, accessible by an elevator just inside the hotel entrance, will be open year-round. The bar and some seating is set inside a glass conservatory-like enclosure bordered on two sides by a roomy patio with outdoor furniture. It opens at 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. Monday hours start Oct. 15.
Bardea | Wilmington
Perhaps downtown Wilmington is a bit far afield, but this involves Scott Stein and Antimo DiMeo of Arde in Wayne. It's a polished Italian with tin ceilings and 20-seat bar.
Green Line Cafe | Queen Village
The West Philly-rooted coffee/light-food spot just took over for Milk & Honey at the corner of Fourth and Gaskill, just off South Street.
Green Soul | Spring Garden
Honeygrow's test kitchen | Fishtown
The fast-casual eatery's headquarters (1601 N. Front) opened a takeout window to customers who order via its app (as well for delivery through Caviar). Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. It will be open from 5 to 8 p.m. for First Friday this week as well as 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for Saturday's Fishtown Flea.
R&D | Fishtown
The smart-looking Root restaurant (1206 Frankford) has been reimagined as a cocktail bar, cloistered behind curtains in a dated speakeasy-like setting.
Saxbys | Wynnefield
Joe arrives at St. Joe's: The local coffee conglomerate installs another student-run cafe — its eighth — at St. Joseph's University, 5600 City Ave.
Bridgeview Cafe | Bridesburg
The neighborhood breakfast-luncher, which opened in the spring at 4600 Richmond St., said on Facebook that "personal reasons" are behind the sudden shutdown.
McFadden's at Citizens Bank Park | South Philadelphia
Oct. 7 is the finale after 14 seasons as the Phillies appear to be planning a food hall, including Shake Shack and (shhhh! possibly) Lorenzo & Son's pizza, among others.
PHS Pop-Up Garden, 1438 South St., 5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday
October might be the best month to visit the PHS's outdoor venue: cool temps, lower humidity, falling leaves putting an end to Jenga games. Try happy hour before it closes on Halloween: mulled wine, hot chocolate spiked with Single Prop rum, and pumpkin spice margaritas for $5, some beers priced at $3, beef and vegan hot dogs for $2, a bowl of Khyber Pass Pub chili for $5, and make-your-own s'mores in the fire pit for $2. You can also splurge by opting for the regular menu. I'd recommend the cauliflower hummus ($9) or the Triangle Tavern meatball sandwich ($12).
Green Soul, 1410 Mount Vernon St.
Soul food gets a healthful update at Robert and Ben Bynum's latest restaurant, next door to their jazz-themed South, just off North Broad Street. They've inherited the former Alla Spina's great bones — high ceilings, loft seating beneath the bar, floor-to-ceiling garage doors — whitewashing the brick walls, covering up Alla Spina's graffiti, and adding reclaimed wood.
Chef Lauren Weitman hits the local/seasonal/sustainable notes — a raw vegetable plate with green goddess dressing, mango jerk salmon atop a salad, North Africa-style chicken in a bowl with couscous, and a "Soul Bowl" of root vegetables, farro, and barley. There's no beef or pork.
Cocktails hew to the healthful ethos: a pomegranate kombucha cosmo on draft, a sweet potato maple Manhattan (containing house-made sweet potato syrup and New Liberty bourbon), for example.
It's open Tuesday to Sunday. At weekday lunch, you order at a kiosk and sit in the dining room. Dinner is full-service.
Avola Kitchen & Bar, 625 N. Morehall Rd., Malvern
The crew from Malvern's Twenty9 and Media's Stephens on State and Lariele Wood Fired Square Pie and the kitchen team from the now-shuttered gem Junto are behind this mod, dramatic Mediterranean bar-restaurant at the end of a strip center tucked off Route 29 and next to a Naf Naf Grill and Bryn & Dane's.
They're going local with ingredients, and Southern Italian small plates predominate. Pastas, notably the Sardinian-influenced gnocchetti in the photo, are a good option. Tucked in the back is a big-belly oven for thin-crust, personal-size pizzas.