It was only a matter of time, really, before out-of-town chefs caught on to the top-notch dining scene in Philadelphia, bolstered equally by Philly’s own big-time restaurateurs like Stephen Starr, Jose Garces and Marc Vetri, along with the concentrated talents of bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) chef-owners who have elevated the region’s collective palate with inventive cooking. Add in Philly’s high quality of life and (still) affordable real estate and the result is an influx of chef imports planning to set up shop in the area. Already in 2012, New Yorkers Kim and Joe Carroll opened Fette Sau barbecue, while a Berwyn native who worked in London, New York and Washington, DC debuted Brit-inspired bistro The Mildred.There was also the reinvention of Le Bec-Fin by French Laundry vet Nicolas Fanucci. In 2013, Noord, a Dutch BYO from Chicago chef Joncarl Lachman, is slated to open on Tasker Avenue in East Passyunk. Also in Passyunk, one-time local chef Chris Lee will be developing a new concept where Salt and Pepper currently stands. Lee returns to the city after a highly touted stint in New York. Finally, PeterSerpico, of New York’s Momofuku fame, will be opening up an eponymously named eatery on South Street with the help of Stephen Starr.
|Tuna Belly at The Pickled Heron|
Because not everyone indulges in charcuterie, a new vegan renaissance, inspired by last year’s openings of fine dining mecca Vedge and fast foodery HipCityVeg, is making it even easier to eat deliciously in Philadelphia without animal products. Miss Rachel’s Pantry’s serves up a weekend farmhouse table prix-fixe meal, along with private parties for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Vegan Tree offers easygoing, eclectic fare, including stir-fries and smoothies. In 2013, more chefs at mainstream restaurants and gastropubs will develop their own vegan creations as demand continues to grow.
|Fresh cauliflower at Vedge|
2013 may well be the year of the noodle. After decades of a relatively ramen-free existence, Philly’s got a whole slew of new Japanese style joints: The past several months have seen the opening of Nom Nom Ramen in Rittenhouse Square, Market 16 Noodle Bar and Ramen Bar in University City, Hiro Ramen House in Washington Square and Terakawa Ramen in Chinatown. Each brings its own distinctive spins on the trend, offering quick and inexpensive eats to aspiring slurpers.
The Mid-Atlantic region is poised for some deep-fried crunch with a spate of new Southern-style eateries. On the heels of 2012’s stylish Rex 1516, which offers contemporary spins on classics such as savory shrimp-stuffed beignets, pork chops over rosemary grits and curried collard greens, come two more openings with sub-Mason-Dixon influences. The muffaletta-starved masses are welcoming a second location of Beck’s Cajun Café, a Reading Terminal Market gem, in 30th Street Station, and the Reading Terminal Market has likewise prepared for the arrival of Ms. Tootsie’s soul food stand, serving up chicken and waffles, candied yams and mac and cheese. Add in a swirl of fried chicken and biscuit dinners on menus around the city and the Southern trend seems to be catching on as surely as a pot of beans to a ham hock.
|Ms. Tootsie's |
[image source: soulsociety101]
Locally Made Spirits
With so many inspired bartenders making craft cocktails in the area, Philly deserves some original spirits to call its own, and the local distilling industry, with established favorites like Bluecoat gin, Vieux Carre absinthe and Snap liqueur, is seeing a boom. The latest entrees to the bar are Art in the Age’s Sage liqueur, Dad’s Hat Rye Whiskey (the first rye whiskey to be produced in Pennsylvania since Prohibition) and Pollyodd’s ’cellos (lemon, lime, orange and chocolate). Pollyodd even hopes to open its own retail outlet on Passyunk Avenue in 2013.