Monthly Archives: November 2013

Vidalia, Farragut North

Source: DCDining

I haven’t reviewed a meal at the great Vidalia in far, far too long. On a frigid, torrential Tuesday before Thanksgiving (when, of course, the parking meter wasn’t working and I got soaked), I stepped into Vidalia looking like a wet rat.

“Sommelier” Ed Jenks is now “GM” Ed Jenks.

“GM” Mike Nevarez is now “Director of Operations” Mike Nevarez.

And of course, executing Vidalia’s classic southern menu is now Chef Hamilton Johnson.

The bar menu online is from June 4th and is a bit outdated, but my friend stuck with bar bites and got more than his share of food for a whole lot less money than I paid; I was in a more celebratory mood, and wanted to see what this kitchen could do for me, so I went all-out with the Shenandoah Lamb Loin ($36.50), several medallions of loin with perfect fat-to-lean ratio, served with lamb-shoulder truffle bread pudding, scooped balls of butternut squash, fennel marmalade, pear, and lamb jus. A great, satisfying, fully composed dish topped with shavings of black truffle, served in a very Cam-like fashion in that everything was warm, but nothing was hot, and so the top end of the flavor profile was not lopped off. This was an extremely complex, luxurious dish that lost nothing when it slowly fell to room temperature as I nibbled and picked at it over the course of a good 45 minutes – it wasn’t a huge portion, and I left comfortably full and not stuffed, as I didn’t order an appetizer or dessert.

I’ve heard for a long time that Chef Johnson had really come into his own in taking control of Vidalia’s modern Southern menu, and on this desolate evening (the restaurant was very empty due to the day, the weather, and the week), it was obvious that was the case.

It’s hard not to go for the relatively inexpensive Bar Bites (especially when you’re sitting at the bar!), but I’m looking forward to seeing more of Chef Johnson’s handiwork in the future, and his best work almost surely lies in the more complex plates that challenge him the most.

Kudos also to our wonderful bartender, James, who graciously allowed us to overstay our visit and catch up over a few drinks, after the check was closed and as the staff was trying to clean up and get out early. In no way did we feel rushed or pressured; to the contrary, we were made to feel like family which is remarkable given the confluence of weather, evening, and week. Thank you to Vidalia for making us feel so welcome.

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Sixth Engine turns its patio into a Christmas tree lot for charity

Source: Washington Post Going Out Guide

Christmas tree lots pop up everywhere this time of year: church parking lots, gas stations and, on Massachusetts Avenue NW, a restaurant’s front patio. From today through Christmas, Sixth Engine’s spacious outdoor dining area is filled with rows of Douglas and Fraser firs, measuring anywhere from four to eleven feet tall, as well as wreaths and […]

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The Dirt: What To Get At The Farmer’s Market This Weekend

Source: Philadelphia Magazine » Foobooz


Good thing we got our most dogmatic of food holidays out of the way for the year. Seriously. It’s as though the one rule about Thanksgiving is that we don’t talk about anything BUT Thanksgiving.  So I’m not giving you yet another “innovative” take on how to recycle your leftovers or make a better turkey sandwich, only vegetables. Heads up though: If the Headhouse Farmer’s Market is your market of choice, you’ll have to wait until December 8th to restock, as market vendors are taking a week off to recover from Turkey Day. The Clark Park Market will be operating, ...

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San Francisco, San Mateo, and Fremont, CA

Source: DCDining

I recently spent 8 nights in the Bay Area of California: 3 evenings in San Francisco, 1 evening in San Mateo, and 4 evenings in Fremont.

Here are some reviews from my trip – sing to the tune of “I left my heart (and various other body parts) in San Francisco”

San Francisco

10/26 Delfina

10/27 Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick

10/27 La Coqueta

10/28 Rich Table

San Mateo

10/29 Sushi Sam’s


10/30 Pizza and Curry (also 10/31)

11/1     In-N-Out Burger

11/2    Dosa Hut

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Highway To The Danger Zone: A Top Gun Themed Menu At Franklin Mortgage

Source: Philadelphia Magazine » Foobooz


Franklin Mortgage is known for constructing intricate, endlessly referential cocktail menus that touch on literature, classic film and alcohol’s historical place in the American consciousness. And on Sunday, December 1, they’re bringing this all together for one night of cocktails based on the movie Top Gun.

No, really. They’ve got guest bartender Michael Buonocore from Vernick behind the stick and a whole menu of drinks already planned. One of them is called “Jeans and Volleyball” You know you want to see it. And if I wasn’t going to be spending my Sunday trying to escape from the frozen ...

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Plenty Cafe Opens on Spruce Today

Source: Philadelphia Magazine » Foobooz


The second location of Plenty Cafe opens today at 1602 Spruce Street. Like its East Passyunk original, Plenty will be be a welcome addition to its neighborhood. The bi-level cafe offers coffee, sandwiches, salads and cafe fare. Breakfast and lunch will be available beginning at 6 a.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends.

The opening menu will include dishes inspired by owners Anthony and Damon Mascieri’s travels around the world:

  • Madrileño, beef and chorizo meatballs with roasted poblano peppers, house saffron aioli and shaved Manchego cheese on toasted ciabatta
  • Seoul, Bulgolgi-style beef short ribs with house pickled daikon ...

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Thanksgiving Leftovers And Bourbon Dinner at Ela

Source: Philadelphia Magazine » Foobooz

jason-cichonski-vertSo now that the big day is over, what’s the second-best thing about Thanksgiving? Leftovers. And while you may be perfectly happy with turkey-and-stuffing sandwiches or just eating mashed potatoes out of the bowl with your fingers, the crew at Ela is doing something a little classier.

On Wednesday, December 4 at 7pm, chef Jason Cichonski and Ela are doing a one-time-only Thanksgiving Leftovers And Bourbon dinner. Four courses, $55 a head, and all the bourbon is being provided by Jim Beam. The cocktails are being designed by Ela’s bartenders. The kitchen crew is putting the menu together. And you ...

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Jack Rose Celebrating Repeal Day with 1930′s-inspired Fête on Thurs, Dec. 5th

Source: PoPville

2007 18th Street, NW

From a press release:

“There’s no better place to celebrate the abolition of the booze-prohibiting 18th amendment than a place with the largest selection of whiskey in the Western hemisphere. Jack Rose Dining Saloon is celebrating the day alcohol was made legal once again with its ...

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Hilltop Bar and Restaurant Hoping to Open in January on Sherman Ave

Source: PoPville

2737 Sherman Avenue, NW at Girard

A reader writes in asking about the progress at the Hilltop Bar and Restaurant coming to the corner of Girard and Sherman Ave, NW. I’m happy to share word from the owner who says they hope to finish up construction in December. Stand by ...

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The Gastronaut: Hey Santa …

Source: Philadelphia Magazine » Foobooz

Illustration by Kagan McLeod

Illustration by Kagan McLeod

Dear Santa,

I’ve come to you in years past asking for a lot of stuff for the Philadelphia food scene, but, selfless font of awesomeness that I am, I’m once again using up all my Christmas wishes to make my adopted home as wonderful as possible for those of us who find life’s most sublime joys at the end of a fork.

You’ve already come through for me big-time. When we needed noodle shops, you inspired half a dozen different restaurateurs to open noodle shops. When we needed Cuban food, you got all up in Jose ...

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Where We’re Eating: SoWe in Graduate Hospital

Source: Philadelphia Magazine » Foobooz

sowe-bar-400I’ve gotten better service at the DIY froyo place off South Street than I did at SoWe. One Saturday night, I made a reservation for 8:15. The table wasn’t ready then, so our party of four was ushered outside, where we waited five minutes for a server, and then another 10 minutes for the drinks she forgot to bring us. The cocktails were comped, which almost made up for the fact that it was nearly 9 p.m. when we were finally seated—at a hastily arranged table outside the dining room, next to the bar, with broken hinges that kept ...

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Boundary Stone, Bloomingdale

Source: DCDining

Earlier this week, I met an old friend for drinks, and given that it was a Monday, our options were limited. We started checking off places, “Just went,” “Nah,” “Closed,” etc., and then Boundary Stone was presented to me as an option.


On an icy-cold Monday, when I froze trying to find the place despite getting a great parking space, my friend had come early and snagged a couple seats at the end of the bar. Interestingly, she’d met a husband and wife who are just about to start an independent coffee roasting company here in DC – I’ll find out some more information about this when I can.

I was adequately warned that Boundary Stone isn’t a threat to win any culinary awards, but, especially given the frigid, windy weather outside, I was there for one reason and one reason only: whiskey.

They had a Willet single-barrel selection advertised on the chalkboard for $9, and I ordered it, and drained them dry – there wasn’t even a full pour left, so my (fantastic) bartender gave me a break on the price.

Wondering what to order next, he told me that Boundary Stone had recently bought an entire barrel from Woodford – 180 bottles worth which were stored in six-pack cases on top of their bar. A little worried about the price, my mind was put at ease when I found out it, too, was $9. (Incidentally, there’s a City Paper article about this here.)

I’m not necessarily the biggest Woodford fan there is, but since they hand-selected their own barrel (and these guys are serious about whiskey), I was comfortable ordering a glass. And a second. And a third. While I tend to steer towards the rye end of the spectrum, at one point I unselfishly said to the bartender, “I have to support my friends,” while selfishly enjoying this smooth, ample, fine Bourbon. One of the glasses was comped.

A little problem became a bigger problem, as I hadn’t eaten all day. The people next to us had ordered several things, one of which was Boundary Stone’s Chili Cheese Half Smoke ($12), the half-smoke itself made by our own 13th Street Meats, and topped with house-made chili and aged Vermont cheddar. Doesn’t this sound like a great sandwich? Well, it was pretty darned good, in a slutty sort of way, and came with a mound of fries. I knew this wasn’t going to be enough food for me, so I ordered a second one, hold the fries – I didn’t get a discount, but I did get offered a substitute (which I politely declined – at this point, I was in chili-dog scarfing mode, and I wasn’t about to let a salad stand in my way).

Okay, Boundary Stone serves not much more than good quality pub grub, but as a bar? Especially as a neighborhood whiskey and beer bar? It’s everything you could possibly ask for. And it’s for this reason that I’m raising Boundary Stone to Italic in the Dining Guide. This is a great local tavern.

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#OpenInPHL This Thanksgiving

Source: Philadelphia Magazine » Foobooz

Need a last second pie, or already plotting your escape from Thanksgiving with the family. The #OpeninPHL hashtag is here for you.

The post #OpenInPHL This Thanksgiving appeared first on Philadelphia Magazine.

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Farmers’ Cabinet Peeps Open Sutton’s Parlor

Source: Philadelphia Magazine » Foobooz

Ooh, electric lights.

Ooh, electric lights.

The Farmers’ Cabinet team has opened Sutton’s Parlor at 40 S 19th Street (the former Whistle Bar location). The craft cocktail bar is being run by Adam Kanter, former owner of Rum Bar. In addition to the cocktail program designed by Farmers’ Cabinet’s Paul MacDonald, Sutton’s Parlor has applied for a distilling license. That’s still three to six months out, but the idea will be cocktails made from handmade spirits.

This is the first new news from the Farmers’ Cabinet since they closed The Butcher and the Brewer on 11th Street last November.



More on ...

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