Jul 24, 2015

Dinner in Philly

Philadelphia Philly Zahav Mike Solomonov Greg Vernick Laurel Eli Kulp Fork CITY GRITchefs

It's not news that Philadelphia has a hot food scene thanks to some pretty badass OG Philly pioneers. Philly is bursting at the seams with young, talented chefs, not to mention the small exodus of sorts we've started to see — chefs, not to mention the small exodus of sorts we've started to see — chefs leaving some of NYC's finest kitchens and moving to Philly to make their own mark. 

Alla Spina—  A part of the Vetri Family Restaurants, this "Italian Gastropub" serves Chef/Owner Jeff Michaud's delicious bites, a selection of almost 100 different beers (20 on tap; 75 bottle) and our personal favorite — Negronis on Tap! Don't miss the "Italian" Poutine with Mozzarella Curd and Guinea Hen Leg Bolognese (Also serving Brunch on Sunday.) 

Fork Restaurant— Chef Eli Kulp has some serious chops. He's a Del Posto and Torrisi alum and is making great use of those experiences at the helm of the kitchen at Fork and High Street Market. Do not miss the Crispy Chicken Nuggets (yes- we did say Chicken Nuggets), Fluke, Scallop Crudo, Smoked Char, and any of the pastas. (Also serving Lunch and Brunch on Sunday.)

Barbuzzo— A great chance to eat Chef/Owner Marcie Turney's mouthwatering dishes— this time with flavors from the Mediterranean— and one of the few spots in Philly open late night. Don't miss the Burrata with Roasted Carrots, Uovo Pizza, or the Salted Caramel Budino (rated best dessert in Philly!) Open for Lunch and Dinner

Vernick— This Jean Georges Alum's debut restaurant will certainly be the first of many great spots by Chef/Owner Greg Vernick. Sit at the gorgeous bar and enjoy one of Vincent Stipo's amazing cocktails, enjoy the hustle and bustle of the open kitchen in the back dining room, or sit upstairs for a romantic night out. Don't miss the Chili-Glazed Octopus or the Arctic Char with Crispy Skin and Dill. (Closed Mondays.)

Ela— Chef/Owner Jason Cichonski is creating some of the most unique bites we've had in the city. We're obsessed with the Pretzeled Risotto and the Short Ribs! Also, try all of the cocktails— we dare you. (Also serving Brunch on Sunday.)

Jul 2, 2015

Noshin' in Nashville

Nashville should be on everyone's food radar at this point, but if not let us tell you why it should be...  Yeah Hot Chicken is awesome, but there is so much more coming out of this new food mecca.  
Nashville’s vibrant dining scene is one of the main reasons why it was Number 15 on The New York Times’ list of 52 Places to Visit in 2014! After enjoying the fare of these two chefs, you'll see for yourself why it's such a hot destination.
 
CITY HOUSE— Most locals regale Chef Tandy Wilson as the pioneer who brought downtown back. CITY HOUSE is the fan favorite among chefs and where many of them eat on their nights off. Reservations are recommended, but we also enjoy sitting at the bar, stuffing our faces with pastas and pizzas while watching the bartenders whip up amazing cocktails and swooning over their selection of bourbons. 
Peg Leg Porker— Carey Bringle just might be the best story teller of all time, he also makes his own bourbon which is seriously good. Don't make a trip to Nashville without a stop into his BBQ spot. Pro tip: order the Wings, Ribs, and Pulled Pork Nachos and grab a seat at the bar where they have loads of fun drinks and BUSHWACKERS on tap! 
Farm House— And while we had our plates full eating our way through over 30 spots in three days, there was one spot that was so special that we ate there twice. This. Is. Unheard. Of. But Trey Cioccia of The Farm House had us at Hot Chicken with Biscuit Puree, so before we’d even paid the bill at lunch, we had ourselves a late night dinner reservation for the next evening.
Josephine— Andrew Little's seasonal dishes bring elevated farmhouse fare to Nashville. With simple dishes focused on local ingredients and a wine list that makes us swoon, Josephine cannot be missed. We go crazy for all of the small plates, but for dinner, you can't go wrong with the Beef Cheeks, Duck Risotto, or the Scallops. 
Rolf and Daughters— We love the food at Rolf & Daughters so much it made the list of our top five favorite restaurants of 2013. Every detail is attended to, and each bite seems more delicious than the last. We recommend the Bucatini Fra Diavolo, the Squid Ink Canestri, and the Cauliflower Farrow Plate, but you can't go wrong with anything on the menu. 

Jun 30, 2015

Five Things Not to Miss on Long Island

As Fourth of July weekend rapidly approaches and you scramble to get a last minute seat on the Jitney, we are here to put your mind at ease for when you finally disembark on your journey from the mean streets of the city to the literally greener pastures of the East End of Long Island! Here are some spots we can't return to the city without visting when we're out East.

Magic Fountain— What's summer without ice cream? What's a trip to the North Fork without Magic Fountain? Simply incomplete. We love this long-standing ice cream shop and the range of flavors available. The homemade ice cream is seasonal, so look out for some of our favorite flavors, including cocnut avocado and lavender!

The Dock Bar— There are few things we appreciate more than a cheeky chalkboard, and The Dock Bar is one of the few places that consistently delivers. A traditionally "anti-Hamptons" spot, The Dock serves some of the best bar food we've ever had with equally great beers, not to mention $1 drafts. Order the Nachos and The Fish Sandwich, but save room for dessert, the peanut butter pie is the star of the meal. In fact, order the pie first and then your meal— it's THAT good. 

1943 Pizza Bar— As New Yorkers, native or honorary, it's important to always have a plan for pizza in your travels. 1943 Pizza Bar grew out of the pizza truck, Rolling in Dough, and its brick and mortar does not disappoint. With customizable pies with toppings that include Mashed Potatoes and Fresh Little Neck Clams, you're sure to find your pizza destiny at 1943, but do NOT forget to order the meatballs. 

Shinn Estate Vineyards and Farmhouse— We wouldn't send you to Long Island Wine Country without suggesting at least one Vineyard to visit! Shinn Estate makes some of the best wine on the East End, and we want to move in to the cozy farmhouse inn and never return to city life. The tasting room is open daily throughout the summer and in addition to the delicious wines (we love the Wild Boar Doe and the Sauvignon Blanc), they serve cheese and charcuterie. But best of all, there is a monthly farm dinner on the property that combines all of the best local produce, and of course Shinn Estate wines. You won't want to miss it!

Briermere Farm— As your holiday weekend comes to a close, you can savor the very best of Long Island by bringing some of it back with you. Stop by Briermere Farm and pickup some goods made on the farm: jams, breads, and pastries to bring back with you, but while you're there, get the Raspberry Cream Pie for yourself. It needs to be eaten cold, so bring some forks and eat it on your way back to the city if you can handle the envious glares and occassional salivation from your seatmates. 

 

Jun 20, 2015

Make Dad's Day

We're taking a break from our tasting notes for some shameless self-promotion. Haven't picked up something special for Dad on his special day?

Well, you can make Dad's day with one of our fancy Fried Chicken Kits and Dipping Sauces available exclusively online and in stores at Williams-Sonoma!

Tags Fried Chicken Williams-Sonoma Father's Day Make Dad's Day

Jun 18, 2015

Virginia is For Lovers

What started out as a visit to our friends at Rappahannock ended up being a blossoming romance with a new city. Had we been better versed in the depth of the Richmond food scene, we would have allowed ourselves more time for our culinary adventure. Here are our must-eats to prevent you from making the same mistake we did, (we ended up changing our flight to keep eating and drinking and taking all of Richmond). So save a long weeekend for this trip, or just get flight insurance.

Dutch & Company – 400 N 27th St. (Church Hill)

Caleb Shriver and Phillip Perrow’s new(ish) neighborhood gem is a tiny restaurant with giant flavors and a lesson in precise technique. There’s no better deal than their three-course prix-fixe at $28 for an appetizer, entree and dessert. May we recommend the Perfect Egg, Rabbit (Loin & Belly Roulade, Meatball, Pierogi), and the Honey Pot!

The Roosevelt – 623 N25th St. (Church Hill)

Lee Gregory is our kind of chef serving our kind of food. His elevated take on southern classics is one of the most innovative in the country. We almost died over the Gnocchi with Lamb Chorizo Ragout & Littlenecks. Thank goodness the Flounder with Sticky Rice and Curried Peanut Sauce saved our lives. Treat yo’self to the Stagg Manhattan (trust us, it’s worth it!) or a bottle off the list featuring only Virginia wines.  (Brunch on Sunday)

The Magpie – 1301 W Leigh St. (Carver)

Owen Lane and Tiffany Gellner’s spot may be RVA’s best kept secret. A top destination for chefs when they’re out of their own kitchens. We loved everything, but the House Made Sausage with Pear Butter, Bleu Cheese, Mint and Pistachio, as well as the Venison with Popcorn Grits are two standouts! Next time, we’re going for brunch and ordering the Savory Bread Pudding made with Sugar Shack Donuts! (Brunch only on Sunday)

Rappahannock- 320 E. Grace St. (Downtown)

In October, Zagat named Travis Croxton (who owns Rappahannock with his cousin, Ryan), number 14 on its list of the "24 Restaurant-World Power Players.” One step into the restaurant and you’ll understand why.

He’s managed to transport the magic of Chesapeake Bay dining into the center of downtown RVA. He also managed to snag Dylan Fultineer, a baller chef from Chicago’s Blackbird, who has created a menu that’s a seafood lover’s dream. (Closed Monday; opens at 3 PM on weekends)

Rogue Gentleman – 618 N 1st St  (Jackson Ward)

This pre-Prohibition speakeasy specializes in “craft libations with house-made bitters, sugars and oils,” which falls right into our wheelhouse of consumption. We were crazy for the punches and the selection of barrel-aged cocktails. Bonus: They have Fernet Branca on tap!

Jun 15, 2015

Our Own Backyard: A Day in Queens

We spend so much time traveling we take for granted the fact that our own backyard stretches across five boroughs, providing countless food adventures at our fingertips! While Chinatown in Manhattan is nothing to ignore, Flushing, Queens is where you’ll find the real-deal Chinatown!

Queens is an easy trip on the 7 subway toward Queens, but a MUCH better idea is to take the LIRR and buy a "city ticket" — it's half the price of a regular ticket, and much more pleasant than the 7 train.

Bring friends, come hungry, and bring cash.

 

Golden Shopping Mall (41-28 Main Street)

This spot is hard to find. If you’re questioning your sense of direction because there’s no way we’d send you to such a sketchy looking spot, you’re definitely in the right place. On the corner of Main Street and 41st Rd, you’ll see a DVD shop. To the left of that shop is a flight of stairs heading down to the basement level food court housing some of the best Chinese food in North America.

One of you grab a table while the others hit up these four stalls, which we think are the cream of the crop!

Xi’an Famous Foods (41-28 Main Street) – While there will soon be 10 Xi’an Famous Foods locations around NYC, there’s something exciting about checking out the original spot. When you see where Jason Wang got his start, you will be even more appreciative of what he’s built from such humble beginnings! Wang may be from Xi’an, but he’s living the American dream! Order the Spicy Cumin Lamb Burger and the Cold Skin Noodles.

Tianjin Dumpling House (41-18 Main Street) – Honestly, these were the freshest dumplings we’ve ever eaten in our lives. In fact, on our last trip, the Chicken & Broccoli Dumplings inspired Sarah to completely overhaul the Chicken & Dumplings dish at Birds & Bubbles. You should limit yourself to two orders of dumplings max., (you have a lot more to eat today) so we recommend starting with the Chicken, and then choosing between the Lamb & Squash or the Pork & Chive.

Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodles (133-35 Roosevelt Ave., Ste 22) – This is your moment to show some patience. You’re hopefully sitting at a table full of dumplings and treats from Xi’an’s Famous Foods, and even though they are delicious, the smell of the broth from the Pork Meat Sauce Pulled Noodles you just bought is making you drool.

Give it a minute kids, because that soup is so dang hot it will scorch your tongue. Enjoy a few more dumplings and let it cool before you dive in!

Tinkongg Pancake House - Upstairs on the street level you’ll find a no name Pancake stall. You’re going to want to try the Stuffed Bun with Lamb, which is sure to be the best spin on a Sloppy Joe you'll ever eat!

Sifu Chio (40-09 Prince Street)

Get the Wonton Noodle Soup, Dumpling Trio, and Lo Mein Hong Kong Style. You’re Welcome. (Cash Only)

White Bear (135-02 Roosevelt Avenue, Ste 5)

The entrance is actually on Prince, so don't let the address make you miss the amazing Wontons in Chili Oil! You’re going to want to order more. Don’t do it. You have a lot of dumplings to eat today!

Nan Xiang Dumpling House (38-12 Prince Street)

Our top picks are the Shanghai Shao Mau, Scallion Pancake with Beef, and the winner, Xiao Long Bao— soup dumplings.

Spicy & Tasty (39-07 Prince Street)

Here you'll find straight up Szechuan food. We loved the Sesame Cold Noodle, Creamy Tofu & Minced Pork, and the Dan Dan Noodles. (Cash Only)

Fu Run (40-90 Prince Street)

It's a treat to pop into a spot where you can sit for a spell AND have access to a clean bathroom! Order the Muslim Lamb Chop and the Sour Cabbage Casserole. As soon as your main dishes come out put in your order for the Ba Si as it takes a while to get to the table, but will definitely be the most interesting take on a donut you've ever seen.

Iris Tea & Bakery (3907 Prince Street, Ste 1 J)

Iris is by far the best pastry shop in the 'hood. Take advantage of the tables and chairs and enjoy some Trunk Bread and the Mange Red Bean Roll. If you really can’t eat anymore — we have not taught you properly — but, at the very least, take some treats home with you to keep your food crawl going well beyond when you leave Flushing!

  

Jun 8, 2015

We left our heart in San Francisco!

We feel like the theme of this year could be "Going Back To Cali" because we've spent a good amount of time on the West Coast. There are worse lots in life! This is our top five from our last trip!

Souvla

FINALLY! We had a chance to pop into Chef Charles Bililies’ fantastic Greek Sandwich Shop. We’re still arguing over whether we love the Chicken Salad or the Lamb Gyro more. Why argue when you can just order them both? And since you’re going all out, don’t miss the fries!

BDK

This new hotel bar features bites from Top Chef Alum, Heather Terhune and an extensive cocktail list from Kevin Diedrich who we first fell for at Bourbon & Branch. Chef Heather’s biscuit gives us a run for our money and Kevin’s Snap Pea Cocktail is the epitome of spring in a glass.

Octavia

We’re big fans of Frances, so we were anxious to check out Chef Melissa Perello’s latest and greatest. Her take on the “Deviled Egg” is nothing short of genius. And while we are craving warm weather, we’d eat her Green Garlic Soup on the hottest day!

Liholiho Yacht Club

We’ve been following Chef Ravi Kapur since his supper club days, so we were like kids at Christmas when we finally had a chance to eat the food at his new restaurant.

The Octopus changed our life. And the Fried Cornish Hen made us mad we hadn’t thought about it for the Birds & Bubbles menu. But the Baked Hawaii was the showstopper! Oh, and all of the cocktails!

Café Du Nord

We are all Thomas all the time! Yes, Chef Thomas McNaughton is really on fire. Flour + Water has been a favorite of ours since it opened six years ago. And then we fell for Central Kitchen and got a huge crush on Trick Dog where the drinks are outstanding but the Kale Salad is the real star.

But now Chef Thomas and his team are really stealing our hearts with their latest venture – reopening Café Du Nord, the 100 year old Swedish American Hall.

We were lucky enough to be a part of the first dining experience in their majestic Hogwarts-esque dining room and are still in awe of how ridiculous this space is. It opens June 17th and the word on the street is all Champagne is 50% off after midnight. Sign. Us. Up.

 

Tags San Francisco Souvla

Hello Hollywood!

We recently spent two weeks in LA on official CITY GRIT business checking out the ever growing food scene. We visited over 70 spots ranging from a fancy night out at Maude to a stop at the Blue Corn Quesadilla lady in a random parking lot in Silver Lake. Here are our tasting notes:

Is leaving the skins on favas a thing?

Because we had more than one instance where it was a thing on our plate. And we were not fans. Especially when one of those plates is a part of a $110 tasting menu. We hope this isn’t a thing!

Can you actually marry a restaurant?

Because we may be in love with Republique. Everything from Chef Walter’s dishes to the impeccable wine list to the restaurant design itself make us swoon.

Terrine is the real deal.

And Chef Kris Morningstar is for sure a chef’s chef. It was by far the best service we experienced in LA and the food was just as on point. We loved the Terrine de Campagne and the Stuffed Bone Marrow!

Oh, and they serve brunch on Fridays – don’t miss the Pain Perdu!

Josef Centeno may be the most undercelebrated chef in LA.

We were so smitten with his food at The Ledlow and Baco Mercat that we booked a spot at the first seating at Orsa & Winston. It was hands down our favorite fine dining experience.

We saved the best for last.

We almost missed dinner at Alimento because our dining companions bailed at the last minute. Suffice to say we ordered enough for a four top and loved every bite. Chef Zack Pollack’s food is some of the most thoughtful and flavorful food we’ve eaten this year. We can't stop talking about the Chopped Salad. Or the Pig in a Blanket. Or the Octopus. Or the Beet Canederli.

 

Jun 5, 2015

Low Country Love

Charleston, South Carolina is our home away from home! Team CITY GRIT tries to make it down there at least once a year because we love the food and we love all of the people behind the food even more.

Next time you're lucky enough to be in town, make sure to say hi to our friends for us!

Edmund’s Oast

Ask our boy Jayce to make you a perfect cocktail. Or try one of the 40 beers on tap! Also we love the Charcuterie & the Pickled Shrimp!

The Ordinary

Chef Mike Lata’s BBQ Shrimp is plate-licking good. No really, it is so good we actually picked up our plate and licked it clean…at a table full of the country’s most influential food writers. What? We ain’t skerd.

 FIG

There is a reason why Chef Jason Stanhope won the James Beard award for the Best Chef Southeast. Basically because he is the man. And a wizard with vegetables. And a master of fish. And one of our favorite people ever born. Help us on our campaign to bring back the Coddled Egg by mentioning that you wish you could try it at least 17 times while you're there.

Butcher & Bee

Our pals Michael and Melody Shemtov are two of the coolest people we know and their spot, Butcher & Bee, proves that point! The menu changes daily but if the Pulled Squash Sandwich and the Kale Slaw are on the board – you must do it! Plus gotta respect the 10pm-2am Friday and Saturday dining option in a town where dinner service wraps up by 10 in most spots. This is definitely a chefs' favorite!

Xiao Bao Biscuit

Chef Joshua Walker had us at Asian Soul food! And once we finally got a taste of it there was no turning back. We fell in love. The Mapo Tofu, Okonomiyaki and the Pad Kra-Pow are three of the best things we ate in all of 2014!

Jun 4, 2015

Top Five in Toronto

When Sarah was a child her family took a trip to Toronto. It was her first time in a “big city” and she was so taken with it that she stood up to introduce herself to her fellow first graders on the first day of school and announced she “wanted to be a Canadian when she grew up.”

Cooking at the Terrior Symposium alongside some of North America’s best female chefs brought her back as a grown up. She didn’t come back with dual citizenship, but she had some tasty notes to share.

Shoto

We love Chef David Chang and think Shoto is our favorite of all the Momofuku restaurants. Try to snag a reservation for Tuesday or Wednesday when the tasting menu is only $95!

Bar Isabel

Order the El Vivaz and a Woman Scorned while you wait for a table; Don’t miss the Sweetbreads, Arbol Chili Chickpeas, and the Squid.

Parts and Labour

Chef Matty Matheson is our hero! You can’t go wrong with any of the dishes on his menu but we loved the Octopus.

Beast

Don’t tell Chef Scott Vivian but we have a big old crush on him! The Baby Bok Choy and Celery Root Steak blew our minds. Also don’t miss the Sweetbreads, Squid, and the Chocolate Banoffee Pie.

Home of the Brave

Order the Fried Bologna Sandwich, Philly Cheesesteak, and the Freedom Fries. Wash it down with a “Bourbon & Beer” which may be the best boozy root beer we’ve ever tasted.

Cambridge is the New Black!

Give our pal (and fellow CITY GRIT guest chef!) Chef Barry a high five because he just won the James Beard Award. He was one of the OG Chefs behind the boom that exploded into what is the amazing Cambridge dining scene. Word is he is moving on from Hungry Mother to work on some new projects. We're excited to see what's next for him. In the meantime, here are some of our best bites across the bridge in Boston!

Westbridge

If Chef Matthew is around, give him a hug from CITY GRIT! Also start with the Egg in a Jar, Skate Cheeks, and The Black Tuscan Kale. We will dream about the Venison for years.

Belly Wine Bar

Sommelier Liz Vilardi will blow your mind with her ridiculous wine lists! Just put yourself in her hands…after you order the salumi and cheese!

Oleana

Every morsel of Chef Ana Sortun’s food is amazing. We almost died over the Tunisian-Style Farm Egg Brik & Octopus Shish.

Sofra

We can’t get enough of Chef Ana. Or the Meze Platters. Or the Stuffed Flatbread!

Alden and Harlow

We'll take all the snacks. And pretty much everything Chef Michael Scelfo is serving up. As for the 16 hour Coppa, we'll take two!