What a menu this week: Lots of news, a tale of a restaurant in transition, a new location on the way for Weavers Way co-op, food-truck-meets-political drama at the Jersey Shore, and word of the lobster roll that rocked my world.
Speaking of which: Today, we’re launching a feature about dishes that we’re officially in love with. As in, dishes worth driving an hour for. Love, like good food, is meant to be shared, so we’re asking you to weigh in on your own favorites. Read on.
But first, a quiz:
Raising Cane’s, a popular fast-food chain selling chicken fingers, opens its first Philadelphia location on Thursday. Fans, known as Cainiacs, really love the Cane’s sauce, a mayo-ketchup situation. What is the sauce’s secret ingredient, according to online speculation?
A) pickle juice
B) Worcestershire sauce
C) hot sauce
D) Creole mustard
Click here for the answer, and all you need to know about Cane’s.
We ❤️ this: The lobster roll from La La Lobster
We’re always hunting for dishes to love. And we love sharing the love. Today, I submit to you the lobster roll from Bucks County-based La La Lobster, which is delicious in its simplicity.
Where many other rolls are of the Maine variety, with a mayo dressing, La La’s signature is Connecticut-style. To let the lobster shine, it gets only a swipe of lemon butter amped by an herb that owner Nicole Rabena won’t disclose and I can’t quite place. A generous 4 ounces of chilled lobster overflows a split, toasted, and buttered Pepperidge Farm roll, with a half-moon of lemon, a dill pickle spear, and bag of Cape Cod chips, for an entirely fair $18.75. (Other versions include one with seasoned mayo, celery, red onion, and dill; spicy chipotle aioli; and “the Hawaiian,” with mango salsa.) Beers and hard seltzers are in the fridge. There’s a similarly simple dining room; order at the counter and they’ll bring out your food.
Rabena opened La La in October 2020 in a tiny shack at 35 S. Main St. in downtown Yardley, but soon after it moved to the larger building in the rear of the property, which has a shabby-chic nautical air. A second location, at 732 Beach Ave. in Cape May, opened in April 2021, followed by 63 Palmer Square West in Princeton in February 2022, and one at 25 N. Main St. in downtown Doylestown last weekend. The “La La” name was inspired by her teen daughter Bella, who endearingly repeats the first syllable of many words.
Other worthy rolls that we all need to know about? Or something else? Let me know, in 200 words or fewer and we’ll share your best recommendations.
Will unions change the Philly food scene?
Union drives in Philly’s service industry have fizzled before, but this time may be different, writes my colleague Jenn Ladd. Two independent shops are negotiating for their first contracts, and more campaigns are in the works. One of the shops happens to be South Philly’s vaunted Korshak Bagels, giving a new meaning to the phrase “rounds of negotiations.”
Fishheads food truck is towed, and the squabbling continues
Gregory “Dredgie” Wood served fish platters and sandwiches from his Fishheads food truck near the back bay in Atlantic City for the last seven summers. Last weekend, the city towed it away amid a dispute over state Green Acres rules. This being Atlantic City, nothing is cut and dried, and colleague Amy S. Rosenberg is covering the fallout. On Tuesday, Mayor Marty Smalls Sr. railed against political “enemies” and “opportunists” he says have exploited the food-truck saga: “This is politics at its worst.”
Weavers Way will open its fourth location
Weavers Way food co-op, approaching its 50th anniversary, has announced a fourth location, and it is headed to an area rich with member: the city’s Germantown section. The new store was an Acme, so its bones are perfect.
Redcrest Fried Chicken closes as its new, larger location readies to open
Three weeks after Adam Volk and partners signed a lease for a restaurant in Queen Village last year, it was inundated by a flood caused by a broken city water main. As that location, Redcrest Kitchen, is finally drawing closer to opening, Volk has closed Redcrest Fried Chicken, his other place. A lot of it is staffing: He says he wants to conserve energy.
Restaurants are in Peter Dissin’s blood. He worked first for his dad at the old Henry’s at 20th and Market Streets and the Calico Kitchen chain. He operated Isabella in Conshohocken and 500 Degrees in Center City before opening Pinefish at 10th and Pine Streets, which closed recently after a five-plus-year run.
He’s back in Conshy with Fayette Street Oyster House & Grill, mildly updating the polished-fieldstone bar-restaurant atmosphere from previous occupant Tierra Caliente. Very suburban. Veteran manager Michael Di Tomassi (whom I first met 25-plus years ago at the late, great Tierra in Gulph Mills) oversees a staff of pros.
Menu features such Pinefish staples as raw items, crab cakes, pan-seared scallops, seared tuna with foie gras, and whole branzino, plus steaks (filet, sirloin, ribeye, even a 40-ounce prime tomahawk chop that will set you back $90) and an 8-ounce Wagyu burger on a Hawaiian bun, a relatively good deal at $17. Entrees are mainly in the $20s.
As he did at Pinefish, Lê from Hop Sing Laundromat lent a few cocktail recipes to Fayette Street’s list, including the Summer Time (peach vodka, cucumber syrup, and lemon juice with strawberries). Eight beers are on tap, 13 wines by the bottle and glass.
Fayette Street Oyster House & Grill, 128 Fayette St., Conshohocken. Hours: 4-9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4-8 p.m. Sunday.
Richie Neigre, who took Primo Hoagies from a South Philly corner deli to a chain with franchise locations all over, died unexpectedly last week at 65. His wife, Coleen, told my colleague Marina Affo: “He gave me a life that I never expected.”
Cheesesteak baron Anthony Lucidonio Sr. (aka Tony Luke Sr.) and son Nick, who operate the Tony Luke’s shop on Oregon Avenue under I-95, have pleaded guilty to hiding millions of dollars from the IRS. Colleague Jeremy Roebuck lays out the government’s case, which included allegations of two sets of books.
Ardmore Restaurant Week, in which 14 restaurants offer $20, $30, or $40 prix-fixe dinners, runs May 12-May 22.
How many happy hours begin and end at The Gates of Hell? The Rodin Museum’s garden bar, open 4-8:30 p.m. Fridays, returns May 13 with beer, wine, cocktails, and small plates. It’s free to get in; the museum itself, which houses eight major works by sculptor Auguste Rodin, is pay what you wish. If there’s rain, the activity moves to the Friday Lounge at the Art Museum’s main building; galleries will be open from 5-8:45 p.m. Season closes Sept. 30.
The Borscht Belt Deli in Stockton, N.J., has a second location on the way: 2801 Eagle Rd. in the Village at Newtown in Bucks County. It’s up for September, says co-owner Mike Dalewitz.
Poke Ono has opened its fourth location, a pickup/delivery spot at Orange and State Streets in Media.
Feel The Love Happy Hour is a Thursday night outing (6-9 p.m.) at the Trestle Inn (11th and Callowhill Streets), with a different nonprofit getting 20% of the bar take. May 12′s beneficiary will be the Pennsylvania SPCA.
The Trolley Car Diner was a Mount Airy landmark for two decades before it shuttered in 2019. Two years ago, the trolley car itself, which served as an ice cream parlor, was hauled away. This week, a rigger is preparing to move the 1952 Mountain View diner itself to make way for a redevelopment of the property on Germantown Avenue near Cresheim Valley Road. It will be trucked out on a flatbed to Wayne Junction, where Ken Weinstein of Philly Office Retail will renovate it. Its future has not been determined.
What you’ve been eating this week
Italian food at an Irish bar? Red-sauce cognoscenti rave about the homey dishes served by chef Francesco Bellastelli at Murph’s Bar in Fishtown. It’s also high on the list of @phillygefiltefishy, who paused to praise the pasta puttanesca. A few blocks up Frankford Avenue, @alliesmitha grooved on the Nashville “Not Chick’n” from Middle Child Clubhouse, with crispy corn flake-fried tofu, hot sauce, sweet pickles, and slaw on a seeded bun. It comes mild, “but ask for it spicy if you can take the heat.”
The camera eats first, so send me your food photos.