Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

🔥 Philly’s hottest fireplaces | Let’s Eat

Also: Let's review the new vaccine rules, scope out a new lounge in South Jersey, and visit a great neighborhood bar in Rittenhouse.

The real wood-burning fireplace in the lounge area at Martha Kensington, 2113 E. York St.
The real wood-burning fireplace in the lounge area at Martha Kensington, 2113 E. York St.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

We’ll warm up this week beside a roaring fire (or 20). Read on for details about the city’s newly announced vaccine mandate and what it will mean to restaurants and their patrons when it takes effect on Jan. 3. And how about a story about a chemical engineer and art gallery owner who just got into the nightclub-restaurant biz in South Jersey?

📝 Send me tips, suggestions and questions here.

📧 If someone forwarded you this newsletter and you like what you’re reading, sign up here to get it free every week.

Where to heat up: 20 Philly bars and restaurants with fireplaces

Looking for some place to warm up fireside with a drink and some food? Staff writer Nick Vadala found 20 bars and restaurants in the city where the hearths and fire pits are blazing. Have a favorite fireplace-place in the Pennsylvania and South Jersey burbs? Let me know.

Vaccine mandate approved in Philadelphia, and what it means for you

Oyez, oyez. Lots of legal news this week:

Starting early in the new year, proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will be required to eat and drink at indoor restaurants and bars in the city of Philadelphia, and in places like sports venues and movie theaters. Nick Vadala explains the hows and wherefores. The vaccine mandate was released Monday, and restaurant owners that we spoke with seem to be in favor. “Enforcing a vaccine mandate is a small price to pay to help avoid future occupancy limits,” writes restaurateur Avram Hornik in an op-ed.

A city health inspector showed up at Queen Village’s Southwark restaurant during the dinner rush to conduct an unannounced inspection, and the owners balked. The inspector shut down the restaurant for nearly 48 hours.

The city council approved a cap of third-party delivery fees paid by restaurants. The measure had been temporary.

🐐 Craig LaBan likes The Goat Rittenhouse

While sipping an old fashioned and eating a cheeseburger, critic Craig LaBan senses “a happy old feeling come back to life” at The Goat Rittenhouse, on Sansom Street near 19th. Owners Fergus Carey, Jim McNamara, Jason Evenchik and Patrick Iselin have created what Craig calls “an accessible neighborhood bar with familiar comforts that have been updated just enough,” and he thinks they’ve succeeded.

Good tidings we bring: Christmas traditions

Old City’s Shane Confectionery happens to be known as America’s oldest confectionery. Take 3½ minutes and join multimedia journalist Kristen Balderas for a video peek inside as Pavia Burroughs makes the time-honored Christmas treat known as Clear Toy.

Where did the Feast of the Seven Fishes begin? Perhaps right here in Philly, as one historian posits. Our busy bee Nick V. cast his net to round up a list of restaurants offering the Christmas Eve tradition for dine-in and takeout. Some require reservations, while others allow more spawn-taneous decisions.

We head into South Philly for staff writer Anna Orso’s tale of a holiday miracle at the landmark Termini Bros. bakery. Its century-old, Italian-made cannoli machine broke down, and through a lot of luck and some old-fashioned cooperation, Joey and Vinny Termini found the fix just in the nick of time.

And I’ll thank reader Tara Abraham for tipping me to this Cannoli Milk Punch on Brandon Thrash’s cocktail menu at Fishtown’s Middle Child Clubhouse: It’s whiskey, orange liqueur, chocolate, and pistachio ($13), poured over a big rock. Not too sweet and it tastes like a cannoli. Take the cannoli.

‘The Korean Vegan Cookbook’ is a personal story

A cookbook has struck a chord with deputy food editor Joseph Hernandez: The Korean Vegan Cookbook is an extension of Joanne Lee Molinaro’s poetic and personal social media presence. Throughout the book, as Joseph explains in his review, she uses her adapted vegan recipes as a bridge to her heritage. “What I’ve learned by collecting and sharing these recipes is that what really matters isn’t whether the food tastes exactly the way your grandmother made it but how it makes you feel,” she writes. “They remind me of my mother’s perseverance, my father’s laughter. They remind me of home.” The Korean Vegan Cookbook is one of six that Joseph recommends this holiday season.

The Fin puts more fish in Fishtown

The Crab Du Jour chain, whose specialty is the seafood boil, is behind a bolder, more ambitious restaurant that just opened at Frankford and Delaware Avenues, next to the Fillmore, Brooklyn Bowl, and Punch Line, in Fishtown. The Fin, whose menu is surf and turf, has 220-plus seats, one of the city’s largest bars, a raw bar visible from the glassed-in kitchen, and an indoor TV screen large enough to be seen from apartments at Waterfront Square a block and a half away. And you should try the crab cheesecake.

Restaurant report

Why would a chemical engineer and the owner of an art gallery get into the club business in South Jersey with a restaurant showcasing live music? Two reasons: They were tired of heading to Philly or Atlantic City, and, well, it is in his blood. Wilson’s Restaurant & Live Music Lounge opened last week in Hi-Nella.

Briefly noted

Sixty restaurants are on board for the next Center City District Restaurant Week, which starts Jan. 9, 2022.

This little piggy went to the Reading Terminal Market: The specialty-food stand A Taste of Spain, on the market’s Arch Street side, will host Raul Garrido, who will carve samples of Cinco Jotas’ Jamón Ibérico de Bellota from noon-2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17.

Cake & Joe, at Moyamensing and Reed in Pennsport, will mark its first year by offering slices of matcha light cream cake for a buck to the first 100 people through the door starting at 7 a.m. Friday, Dec. 17. The chocolate cake, usually $8, is made of mascarpone cheese cream and matcha ganache.

Chinatown cocktail bar Hop Sing Laundromat will take a break and will shutter temporarily after service on Saturday, Dec. 18. No return date has been set.

Have out-of-towners coming in and need somewhere “new” to go? Review my list of restaurants and bars that have opened since March 2020.

What you’ve been eating this week

Great dishes sampled by readers include tempura snapper with a soy mirin sauce and sauteed onions and carrots at Sushi Hatsu in Ambler (a fave of @guidetophilly) and the breakfast sandwich at Lost Bread in Rittenhouse (sent in by @knilegram). Eat something tasty? Pictures, or it didn’t happen. Hit me up on Instagram: @phillyinsider.

🍲 Keep reading more food news.

📱 Follow me on Twitter. Or follow me on instagram.