This week, let’s start with a sunny-side-round-up of 15 fantastic brunches, serve inside views of Jose Garces’ new Hook & Master restaurant in Kensington, and a first look at Victory Brewing Co.’s new taproom on the Parkway, and just for kicks, photos of two chefs living life on the edge: Mike Solomonov and Jennifer Carroll rappelling down the side of a Center City skyscraper. On the serious side: my colleagues’ analysis of the inequities of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which helped 101,000 businesses but left out 177,000 eligible applicants.
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Bunches of brunches
Brunch is a lawless meal. No rules. “It’s eggs, it’s pancakes, it’s French toast, it’s sandwiches and salads,” says Robert De Abreu of Sabrina’s Café. It’s also worth seeking out, and contributor Kae Lani Palmisano has found 15 of the best brunch spots in the city.
If you need a breakfast or brunch idea at home, deputy food editor Joseph Hernandez suggests Spam. The canned meat, sunny-side-up eggs, and rice make up the Filipino dish spamsilog. Read his description and recipe, and you can almost smell the aroma of garlic fried rice.
Restaurants and federal relief: Winners and losers
The restaurant industry was singled out by Congress for a relief plan, funded at $28.6 billion. But while pitched as a lifeline for businesses large and small, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund did not help even half of the eligible restaurants. Colleagues Jenn Ladd, Christian Hetrick, and Aseem Shukla’s deep-dive into the haves and the have nots is telling. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the small businesses got nothing, while larger ones emerged with plenty.
Where to buy a fresh turkey
T-minus 30 days till Thanksgiving: If you’re opting for a fresh turkey, now is the time to plan, given those dreaded supply-chain issues and all. Jenn Ladd offers 12 markets and farms to buy a bird and other items.
Inside Jose Garces’ new Hook & Master
On Friday, Oct. 29, chef Jose Garces opens the interior of Hook & Master, his first brick-and-mortar restaurant in Philly in nearly seven years: three varieties of pizza as well as a menu of small-plate seafood dishes, a nautical-themed dining room, a second-floor tiki lounge, and a seasonal outdoor dining area billed as an octopus’ garden. Let’s wrap our tentacles around this cool concept on a Kensington corner. Tip: It’s open right now for takeout and delivery pizza.
Chefs over the edge
The high point of photographer Rebecca Barger’s day was hanging out with chefs Mike Solomonov (Zahav, Abe Fisher, Federal Donuts, etc.) and Jennifer Carroll (Spice Finch) as they rappelled down the 29-story Two Commerce Square as part of a fundraiser and attention-raiser for Philadelphia’s Outward Bound school. Speaking of risk-taking: Solomonov and business partner Steve Cook announced last week that they will soon bring a branch of their Israeli skewer house Laser Wolf to Brooklyn.
Downingtown-bred Victory Brewing Co. just opened the taps on its Center City Philadelphia brewpub at 1776 Ben Franklin Parkway, a top-to-bottom redo of the sad-sack TGI Fridays on that spot since 1990. The 14,000 square feet, done up in industrial concrete, has expansive indoor seating on two levels, and there is a roof deck overlooking the Parkway from City Hall to the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. Some numbers: 330 seats, a 7bbl brewing system, one scratch menu (there’s a magnificently crusted chicken pot pie), two indoor bars, one outdoor bar, and one gift shop. Initial hours: 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday.
Sazon, the Venezuelan BYOB, will wrap up 17 years at 10th and Spring Garden Streets on Sunday, Oct. 31. Owners Judith Suzarra-Campbell and Robert Campbell lost their court battle with their landlord over what they called an untenable situation regarding pot smoke pervading their space. They’ll resurface with a takeout-delivery kitchen nearby, though sans Campbell’s signature chocolate.
The future of Smitty’s Clam Bar, the Somers Point summertime landmark, is cloudy beyond 2022. The property was put up for sale. When news broke, friends and customers stepped in, and there’s a chance it will be able to find a new home.
Rangoon, Chinatown’s Burmese destination, announced on Facebook that it would close at the end of December after 28 years, but (just between us) a deal to keep it going may be in the works. Get there soon, just in case.
To follow up on my report last week of the impending closing of the landmark Vickers in Exton after nearly a half-century (last day is Saturday, Oct. 30), be advised that White Dog Cafe is in line to take it over. No timeline is available.
Who else has that itch to open a restaurant? Alex Tewfik, food editor of Philadelphia Magazine, plans a career-change and will take over the East Passyunk space that Noord now occupies. (Noord’s last day is Sunday, Oct. 31, as it switches to a Monday-night dinner series through December. Stay tuned for the schedule, starting Nov. 8.) Tewfik calls his planned restaurant Mish Mish.
HipCityVeg, the Philly-based fast-casual vegan cafe, opens its first New York location on Thursday, Oct. 28. It’s at 28 E. 12th St. in Greenwich Village/Union Square. HCV also plans delivery-only kitchens in Brooklyn and Queens.
Bet you didn’t make sea urchin deviled eggs for your last picnic. They’re on the menu at Lark, the partnership of chef Nicholas Elmi and Fia Berisha, with chef Michael Millon, by the Schuylkill in Bala Cynwyd. Lark opened above their more casual Landing Kitchen, at the Ironworks at Pencoyd Landing. On a clear day, you can see forever. And Manayunk.