Feel that chill this morning? Yes, fall starts next week, and we offer soup recipes to get you started. Also this week, indoor dining is back, in style. And follow along as Craig LaBan packs up the ol' jalopy for a road trip to Maryland and its steamed crabs and fried chicken.
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Three easy soup ideas that will bowl you over
Nourishment + comfort = soup, and reporter Cassie Owens will get your creative juices flowing with three easy-to-prepare soup recipes she obtained from three area kitchens. All take advantage of seasonal ingredients, too, so you’ll have no problem getting started right now.
Indoor dining goes for style
Last week, we told you about the slow rise of indoor dining, as Philadelphia and New Jersey joined the rest of Pennsylvania in allowing dining rooms to reopen — albeit at limited capacity. And note that many restaurants in Philadelphia’s suburbs (not the city itself) will be able to step up occupancy to 50% come Monday. Sept. 21.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia restaurateurs that I checked in with about the first full weekend of indoor dining seemed satisfied with the turnout. There’s still a long way to go before these restaurants approach profitability, especially with nagging fears about customers and staffs' not being comfortable dining indoors. (I will say that Cuba Libre seems to be on the right track with a hospital-grade HVAC system, fling-open doors, and a dedicated employee whose sole job is sanitation.) This week brought the debut of one of the city’s more lavish restaurants in years — an Arizona-based chophouse called Steak 48, across from the Kimmel at Broad and Spruce. With 400-plus seats spread over two floors of assorted dining rooms, this $8 million project, in the works for two years, is one of the largest restaurants downtown. Under current 25% indoor-occupancy regs, it can serve 100 patrons at a time, and note there is no outdoor seating. Stay tuned for more info. Meanwhile, take a gander at the menu.
Two new Italian destinations in downtown Wayne
The Wayne Hotel, whose most notable restaurant tenant over the years was Taquet, is the new home of Rosalie, a roomy, sumptuous Italian comfort-fooder from experienced Main Line operators Marty and Sydney Grims of Fearless Restaurants (the White Dog Cafes, Louie Louie, Autograph, the Moshulu). It’s named after Marty’s mother (and Sydney’s grandmother), a second-generation Italian immigrant. Chef Merick Devine, who was last at the White Dog in Wayne after a term as chef de cuisine at Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder, Colo., is doing a something-for-all menu of snacks and pizzas up to entrees, including traditional quattro piatti. Porch dining as well as indoor, seven days a week including brunch. Bar includes 120 wine bottles, beers, and Italian cocktails.
Around the corner on North Wayne Avenue, meanwhile, Arde Osteria reopened after a pandemic-inspired shutdown as Alessandro’s Wood-Fired Italian & Bar under chef Alex Fiorello, who took over last summer. Industrial-chic decor. Pizzas, fish, meats, and breads come out of the wood-burning oven, and the bar offers 20 wines by glass (select bottles are half-off on Wednesday), plus cocktails. There’s dining indoors and outside.
Taqueria Feliz in Manayunk rebrands as Taqueria Amor
Love is in the air in Manayunk, you might say. Chef Tim Spinner has changed the name of Taqueria Feliz to Taqueria Amor, as he wants his own identity after leaving Cantina Feliz and La Calaca Feliz in the hands of his original partner (and still best friend), Brian Sirhal. Spinner is defying conventional wisdom with his new menu. Dining available outside only.
Driving to Maryland for crabs and fried chicken. Why not?
To critic Craig LaBan, there’s no better place than a paper-covered table in Maryland, where the summer ritual of steamed blue crabs are a way of life. The beauty of it is that some of the best destinations are really not that far from Philly for an easy day trip. Tag along as he gets messy.
The rise of Merzbacher’s bakery
Philly Bread, which started in an Olney rowhome, moved much larger quarters in Germantown in 2019. Now, owner Pete Merzbacher has renamed the bakery. Best known for the Philly muffin, the bakery has more in store, reports Jenn Ladd. It’s opening a pickup window for online and walk-up orders.
The pandemic caused a seed shortage. Here’s how to save them.
Owen Taylor, who works with small farmers for his business Truelove Seeds, saw a spike in business during the pandemic. But you don’t need to buy seeds, he explained to Jenn Ladd. Even one tomato plant or a window box can provide enough for next year. Taylor walked us through the basics of seed-saving and why it’s worth the effort.
Community, opening next week at 21st and Federal in Point Breeze, will meet its neighbors Friday, Sept. 18 by giving out burgers to the first 100 people who show up beginning at noon. Owners Mike and Angela Sultan are using dry-aged beef from Indian Ridge Provisions, adding house-made bacon, Cooper sharp American cheese, onion, house-made habanero pickles, and a burger sauce on a Martin’s potato roll. Sept. 18 happens to be National Cheeseburger Day. You want a great burger around town? Craig LaBan has you covered.
Chef Elijah Milligan — a founder of Cooking for the Culture, in which Black chefs work to create equity in the food industry — will cook a pop-up dinner Sunday, Sept. 20 at the Fitler Club, 24th and Market. (It’s open to the public.) Menu ($70 plus tax and tip) includes raw and roasted peach (shiso, burrata); grilled octopus (nduja dressing, candied calamansi glaze, watercress); smoked and sticky lamb ribs (6-spice date, marcona almond, heirloom grains); and mango verrine (ginger cream, vanilla). Remaining available seatings are at 5:30, 6, 7:30, and 8 p.m. It’s seated outdoors, and rain date is Sept. 21.
University City Dining Days returns Saturday, Sept. 19 to Sunday, Oct. 4 with deals at nearly 30 restaurants, including returning favorites like White Dog Cafe, Distrito, and Vientiane, and newcomers like Kusina Philly, Loco Pez, and Booker’s. On Sunday, Sept. 20, the University City District will host a socially distanced kickoff picnic in Clark Park from 5 to 7 p.m. Idea is for food lovers to eat their takeout near the southwest corner of 43rd and Chester. Enjoy al fresco dining? The UCD has put together an interactive map of local parks and public spaces. Reminder, Center City District Restaurant Week is on through Sept. 25.