Rosé says summer. So do roses. Put them together on an Old City sidewalk, and you have a neat promotion. Also this week, I run down a welcoming alfresco option in Northern Liberties and a comfortable BYOB on the Main Line that melds Thai, Laotian, and Vietnamese dishes on its menu. Also, a reader’s question taps a nerve with critic Craig LaBan.
Ellen Yin of Old City’s Fork, inspired by her wine list and the rose garden at nearby Independence National Historical Park, is setting up a mini rose garden — or is that a rosé garden? — on the sidewalk outside the restaurant (306 Market St.) on Friday nights this summer.
It’s a lovely, Insta-friendly setting with potted roses under a tent amid wooden cafe tables. There’s a rotating selection of rosé wines available by the glass, by the bottle, and in a weekly flight of three ($18). Good stuff. Last weekend’s inaugural flight brought together an Italian, a Hungarian, and an Austrian: Cleto Chiarli Vecchia Modena, Pannonhalmi Transdanubia, and Heidi Schrock Rosé Biscaya (the 2018).
There also are a few rosé-infused and rosé-friendly dishes on the menu, such as oysters with rosé granita on the half shell; watermelon salad with feta, cucumber, strawberries and rosé-compressed watermelon; and strawberry-lavender snow cones.
The rose garden runs from 5:30 to 10 p.m. outside and at the bar; happy hour specials are on through 7 p.m.
Bua Loy | Devon
Bubbakoo’s Burritos | Northeast Philadelphia
The Jersey Shore-based Yankee-fied Mexican franchise, now also in Cherry Hill, is slinging at 2550 Grant Ave.
The Little Hen | Haddonfield
Mike Stollenwerk and Felice Leibowitz of Two Fish are about a week from opening their tiny French bistro at Kings Highway and Haddon Avenue. Stay tuned.
Vince’s Pizzeria | Wrightstown
Central Bucks gets an offshoot of the popular Northeast Philadelphia pizza parlor, at 573 Durham Rd. (Route 413) near Newtown. This location has a self-service beer wall.
CoZara | University City
The sibling of Rittenhouse sushi fave Zama has closed because of what’s described as staffing issues.
Golden Pheasant Inn | Erwinna
The stately Upper Bucks inn closed on June 2 after 30-plus years as the Faure family has decided to sell.
Notes: Lavi BYOB in Ardmore is switching concepts from fine dining to grab-and-go breakfast/lunch, which starts July 1. … Dino’s Backstage & The Celebrity Room in Glenside has announced that its last night will be June 22.
Barra Rossa, 929 Walnut St., 4-6 p.m. daily and 9-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
This bustling, contemporary Italian wine bar/pizzeria at the corner of 10th and Walnut Streets serves diverse constituencies — Jefferson Hospital staff and patient families, theatergoers, and the usual Center City crowd — and it tends to do things well.
The $6 happy-hour food specials include a few fried dishes (Buffalo calamari; fries topped with mozzarella, bacon, and tomato sauce; stuffed poppers; and chicken parm bites), as well as mussels in beer broth and a mighty fine 12-inch pizza called the Stinger, whose cheese combo of ricotta, mozzarella, Asiago, and blue gets a zing from hot soppressata and a drizzle of honey. Drinkwise, for $4 you can get a draft Peroni, a choice of two wines by the glass, and a daily beer bottle special; for a buck more, get the house specialty cocktail known as blue scrubs lemonade — Stoli blueberry, lemonade, basil, simple syrup, and a splash of blue curaçao for color.
You can even make the specials dovetail with a show at the Walnut. That 2 p.m. Legally Blonde matinee lets out in time for the early happy hour, while those attending a 8 p.m. show on a Friday and Saturday can hustle to catch the end of the late happy hour (it’s on till 11 p.m.).
Bua Loy, 300 W. Lancaster Ave., Devon, 610-341-8162
The Phengmisouk family’s elegant BYOB, which just opened in a strip center outside of Devon Lanes, should be right up your alley, especially if you’re a spice fan.
It’s white-tablecloth, though family-friendly. Matriarch Bualoy Phengmisouk, a native of Laos, has been cooking locally for a decade. Her menu mixes the more-familiar-to-Main Line Thai and Vietnamese dishes with Laotian fare, such as khao piek sen (a noodle soup with handmade tapioca noodles), sausages, larb gai (the minced-meat-topped salad), nam khao (crispy rice salad), and rice pudding (also known as bualoy). Also recommended: curry dishes and steamed dumplings. Plating is spot-on, service attentive.
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday, noon-10:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Closed Tuesday.
Germantown Garden at Vesper Dayclub, 1031 Germantown Ave., 267-214-0086
Vesper Dayclub, the swimming pool/lounge across from the Piazza in Northern Liberties, has added an outside venue — a leafy, tree-canopied patio, with a full bar, called Germantown Garden.
The upshot: You don’t have to swim (or preen) at the pool or join the 20-something cocktail crowd inside the lounge anymore.
The alfresco Germantown Garden, which has a dedicated entrance on Germantown Avenue, coincides with a ramp-up of the food under chef Hee “Chino” Chang. Menu is focused on barbecue (chicken, ribs, corn on the cob, veggie skewers), but play close attention to the sandwiches. The bar, under Ryan Fenton, offers 11 cocktails (mostly $10), including the roots beer, a clever riff on root beer, which mixes dark rum, amaro averna, vanilla, nutmeg, and spearmint.
Chang’s grilled cheesesteak ($13) is smoked prime rib, with fried onions and American on a sturdy roll. The fried green tomato sandwich ($10), served on toasted rye, is topped with a red-pepper sauce, goat cheese, and arugula. The crack chicken sandwich ($11), which Chang confidently named because of its addictive quality, is an herb-brined breast topped with wasabi ranch, lettuce, tomato, and onion and built on brioche.
It opens at 4 p.m. weekdays and 4:30 p.m. weekends; kitchen closes at 10 p.m. There’s weekend brunch (11 a.m.-4 p.m.) with French toast, waffles, a few sandwiches, omelets, and a shareable bucket of fried chicken.
N.B. Management is also revamping the bar at Center City’s Vesper Sporting Club (223 S. Sydenham St.) under Lé, the owner of Hop Sing Laundromat.
A cheesesteak cheesecake went viral, so of course we had to make it. Guys, it actually tasted good.
It’s getting hot out there. From sorbet-rose floats to fresh pina coladas to flower-infused mojitos, you’ll want to put these six refreshing drinks on your warm-weather bucket list.