While we cannot help your love life, we can at least offer Valentine’s Day suggestions. Also, we share word of new coffee shops in the area, a behind-the-scenes look at a novel Center City bakery, and a local celeb’s food-focused fundraiser to highlight Philly’s judicial elections.
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How to do Valentine’s Day right
Maybe you think Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday, contrived by candy makers and greeting-card writers. Or maybe you regard it as a suggestion to do something sweet for someone you love. Even though the coronavirus complicates the day a bit, Philly still has options for everyone, and my colleague Jenn Ladd has a veritable bouquet of food ideas, whether you’re socially distancing or not.
Looking for Valentine’s stuff to do? We have ideas. Oh, do we have ideas. 😉
Or how about a getaway at a local hotel? Jenn found some great deals out there.
And what would Valentine’s Day be without chocolate? Our colleague Grace Dickinson and contributor Jillian Wilson are sweet on a dozen shops all over the region. (The century-old Aunt Charlotte’s in Merchantville is a family favorite here, especially for the chocolate-covered, peanut butter-filled pretzels.)
Three Valentine’s Day desserts
Food editor Jamila Robinson, meanwhile, is known to pop into the kitchen to prep for Feb. 14, and she shares her three standby chocolate recipes: a luscious pot de crème, a decadent ricotta pie baked in a chocolate shell that can be made from store-bought cookies, and a really good brownie.
Coffee shops are a pandemic thing
The pandemic has prompted some restaurateurs to think small — maybe to open a cafe that serves its neighborhood, rather than a larger and potentially riskier restaurant with a larger staff and overhead. Coffee shops fit that bill, and I found more than a dozen small businesses throughout the region that opened in the last year.
How Lost Bread found a niche
Critic Craig LaBan visits Lost Bread Co.’s new retail bakery in Center City, and comes away impressed by Alex Bois’ breads, sandwiches, and new line of bagels. Don’t miss the smoked malt chocolate chip cookie kits, which let you create deliciousness at home.
Ya Fav Trashman teams up with restaurateurs
Philadelphia sanitation worker Terrill Haigler has amassed an audience of more than 23,000 followers on Instagram, where he’s known as “Ya Fav Trashman.” Haigler has already used his online presence for good causes, and through February, he’s spotlighting four Black-owned restaurants. It’s a fundraiser for a voter registration and education drive focused on Philly’s 2021 judicial elections, as Jenn explains.
A farewell toast
Nicholas Karabots, a self-made businessman who transformed a portion of his enormous Karamoor Farm in Fort Washington into one of Pennsylvania’s better wineries, died Feb. 1 at age 87. Nick and his wife, Athena, gave to numerous causes in the region, including Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Franklin Institute, and the local William Jeanes Memorial Library. His funeral service will be streamed at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 11.
Be advised that Ms. Tootsie’s and KeVen Parker’s Soul Food Cafe are closed for now as the family of founder KeVen Parker considers ideas to move forward. The trailblazing Parker died Jan. 15.
Nick Elmi has stepped away from Royal Boucherie in Old City as he reopens Laurel and In the Valley and works on two new Main Line restaurants. Royal Boucherie’s new chef is Matt Buehler, a practiced hand last at Vetri.
The new-restaurant list includes:
Stove & Tap: Justin Weathers and Joe Monnich open their third version of the popular rustic suburban bar-restaurants, now in Lansdale and Malvern, on Thursday, Feb. 11. The West Chester location (158 W. Gay St.) replaces Landmark Americana. Indoor seating only. It will offer dinner nightly from 4 p.m. at the outset before adding lunch and brunch in about two weeks. Reservations are on OpenTable. Delivery through DoorDash starts Feb. 15.
Bridget Foy’s: Finally back from that 2017 fire, the landmark bar-restaurant at Second and South Streets had been soft-opening under its old name (East Philly Cafe) but has now ramped up menus. Indoor/outdoor seating. Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Kensington’s Pho Ga Thanh Thanh hit Craig’s radar for Vietnamese cuisine six years ago. Chuong Le and Woa Nguyen have just opened a second location, at the huge shopping center at 1100 Washington Ave. in South Philly. Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Twisted Tail: George Reilly at the idled Head House Square bar-restaurant (509 S. Second St.) has started a ghost kitchen, serving fish ‘n’ chips (plus Brit staples such as mushy peas) for delivery noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. It’s operating under the name What’s the Catch. One line you hope you won’t hear on Valentine’s Day: “Not tonight, dear. I have a haddock.”