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Small beer is getting bigger here | Let’s Eat

Also: Shakeups at restaurants, a “blow-out feast” in the suburbs, and a pastry chef everyone’s talking about.

Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer

Craft beer is big here. This week, we spotlight a major upswing in brewing and dramatic changes at four popular restaurants (including Laurel). Also, Craig LaBan recounts his “memorable blow-out feast” at a Korean grill house in Montgomery County.

⬇️ Read on for a quiz and restaurant news.

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Mike Klein

‘A brewery in every neighborhood’

Philly might have been an untapped beer market. While the craft-brewing industry nationally has gone flat, it’s skyrocketing around here. The suburban Pennsylvania counties are home to 131 breweries, up from 68 in early 2017. In the South Jersey suburbs, the brewery count has gone from 20 to 38. Philly itself is home to 32 breweries — not counting taprooms separate from the breweries. One local brewer told colleague Harold Brubaker that a brewery in every neighborhood is not out of the question. 🔑

It’s not all sunshine in the beer biz, alas: Kelly Green Brewing, the first brewery in formerly dry Pitman, Gloucester County, when it opened seven years ago, announced it will close at the end of the month.

And because beer and football pair so perfectly: Colleagues Erin McCarthy and Jonathan Lai figured out how much beer was sold when the Birds played in the Super Bowl last month. Hint: An awful lot.

Big changes at three popular restaurants

Restaurateurs are pivoting:

  1. Chef Nick Elmi will serve his final tasting menus this weekend at Laurel in East Passyunk, as he switches to a la carte service and expands seating by taking over his bar next door. 🔑

  2. Chef Dominic Piperno has gone the other way entirely at his Collingswood BYOB, Hearthside. It’s now offering tasting menus only. (Above, that’s Piperno at left, with line cook Christopher Ross.) Also worth noting is the forthcoming move/downsizing at Fiore Fine Foods.

  3. Chef Peter Serpico has left KPod in University City, as owner Stephen Starr is turning the menu from “kinda-Korean” toward Japanese.

LaBan says SALT is ‘one of the best Korean food experiences in the region’

If you’re a fan of Korean grill houses, writes critic Craig LaBan, get to SALT in North Wales, where he says he enjoyed what he thinks will be “one of the most memorable blow-out feasts I eat this year.” 🔑

Is this bifana from Grace & Proper the Best Sandwich in Philly?

Boneless pork loin marinated for 24 hours in white wine, garlic, cayenne, and paprika, with a touch of salt and bay leaves. Then well-roasted and sliced a bit thicker than the roast pork typically used in sandwiches. The result, on a Portuguese roll, is the bifana served at Grace & Proper in Bella Vista. Reader Tim McManus touts it as “The Best Sandwich in Philly.”

The pastry chef everyone’s talking about

Even other bakers and chefs have sweet things to say about Ashley Huston, the home baker behind Dreamworld Bakes: “It’s the intersection of being extremely unique and stylistic in the presentation but delivering on flavor,” says one. Huston has started a subscription service so you can get a monthly drop of her creations.


Amada, Jose Garces’ sultry Spanish-themer, officially opens Friday next to the Fleming’s steakhouse at 555 E. Lancaster Ave. in Radnor (with a Wayne address). A tip to you first-nighters: It will be open from 5-9 p.m. Thursday for dinner walk-ins. Above, that’s Garces in a ballcap working the line Tuesday night when I popped in. This location, the third after Old City and Atlantic City, has a cart serving tableside gin and tonics and comp valet parking.

New openings: Bar Lizette (7152 Germantown Ave., Mount Airy), Round House (324 W. Main St., Lansdale), P.J. Whelihan’s (4379 W. Swamp Rd, Doylestown).

Closings: City Tap House in University City, Red’s Hoagies in South Philadelphia.

Restaurant report

I’ve been on a sultry cocktail bar kick of late. Latest entrant is Superfolie, a drop-in boîte from Chloe Grigri (The Good King Tavern, le Caveau) and husband Vincent Stipo (an alum of Vernick who is now in real estate). Superfolie features a five-seat bar and a few squished-in tables on street level and a few more upstairs. Not a formal dinner house, it’s a high-volume, low-lit drop-in with a few beers and cocktails and a banging, changing wine selection. Above is a south-of-France version of a classic shrimp cocktail, an example of the ambitious bar fare from chef Michael Valent: Shrimp seasoned with olive oil and salt are quickly roasted and served with a “cocktail” sauce inspired by the flavors of Marseille — tomato, kalamata olive, capers, anchovy, and espelette. “Superfolie” means fantastical or wild, and that it is.

Check out my rundown of Philly’s secret cocktail spots.🔑

Superfolie, 1602 Spruce St. Hours: 4:30-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, bar open till 11 p.m.

A half-hour south of Center City, Wilmington’s The Quoin has opened Simmer Down, a cozy cocktail bar inside a former bank vault.

Briefly noted

Kalaya, Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon’s Thai destination at 4 W. Palmer St. in Fishtown-Kensington, has launched weekend lunch. Though reservations are going fast, try a walk-in. If you’re shut out, there’s always LMNO next door, or Suraya down the street. Or pop three minutes up Frankford Avenue to the new Forin, an all-day cafe with a brunchy menu and cocktails in minimalist surroundings.

Need some St. Patrick’s Day events? Our Service team has ideas.

King of Prussia Restaurant Week is on through March 24.

Philly Vegan Restaurant Week will run from April 22-30.

❓Pop quiz❓

Rita’s Italian Ice has started its 39th season. On the first day of spring, as Jenn Ladd reports, it will unveil a new water ice flavor. What is it?

A) tamarind

B) wasabi

C) gummy bears

D) Jujubes

Find out if you know the answer.

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