Your guide to restaurant week | Let’s Eat
Our critic's picks. Also: Winter cocktails you can make at home and restaurant shakeups, including the closing of Jones and a new chef-owner at Kanella.
Center City District Restaurant is on through Jan. 21, and critic Craig LaBan picks his favorites for outdoor dining and takeout. Also this week, word of a few restaurant shakeups, including a new chef-owner at Kanella, the closing of Jones, and the scrapping of 13th Street’s streeteries.
I’ll start with a quiz. The delivery app Grubhub recapped 2021 by listing its top-five menu items ordered in Philadelphia. Rank the following in order:
a. lump crab cake sandwich, b. turkey avocado wrap, c. cookie and cream milkshake, d. cheesesteak sandwich, e. cheesesteak pizza
Read on for the answer. (Yes, they really said “cheesesteak sandwich.” Sigh.)
Dining out and taking out for Center City District Restaurant Week
January is typically is a slow month in the restaurant business. After a rock-solid December, Philadelphia restaurateurs are telling me that business is decidedly off in these first days of 2022 as fears of the omicron variant are keeping customers (especially older customers) out of dining rooms. It’s perhaps even more of a factor than the city’s new vaccine mandate.
Center City District Restaurant Week started Jan. 9, and critic Craig LaBan offers ideas for outdoor dining and takeout, which organizers are pushing. Is either an optimal set-up for a Philly food adventure? Craig asks. “Probably not, considering the plunging temperatures outside. Then again, some of the best outdoor structures are heated. And also: think about the dire challenges our restaurants are facing once again heading into a long, cold winter and consider this another resourceful opportunity to support your favorite establishments when they need it the most.” The promo, on through Jan. 21, offers $25 lunches and $40 dinners.
And while I have you here: If you received a gift card over the holidays, use it now. And tip lavishly.
Try these festive winter cocktails
Contributor Adam Erace offers recipes for three sophisticated winter cocktails that can make staying home feel a little more like going out. That Dawn Departure you see above looks particularly intriguing, as it combines elements of two classics, the Aviation and the French 75.
Erace, who contributed to the recent book The Cocktail Workshop, offered recipes for fall-theme cocktails (and a non-alcoholic drink) a few months ago.
Lost Bread Co. closes its Walnut Street shop
Customers and workers alike were shocked at the unexpected closing of Lost Bread Co.’s year-old shop at 2218 Walnut St. a few days ago. Baker Alex Bois and business partner Avram Hornik are in the process of separating. The upshot is that this spring, Lost will find itself back in Kensington with not only a bakery but a cafe. A GoFundMe has been set up to support the seven employees.
Stephen Starr says Jones is closed
Jones, the comfort-food specialist that Stephen Starr opened in 2002 at Seventh and Chestnut Streets, has indeed closed after being shut down during the entire pandemic. Starr said he would love to revive it someday. Check the article, and use the link to contribute your own Jones memories.
Changes at Kanella, the popular BYOB
Kanella, the acclaimed, no-frills Mediterranean kebab house in Center City, has had a chef-ownership change after 13 years, with Konstantinos Pitsillides stepping aside. Chef Tayfun Abuska is bringing a Turkish flair to the menu. And would you believe there’s a Zahav connection?
The top of the ceramic tagine is lifted, and the lemon-perfumed steam rises to the ceiling at White House Tajine, a snug little spot tucked between a trophy shop and florist in downtown Bryn Mawr with cushy banquette seating. There’s a juicy half-chicken inside, along with olives, preserved lemon, and the spice blend ras el hanout, a fittingly hearty, belly-warming winter night’s dish.
The BYOB is the ownership debut of the Kabbaj family. The patriarch, Mohammad, is a local restaurant veteran, and the matriarch, Fouzia, cooks the food of their native Morocco — the lamb tagine ($38) is the most popular option, next to the chicken ($26). Start with mezze, such as hummus, tabbouleh, and chicken or fish pastilla, or a combo.
In a bid to satisfy everyone, White House also offers a separate menu of cheesesteaks, mozzarella sticks, pizza, burgers, and gyros, mainly for takeout and delivery.
White House Tajine, 1047 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr. Hours: 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m-11:30 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m-11 p.m. Sunday.
Wing It Forward, opening Wednesday, Jan. 12 at Whole Hog Cafe’s location in the Feed Mill at Medford Village shopping center (67 N. Main St., Medford), has a mission. For every 10 wings purchased, a meal is purchased for the organization Feed My Starving Children. Hours: 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.
Philadelphia says it needs to fix the street lighting on several blocks of 13th Street in Washington Square West, so the outdoor streeteries have to move. The deadline is Jan. 20, but many are gone already.
What you’ve been eating this week
Readers are touting the boneless wings from DJ Khaled’s Another Wing ghost kitchen (tipped by @stephanieross), and the arancini from Jose Garces’ Hook & Master in Kensington (via @talia_henry_besties). Eat a dish worth sharing? Share a photo with me on Instagram.
The answer is d, c, a, e, b. Grubhub says the top-ordered food in Philly in 2021 was the cheesesteak, followed by a cookie and cream milkshake, lump crab cake sandwich, cheesesteak pizza, and turkey avocado wrap. Hungry now? Let us guide you to our favorite cheesesteaks.