Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat:
The Head House Farmer's Market finally debuted Sunday, and The ramps were everywhere, a sign of spring, and have already made their way onto many local menus: in frittatas (at Talula's Garden), whipped into compound butter (with mint and fennel pollen at Pub & Kitchen), charred on the grill and draped over monkfish skewers (at the Good King Tavern), baked into cheesy scones (at High St. on Market) and brightening plates with their delicate, garlicky savor. Ten years ago (even five) very few people even knew what a ramp was (other than something you took to get off I-95.) It's a testament to our growing awareness of local produce.
Reader: A nice ramp and house-made cheese toast at Vernick.
Reader: Are ramps a product of the Delaware Valley being cooped up all winter? I've never seen such a ramp explosion!
C.L.: What will the hot seasonal veg of 2014 be?
Reader: We have an urban farmer at 40th and Wiota who does Chinese long beans. Who knows? They may catch on :)
C.L.: A quick note on the first "Crumb Tracker" item . . . that dreadful meat loaf was at Honey's Sit 'n Eat on South Street. Aside from the inedible bit of something hard I also bit down on inside the spongy loaf, it was covered with the single worst gravy I can remember ever being served in a restaurant that purports to cook from scratch. It looked like it had broken out with scary lumps. It was a new low in a series of meals there that have left me disappointed since I gave this Fitler Square branch of the popular Northern Liberties funky bruncher a two-bell review last June. There's been a change of chef since that official review, I believe. But this meal was really the worst. Consistency matters, ratings aren't forever. I'm dropping Honey's South St. branch down to one lumpy bell until they earn it back.
Reader: A friend and I just started a Tartare Tuesday tradition. Do you and/or any commenters have any suggestions on the best tartare in the city? No restrictions on tuna, beef, or otherwise. Parc's was excellent, Fitler left something to be desired. Looking for the next haunt to try. Thanks.
C.L.: Thanks for noticing the return of tartares, one of my favorite dishes. Right now, I'd say my favorite classic tartare has to be at Le Cheri, where the meat is a little more finely diced than at Bibou, and with a stronger mustard kick. Had a fantastic tartare in Lancaster recently at J.J. Jeffries, which shows off its heritage breed beef from Thistle Hill. My other favorite recent tartare was not beef at all, but venison. with Jerusalem artichokes, at Pub & Kitchen.
Reader: Vernick beef tartare toast.
Reader: Le Cheri has absolutely the best tartare in the city (pending Volver bar, I guess?)
C.L.: We are on the same tartare page.
Reader: I had an absolutely superb salmon tartare at Bistrot La Minette about 6 months ago. I've been dreaming of it since. Not sure if it's still on the menu though.
C.L.: Fish tartare is another genre, of course. But that sounds delicious. Lots of good tuna ones in town, as well as some arctic char versions. Can't forget the toro tartare that usually comes as part of the omakase tasting at Morimoto - a true classic.