Over the summer, a new restaurant from Jeremy Nolen of Brauhaus Schmidtz opened at 5th and Bainbridge. The restaurant, called Whetstone, serves accessible American cuisine as a neighborhood establishment.
So is Whetstone worth checking out? Philly Mag gave the restaurant two stars, saying to “come if you’re in the neighborhood.”
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Whetstone isn’t any kind of sequel to the Teutonic heaviness of the Schmitzes, but is instead a looping-back. A return. Like what Marcie Turney and Val Safran are doing at Bud & Marilyn’s across town, Whetstone is memoir-as-menu—from Nolen’s mom’s clam cakes and his dad’s Caesar salad recipe to the sense that sometimes the best and most noble thing a restaurant can do is plant its flag, look around, and ask what the people here want to eat.
They want chicken wings with bourbon-spiked hot sauce, some oysters, and bowls of marinated olives at the bar. They want deviled ham done as an admirable rillette, with good mustard and some charred bread to spread it on. They want a beautifully curated charcuterie and cheese selection for when they’re feeling fancy (Spanish lardo, Italian coppa, Benton’s ham and cheeses from Vermont, Veneto and Auvergne) and pork rinds with Cholula for when they’re not.Nolen’s got all that locked down. There’s nothing fussy about his food here. Nothing contrived. He talks a lot about his dad, Ron Nolen, who was a chef in Reading; who taught his son that flavor matters first, most, and that no amount of work done with tweezers on the pass is ever going to make up for a dish that tastes like shit or ego or nothing at all. Whetstone is like a shrine to that notion. The house that Ron built.
You can check out the restaurant’s full menu here.
Have you tried Whetstone? What do you think of it?