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Archive | Restaurants

What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

Center City hot dog shop to open here in September

Underdogs, the subterranean “haute dog” shop at 132 S. 17th St., is shooting for a September opening for their second location, next door to Geno’s on 9th Street.

Good news. Photo via Passyunk Square Civic’s FB page

It’s in the dearly departed former bahn mi shop O sandwiches, which was our first exposure to the tasty Vietnamese hoagies and remains our favorite, hands down.

Here’s a snippet of the Insider’s write-up when Underdogs’ Center City place opened in February, which includes some pics of their inventive, all beef-dogs:

Restaurant veteran Robert Amar is behind the new Underdogs, a subterranean hot dog shop, which opened today (2/28) in the lower-level storefront at 132 S. 17th St. It previously was Argan Moroccan Cuisine.
Underdogs’ base dog is a boiled Dietz & Watson all-beef “5-to-1” – the Tacony meat packer’s signature five-to-a-pound frank – which he’s selling for $3.25 on a sturdy roll from South Philly baker Cacia’s. From there go the toppings – the result, Amar says, of two years of research and development.

Between this and the new Garage on the other side of EPA, drunk late-nighters will finally have an alternative in the area to mediocre cheesesteaks. Bring on the defensive comments, you misguided Geno’s lovers!

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Plenty remodels, opens for breakfast

After the quickest remodeling this side of the Mississippi, Plenty opened for breakfast Monday morning at

Much more seating

The changes aren’t drastic, but there are definite improvements. The counter has been enlarged and turned into a coffee bar, making room for a two-port La Marzocco espresso machine. They’re also brewing regular coffee – all La Colombe – and selling beans to go.

The eight-seat communal table has been ditched in favor of seven tables seating 18 people, plus the four original seats at the window counter (better for people-watching).The former cold case that held cheeses, prepared meals and salads is gone and so is the ice-cream freezer in the back of the room. We believe they’re still going to be selling those items, but we still trying to get in contact today with Anthony Mascieri for more details (he was out when we stopped in). They also plan a juice bar along the back wall.

The new menu – $5.50 to $7 – consists of five breakfast sandwiches, mostly upscale takes on meat, egg and cheese. The fried egg, smoked brisket and cheddar on an artisan roll sounds like a delicious artery clogger, but there’s also a more sensible scrambled eggs, roasted red peppers and pesto on 7-grain toast. Plus there are muffins and other pastries, a greek yogurt parfait and they’ll be doing specials daily.

There’s a sign up saying they have a new website, but it looks like the old one and hasn’t been updated to include the new hours, which start at 7 a.m.

Check back later today for some updates.

Warmer colors than the old, spartan Plenty
The new coffee bar, face with old produce crates
The shiny new equipment
Imagine a juice bar here


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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

Hope for the Triangle Tavern

Meal Ticket reported that the Triangle Tavern across from CVS at 10th and Reed has leased the space to partners opening a new bar – maybe.

The Triangle, via Meal Ticket

A source said that the building owner has leased the space to partners who want to open a new restaurant but didn’t cough up the details. The crew that owns the Cantina and Royal Tavern, Steve Simons and Dave Frank, was reportedly interested in the space but that deal fell through when the building owners wanted too big a cut, the blog reported. One tantalizing tidbit from an earlier post, which hasn’t been confirmed, was this rumor:

No word yet on what it is the Simons and Frank shall do at the Triangle. At one point Frank was heard to have been looking for a space to place Farmers Cabinet cocktail expats Phoebe Esmon and Christian Gaal.

Even if that’s only wishful thinking, it’s OK to dream, right? Because it’s about time the new Passyunk wave took over that place. It’s been kinda creepy for a while.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Toyotomi falls flat, but it’s cheap

On the surface, the new Toyotomi Japanese restaurant that opened this month across from Neumann-Goretti High at 1740 S. 11th St. shows promise. It certainly has better decor than the handful of forgettable takeout places that have filled the tiny corner storefront over the past few years. Dark tones, a handful of plush chairs and red accents dress up the 18-seat BYOB, even if the zebra picture and poster of the Frank Gehry Disney Concert Hall tacky up the joint. The chandelier from Lowe’s, which I briefly considered for my own dining room, sums it up: nothing special, but passable, just like the food.

That’s more than half the dining room
And the rest

We only got a few basics for takeout, so this isn’t a condemnation of the whole menu, especially since we didn’t get any of the fish (don’t judge us, just felt like going to a new place). But the five items we did get mostly failed to impress. Agedashi Tofu, described on the menu as “Fried tofu, scallion, grated daikon in tempura sauce,” sounded better than it was – essentially cubes of soggy fried tofu over a bed of romaine lettuce with a soup container’s worth of weak broth to dip it in. The spears in the Asparagus Denkatsu (“sesame seed glazed with sweet black sauce”) were crisp but drenched in a thick, sickly sweet plum sauce.

We’d get the Japanese Spring Rolls again, crispy on the outside, fresh snap of bamboo shoots and chicken in the middle. California rolls were just fine (like we said, don’t judge), and the Beef Negimaki were tasty, but the slices of seared flank steak wrapped around scallions also was drenched in too much sauce.

Now open, across from Neumann-Goretti

Because of a bit of a language barrier, getting solid info on the place was tough, but the woman manning the counter said that the chef/owner, Sugi Wijaya, runs the place with his family. He was involved with Big Eyes Sushi on 7th and Bainbridge, the spot that took over after the ambitious Roku quickly closed. Before Big Eyes, the family had been living in North Carolina, running a sushi counter at an Asheville grocery store.

Adorable radish butterfly

The best part? We were full on $25 for two people, about half what the same meal would have cost at Izumi for about half the quality. We’ll give it another shot — the $8.99 lunch specials look particularly appealing — but probably only for a quick, cheap fix. And next time, we’ll dive into the fish.

Has anyone else been there? Let us know what you thought in the comments.

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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

Valet parking coming to the Avenue

Coming from Michael Klein at the Insider, two valet parking stands will be set up on EPA, one by the fountain, and the other in front of El Zarape.

The Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corp. is dealing with the explosion of restaurants on East Passyunk.
Right after Labor Day, two valet slips will be set up. One will be on the 1600 block of East Passyunk (more or less from El Zarape to Mr. Martino’s); the second will be on the western side (the Passyunk Avenue side) of the Singing Fountain at 11th and Tasker.
Valet service will be offered on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 till midnight.
Executive director Sam Sherman says the service will be offered at a deep discount for those who dine at participating restaurants, which will fund the valet company. PARC will pay the permit fees.

That’s on top of the valet service offered in front of Tre Scalini. We’re on fire!

Sub a valet stand for that white van
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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Will BYOB’s coming along (updated with pics)


Here are some more pics:

If it looks good from the outside, it’ll probably be pretty good inside
Forgive the reflection, please
Like a stalker, peeking through the window
Another view. They can pull this together by Aug. 24, right?
Original Post:
Meal Ticket checked in with Christopher Kearse, the chef/owner opening Will BYOB at 1911 E.P.A. near the end of August.

MT says he’s in the process of hiring his staff, plucking from his former employers Pumpkin and Lacroix (Kearse has a mile-long resume of short stints at stellar restaurants, including Napa’s French Laundry and at Charlie Trotter’s and Alinea in Chicago).

From the outside renovations appear to be progressing smoothly. New, black fling-out windows are installed and lighting and the paint job look complete. A quick peek inside showed plenty of work to be done though, so hopefully late August isn’t too optimistic.

Kearse seems to think not, though. His Open Table site is up, which is a good sign even if their map is wrong.

Oops, that’s West Passyunk
Check out this incredible story about Kearse from May in City Paper.

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