Food & Drink

A family-friendly, pop-up beer garden on a decrepit West Philly block?

March 22, 2017

Longtime West Philly resident Jeff Lutzner pitches “Pentridge Station,” a playground/park/beer garden proposed for a vacant lot on the 5100 block of Pentridge Street (Photo by West Philly Local).

A longtime West Philly resident is gambling that people will want to travel down a troubled street that is lined with abandoned cars, empty buildings and a quasi-legal automotive shop that sometimes hosts raucous outdoor parties during which shots have been fired to visit his kid-friendly, pop-up beer garden.

It sounds risky, but several people who attended last night’s Cedar Park Neighbors zoning committee meeting to discuss the proposed seasonal beer garden in an abandoned lot on the 5100 block of Pentridge Street said they will support it. Jeff Lutzner, a longtime resident and block captain on the 4900 block of Cedar Avenue, owns the lot and hopes that the beer garden/playground might bring some much-needed attention to the block.

“We really want it to be a place where families could convene,” Lutzner told the 30 or so people gathered at the meeting.  Continue Reading

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Curry Bird brings dumplings and bubble tea to 46th and Woodland

March 20, 2017

After working as a server in Philadelphia for many years, Guo ‘Sunni’ Tang was done. “As a server, you work 12 hours a day and don’t make much money,” she explained. “I want to make more money to improve life for my parents.”

Driven by a goal of supporting her aging parents and the desire to provide a wider selection of food for the University of the Sciences student population and the area surrounding it, Tang decided to open a dumpling and bubble tea spot. Curry Bird, a new Cantonese and Thai takeout restaurant, is at 4604 Woodland Ave. (where New China Gourmet used to be), adjacent to Noah’s Pizza.

The shop had its soft opening on Saturday, where chicken curry and veggie dumplings samples were given away to neighbors at no charge. News spread via word of mouth.

The interior has been completely redesigned with wooden panels and wooden floors. Another thing you’ll notice is that there are no servers, but just a takeout restaurant with minimal seating.  Continue Reading

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Old City’s Xi’an Sizzling Woks opens at 40th and Chestnut

March 10, 2017

The intersection of 40th and Chestnut Streets has seen some restaurant changes as of late, with Dim Sum House and Ekta opening a couple of months ago. Now, a brightly colored Xi’an Sizzling Woks BYOB has found a sprightly colored yellow, blue and red home on the southwest corner of the intersection where Saigon Cuisine used to be.

Craig LaBan described the flagship location in an Inquirer review back in 2013 as “this isn’t your dad’s old Cantonese chow mein joint. It isn’t his Hong Kong duck house, either. Or even your cool-kid friend’s latest Sichuan obsession.”

With adventurous menu items such as Chinese hamburger with minced pork, pita bread soaked in beef and lamb soup in addition to lamb kabob skewers, the restaurant puts on a fresh spin on Chinese cuisine. The menu also offers some interesting specials such as Smoked Tea Duck and a house noodle casserole.  Continue Reading

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Aksum owner opens a New American-inspired restaurant on Baltimore Ave

February 2, 2017

Aksum is among the finer dining options on Baltimore Ave, it’s actually one of my favorites to take out-of-towners to when they come to visit. Owner Saba Tedla has held her restaurant to a high standard, plans to continue with her new restaurant, Booker’s Restaurant and Bar. The new 2,400-square-foot space opened last month just a few blocks away – on the 5000 block of Baltimore.

Don’t expect the same menu as Aksum. Booker’s will offer a more expanded and New American-inspired menu thanks to chef Michael Thomas, who worked previously at Bar Ferdinand in Northern Liberties, Lolita in the Gayborhood, Kraftwork in Fishtown, and Honey’s Sit-and-Eat on South Street among other spots.

Booker’s menu will offer small items such as fried smelt and local mushrooms, large items such as the vegan terrine and pan-seared trout as well as dessert items such as dolce de leche breaded croquettes. This restaurant will also have a bar with a focus on bourbon mixed cocktails and will also feature a wine selection. There are no plans of offering a wide selection of beer options. Tedla describes the menu as “Old classic dishes that are converted to a modern American style.”  Continue Reading

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Dim Sum House opens near 40th and Chestnut

January 24, 2017

Photos from Dim Sum House’s Facebook page.

Maybe you’ve been there: you want dim sum but you don’t feel like getting on the trolley or the El all the way to Chinatown to go to Dim Sum Garden. Not to worry, Dim Sum House has arrived in University City with a heavy Cantonese lean thanks to restaurateurs Jane Guo and Jackson Fu.

According to captain server Khoa Nguyen, Guo is related to the owners of Dim Sum Garden but she has no shared business interests. “The owner of Dim Sum house is the wife of the owner of this place. We didn’t take any of their servers or chefs or anything like that,” said Nguyen.

Guo also owns Szechuan-style Chinese restaurant Jane G’s in the Rittenhouse Square area.

When you walk into Dim Sum House, the decor is a little upscale and the bar is set up to look trendy. I know what you’re thinking, this must be pricey. Well, it’s not. The cheapest thing on the menu was in the neighborhood of $5 while the most expensive entree was $15, save for a few chef’s specialty items like Peking Duck, which go for as much as $25. The offerings also go beyond just dim sum, including more common entrees like Szechuan Beef.  Continue Reading

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New grocery store operator confirmed for 40th and Walnut

January 11, 2017

The University of Pennsylvania has confirmed that the Fresh Grocer that has been operating at the corner of 40th and Walnut for 15 years will soon be replaced by another operator.

In an e-mail to West Philly Local, Jennifer Rizzi, Director of Communications at Penn, confirmed that the university, which owns the building where the Fresh Grocer is currently located, “began lease discussions with a new operator and will soon announce plans with this operator for an exciting, upgraded state of the art urban supermarket at the 40th and Walnut location.” The decision to seek proposals from a variety of grocery stores for this location was made after the Fresh Grocer “failed to renew the lease for almost 4 months after the deadline [November 2015],” according to the email.  Continue Reading

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