In this Ultimate Guide to dinning out the Philadelphia way; (The Chef de` Pleasure) edition. I will take you on an eclectically patch worked journey, through the streets, byways, boroughs, and suburbs of Philadelphia; and reveal the hidden treasures that are on and off the beaten paths of this historical city of “Brotherly Love.” In this chef’s choice edition of the ultimate guide, I will not be getting exhaustive in the way of reviewing a vast selection of eateries, café’s, bistro’s, etc. There are enough restaurants in this city to feed a moderately sized country. But instead I will give an informative and personnel guided tour of a select group of fine and unique eating establishments; so it should go without saying, there need not be any type of star rating system in this guided review.
We will start off our guided tour in downtown, Center City, Philadelphia. Within this cities regional area, where you can find almost any kind of cuisine to suite the desires of the most particular and or peculiar of palates, a helping hand can save you time effort and money; so why not take a moment and follow along. Let us head west, over to The Ritten House Park district, a historic landmark area with as much income per-capita as Belle-Air, California; but within a significantly smaller amount of square footage. This public city block area contains everything from, classic euro-coffee houses, artisan bakeries, five star hotels, an exquisite bed & breakfast, and one of my favorites; open front sidewalk café’s. This leads us to our first stop on the tour.
Rouge 2000: 205 S. Eighteenth Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19103 (215)732-6622. Originally opened by Neil Stein, during the welcoming in of a new millennium; this upscale establishment serves new American and Continental dishes. Expect the average entrée to cost $12 to $20, and dress business casual. The daily seasonal menu, (instituted under the reign of Chef Mike Yeaman) was simplistically well thought out and visually composed. With a plethora of repeat well to do clientele there is no need to ask if the quality of the cuisine is worth the wait; I use to work there, and “divine” is the word. Usually, during the seasons of spring and autumn, when the outside café is set up, while the large front window panes are folded back, and the sent of fresh floral breezes dominates the air. You will find a colorful array of the upper crust sun worshipers, sitting along the café strip with their well groomed pedigree puppies, and their pastel yellow, convertible antique Jaguar Xj8 parked in front of them. Enjoying the atmosphere, ambiance, and their entrée with beverage. This local will accommodate singles, couples, and small families of 4 to 6
Next, I will mix the tour up a bit and take you down by South Street; a very popular tourist attraction, with more to appreciate than publicized. If you can appreciate a world class corned beef special, and can consume above ample portions; may I suggest our next food lover’s location.
Famous 4th Street Delicatessen: 700 S Fourth St
(Cross Street: Bainbridge Street) Philadelphia, PA 19147-3102,
(215)-922-3274. Why would I choose a Kosher Deli on this Chef’s choice ultimate dining tour? Because there is one thing that I have learned from my time as a chef; and that is that some of the simplest ingredients can produce the most magnificent meals, no matter what the presentation may be. Famous 4th street deli is a bustling deli that serves oversized classics: corned beef, brisket, matzoh ball soup, scrambled eggs and lox–and doggie bags. During my brief season of service, to the oldest known delicatessen in Philadelphia; I witnessed the broadest array of eclectic clientele in all of my years in the food service business. From Senator Arlen Specter, to the mob affiliates of Joey Marlano; from your local neighborhood 3rd and 4th generational family members, to the comedic prowess of Jackie Mason. The food, business, and clientele of this establishment were quite memorable and very unforgettable. This establishment is suitable for singles, couples, and moderately sized families; large parties reserve space ahead of time.
If lunch time at the deli did not fill you up, let us wander across the street, through Queens Village for a little taste of the middle east.
Alyan’s: 603 S. Fourth St. (west of 4th & South St) (215)-922-3553. Now this is a location that I have not worked at, but I have frequented it over the time period of several years; enough to know of what I speak. If you can appreciate the taste of lean slow roasted and well seasoned portions of lamb, chicken, and beef, that are then grilled to perfection for the finishing touch; you will want to stop by for a spell. As you turn west off of south street on to 4th street, along the southeast side of the street you will see two tables out side of the business that let’s you know that you are there. As you enter this rather quaint establishment, you’ll feel as though you have stepped right in off of the streets of India. The interior arrangement is tight, with room to go directly to your table and be seated. However, the ethnic house music and cultural tapestry, creates the necessary mood to get you and your company past how small this place is. The entrée portions are above adequate, and are consistently pleasing to the palate; I have never had one complaint. The best time to visit Alyan’s is during the evening hours, and if at all possible; tries to get seated in the back room under the skylight. Also, I forgot to mention that Alyan’s is a B.Y.O.B facility, so by all means, bring your own bottle. (Preferably a good red wine) Under those conditions along with the cuisine and good company, the moment will transcend your general location. Alyan’s is a couples or singles environment, not at all suitable for families bigger than a group of four.
So far along, the tour locations that we have visited have been rather casual and toned down; well let us put a momentary end to that. We are going to travel through Queens Village, eastward in the direction of the Delaware River; then we’ll head down to the pier at Penn’s Landing. At this particular upscale destination, a night time arrival with formal to semi formal attire would accommodate the mood of the evening rather nicely.
The Moshulu Dinner Yacht: Café, Restaurant, & Bar. Penn’s Landing, 401 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 215.923.2500 Fax: 215.829.1604 firstname.lastname@example.org. I had the wonderful and fortunate opportunity to be apart of the opening crew of this particular vessel of culinary decadence and enterprise. The 2003, re-opening menu for the Moshulu, was composed and designed by current Moshulu Executive Chef/Partner, and New York City native, Ralph Fernandez; I personally attest that the Chef’s opening menu is was just as creative as it was exhaustive; however the current menu is a well orchestrated affair of international savior and influence. The talent and effort that has been invested into this legacy vessel, has its origins within a well tuned, and finely oiled partnership. However the partners of this four diamond resurrection, only lease and manage this buoyant beautiful operation. One might never know that the Moshulu is owned for the most part, by the Grand-daughter of the Campbell Soup Dynasty. I ate there once, in my early youth, with my mother and company, when I was a child. The contrast of what it once was, to what it is now; are exactly like night and day. Since the launching of the Moshulu (pronounced Mo-shoe’-loo) in 1904, this sea bearing vessel has gone through its share of up’s and down’s. My childhood recollection was of a poorly lit, damp feeling, skeletal representation of what once was; I can’t even recall what I ate or what tasted like. Every since then, the Moshulu has been badly damaged in a almost fatal fire, refurbished and leased out under two other restaurateur ventures. I was there for the second re-opening, and it was a vision to behold, and still remains to this day. Approximately 2.75 million was invested into the final results of this business venture; and it was worth every penny. Visit the web site to get a better pictorial understanding; because words do not bring justice to the ambiance of The Moshulu…
Now let us traverse down the way of the unbeaten and unconventional path, to experience a serendipitous culinary interlude. This little out of the way cafe is an absolute must see; you’ve never experienced something so nostalgically intimate, yet artistically refreshing.
The Spring Mill Café: 164 Barren Hill Road, Conshohocken, PA 19428
610-828-2550. The Spring Mill Café complex consists of three buildings located on 2 acres next to the Spring Mill Creek at the bottom of Barren Hill Road in Whitemarsh Township. The restaurant itself was built before 1880 and previously served as a post office, general store, thrift shop and antique store. The Owner/Chef now has two dining rooms seating 45 people plus an outdoor deck seating 25 when the weather is nice. The country farmhouse was built in 1885 and previously served as a barn and wine retail store. It now seats 30 people for private parties. Chef Michele R. Haines lives on the second floor. The gallery was added to the farmhouse in the 1920s and previously was a fabric shop and a music school. Chef Michele has now developed it as an art gallery. Mrs. Haines started the Spring Mill Café in 1979 in the little back room of the present restaurant with five tables and serving lunches of light French country food. Next she added the deck and also began serving one dinner per month. Then she took over the former craft store in the front of the building and eventually expanded service to dinner five days a week.
Subsequently, she then purchased the entire property and service has now been expanded to seven days a week including breakfast and tea time. Chef Haines started the Café serving traditional French country fare and has over the years added many new dishes from cuisines of other countries that she has visited; ranging from Morocco to Vietnam. The Café has always been a B.Y.O.B. restaurant because she just loves the idea of a place where you can eat good food and try out new wine.
Well in this particular “chef de pleasure” segment of the ultimate guide to dining the Philadelphia Way; a small sorting of eclectic locations were chosen just to tickle the fancy of the reading audience. Due to the vast array multi-cultural and ethnic cuisines that are rough throughout Philadelphia and surrounding areas; an efficient way to convey this ultimate guide expose` is via segmented choice selections. If the reception of this tour guided article is received well enough; more enjoyable culinary ventures and experiences will be passionately shared with you all. So if you are intrigued and want to know more of where to go, eat, and enjoy life while perusing the Philadelphia area; where there is a demand the supply will be met. Until then, enjoy the suggested locations with much epicurean delight; pleasurably submitted form the experiences of “The Aristocrat Nomadic Chef.