The number of great chefs, restaurants, and food trucks in Philadelphia seems to grow by the day. It can be daunting trying to catch up with all of them, planning visits and nights out and trying to make sure you are able to see what all the fuss is about in one place while still making time (and having the funds) to revisit old favorites.
Here, we see the benefit of an event like Audi Feastival this Thursday, September 18: for a single fee, event-goers can taste their way through over 75 of the best chefs and fooderies in the city. In addition, Feastival boasts performances by critically-acclaimed artists from FringeArts, who the proceeds from the event will benefit. There will also be silent and live auctions—both with some pretty heady offerings. An event ticket will cost $250 to experience the night from 7pm – 10pm at Penn’s Landing, or serious attendees can splurge on the $350 VIP ticket, which will get them in an hour early and allow access to the Audi VIP lounge.
The participants for the night read like a who’s-who of the Philadelphia dining scene, including (but certainly not limited to) offerings from All Spina, American Sardine Bar, Bar Volver, Bibou, Charlie was a sinner., CoZara, DiBruno Bros., Ela, Fork, Lacroix, Laurel, Le Virtu, Mamou, Matyson, Morimoto, Noord, Parc, Percy Street BBQ, Russet, Sbraga, Society Hill Society, Tavro 13, Vernalicious, Vernick, Will, Zahav, and Zama (a full list can be found at phillyfeastival.com). It’s no surprise the event will have such a great selection of food, as the hosts of the night are Stephen Starr, Mike Solomonov, and Audrey Claire Taichman.
If you would like to contribute more than just an appetite to the event, there will be plenty of auction items (both live and silent) for your enjoyment. Some of the highlights include two ultimate dinner parties, in which six chefs come to your house and cook for your 10 closest friends (one includes Jon Cichon of Lacroix, Jason Cichonski of Ela, Nick Elmi of Laurel, Terence Feury of Tavro 13, Chris Kearse of Will, and Natalie Maronski of Volver; the other features Joncarl Lachman of Noord, George Sabatino of Aldine, Mike Solomonov of Zahav, Greg Vernick or Vernick, Andrew Wood of Russet, and Peter Woolsey of Bistrot La Minette). Other silent auction items include a day of surfing and dinner at the shore with Mike Solomonov, a night at COOK for 16 people, an ultimate sports package, and plenty of other enticing items (which can be found here).
So whether you want to help out FringeArts or just help your tastebuds, Feastival is not worth missing. The weather Thursday evening looks to be perfect, so bring some friends and join Philly’s top chefs and artists as they celebrate the local food and art culture. Tickets are still available online at phillyfeastival.com, and you can follow the event on Twitter at @PhillyFEASTIVAL.
It has been painfully apparent that, thus far, Mike Solomonov and Steven Cook have been able to do no wrong. And while Philadelphia would have had no complaints had they stuck with their revered flagship Zahav, South Street BBQ haven Percy Street, or budding donut and fried chicken empire Federal Donuts, the two just had to keep going. They just had to bring Solo’s Jewish-influenced small plates (overseen by Zahav alumn Yehuda Sichel) where they’re even more accessible, and they just had to put the quasi-deli right next to a Dizengoff, which serves Zahav’s uber-creamy, perfect hummus exclusively.
The food at Abe Fisher is offered in three categories: vegetables ($10), fish ($12), and meat ($14), all of which can be combined into a $39 prix fixe that will get you one item from each category as well as a dessert. And while likening it to a deli may be putting too simple a spin on things, all the signs are there, from the kasha varnishkes to the salmon belly gravlax , stuffed trout gefilte fish, and corned pork belly.
If anything will make you wish you were at a deli, though, it would be that pork belly. Seared to give it a slightly crisp outside, the thinly-sliced pork is lightly corned and served with challah pretzel bites, emmental, manishewitz mustard, and pickled watermelon radishes. Altogether, it serves as an impressive deconstruction of a pastrami sandwich, but one some level we were wishing for the ability to order deli-style, with the thin cuts of meat piled high and slathered with the mustard, despite the fact that it would probably cost $40.
Another standout, this from the fish section, was the salmon belly gravlax. Still in the small cast-iron tray, the dish is a crispy-around-the-edges layer of smoked salmon hash with peppadews and capers, with strips of salmon belly laid atop. Without being too much on any front, the dish is smoky, salty, fishy (in a great way), and fatty—hitting pretty much every primal desire we have.
Smoke also seems to be the name of the game with the current lineup of cocktails from manager and CookNSolo drinks guru Brian Kane. The standout is the Bonfire, which features Siembra Azul Blanco tequila, Sombra Mezcal, and a Laphroaig rinse with yellow chartreuse and honey to balance it out. Our second drink choice would be the sweet and smoky Blood and Smoke, make with Laphroiag, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, cherry heering and sour cherry. Also not to be missed is the namesake Abe Fisher Cocktail, reminiscent of a martini that replaces the olive juice with pickle juice—a surprisingly satisfying combination.
The beer and wine lists are also above-average, touching on a little bit of everything. The beer mixes local, approachable, and a little bit of out-of-the-ordinary with Lindemans Gueuze Cuvee Rene and Brasserie Dupont’s Moinette.
The official opening of Abe Fisher is tomorrow (September 2), and there are still reservations open. If you can’t get into Zahav, this is a perfect second-choice—and even if you can get in to Zahav, this is still a must-try in the city. Swing by the sister establishment (and neighbor) Dizengoff beforehand for a hummus appetizer for the perfect one-two punch of Mike Solomonov goodness, and there is no way you can go wrong.
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Photos are courtesy of uwishunu.com.
It’s not hard to get a little beer’d out after Beer Week. Hell, this year I was starting to get a little beer-weary after the first weekend. Between that, growing commitments with the day job, and the desire to run more (which means getting into better shape, which means dialing back the beer consumption), it seemed like as good a time as any to take a little hiatus.
Two months later (and I didn’t realize it had stretched to two months), we’re ready to get back in the saddle. This time, however, we’re going to try to both open up and streamline our content. Anyone following the site has noticed less of an emphasis on beer and more of an all-encompassing attitude towards food, beer, and spirits—we hope to develop this further as we go on. We will still focus primarily on beer, but hopefully we can touch on our other loves of food, cocktails, whiskey, and whatever else fits reasonably with our favorite activities of eating and drinking.
We would also like to try to attract more writers. We’ve got a few leads, but the general idea is to try to monetize the website at least a little bit so we can offer some kind of compensation to people who would like to take the time to write something for us. Otherwise, if you would like to write something, please send it in. All we can offer now is the occasional press pass to an event around the city, but hopefully we’ll be able to work on that as we gather steam.
Those are our two main goals going forward: more writers, in order to avoid burnout, and more content for everyone. We’ve got a few other ideas to roll out as the time comes, but for now we just wanted to let you know that we’re still around, still wanting to write, and we’ll be back soon. Thank you for your continued support, and we’ll be having a beer with you before you know it.
My first thought when learning about Meal Ticket’s inaugural Great Sandwiches Event last night was disappointment over the length of time, 6-9pm. Everyone knows any event worth its salt is four hours long, or at least offers a fourth VIP hour. It was then disappointing, on a personal level, when 38 minutes later I had to take a seat because I’d eaten so many sandwiches I could hardly move.
That didn’t take long.
This is how I came to the conclusion that the Great Sandwiches Event, in the very best way, must be what hell would be like: all these amazing sandwiches in front of me—and there were quite a few—and I couldn’t bring myself to take another bite. Although apparently tempeh isn’t nearly as filling as the myriad meat products that were on display, because I was somehow able to eat four of the Jamaican tempeh tacos with scotch bonnet slaw and peanut sauce that the future V Street (coming in the fall from Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby of Vedge)—my clear favorite of the night.
There were plenty favorites to choose from, as well. It seemed every open space inside Union Transfer was packed with sandwich-makers, and if not sandwich-makers, then people serving beer, cocktails, liquor, or wine. This helped to spread out the attendees (after the initial rush), so none of it seemed too packed at any point in the night. A positive situation, because some of these sandwiches required quite a bit of attention.
Take, for instance, the corned beef special from the folks at Schlesinger’s, which was dripping with slaw, or the massive portions or pulled pork Fat Jack’s BBQ (Peoples’ Choice Winner) was serving up. Hot Diggity’s Israeli dog also dripped with delicious fillings. Some other standouts were Pub and Kitchen’s rabbit meatball slider, Soup Kitchen Café’s meatball sandwich (with bacon), and Marabella Meatball Co.’s perfectly fluffy meatball sandwich.
There were a few misses, of course. Avenue Deli’s pastrami chicken sandwich sounded great but suffered from a way-too-high bread-to-ingredient ratio, and the shrimp sandwich from Luke’s Lobster was unremarkable as well as odd in that the bread was hot, but the shrimp were cold. I’m not sure if that’s how they’re supposed to be served, but if it is, it shouldn’t be. Tucked in the corner by the stage were also some Philly regulars that didn’t need much tending—Shank’s chicken cutlet sandwich, Joe’s Steaks serving a cheesesteak, and Primo Hoagies with a party tray.
The Chopped-style sandwich faceoff between Eli Kulp (who went on to win), Scott Schroeder, and Brad Spence was fun to watch, but the sightlines of Union Transfer made it almost impossible to see what was going on—you could either see onto the stage from too-far away, or you could get close to the stage and not see the cooking. Luckily, Dan from TJ Kong made the perfect narrator—part Alton Brown, part Hunter Thompson.
All in all, the $35 price tag for the event was an absolute steal. I don’t know anywhere in the city I could go to get drinks and eat 25 different sandwiches for that price—and then take a break and go back at it. I’m excited that this is the inaugural version of the event, meaning there will be more to come. Maybe, if I don’t eat lunch the day of the event next year, I’ll be able to make it to the 45 minute mark without throwing in the towel.
Ten days is a long time, and you’re not sure if your liver—or your wallet—can sustain going full blast for the entirety of Beer Week. Don’t worry, we get it. That’s why we’re here with our single favorite event each day, to help you pace yourself and not miss any of the excitement of the best 10 days in the city.
If you missed it, check out Part 1 here. Then, check out Part 2:
Wednesday, June 4
Dunkel Dare | Frankford Hall | 7:00pm – 9:00pm | PAYG
For its third year in a row, Dunkel Dare will take over Frankford Hall’s outdoor area in Philly Beer Week’s version of everyone’s favorite childhood game show, Double Dare. What’s even better is that Marc Summers will be there to host it, bringing your adult love of beer and your childhood desire to be on Double Dare crashing together. Watch as contestants help their favorite breweries get a year-long spot on the taps at Frankford Hall.
Thursday, June 5
All Day Pig Roast | Varga Bar | 2:00pm – 11:00pm | PAYG
Varga will be roasting suckling pigs outside all day, with pork platters available with sides. If the one we went to two years ago was any indication, this is going to be some of the best food you’ll be getting during beer week, so don’t miss out. If you plan it right, you can swing by for lunch and then again for dinner. Take the opportunity to chat with the staff as they turn the spit outside, as well.
Friday, June 6
Gose Gone Wild | Brauhaus Schmitz | 5:00pm – 2:00am | PAYG
Celebrate the beginning of summer with the light, refreshing, and delightfully sour/salty style of German beer known as Gose. Brauhaus will be featuring a range of goses, including Ritterguts, Freigeist Geisterzug, Abraxxas, Leipziger, Leiziger Pineus (laudered through dry pine needles), and Leipziger Gewuerz (brewed with orange peel, cardamom, and nutmeg), as well as several other German sours. These beers are all low ABV, so it’ll be a great rest day for your liver. Pair them with any of the great dishes at Brauhaus and you’ll have yourself a perfect Friday night.
Saturday, June 7
Hotdog & Homebrew Extravaganza | Memphis Taproom | 12:00pm – 4:00pm | $35
Hopefully you got your ticket, because the best homebrew event of the week is surely going to be sold out. For the low price of $35, you get unlimited homebrew from some of the area’s best amateur brewers, as well as unlimited hotdogs from Memphis’s amazing hotdog cart. This is our first year not brewing for the event, but we’ll still be there to support the hard-working homebrewers and to eat our weight in gourmet dogs. A favorite event of ours every year!
Sunday, June 8
TTUD | Fergie’s Pub | 7:00pm – ? | PAYG
“That Totally Unnecessary Drink” has become the traditional way to close out Philly Beer Week with one last glass of beer—or many last glasses of beer. Beers will be from Allagash and Yards, and there will be live band karaoke, so you can pretend you’re a real rock star. Have a few beers to get up your courage to sing, or use your stage performance to sweat out a week’s worth of beer. Either way, see the week out in the right way and pay your respects to another successful Philly Beer Week.
Late Night with Joe Gunn | Jose Pistola’s | June 3 – 5, 11:30pm – 2:00am | PAYG
One of Philly Beer Week’s favorite events, join Joe Gunn as he hosts his very own late night variety show at Jose Pistola’s for three nights only during Philly Beer Week. If you’ve seen it before, or if you know anything about Joe, you know it’s going to be a great time. There will be plenty of special guests to take part in the “part variety show, part circus” that is Late Night. Do yourself a favor and go at least one night during the week.
Photo courtesy of Stephen Lyford.
Being the great city for beer variety that Philadelphia has become, sometimes it’s hard to track down a beer that hasn’t been on multiple taplists throughout the city, something that is worth your time to leave work early, trek across the city, and crowd into a bar with 100 other beer drinkers that want the same beer you do. Luckily for you, Philly Beer Week specializes in getting beer that most Philadelphians are out of luck on unless they travel out of state, and this year has some big ones. Here are some breweries that you will only be seeing in the city for Beer Week, or that don’t have a large presence in the city otherwise.
Maybe the most looked-forward-to brewery stopping by during the week, Surly only has two events scheduled throughout the week and only one in the city. On Monday, June 3, they’ll be making their Philly debut at Pub on Passyunk East at 7:00pm. Philly Tap Finder has the taplist, and it is impressive—impressive enough to cram into the POPE late on a school night to try to get some beer. Your other option for Surly is to shoot out to Iron Abbey in Horsham on Tuesday, June 4 at 7pm for the same line-up, as well as cans of Furious, Overrated, and Coffee Bender to go.
New Belgium Brewing
New Belgium is another brewery many people are looking forward to having in Philly, if only for a short time. While they will also only be in town for two days, there are a few more events to get to, including tap takeovers at City Tap House (May 30, 8:00pm), Varga Bar (May 30, 11:00pm), Bishop’s Collar (May 31, 5:00pm), and Strangelove’s (May 31, 8:00pm). City Tap House’s should be the best, since they have a lot of space and a ridiculous amount of taps. But really, and chance to get this beer will be worthwhile.
Craft beer darlings Funky Buddha are bringing some kegs up from Florida once again for a Beer Week-only visit. They’ll have three events over three days, so plan your nights correctly in order to grab some of their odd-sounding but delicious beer. They’ll debut at the Churchville Inn (June 4, 7:00pm), followed by Local 44 (June 5, 7:00pm), and then wrap up their stay with Brü (June 6, 1:00pm-4:00pm) with fellow Floridian brewery Saltwater. These will be the only bars to get their beer until next Beer Week, or your next trip to Florida.
Cleveland hometown heroes (for us, anyway) will make it into town for one event and one event only, so be sure not to miss it. Brewer Matt Cole will be at Nodding Head on June 7 from 3:00pm – 6:00pm sampling some of their beers (Double IPA gold medal winner Hop Juju? Two-time American IPA silver medal winner HeadHunter IPA? Stop in and see) as well as a collaboration beer Matt did with Gordon Grubb at Nodding Head just for Philly Beer Week.
Tom Peters of Monk’s Café once again breaks out a collection of beers he helped to brew that don’t see the light of day much outside of Beer Week. The event last year had some amazing beers, and this year looks about the same. Past and current Philly/Belgium collaborations for Philly Beer week will be available (including Brotherly Love, Special Belge, and Philly Tripel) as well as Firestone Walker’s PNC Imperial Buckwheat Stout, Dock Street’s Trappiste Pale, Allagash PNC Broken Elevator, and the delightful Rook & Leer imperial smoked stout aged with brettanomyces for 12 months in a Lagavulin barrel. Get them while you can, which is June 7 at Monk’s from noon to 5:00pm.
Photo of Tom Peters courtesy of Stephen Lyford.
Everyone wants to do as much as they can during Philly Beer Week, and there is plenty to choose from. Last year, Bryan Kolesar at the Brew Lounge counted 896 unique events—that’s 90 events per day. How are you supposed to wade through it all? Hell, how is your liver supposed to make it past Tuesday? You won’t be able to make it to all the events, of course—that would be physically, emotionally, and financially impossible. But, if you pace yourself, you may be able to hit all the best ones and not burn out by mid-week. And since we always like to help, here is a list of what we think of as the best event for each day of the week. If you only do one event per day, you can’t go wrong with these.
Friday, May 30
Hammer of Glory Relay | Various Locations | 9:45am – 7:00pm | PAYG
The H.O.G. Relay is the most fun you’ll have all week. Follow the beloved symbol of Beer Week as it goes from bar to bar throughout the city to inaugurate the festivities. There will be plenty of goofy modes of transportation and the bars are all sure to have beer specials throughout the day—and most especially while the Hammer is in house. Everyone comes up with great transit each year, but not to be missed are the Hopangel/Grey Lodge legs, Standard Tap, and Kite and Key. Definitely worth a day off work.
Saturday, May 31
It’s a Firkin Riot | Johnny Brenda’s | 11:00am – 10:00pm | PAYG
The all-day celebration of local cask beer is one of our highlights of Beer Week every year. The event will feature JB’s custom-welded rack that can hold six firkins atop the bar at once, and as with past year the DJ will be playing British rock and there will be fish and chips and meat pies on special. You can get full or half pours from the firkins, so come in ready to try a little bit of everything. Philly Tap Finder has the taplist.
Sunday, June 1
Throwdown in Franklintown V | Kite and Key | 2:00pm – 6:00pm | PAYG
If you’ve ever wanted to see brewers, reps, and bar owners battle it out in the middle of the street in such events as boxing, sumo wrestling, chariot racing, and skills competitions, the Throwdown is as good as it’s going to get for you. This year will feature, as always, Tom Kehoe of Yards vs Jim Kirk of Kite and Key, Wendy Domurat of Dogfish Head and Suze Woods of Allagash, and now Greg Lehman of Victory and Nick Johnson of Troegs. Watch them make their grand entrances and then battle it out as you drink it all in—literally.
Monday, June 2
Surly Brewing “Pleased to Meet Me” | Pub on Passyunk East | 7:00pm – 12:00am | PAYG
This is it: the long-awaited Philly debut of Surly Brewing, and one of only two events they’ll be at this year (and the only one in the city). This one should be packed, so get there early and stake your claim at the bar—or wherever you can fit. Philly Tap Finder has the taplist, and you’re not going to want to miss these gems. One can only hope that there will be flights and tasting-sized pours so you can try a little of everything.
Tuesday, June 3
Dunk Tank | London Grill | 3:00pm – 7:00pm | PAYG
The Dunk Tank is a Philly Beer Week institution, and rightfully so. Dunk your favorite (or least favorite) beer or food personality in the city, and PAWS reaps the benefits. The street is shut down for live music and beer and food tents, so bring your family (and your pup) to this festival for a great afternoon. Throws at the dunk tank will cost you $5 for three, $12 for nine, or $20 for 15—and they can be shared amongst your friends. Pick out who you’d like to dunk (Yards’ Tom Kehoe, Chef Evan Steplow of Belgian Café, Bill Manley of Sierra Nevada, Sparks the Philly Beer Week web guy, and many more) and throw early and throw often—you benefit, and the animals of PAWS benefit.
Check out part 2 here!