After the high drama of Craig LaBan's bleak review of Avance over the weekend, the somewhat oddball bunch of reviews we got this week comes as something of a relief. Brian Freedman reviews an airport restaurant, Adam Erace takes the week off from restaurant reviews to file his monthly cocktail pick, Phyllis Stein-Novack heads out for South Philly Chinese-American and sushi — and we wouldn't want it any other way.
Before jetting off to Madrid, Philly Weekly's Brian Freedman fits in a judgment on Local Tavern at Philadelphia International Airport (which opened last year at Terminal F, touting Jose Garces as a consultant). Not content to wait for his coach-class rations (which are boldly likened to dog food and cafeteria food — zing! Take that, airplane food!), Freedman orders up a pulled pork sandwich and a side of Brussels sprouts via iPad. And, well, we think he liked it:
That sandwich, expertly moistened by a barbecue sauce perched on the razor's edge between sweet and tangy—and given kick with fried pickles on top—balanced out my pre-flight psyche like I'd never experienced at PHL before.
· Phyllis Stein-Novack was feeling some good ol' Chinese-American cuisine after catching a rerun of Anthony Bourdain at NYC's Hop Kee, so she checked out Johnny Chang's at Broad and Shunk streets. Once she's there, though, she decides to get some sushi as well. Surprised? PSN sure wasn't.
I was not surprised to see sushi and sashimi on the menu because although I thought Japanese food jumped the shark years ago, many Asian sites have added this cuisine to their menus.
It's a good thing she ordered some, because while the sushi was satisfying, Johnny Chang's Chinese food failed to hit the spot. While the wonton soup was good, the dumplings were "gummy," the egg rolls "cold and mushy," and the Peking duck "lacked flavor" and was served with rubbery crepes. (Regular PSN readers will be oddly comforted to hear that not one of these dishes was served hot enough.)
· Philly Gay News checks in with the Tavern on Camac, where the upstairs is still under construction, but the restaurant downstairs has seen a menu revamp from chef Mackenzie Hilton. "The snack menu is especially fun and borderline-addictive," writes PGN critic Larry Nichols, who particularly recommends the pickle plate and the sriracha deviled eggs. Sandwiches, many of which are available either full-sized or as sliders, were also a hit: The fried monkfish po' boy is "definitely one of the best fish sandwiches in the city."
· For his monthly City Paper cocktail column, Adam Erace drops by the bar at Vernick to get the lowdown on bartender Vincent Stipo's milk punch. The drink, Stipo explains, originally combined hot milk and alcohol as a preservation measure.
But wait — combining hot milk with an alcoholic punch. Wouldn't that … curdle?
"It curdles instantly," says Stipo.
As it turns out, though, that's a good thing. And the resulting drink is "also something of a mind fuck — a drink that's clear to the eye but possesses a luscious, creamy mouth feel." (Bonus: not content to restrict themselves to a recommendation, CP also secured Stipo's recipe.)