So, the big news in Philadelphia’s foodie community is Food and Wine EIC Dana Cowin’s recent tour of the Philly dining scene. Cowin is fascinated with the fact that Philly is a “great food city” and an “amazing food destination” that nonetheless breaks all her rules for judging a city’s restaurant scene. All of Philly’s current hotspots are picked up on—restaurants mentioned include Vetri, Osteria, Tinto, James, Ansill and Southwark. Even our beloved Northern Liberties Judeo-southern brunch spot Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat gets a front of book shoutout.
But what really interests us are Cowin’s criteria for judging great restaurant cities and how Philly stands up. She (rightfully) decries the PLCB’s archaic wine policies and notes that the city has very few “maverick chefs” like WD-50’s Wylie Dufresne or Alinea’s Grant Achatz. It is a surprising lack, especially since scientific research and the pharmaceutical industry are major cogs in the post-industrial Philly economy—GlaxoSmithKline and UPenn, we’re totally looking at you right now. The assumption is that an educated, novelty-craving public would be into the idea of experimental cooking and molecular gastronomical hijinx; but for some reason, ever since Pod retired their early menu, noone here has tried it.
All in all, a great article, though it’s disappointing Cowin never made it out of Center City and into Philadelphia’s ethnic neighborhoods. Over the past decade, the city has received its greatest influx of immigrants in a century and the effects for the quality of food in this city have been immeasurable. South Philadelphia is home to some of the best Oaxacan cooking available outside of Mexico or Los Angeles. Brazilian immigration to northeast Philadelphia has resulted in an amazing pizzeria—which serves their pies with sweetcorn. Even our pint-sized Chinatown is now home to Fujianese restaurants that best those in New York. Maybe next time.
What Defines a Great Food City? [Food and Wine]