Farewell James on 8th

Awoke this morn­ing to a few tweets between Kristi­na Burke of James on S. 8th St. and for­mer cheftes­tant Jen Car­roll that sug­gest James is shut­ting down oper­a­tions in South Philadelphia.

What a great restau­rant. Loved the atmos­phere, the ser­vice, the drinks and the food. Helen and I went exact­ly twice: first for her 30th birth­day and then Valen­tine’s Day this year. Both meals were prob­a­bly the best I’ve ever eat­en. Always felt that James deliv­ered an amaz­ing food expe­ri­ence with­out feel­ing like a Stephen Starr expe­ri­ence, which is to say, great food in a some­times car­toon­ish atmos­phere. I guess he’s on to something.

Here’s to what­ev­er incar­na­tion the Burke’s dream up next. What­ev­er it is, I know I’ll eat there.

Can You Find Craft Beer in Fishtown?

My eyes rolled very hard when I read this bit from Michael Klein. Fish­town needs anoth­er fan­cy beer place like a hole in the head. I may be will­ing to give it a pass if the food isn’t just anoth­er run-of-the-mill gas­trop­ub as they say, but the thought of squeez­ing into Moe’s does­n’t real­ly appeal either. It would be like set­ting up a restau­rant in my skin­ny lit­tle home.

I know I com­plain about this all the time, but restau­ran­teurs look­ing to take advan­tage of rea­son­able terms here in Fish­town and beyond: please under­stand that sim­ply boast­ing a craft beer selec­tion won’t be enough to lure cus­tomers away from their reg­u­lar haunts. Even bars like Star­board Side offer some nice taps. Want to know how often I go to the Abbaye now that I’m around the cor­ner from Mem­phis Tap­room and Kraft­work? Hell, I don’t even ven­ture as far as John­ny Bren­da’s unless I’m going to see a band. Be more creative!

I know most local beer crit­ics rev­el in this. It’s an embar­rass­ment of rich­es, to be sure. But I can’t help but think that Philly could real­ly use an enfant ter­ri­ble in the beer scene. It’s soft and bloat­ed and increas­ing­ly self-impor­tant. Who will set things straight?

In Praise of the Pork Road

One of the many high­lights of our trip to Puer­to Rico was our excur­sion to the sto­ried Pork Road. For­give the hor­ri­ble pic­ture, but it’s a whole pig roast­ing on a spit.

The Pork Road winds up a hill with pork pur­vey­ors lin­ing both sides. We hit two lechonaras and ate all sorts of porky good­ness: blood sausage, stom­ach, skin, ears and suc­cu­lent pork!

Best part? Not a tourist trap! It remind­ed me of Gilbertsville farm­ers’ mar­ket Zern’s in its heyday.

We Ate at Zahav

I promised Helen at least 12 date nights last Christ­mas and I’ve been doing my best to keep up my end of the bar­gain with the help of friends and fam­i­ly. We final­ly got around to Zahav last Fri­day. (Fair warn­ing: their web­site enables sound. It’s loud.)

We got the three course tast­ing menu, along with the wine pair­ing. We weren’t dis­ap­point­ed. Tried lamb tartare, called kebbe naya, and it blew my mind. It was so lus­cious it just melt­ed in my mouth and the grilled avo­ca­do was a pleas­ant fin­ish. Drank arak for the first time, too. If you’re into licorice-fla­vored liqueurs, I high­ly recommend.

If you’re look­ing to try some­thing new, def­i­nite­ly hit it up. They have some great hap­py hour spe­cials if you’re just look­ing to try it out before you get a reservation.