Tower Bridge execs have another reason to celebrate their clutch locale: Recently rehabbed Stella Blu is in full swing with a bevy of happy hour specials offered 5-7 p.m. at the bar. For wine enthusiasts, Stella offers Flight Nights Monday-Friday, with your choice of three wines by the glass (2-ounce pours) for $8. Monday-Wednesday, throw your own wine and food tasting as Stella cuts the price of small plates in half. And on Tuesdays and Thursdays, dive into a martini (choice of five) for $5.
Business has been so good for Victory Brewing Company that owners Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski are throwing down an estimated $2.6 million to amp up the restaurant’s ambiance and seating capacity. Although a fan of Victory brews, I always wondered why Barchet and Covaleski let the hip factor slide in terms of innovative design and cuisine. After all, this is the age of the microbrewery, and they’ve been holding major shindigs and beer and food tastings for several years now (and after seeing Triumph Brewery in Old City, I know what we suburbanites could have).
Highlights of the new Victory space include pub-y wainscoting, cushy booths, two pool tables, a 15-foot projection TV, a 20-tap tower and four hand pumps for cask-conditioned ales, a new “beer hall” dining space to accommodate up to 75 guests (equally fun for an informal rehearsal dinner or a bachelor party), and a shiny, new expanded kitchen complete with an authentic wood-smoking pit oven for barbecue. The restaurant and retail operation will shut down for about six weeks beginning March 30, so stock up. I’m salivating already.
Just in: “From Russia with Love,” a cooking class taught by Russian immigrant and local private chef Olga Metsker. (Stay tuned for a chef chat if I can pin her down.) The class is Jan. 29 at the Inn Keeper’s Kitchen at the Dilworthtown Inn. Call (610) 399-1390 for reservations.
I’ve never seen an episode of Top Chef, but I recently had the pleasure of meeting one of its regular special guests, Eric Ripert. You know, that handsome Frenchman pictured in culinary magazines getting all bubbly over champagne … king of Le Bernardin, NYC’s internationally acclaimed four-star seafood restaurant. He and his newly appointed 10 Arts chef de cuisine, Jennifer Carroll, were in town to unveil details about the highly anticipated new restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton (owned by Main Liner Craig Spencer), which will be housed in the hotel’s stately rotunda. The space looks awesome in the buff, so it’s easy to imagine how fabulous it will be once the transformation takes place.
Expect a sexy, modern, sophisticated vibe redolent of Manhattan or Europe, neutral but bold hues, and a casually elegant menu replete with offerings from local purveyors. A born-and-bred Philly girl, Carroll is a welcome addition to a restaurant scene with only a handful female chefs de cuisine. She’s attractive, insanely nice, unpretentious, teeny-tiny and obviously talented, coming off a string of reputable stints—most recently at Ripert’s kitchen in NYC.
Rest assured, Ripert is no pompous celebrity chef. His enthusiasm for Philly and for this project is undeniable, and he’s determined to be more than just another name on the Ritz’s marquee.
Ciao for now!