Hot Potato Cafe: ‘Nightmare’ No More

PW’s Brian McManus reviewed the Hot Potato Cafe in the summer of 2007. He didn’t like it. In May of last year he was invited back by the producers of ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ after a relaunch spearheaded by curse-happy Scotsman and world renown chef Gordon Ramsay. The review that follows is for his return visit. The Hot Potato Cafe episode of Kitchen Nightmares aired Friday. Watch the video while you’re reading the review.


PW’s 10 Best Dishes of 2009

From the restaurants he has reviewed this year, Adam Erace has culled his favorites for PW ’s first-ever list of the 10 best (and five worst) dishes of the year. Adam brainstormed, narrowed it down, then stepped back.


PW’s Guide to Sazerac Cocktails

Invented in 1830s New Orleans by Antoine Peychaud when he mixed his namesake with cognac, the Sazerac has evolved to include rye whiskey and an anise flavored liqueur. Here’s Philly’s best places to get it.


Pizzeria Stella

Pizza meccas like Connecticut, Brooklyn and Phoenix were featured destinations on the multiple research trips the Stella team took before opening. After I tasted some antipasti there was no mistaking: Pizza is the star of this menu.


PW’s Guide to Pickles

If you listen closely you can hear foodies faintly weeping over the last of their local, organic, humanely raised vegetables. Well, fear not food fans for many of our city’s chefs have preserved some of the best produce for the winter stretch.



The MidAtlantic opened in October, featuring a Pennsylvania Dutch-themed menu including crab scrapple, bread pudding fashioned from Butterscotch Krimpets and root beer as a primary cooking ingredient.


New Year’s Eve: Where To Eat

This New Year’s Eve, chefs around town are serving up special menus of some of their most memorable dishes of the year and rolling out luxe ingredients like lobster, truffles, oysters and caviar.


Q&A: Jose Garces

Freshly minted as the Next Iron Chef, Jose Garces talks tattoos, garden parties and the most expensive mango he’s ever eaten. “I have to admit that it just plain feels great!”


Village Whiskey

When reviewing a member of the Garces Restaurant Group, there are a zillion ways to begin; but in the case of Village Whiskey, there’s only one place to start, and that is with the burger.


PW’s Guide to Wings

A valuable sociological tool to understanding the collective psyche of a city is the observation and evaluation of its festivals and celebrations. In Pamplona, the running of the bulls is a manifestation of the importance of masculinity in Spanish culture. In New Orleans, Mardi Gras puts on display the city’s underlying Catholic culture of binge and repent then binge again. And here, in our fair metropolis, we gather once a year to cheer on obese gladiators sucking back hot sauce and butter-soaked fried chicken wings. While the Wing Bowl isn’t going anywhere, the winds of change may be blowing. Philly chefs have begun to raise the lowly wing to fine dining status and proving that quality, at least sometimes, does trump quantity. 

B  Buffalo style
O  Bone out
$  Expensive
L  Large portion
G  Go back for seconds

If You’re From the Streets
Contrary to what you might think, Chef Michael O’Halloran was inspired by the dai pai dong street food of his wife’s native Hong Kong and not a movie about an overgrown ape when he conceptualized Kong (702 N. Second St. 215.922.5664). His tender, sweet-and-sour, garlic chili-glazed wings are brined with szechaun peppercorns and ginger, slow cooked in duck fat, fried to order and tossed in a honey soy chili glaze to make them a king among wings. G

If You Want Dessert
We could eat the smoked chicken wings at Supper (928 South St. 215.592.8180) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Brined, smoked, fried to order and tossed in a birch beer glaze, these Pennsylvania Dutch-inspired appetizers are served on a creamy buttermilk dressing. Eaten all together, it tastes like wings dipped in a root beer float. These are, hands down, the best wings in the city. $ G

If You’re a Champion
The national dish of Peru is roasted guinea pig, but thankfully Jose Garces didn’t feel the need to make his Peruvian-inspired restaurant Chifa (707 Chestnut St. 215.925.5555) overly traditional. It doesn’t take an Iron Chef to realize that boneless sous vide cooked chicken wings stuffed with mushrooms, carrots, and garlic then flash-fried and glazed with soy sauce, fish sauce, lime, lemongrass, chili oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds are way better than rodent nuggets. O $ G

If You’re a Stand Up Guy

Alberto Vargas’ pin-up girl paintings helped many of our soldiers stand at attention during World War II. The beer bar named for him—Varga Bar, (941 Spruce St. 215.627.5200)—deserves a salute of their own for their fall-off-the-bone duck confit chicken wings tossed in a pomegranate molasses-bourbon-chili sauce. G

If You’re a Sinner
Let yourself give in to the temptation of Devil’s Alley’s (1907 Chestnut St. 215.751.0707) sinfully tender chicken wings rubbed with spices including cinnamon and brown sugar then smoked overnight and grilled to order. These passions of the poultry are truly something to raise some hell over.  L G

If You Prefer Tradition
Like the city of Buffalo, the Port Fishington (yes, that is a made-up name) neighborhood is full of folks of Eastern European decent so it’s fitting that the Memphis Taproom (2331. E. Cumberland St. 215.425.4460) is serving up traditional Buffalo-style chicken wings with just a bit of a twist. The all-drumstick batch of fried happiness that we had were first brined in pilsner to insure moist meat then tossed in a flavorful and not overly spiced hot sauce. B L G