Posts for December 10, 2012

Restaurant Opportunities Center Drops Its National Diners’ Guide to Ethical Eating 2013

ROC protesters walking the walk in New York

Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United, the national restaurant workers’ organization that works to improve wages and working conditions for the millions in this country who work in the colossal hospitality trade, has released its second annual consumer guide National Diners’ Guide to Ethical Eating 2013. It’s the latest update to the organization’s dining out compendium, but unlike similar volumes published by others, this one rates and ranks restaurants on how they treat their employees. Like earlier editions, it assesses working conditions at some of the highest revenue-grossing restaurants and national chains in America based on worker pay, provisions for paid sick days, and equal opportunity for advancement. In this one, some local restaurants get high marks, but overall, as an industry-wide snapshot, it’s far from flattering. It’s particularly critical of the practices at chain restaurants. This year’s release also comes with a new smartphone app that can be downloaded for free.

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The Mildred’s ‘Serious About Scratch Cooking’; There’s More to Han Dynasty Than Just Heat

• At South Philly’s The Mildred, LaBan finds the kitchen running “reasonably close to its three-bell potential,” with a “quality of ingredients and ambitious preparations” that shows owners Michael Santoro and Michael Dorris are as “serious about scratch cooking,” as they are with presenting “comforting soul and a sense of adventure.” Still, “brackish and over-baconed” house-made chitarra pasta tossed with cockles and uni butter in nori powder, and a “redundantly sweet” vegetarian tortellini show some dishes need “some fine-tuning.” [Inquirer]

• At the Cherry Hill outpost of Han Chiang’s Han Dynasty, Adam Erace assures readers that there’s more to dishes like the chicken in chile oil than the “slow, smoldering burn.” Flavor, and lots of it. He recommends ordering extra portions of the crispy spicy cucumbers, “at once spicy and refreshing in their chile oil bath,” and the pork dumplings. Risk averse diners, he writes, should try the double-cooked style No. 4 with chicken, which “gets the blood pumping but won’t make you break a sweat.” [Courier-Post]

Novak Djokovic Now Controls the World’s Supply of Precious Donkey Cheese

Feta wouldn't do.Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Possibly in order to stand out from the rest of the Belgrade restaurant scene, Serbian professional tennis player Novak Djokovic has reportedly purchased the entire world's supply of donkey cheese known as Pule. Otherwise known as the most expensive cheese in the world, Pule retails for up to $1,350 per kilogram and only comes from one place, that is, the good donkeys of the Zasavica reserve in Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia. Djokovic, who also has a stake in a family-run Novak Cafe & Restaurant (they're looking for franchisees!), will serve the low-fat, high-protein Pule at his restaurants.

But how does it taste? »

Shiprock Pop-Up Brings Navajo Tacos to South Philly For One Night

Shiprock

There may be a million tacos in the naked city — veggie, tongue, carnitas, brains, gluten free, you name it. But almost never the Native American phenomenon of Navajo tacos. That is until now. Beef jerky impresario Marco Espinoza (aka Fidel Gastro) is teaming up with La Calaca Feliz chef Lucio Palazzo and wiener artist Hawk Krall for a one-night pop-up on December January 21, where the seldom seen taco variation, which also goes by fry bread, will take center stage. Dubbed Shiprock after a reservation town in the Navajo Nation, the pop-up will present an a la carte menu that includes mutton stew, meat and vegetarian Navajo taco options, and a traditional sweet fry bread dessert. For that final course, Mr. Krall has created a limited series of prints that will be on sale. It all takes place at 12 Steps Down, and starts at 9 p.m.

Related: Tortilla Triumphs: 15 Knockout Philadelphia Tacos

Bloody Hell: London Might Outlaw Rare Burgers

An endangered species?

We can't believe we're typing these words, but London's Westminster City Council wants to crack down on restaurants serving rare and medium-rare burgers. The London Evening Standard reports that authorities have even enlisted the United Kingdom's top expert on E. coli (really), Professor Hugh Pennington, to advise on the lethality of rare meat — and things look grim.

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Oaky: Robert Parker Leaves The Wine Advocate

Why is this man smiling?

The Wall Street Journal reports that Robert M. Parker, who popularized his now-ubiquitous 100-point rating system and changed the nature of the wine business, is stepping down from his role as editor-in-chief at The Wine Advocate, the vastly influential wine-review publication he started in 1978 with a $2,000 loan from his mom and a few mimeographed copies. The publication has grown to 50,000 subscribers over the years and now occupies a central position in the global wine trade.

The new owners are three entrepreneurs in Singapore. »

California Women Called ‘Fat Girls’ on Restaurant Receipt

Three women looking to square away their tab last Thursday night at a place called Chilly D's inside the Cameo Club Casino in Stockton, California, were shocked to discover that the restaurant's bartender had rung them up as "FAT GIRLS." If you've been tallying all the xenophobic and racist receipts issued to customers at restaurants over the last year, perhaps this latest form of fast-casual hate speech doesn't bother you much. But consider this: After the women discovered the words "FAT GIRLS" on their check, they approached a manager, who offered no genuine apology, but instead initially just a 25 percent discount. They had to talk him up to 50 percent

50 percent off the bill isn't much better. »

Crumbs Finally Opening Today Near Rittenhouse Square

Crumbs

It’s been a minute since we’ve heard of any progress on Crumbs Bake Shop’s entry into the Philly market with a location at 18th and Moravian streets. The New York-based cupcake purveyor’s navigated some troubled waters since first announcing plans to bring its baked goods to the Rittenhouse neighborhood more than a year and a half ago. Shakeups at the very top of the organization set the project back. So far in fact that it was presumed dead last summer. Now with a new CEO steering the sweets ship, that local outpost is on track to open today. But with so many cupcake merchants, both mobile and stationary, already established here, we can’t help but wonder if Crumbs can compete in such a crowded field? Only time will tell. [Insider]

Crumbs Bake Shop, 133 S. 18th Street, (215) 523-9800

Watch Jamie Foxx Play an Angry Ding Dong

The uproar over Hostess closing has mostly been focused on the loss of Twinkies, despite the fact that the company made lots of other things. Someone at Saturday Night Live must have noticed, because this weekend's host Jamie Foxx showed up for a "Weekend Update" segment dressed as a Ding Dong that was tired of being forgotten about.

Remember "Keep Their Heads Ringin'"? »

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