g and t say: Every now and then, a restaurant we adore (or hadn’t yet had the chance to adore) closes its doors. These will always hold a place in our hearts, even if we had not visited them.
Palumbo’s Grill: The theme of Palumbo’s was a 50’s diner – there were pink vinyl chairs (there was pink everywhere), a jukebox, and old pictures on the walls from a “simpler” time … Dinners were nothing fancy – burgers, pastas, chickens. Most of it was solid but nothing to write home about (although I remember the BLT – I have never had so much superbly-cooked bacon on a sandwich before), but you’d get a TON of food for your buck (actually, some of our friends were turned off with the quantity of food). So what’s the big deal? The brunch. The omelettes were so bright – the greens and herbs were so vivid that it was if they had just been pulled from the ground when you ordered. The pancakes and french toast were also wonderful and could easily go toe-to-toe with similar starches at every brunchery we’ve so far visited. And then … there were those “special” Sundays: Jack would make “sweet cheese bread” french toast (exactly what you think – make french toast from slices of sweet cheese bread) and tiramisu pancakes (with mascarpone topping). You might be wondering, “who is Jack?” Jack Palumbo was the owner; he’d run the kitchen and also do a little meet-and-greet with patrons. Sometimes he was the only worker there – it was amazing how hard that man worked. But alas, we guess he couldn’t make it work, and now Palumbo’s is no more, replaced by El Fuego. We’d vow to eat at Palumbo’s every weekend (which isn’t very different from what we were doing when he was here) if it would bring Jack back. We’ve tried to imitate those french toasts and pancakes, but they’re just not the same …
Django: When we first came to Philadelphia, this BYO was tauted as “the best” in the city, having received four bells from Craig LaBan. By the time we got there, it was supposedly “on its way out” as the owners Bryan Sikora and Aimee Olexy had moved on (we had just missed them!). Nevertheless, those meals we had at Django in 2005 and early 2006 were some of the best we had ever had in Philadelphia. That said, Django did slowly decline over time, eventually closing its doors in either late 2008 or early 2009. May it rest in peace. We had followed the owners to Talula’s Table in Kennet Square and, since they’ve since split, have gone to both a.kitchen (Bryan) and Talula’s Garden (Aimee).
Pif: One of t’s bosses back in the day ate out in Philadelphia a lot. t recalls that he admitted to eating at restaurants for half of his dinners (maybe he was too busy to be bothered with cooking?). He claimed to have been to every well-known restaurant in Philadelphia, from Le Bec-Fin down to super-tiny spots tucked away in South Philly. So t asked him, “What’s the best BYO?”. He paused for approximately 4 seconds. “Pif.” “What? Beef?” “No. Pif.” As we later found out, Pif was a French BYO that got quite a reputation for serving better-than-Le-Bec-Fin food in a cozy atmosphere with diners wielding very expensive/rare bottles of French wine. At that time, we didn’t know about Pif. We also neither knew about nor could afford nice wines, so perhaps we would have been a little out-of-place even if we were in the know. In any case, Pif ended up closing, and we missed out … Fortunately, Bibou opened up in its place, and this time, we were ready for it!
Susanna Foo: This used to be one of the hottest restaurants in Philadelphia; it was the place to be a few years before we arrived in 2005. It served contemporary Chinese food. But then the times changed. They closed. And now now a Chipotle is in its place (ouch! way to add insult to injury). Fortunately, the chef from back when Foo was “hot” (what a funny sounding phrase), Anne Coll, is now at Meritage and keeps us coming back for the [sometimes available] Korean Friend Chicken, Korean Short Rib Tacos, and Corn Duck Dogs.
Koo Zee Doo: adsz billed this place as “our favorite anti-tapas” restaurant. Everything was served family style and it was wonderful. We have never had such brilliantly prepared octopus, and that duck rice was oh-so-good. We even went there for g’s 29th Birthday! But ultimately, they just couldn’t generate enough week-day traffic to keep open. Sadness. We miss you, Koo Zee Doo. You were unique and fun and inexpensive. And we’ll always have your Pirri Pirri sauce …
Cochon: Ahhh, Cochon. We loved you. First, you stopped offering your crazy-good brunches, with the best pancakes we’ve ever had. Then eventually, you shuttered for real. We cried.