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PHILLY HOPS NEWSLETTER - NEWSLETTER IPublished by Betty Robinson www.phillyhops.com 215 426-5644
This is the first newsletter published by Philly Hops. The goal of our newsletter is to share facts and details on what's new and what's happening in and around Philly. We will be including some fun stuff, some educational stuff and some "insider" details, the kind that makes our lives easier.
Philly Hops Newsletter is proud to be including contributions by local experts every month. Today's guest writer is Ken Alan, columnist for such magazines as Mid Atlantic Events and Style. Known for his wit and humorous antidotes, Ken is also a Philadelphia concierge whose tendrils reach out far into the community!
IN THIS ISSUE
HOTELS URGE TO SERVE: FROM PET SITTING TO THEMED BUBBLE BATHS
+THE RISE THIS FALL OF UNIVERSITY CITY
+ HOW TO AVOID THOSE ANNOYING TRAFFIC SNARLS
+ HOW TO GET THOSE HARD TO GET EAGLES TICKETS
+ REVIEW: STEPHEN STARR'S HOT NEW RESTAURANT ALMA DE CUBA
HOTELS URGE TO SERVE: FROM PET SITTING TO THEMED BUBBLE BATHS
Philadelphia hoteliers aim to please. In fact, many will do almost anything to ensure that their guests’ needs – no matter how unusual – are satisfied. Here are just some of the unique services and amenities offered at area properties.
At the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, VIPs (Very Important Pets) are treated especially well. Guests traveling with pets can take advantage of numerous services including: veterinarian information, pet shop and grooming locations, pet-sitting contact information, dog-walking routes, pet attractions and pet-friendly restaurants. A special pet room service menu is also available. Upon check-in, guests of the four-legged variety receive a complementary bag of treats and a toy.
An extensive menu of butler-drawn baths is just one of the many services offered at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia. Guests can choose from The Bubbly Bath, the Gentlemen’s Bath, the Stress Relief Bath and Mr. Bubble. Or, for those looking to truly experience Philadelphia, there’s the Independence Bath, an energizing bath served with Philly’s famous soft pretzels and mustard and a frosty mug of Yuengling, Rolling Rock, Independence or Dock Street Beer.
The Rittenhouse Hotel strives to ensure that international travelers feel welcome at their property. Each guest receives a welcome letter from the General Manager with his or her country flag and an appropriate amenity such as English candy and mints. In addition, international travelers are greeted by their country’s flag in the lobby.
Guests of the Four Seasons Philadelphia need not travel far for the perfect cup of cappuccino. Upon request, a room service waiter will make the frothy concoction in the guest’s room in just seconds. This service allows visitors to enjoy a cappuccino (with that perfect creamy white top) as if they were in the hotel’s own world-renowned Fountain Restaurant.
THE RISE THIS FALL OF UNIVERSITY CITY
Within the Land of Matriculating Students, Sansom Commons and a place called Pod, University City will soon have a surge of new retail and dining destinations to add to its external curriculum, located at a campus near you:
Owned by renowned Philly chef, Anne-Marie Lasher. (formerly from Fork Restaurant) Penn's new gourmet take-out shop will serve up fresh and nutritious platters, prepared foods, coffees and other imaginative fresh foods. Open six days a week, 7AM to 7PM. 3133 Walnut Street.
* Philly Diner
Evoke a taste for Philly food and Philly memories at the Philly Diner, the classic American diner on campus. Timeless and traditional, inspiring and indigenous, all three squares get the real Philly Treatment at this exciting new diner. 3925 Walnut Street.
* Bonne Crepe
Sweet and savory, fluffy and flavorful, the crepe has returned in a lightly doughy way at Bonne' Crepe's made-to-order open-air kitchen. 3101 WalnutStreet.
Not just a salon... Call it a Sa---lon, and an award-winning one at that. This airy, post-industrial space features a renowned group of top stylists, along with a fully stocked section of the best in hair care, make-you-beautiful products. 3129 Walnut Street.
* Smith Brothers
Smith Brothers is the region's fastest growing retailer of women's and men's clothing. Jean-up, t-shirt on, jacket yourself, get sweatered and accessorized in such name brands as Diesel, Buffalo and Kenneth Cole. Cutting edge in UCity. 3661 Walnut Street
Suddenly, Penn and Drexel's University City isn't just for university-goers, anymore!
"I am not a glutton. I am an explorer of food."
To you, they are The Eagles, those high-flying birds that look to repeat their winning ways along the grassy gridiron this season. If, however, you are above the age of 50, are a native of either South Philly or the Overbrook section of town, call guys named "Charlie" - "Cha-lee" and pronounce our fair city as "Philalufia", then to you - the are The Iggles.
Either way - September marks another opening season.
Eagles tickets have always been a premium procurement in the 7+++ years I've been here. Most of the better seats (read: lower level ones) almost always sell out, and I don't recommend those devious scalpers as a pre-gametime option.
Consider calling our man Val at John's Ticket Service and let him know that your concierge
sentcha. Val always has tix available - even to such
toughies as Dallas and Washington - and his pricing will be less than what other agencies
HOW TO AVOID THOSE ANNOYING TRAFFIC SNARLS
Drive onto any one of these informational highways to learn more about what's happening construction-wise within the area:
www.PhillyTraffic.com - For planned construction events that may impact your commute.
www.LocalRoads.com - Offering municipal road and utility work information on all local roads in Montgomery, Chester, Delaware and Bucks Counties. A good resource when you want to find out about those side avenues, what you won't hear on the radio traffic report.
www.USRoute30.com - Get the latest construction information on the US Route 30 reconstruction project. Includes maps and photos.
www.gvftma.com - The Greater Valley Forge TMA homepage; including updated construction and commuter news.
REVIEW: ALMA DE CUBA
"Soul of Cuba" is what Stephen Starr's shadowy and amber hued vision looks like inside 1623 Walnut Street. with each dusky and moody part of this tri-leveled space reflecting a designers mind gone into Latino hyperdrive, with steamy accents that urge visitors to enjoy a five- sensicle experience.
When this former Le Colonial space (I still feel a twinge of sadness every time I write that) came Starr's way, the original plan was to make cosmetic changes only to the palmed wicker French Vietnamese site. Then, the schematics flew out the window and a new vision emerged on the drawing boards.
The final product produces cool heat. Starr uses mood lighting; soulful glows and hot spots that cast dark cuts throughout. Many right angles abound here inside Alma - cubed tables, rectangular wall extensions, and sound: the deep thrum of island music through hidden speakers. Downstairs, a series of ceiling-high black and white photos - a slow-flip catalogue of Cuba on film - visually illustrates a cyclorama of everyday life, deep inside this cave of soulful wonders.
If you're still reading at this point, then you probably already know who Douglas Rodriguez is - the so-called "Godfather" of nuevo Latino cuisine; creator of this era of modern island and South American fervor; linked now in a pairing with Club Scene Dining maven Starr. But again, you know all of this...
What you may not know yet is what the fare tastes like. I'll tell you that it's adventurous; a mixture of ingredients that you're not likely to have ever tasted before. Menu items come with nicknames like Vaca Frita "Fried Cow" (Twice cooked crispy skirt steak with onions and Cuban oregano with black beans, white rice and avocado salad). See what I mean?
For starters, I sipped a quenching Mojito ($9) - this year's Cocktail of Choice it seems - starring Bacardi Silver, muddled mint and lime with a dash of bitters. It's a clean sip. Refreshing. Not sweet.
Now to the Alma Sampler: One delightfully giant Oyster Rodriguez, one crispy fried Crab Empanada and one Smoked Marlin (getting buzz around town as a top bar nosh) was a delicious splitter for the two of us. A bargain at $12.
My companion had Adobo Rub Rack of Lamb ($28) and pronounced each ingredient (Yuca and goat cheese rellena with lamb picadillo and mint chimichurri) as Outstanding!. A few bites from my end of the table made me agree. I opted for the Lechon Asado ($19), crisp roasted pork with traditional sour orange mojo, served with congri (red beans and white rice) and sweet plantains. A Chili's chain this ain't!
I'll say "go for it" because I've heard so much positive feedback from this dish. Admittedly, I didn't land the most flattering (least fattering?) piece of pork. It was too thick of fat layers and not as meaty as I would have liked. But the marriage of exotic flavors was too much for me to stop eating from it.
Desserts are from Cuba's Alma as well. An award winning Venezuelan chocolate hazelnut mousse with rich chocolate glaze and vanilla ice cream that lived up to it's name - "Dats Da Bomb" - and it truly was a classic dessert, swimming in caramel, chocolate and vanilla sauces ($8). From Yuca fritters in anise syrup to Banana Tres Leches ("Three milks"), you'll taste why the final course is as requested as the main ones here...
A sensible and southern wine list of reds and whites compliments the overall experience. Fifty-eight offerings, or so I counted, each listed as either Light Bodied, Medium Bodied or Full Bodied - making the selection process much simpler and more enjoyable.
As I did, you'll go to Alma de Cuba with a quizzical sense of wonder. You'll leave feeling full, fiery and, as this is Stephen Starr's creation - so very hip.
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