Monday, May 27, 2013

Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival

This is a great time to be out and about in Philly. A few weekends back, the GF and I went to the South Street Festival and had a blast. So we were looking forward to the Rittenhouse Row Festival, which had even more vendors, including popular restaurants that we tend to frequent. So we started on the eastern boundary of Broad Street, and made our way west along Walnut Street.

On an overcast day, there were still loads of people out to enjoy the festivities.

Numerous vendors were out, including 500 degrees, which unfortunately was offering just hamburgers and cheeseburgers, no specialty burgers.

Still, even Beefy the Bulldog was out on his skateboard! 

But in terms of our first pit stop for food, it was Stephen Starr's Butcher and Singer

Crab Cake Sandwich ($6)

The crab cake itself was decent enough - crisply fried with mostly crab meat that seemed a bit encumbered by filler. The slaw offered a nice contrast, but really, the brioche was a let down. It seemed a bit stale, as if it had been out for hours. 

I appreciated the fact that Top Chef Kevin Sbraga was out supporting the festival.

There was a sound stage, with a band, and a frontman sporting an Eagle's Jersey. 

There were numerous lobster rolls being offered, including one from Oyster House.

Typically priced at $26 (with fries), these were comparable with Luke's Lobster's prices. Is a price reduction in the works?

Even cotton candy / candy floss was on hand for festival goers. 

The GF and my second stop was at the Happy Rooster
a Rittenhouse watering hole we've never been to. 

So we decided to give both offerings a shot.

Maine Lobster Roll ($7)

Speaking of lobster rolls, the Happy Rooster offered one as well. These were mini-sized, overcooked, and chewy. Especially so soon after tasting Luke's Lobster's goodies, these were disappointing.

Dry Aged Beef Slider ($4)
Blue cheese, sauteed onion, morel mushroom

This slider fared better. The dry aged beef shined and partnered well with the funky blue, though the morel mushrooms did not come through.

Honeygrow was offering slightly healthier eats.

The festival also offered banquet seating throughout - a nice break from the walking, tasting, and perusing.

But on with the tasting! We stopped by Cavanaugh's, which has three locations, including the one at Rittenhouse. Think pub/tavern grub.

House Baked Mac & Cheese ($5)

The real reason we stopped here was for the Mac n Cheese. Unfortunately, this was was all butter and barely any cheese. The accompanying hot sauce had a nice piquancy to it, but unfortunately couldn't salvage the roux-laden mac. 

Pulled Chicken Sliders ($6)

This duo of chicken sliders had a nice heat to them, courtesy of the house hot sauce. Decent, but something I could easily make at home.

Shake Shack was offering delicious bites, no doubt.

As was Vernick, though most of their skewers were sold out within about an hour or two! In fact, by the time we got there, only grilled asparagus skewers were left.

By the time we got to Rittenhouse square, we realized just how much Stephen Starr has invested in Philly. In fact, at this corner, all the vendors were pretty much Stephen Starr-affiliated.

But before we continued on to the food, we took a break in the center of the park and saw a familiar sight from the south South Street Festival - the Sonny Holliday Magic Show!

But moving onward, we noticed a huge stage where culinary 
demonstrations have been going on all day.

We chanced upon Barclay Prime's pastry chef, Christina Christina Diekewicz, who showed the audience how to make s'mores bars. Unfortunately, tastings weren't a part of these demonstrations, to the disappointment of quite a few viewers. Still, it was nice of Starr Restaurant's efforts to support Philabundance, through both a raffle and auction of their dining silverware. And of course, an abundance of Starr Restaurant's desserts were for sale, including macarons from Parc.

Starr's The Dandelion offers British gastropub fare, so we knew we had to try the Cornish pasties.

Cornish Pasties ($5) 
Beef short-rib

These were crisply fried, without being greasy. Buttery, flaky, delicious.

The innards had a nice depth of flavor, with stewed carrots, onions, and short-rib.

Finally, moving north of 19th street, we chanced upon the Koru yogurt truck, which often offers samples on 16th and Market Street. 

Their offerings are incredibly creamy and taste like a dessert custard. For the sweet tooth's out there - this is a good bet.

Overall, the Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival was a success. A large number and variety of vendors offered delicious bites for Philadelphians to sample. Hopefully this will drive even more people to support the incredible food scene is offered by this great city.

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