We're always hearing of new places to try, innovative menus...even new dining neighborhoods. So what does an established restaurant do to compete?
In the case of Old City's Fork...a Market Street denizen for 15 years now...the answer is to be just as innovative as the newbies.
Owner Ellen Yin, a fine chef in her own right, says the ball got rolling when famous chef Terrence Feury turned in his resignation a few months back.
He's now an inn in South Jersey. But Yin took advantage of the opportunity to rethink Fork.
Always known for contemporary farm-to-table food in a comfortable setting, Yin looked at the decor...essentially unchanged since opening day in 1997.
One of the servers happens to be an up-and-coming artist, and Yin commissioned him to create new murals for the dining room. That's the highlight of everything except the chandeliers has a new look.
Yin also hired executive chef Eli Kulp, a farm-to-table believer, and charged him with the responsibility of updating menu concepts.
Chef Kulp still offers some traditional appetizer/entree/dessert choices, but his menu emphasizes small plates.
He also employs a technique-driven style that gives each ingredient only what it needs. Hence, fresh seasonal vegetables this time of year are simply roasted and served with pear vinaigrette. But a guinea hen from a local farm is aged to reduce gamy taste and produce a thin, crisp skin when cooked.
Longtime patrons and new diners are enjoying the innovations. Going forward, Chef Kulp hopes to convince local farms to raise vegetables to his specifications.
He's also offering whole-animal dinners...which might be anything from a duck to a pig. Whole-roasting creates flavors you can't produce any other way. What hasn't changed is Fork's commitment to serve locally-sourced, seasonal food at affordable prices.
The dining room is open weekdays for lunch, brunch on Sundays, and dinner seven nights a week.
Fork is located at 306 Market Street in Old City Philadelphia. Right next-door, Fork, Etc. serves equally fresh and innovative food you can have packed to go. Phone them at 215-625-9425. They're also online a Fork Restaurant.