Chill out on The Porch

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Originally published by The Metro

Michael Schulson is running the show at the outdoor venue, and turning up the heat in Midtown Village. 

A.D. AMOROSI MetroPhilly 

The ramp-up to summer is a time of play over work for most. For Michael Schulson — chef/ restaurateur behind Philly's Sampan and In-dependence Beer Garden and Atlantic City's Izakaya — there's no leisure time in sight. He's already expanded the menu at IBG, and is working on the upcoming Double Knot, a Japanese speak-easy next door to Sampan at 13th and Sansom, and Harp + Crown, a South-ern cuisine restaurant up the street at 15th and Sansom. To add to that, he's setting up shop at The Porch at 30th Street Station, which launched for the season yesterday. "Philly restaurateurs work hard," says Schulson. "We can't half-ass anything." 

That's especially true at The Porch, now that he is the sole vendor at the outdoor space, newly refurbished with greenery and porch swings courtesy of University City District, with design by Groundswell. Last year it hosted a variety of food trucks, but this year its all Schulson. 

He partnered with UCD to do "meals you'd get during a summer day on a porch," he says, and created a food truck concept, the Rotisserie, to serve juicy pork belly, honey-basted chicken wings, and lighter options like watermelon, tomato and feta salad. He also opened a free-standing vintage trailer retrofitted into a bar serving craft beers and cocktails. Both are slated to be open through October. 

Over at IBG 

Schulson and Chef Leo Forneas upped the game at Independence Beer Gar-den, and not just because they brought in ping pong tables and shuffleboard. "When we opened IBG in 2014, we didn't have much food and it wasn't that healthy," Schulson says, laughing. "This year, IBG's on another level."

There are still craft beers, including one created by Yards exclu-sively for IBG that's a light wheat brew. Foodwise, the menu now includes fried whole Lancaster-raised chickens alongside coleslaw, mac and cheese and baked beans, fish and chips, and grilled beef ribs, and lighter choices, such as beet and arugula or kale and raisin salads. "IBG's not just a place to drink," Schulson says.

It's open all summer and closes for the season in September. 

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