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The Commissary. . .

If you remember The Commissary-- will you help me describe it to my husband? A photo would be dandy, too. It may have been the most radical and wonderful restaurant of my eating life. Even now the concept seems contemporary, and as I tried to describe it, my memory lacked details. What I do remember is delicious and fresh food, food stations, sleek interior, and that the menus changed nightly. Did they punch a card when you picked up an item? Ah, yes, and it was fun, too--

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  1. I remember their great carrot cake.

    DCM, please post the recipe!

    4 Replies
    1. re: george2

      It is the carrot cake recipe l still use, it is still perfect

      1. re: george2

        This brings back memories. It's funny -- I am not really a carrot cake person but I did enjoy theirs. The Commissary's matchbooks had a carrot on them, too. I still have one of their matchbooks.

        1. I remember having a wonderful cold artichoke with a mustard sauce I've never been able to duplicate (anybody?). I have their cookbook, which has wonderful chocolate chip-oatmeal cookies, a good carrot-ginger soup, & their signature carrot care. They were ahead of their time in the Phila area. Steve Poses also opened Eden, a more casual restaurant, and Frog, an upscale restaurant with a minimalistic decor. I was lucky to work as a secretary in center city back then & my bosses let me choose a restaurant for an expense-account lunch once a month or so -- Poses' restaurants were my favorites.

          1 Reply
          1. re: thymeoz

            The Frog came first, then Commissary. And I have the cookbook and carrot cake recipe too. Poses had another branch of the Commissary at International House at U of P and then he moved the Frog to fancier digs on Locust Street (from 16th st where Warsaw cafe recently closed. It was like a very high class cafeteria (with wine!).

          2. During my senior year in high school, I worked at The Commissary, serving food from behind the counter. We tossed great salads and dished out all sorts of plates of food, from stew-type preparations to baked chicken suffed with pistachios and cheese. There was also a "pasta station" and an "omelette station" in the back. The most popular desserts, which I also sliced and served, were the carrot cake, the chocolate mousse cake, the cheese cake (made in a variety of flavors with a sour cream topping) and the strawberry heart tarts. At the front of the restaurant, baked goods were also sold, most notably their oatmeal cookies with raisins and chocolate chips.

            I also worked at Frog one summer while in high school. I started out as an assistant baker and then took over the production for the remainder of the summer when the head baker hurt her leg and could not work. I was 17 at the time, and I got paid, if I remember correctly, $3.50/hour.

            1. Isn't there a lunch place in the Navy Yard that is run by Frog?

              1. Thank you, all! There is a place in San Diego, where I live now, that keeps reminding me of The Commissary, and that's why I wanted to have you help me describe it to my husband. Now I'll go try and find the cookbook!

                3 Replies
                1. re: pickypicky

                  The savory recipes are a bit dated, but the dessert ones remain excellent. Also, the book's illustrations are fabulous.

                  1. re: Nancy S.

                    Is it the Frog Commissary Cookbook? That's the only one I can find.

                2. The Commissary predates my move to Philly, but I stumbled upon the cookbook years ago and make that carrot cake regularly. Anne Clark was the head baker at Commissary, and she is listed as the second author of the book. Her second career was (is) as a progressive educator, and she was my daughter's third grade teacher a few years ago. I told her that while she may think that is HER carrot cake recipe, it is actually mine! She was entirely delightful and gracious. I would have loved to try the real deal at the restaurant on Sansom Street.....