Jean-Georges Finally Reopening at the Four Seasons in March

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Plus, an American classic in Camden, Evil Genius’s Harry Potter-inspired beer, Other Half Brewing’s Fishtown spot, Mish Mish debuts, and a quick vax update.


Jean-Georges photo courtesy the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia

Short week this week, but we’ve still got some restaurant news to talk about. So do you want to start with glitter beer? The new vax rules for local restaurants? An American classic in Camden?

Oh wait. I’ve got something good. Check this out…

A Reopening at the Top of the World

Just got word last week that Jean-Georges is finally reopening on the eleventy-billionth floor of the Four Seasons in Center City. For reals this time.

March 10th should be the restaurant’s first day back after being dark for ages. And when it does reopen, it’ll be with Cornelia Sühr (finally) running the show.

And if this all sounds a little bit familiar to you, that’s because… it’s all a little bit familiar. Back in July, the restaurant announced that it would be reopening in the fall (with Sühr brought in from Germany to overhaul the kitchen). But that didn’t end up happening. The reopening was delayed by Omicron, then delayed again, and to be completely honest, I just forgot about the place entirely. Which is a little weird because it’s this whole, beautiful, fully appointed space just sitting there, quiet and cold, 1,000 feet in the air — a ghost restaurant, all dark and spooky and looking down over the city below.

De todas formas …

This time, it looks like the reopening date is pretty firm. Sühr is shaking things up with a $198 tasting menu composed of “six elaborately choreographed courses” full of seasonal ingredients, local products and French technique. As a matter of fact, there’ll actually be two tasting menus, offered side-by-side — the regular menu and a vegetarian version. Or at least one “exclusively of the earth,” which, I assume, means vegetables. If only because any other interpretation (all minerals, only things that can’t fly, the implication that the other menu is extraterrestrial in origin) would be too weird even for this place.

There will also be a roving champagne trolley (because who doesn’t love a champagne trolley?), a killer wine list, a bar program featuring Pennsylvania producers and, of course, those views. Jean-Georges will be open from 5:30 to 9:30 pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Reservations are required and can be made starting … now.

Moving on…

An (Official) American Classic

Last week, the James Beard Foundation announced the six recipients of its 2022 America’s Classics award. The award, which honors “locally owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and are beloved regionally for quality food that reflects the character of its community,” has been given out annually since 1998 — except for the past two years while the JBF was suffering through the pandemic and doing an audit of the policies and procedures it follows for handing out its awards.

This year, they recognized California’s Casa Vega, Solly’s Grill in Milwaukee, Wo Hop in NYC, Atlanta’s Busy Bee Café, Florence’s Restaurant in Oklahoma City and Corinne’s Place, right across the river in lovely Camden.

Corinne’s is a soul-food staple on Haddon Avenue, pink as a birthday cake and open since 1989. It’s a place for black-eyed peas and Cajun-spiced turkey wings, baked mac and cheese, and peach cobbler. The JBF calls out the fried chicken in particular, and they aren’t wrong about that — it’s the kind of thing that calls down a big Sunday rush with generations of regulars crowding the place. Owner Corinne Bradley-Powers even expanded during the pandemic, taking over a vacant lot next door to the restaurant and turning it into a tented outdoor dining space for the community called The Oasis.

So a little bit of love for Camden and a lot of love for Corinne’s fried chicken. That’s worth celebrating, right? The JBF is going to be announcing more awards in the coming weeks, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for any more local folks making good.

In the meantime, what’s next?

Evil Genius

Photo courtesy Evil Genius Beer Company

Gryffindor in the Streets, Slytherin in the Sheets

Not a huge piece of news here, but I just really wanted to use that headline.

Evil Genius Beer Company is celebrating the opening of Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Franklin Institute with some truly weird (and truly awesome) specials and events.

For starters, they’ve brewed up a one-off specialty beer for the festivities, a 6.0 ABV blonde ale called Spoiler Alert: It’s leviOsa, not levioSA! that pays homage to the famous Butterbeer of the Harry Potter bookseries. There’s no actual butter in it, but it does get a little sweetness from caramelized malts and natural caramel and vanilla flavoring. And considering the kind of problems that have swirled around author JK Rowling in the past few years, the fact that a portion of the proceeds from sales of the beer are going to Trans Lifeline is definitely a good move.

At the tasting room, they’re also mixing up a couple specialty cocktails — a Stateside vodka-spiked Butterbeer slushie called Throwing Snowballs at Voldemort and a quasi-martini called Defrosting Broomsticks. On Saturday, March 12th, Evil Genius will be holding a costumed 0.5K round-the-block run with everyone dressed in their house colors. Details are here. The run will be followed by a pay-as-you-go block party with food, booze, photo opps, vendors, magical surprises and so forth. It’s family- and dog-friendly and will also serve as the fifth anniversary party of The Lab — Evil Genius’s tasting room/beer garden.

Then, on Sunday, March 20th and Sunday, March 27th, they’ll be doing two Harry Potter drag brunches called, of course, Gryffindor in the Streets, Slytherin in the Sheets. Doors open at 11:30 a.m.; the show starts at noon. You’re gonna want to make your reservations now because both of these are expected to sell out fast. Do that here.

The Leftovers

Brooklyn-based Other Half Brewing has opened their first Philadelphia outpost at 1002 Canal Street in Fishtown. It’s a 150-seat taproom with a seasonal beer garden attached, 20 taps pouring a mix of Other Half brews and local favorites, and a rotating list of food trucks providing snacks. In the future, they’re looking at having a cocktail program and a menu of their own, but for now Other Half is up and running DIY-style — which, frankly, is a very Philly way to do things.

Welcome to the neighborhood, folks.

Speaking of openings, our boy Alex Tewfik (ex of Foobooz and Philly Mag), officially debuted his first restaurant, Mish Mish, last week. Friday was opening night at 1046 Tasker Street (in the former home of Noord), and Alex dropped me a note after his first Saturday service just to chat.

“It’s a restaurant now that exists in Philly, the way all the other restaurants exist in Philly,” he said. “I feel like people think opening a restaurant is going from 0 to +1, but it really feels like going from -100 to 0, do you know?”

Mish Mish is doing casual, fun, quasi-Mediterranean cuisine. “It’s just food I like to eat,” Alex told me. “Or food I would like to eat.” That means fried potatoes with chile aioli, swordfish skewers off the grill and served over farro salad, grilled baby octopus, chicory salad with white anchovies, and fried Armenian string cheese. Because who doesn’t love fried cheese?

The restaurant is currently operating Thursday to Monday, 5 to 10 pm, and they’re doing it temporarily as a BYOB because there were some problems getting the liquor license on time. But that’s cool. No opening ever goes smoothly. There are always problems.

But Alex is in there now. He’s doing the thing he dreamed of doing. And while, journalistically, I’m not really allowed to tell y’all to go there because Alex and I have been friends and co-workers for-fucking-ever, I’m still gonna say you should consider it. Dude cares about food and restaurants more than almost anyone I know. He lives and dies by this industry. The team he’s put together (ex Nick Elmi loyalist Kyle McCormick as chef, Zev Flores at sous and line cook Carly Milito) get what he’s trying to do and are all in with him. Plus, the menu just looks fantastic.

Anyway, whatever. Alex Tewfick? Never heard of him. Go, don’t go … what do I care? Now what else is in the news…

HipCityVeg is opening their 10th location inside the Fresh Grocer in Wyncote. It’s a first for them — opening a store inside another major retailer — but that seems to be something the company is leaning toward in the future. During the pandemic, they saw a huge boost in their online orders, delivery and pick-up business, so HCV is looking to expand those services in addition to opening a total of 15 locations across the Mid-Atlantic region before the company’s 10th anniversary this year.

The new Wyncote store will open to the public on March 10th.

And finally this week, just a quick vax update.

In case you didn’t hear, as of Wednesday, February 16th, restaurants and other businesses that serve food are no longer required to ask guests to show proof of vaccination. The city rolled out a new four-tier system for ranking COVID-19 response levels based on case numbers and hospitalizations. Right now, the city is at “Mask Precautions,” which means you don’t have to flash your vax card, but you still have to wear a mask indoors.

So everyone is safe out there.