Additionally, Kalaya announces a second location, an Ayurvedic restaurant and bar opening on Chestnut Street, and everything you need to know about drinking at the new W Hotel.
Hi, buckaroos! Welcome to another exciting roundup of all that is happening in the Philly restaurant scene. We got huge news from Fishtown last week, additional details of the brand new W hotel in Center City, and a grand opening on Chestnut Street.
So let’s go, huh?
Kalaya, Mk. 2
Kalaya was a revelation the first time I ate there. And the second. And the third. It is a restaurant that never ceases to surprise, which somehow succeeds in the trick of always being comfortable but never feeling like the same restaurant twice. “[T]this is the thai restaurant that Philly has been waiting for, ”I wrote in June 2019, when the world was just the world and the survival of a new restaurant was not based on its ability to manage elegantly pandemic and plague, “one that will define the high end of this cuisine in this city in the future.” Neither too chic nor too casual, neither cheap nor prohibitive, nor hyper-traditional but not dismissive either. Kalaya walks on common ground that feels incredibly modern while nodding to previous generations, and does so with a confident, confident smile. “
And I still feel the same.
That’s why it’s so cool to be able to announce that Chef Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon is expanding his operations in a very big way. Next summer, she will partner with Defined Hospitality (the folks behind a bunch of other truly revolutionary restaurants like Suraya, Pizzeria Beddia and Condesa) to open a massive, 160-seat version of Kalaya at 4 West Palmer Street in Fishtown.
There will be outdoor seating and a full bar (none of which existed at the original Kalaya), services will run seven days a week, and Suntaranon will be in the kitchen and on the floor trying to do the same. kind of magic that has made Kalaya a nationally recognized restaurant – only this time in a a lot larger space.
Seriously, for so many different reasons, next summer can’t come soon enough.
Take a big swing on Chestnut Street
Normally, when you have a great tech CEO and a restaurateur with a crazy idea for a restaurant, they go straight to New York for their big debut before taking the concept out on the road and opening up satellite locations.
But when partners and best friends Syam Namballa (the businessman, CEO of the financial solutions group Synergy) and Mahi Reddy (the restaurateur, managing partner of the SSV group, with 10 years in the industry) got together and decided to open a giant, three-story Ayurvedic concept restaurant, they chose the 1700 block of Chestnut Street for their flagship location, with the intention of moving to other smaller markets (like New York) if the things are going well here.
Ancient Spirits and Grid is a 150-seat multi-level restaurant that will open on Friday, September 17 at 1726 Chestnut Street. This massive project has been underway for quite some time now, with construction and renovations underway during the pandemic, a smooth opening and additional detail work on the 2nd and 3rd floors, staffing and development. of menus running until this week. But now that things in the industry seem a bit more stable (or at least more stable than a few months ago), Reddy and Namballa have decided it is time to party.
And so, on Friday they will have an opening night open to the public with organic cocktails, past apps, food stations and desserts from 5pm to 10pm. Tickets for the night are $ 50, and the whole party will function as a fundraiser for the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine.
After that, anyway? Business as usual. Which for Ancient Spirits means seven days a week dinner service, lunch and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, a contemporary European menu inspired by Ayurvedic and herbal elements and a bar program of more than 50 organic and biodynamic wines, a dozen of handcrafted organic cocktails, seasonal mocktails, 10 beers on tap and a dozen others by can or bottle.
But in the kitchen? This is where things get… interesting. So stay with me here, okay?
The concept of the restaurant is rooted in Ayurveda – an ancient practice intended to maintain or restore the balance of body and mind. When you introduce yourself you will be given a QR code to display on your phone which will lead you to a private and confidential survey that collects information about your body and lifestyle to determine the predominant dosha of each guest (air, fire or earth) and which, if applicable, could be unbalanced.
Well, of course. Maybe I believe my predominant dosha is cheeseburgers with gin and tonic and I’m best kept in a well-balanced state of mind by the constant and repeated consumption of said burgers and spirits, but who knows? Is it possible that there is a better, kinder, smoother, more balanced self that is waiting to be activated by the correct application of kale, mushrooms, lamb, and Jell-O shots? There could be. And I want to meet this guy. I bet he has better credit than I do and probably knows things about ascots and crypto. I bet he has opinions on Wes Anderson movies and the IMF and he doesn’t just spend his days dragging fascists online or fighting strangers over tacos.
Either way, Ancient Spirits and Grille has this whole system for figuring out what’s best for you to eat. And you can listen to that advice or ignore it altogether and just order whatever you want from the heavily vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free menu. Chris Tavares (ex of Davio’s) runs the kitchen, and he’s spent the preparation of the opening to sourcing herbs and ingredients from local organic farms. He offers a European-style menu enhanced by herbs and sauces dictated by the Ayurvedic systems behind the operation, and is also a fan of meats and seafood. Plus, Davio wasn’t much of a fan. small place, so he is used to putting on big shows. Tavares’ menu combines everything from rack of lamb with Turkish dates to braised rabbit and turmeric risotto, wild mushrooms and sage; lobster tails with Triphala mushroom duxelle, coulibiac salmon with cumin, morello cherries, spinach and tulasi oil.
It seems absolutely worth checking out. As far as I know, there is nothing else in Restaurant World like Ancient Spirits. It’s unique, it’s up to us alone (at least for now), and you can all see for yourselves coming Friday night.
Some updates of the W
Last week I told you all about Dolce, the Italian restaurant at the brand new W Hotel. The W is at 1439 Chestnut Street, about three blocks from the site where Ancient Spirits has its grand opening, making this stretch of Chestnut one of the hottest areas in town for grand openings right now.
Anyway, while Dolce was certainly the restaurant’s biggest news when it opened at the W, I now have details on a few of the other concepts operating under one roof.
First, there’s the lounge – by day a coffee bar serving Rival Bros. java, by night, a craft cocktail bar with local favorite Resa Mueller behind the stick. The design of the space was inspired by the sunken gardens of Fairmount Park, but the most striking feature? A wall of hand painted ceramic skulls paying homage to the Hyrtl Skull Collection at the Mutter Museum.
Oh, wait. Did I say that was the most striking feature? Because I almost forgot “Stevens’ Prophecy” – the hidden living room behind the skulls (and a one-way mirror) which is decorated with art celebrating Philly’s own royal, Grace Kelly, and named for her high school yearbook superlative which predicted she would become “a famous stage star and of the screen”. The salon will have its own menu with small batch and limited edition spirits.
Also open to the W: the WET Deck, a year-round heated swimming pool on the 7th floor and an adjoining WET Deck bar. Around the corner, there’s the Secret Garden, a lush green space that the W will use to host pop-ups and live music.
Which is pretty and all, but it’s nothing compared to a secret Grace Kelly themed bar hidden behind a wall of skulls. It’s just metal like hell. And, oddly, very, very Philly.
Oh, and one last thing …
You all know the Filipino food truck Tabachoy? It’s a regular fixture at LOVE and Clark Parks, made our list of the best places to eat Filipino food in Philly, and has been around since 2019.
But now it looks like owner Chance Anies will be bringing his bistek chistek (his take on a Philly cheesesteak with a Filipino address) and all the rest of his food to a real brick and mortar location. Yesterday he announced the Insta that he had just signed the papers for a space at 1300 Federal Street in South Philly, not far from East Passyunk. He says there is still a lot of work to be done to bring this non-mobile Tabachoy to life, but he will keep everyone updated as things move forward.
As always, you’ll know more when I know more. So watch this space.