Tale of the Tape: Talula’s Garden

Aimee Olexy’s and Stephen Starr’s Talula’s Garden opens tomorrow on Washington Square where the restaurant will serve as Olexy’s stage in her return to downtown Philadelphia.

Aimee Olexy

  • Owner of Kennett Square’s Talula’s Table, a gourmet market and restaurant
  • Talula’s Table
    • Praised by Saveur, Food & Wine and the New York Times Magazine
    • Called one of the hardest reservations to get in the country
    • “Restaurant” is a single table for up to 12
    • Guests must call one year in advance to place a reservation
  • Django
    • Before Talula’s Table, Olexy and ex-husband Bryan Sikora owned Django, a small BYOB off of South Street
    • Only BYOB to receive 4-bells from Craig LaBan
  • Olexy worked for Starr previously at Blue Angel and Pod
  • Olexy is passionate about cheese

Executive Chef Michael Santoro

  • Blue chip background includes:
    • Blue Duck Tavern, Washington D.C.
    • St. John, UK
    • Fat Duck, UK
    • Mugaritz, Spain
    • Gilt, New York

The Space

  • Former Washington Square restaurant space
  • Seats 102
  • 66-seat seasonal outdoor garden
  • Cheese counter constructed with a salvaged granite counter will be a focal point of the restaurant
  • Much of the Washington Square space has been brightened with additional windows and lighter colors and fabrics
  • Richard Stokes of Stokes Architecture and Olexy worked together to create the atmosphere
  • Green wall of edible herbs and flowers line the walls, inside and out
  • Seasonal flowers brighten the garden area
  • Salvaged materials dot the decor
    • Redwood planks from Vlasic pickle barrels which have been restructured as the ceiling
    • Materials from Wilmington’s Queen Theatre were converted into the rustic wood tables
  • Ten-seat communal table built from salvaged wood was built by at-risk teens in Wilmington
  • Alice Waters quote “A garden brings life and beauty to the table” adorns three sides of the middle dining area

The Food

  • Talula’s Garden will showcase rustic ingredients including pastured meats, farmstead cheeses and locally grown vegetables.
  • Menu will change frequently, highlighting the seasons
  • Highlights:
    • Veloute of sweet peas with cuttlefish “ravioli”
    • Spring salad of herbs, flowers, and lettuces, with almond milk dressing and croutons
    • Braised halibut, oxtail stuffed artichokes, sea beans
    • Lancaster saffron barigoule, and roasted morels with new potato gnocchi, Meadowset egg, raisin puree and mushroom jus
  • Tasting Menu
    • 12-course tasting dinner
    • Around $100 per person
    • Hyper-local
    • Will be available a few weeks after opening
  • Cheese
    • A focal point of the restaurant
    • Selection of artisinal cheeses paired with sweet and savory accompaniments
  • Dinner Menu (PDF)
  • Dessert Menu (PDF)


  • Fifty-bottle wine list
  • 100% sustainable wine list
    • Bonny Doon from Monterey, CA
    • Hendry Rosé in Napa Valley
    • Dreyer Family Vegan winery in North Coast, CA
  • Food-friendly beers
  • Cocktails made with seasonal herbs and ingredients grown right at the bar
  • Beverage Menu (PDF)

Talula’s Garden
210 W Washington Square

Dinner served nightly from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Brunch served on Sundays


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  • Max

    Not feeling it. Looks like a craft shop in Cape Cod

  • Anna

    Reminds me of Terrain. Doesn’t seem right for Washington Square.

  • Michael G

    If the foods good who cares. Without the Starr power here of the 2 involved i doubt anything could last long in this obscure location.

  • Kathy

    Not so sure…..Was expecting more…
    Looks rustic, meets Michael’s Crafts, meets consignment outdoor furniture.

    Perhaps the food and wine will WOW us! The bar has certainly been raised in this town. (Sorry, we’re snobs.)

  • Stephanie H

    Doesn’t seem like a Stephen Starr production, which may be an advantage. I hope the food is good and wish Aimee the best. Maybe she doesn’t need Starr after all.

  • Jay

    @Kathy… seriously? Come on now, you make it sound like the woman has no pedigree. She knows a few things about putting on a good restaurant. I’m not sure what the pictures were supposed to accomplish or what you were expecting.

  • Willie

    Judging from reactions around the web, seems a lot of people have a bad feeling about this place…. could be a huge disappointment. It doesn’t seem like the usual Starr-hate, either, just something looks & sounds “off” about this. And with a first-time executive chef? Hmm. We’ll see.

  • Snake

    Yep, this looks exactly like Terrain at Styers but heck, why not. If I had the $ or creativity to decorate my house like Terrain, I would too.

  • PJ

    Every time I look at the picture with the Waters quote, I start laughing. Not sure I could have dinner here and retain a straight face. In any event–I’d have to force myself not to look up.

  • Margaret

    I think it’s nice to see something clean and spring-like, personally. A nice change from usual city-grit. I walked my dog by the other night and the garden was lit up with a million little lights – really quite beautiful.

  • leah

    Beautiful space! Wishing A.O. the best of luck. She deserves it!

  • Floyd

    I find it interesting that the place hasn’t opened yet, but people are giving it a bad rap already. I guess if a couple of heavy hitters decided to start dining there it’d be all the rage now wouldn’t it. I’ve been to some very nice restuarants where the food absolutely sucked, the reviews were great, but the food was horrible. I for one will be taking my wife and i plan on having a blast. How about you guys do the same, you may be pleasantly surprised.

  • http://afterdinnersneeze.wordpress.com afterdinnesneeze

    So, my wife and I went here tonight and it’s pretty damn good … and we don’t even like Starr restaurants. We’ll post a review pretty soon, but right now all we have are the obligatory pics of the outside that are no better than the ones above … afterdinnersneeze.wordpress.com.

    I’ll reply again when our actual review goes up.

  • http://afterdinnersneeze.wordpress.com afterdinnesneeze