All-Day Café From Michelin-Starred Team Opens in University City

Walnut Street Café debuts in Cira Center South with an accessible menu and a stellar pastry chef.

The long-awaited restaurant from the Michelin-starred team behind New York’s Pearl & Ash and Rebelle debuts today at FMC Tower at Cira Center South.

Walnut Street Café has softly opened for breakfast and lunch at 2929 Walnut Street. Dinner service will begin this Friday, June 30th.

As we reported last fall, the space in Cira Center South — touted as “the city’s first vertical neighborhood” — is BDP Hospitality general manager Branden McRill, chef Daniel Eddy, and wine director Patrick Cappiello’s first project outside of Manhattan.

While things didn’t end well the last time a Michelin-starred crew tried to opened a restaurant here in Philly, Walnut Street Café’s accessible menu, prime location for Center City and University City dwellers and commuters alike, and all-day concept give us hope that things will go more smoothly this time.

The 90-seat space features two levels; the cafe space has high ceilings and is decorated in pastel colors; think white, pale blue and “Millennial pink.” The main dining room features darker colors, with customized dimming light fixtures to ease the transition from day to evening; design was done by New York’s Parts and Labor. There’s an outdoor patio space and floor-to-ceiling windows on the mezzanine that provide stunning views of the river.

The menu is all-day “accessible American,” with an expansive wine list and a pastry program led by acclaimed pastry chef and Per Se alum Melissa Weller.

Breakfast and pastries from an industry star

The breadth and depth of Weller’s skill greets diners in the morning with sweet and savory baked goods as well as fresh breads. Treats like cinnmamon cardamom rolls, scones in cheddar chive and spelt-raspberry jam, chocolate babka, and pistachio and cherry croissants, and black sesame kouign amann are sure to improve your morning commute.

In addition to grab-and-go goodies, there’s a full-service breakfast, too — think scrapple with black rice and romesco and a breakfast sandwich made with cheddar cheese and fennel sausage that’s served on a house-made biscuit. (Weller famously developed four varieties of everything bagel for Sadelle’s, but the morning staples are conspicuously absent from the opening menu we received.) Rival Bros. Coffee is providing custom-roasted blends, and the team has collaborated with Trevor Budney of Guerilla Nutrition on a selection of cold-pressed juices.

After the morning rush, the kitchen transitions into soups, salads, and sandwiches — think seasonal zucchini soup with fried blossoms, a chicory salad with fennel, orange, and citrus vinaigrette, and pulled pork served with coleslaw and smoked mayo on house-made brioche.

A refined and accessible dinner menu

Starters like duck ham with bread and butter and wood-fired olives kick off the meal; simple yet refined sharing plates include pan-roasted scallops with carrots, ginger butter, and mint and chicken sausage with hen of the woods mushrooms and egg. Pastas include rigatoni with tomato, guanciale, peperoncino and breadcrumbs and bucatini and sardines with golden raisins and pine nuts.

Entrees by chef Eddy include a hamburger topped with Wisconsin cheddar, bacon, and caramelized onions (hey, they said it was accessible), black bass with cannellini beans and a tomato-pepper sauce, half or whole chicken made with preserved lemon and served with fingerling potatoes, a Porterhouse steak for two, veal rack with Swiss chard, dried apricots, and farro.

A terroir-driven wine list

Cappiello curated the 120-bottle list, which draws from producers in emerging and classic wine regions and highlights small-batch, handcrafted wines typically employing organic or biodynamic production methods. They’re available by the full or half bottle, with more than 50 rotating selections available by the glass. David Powell, who worked with BDP at Pearl & Ash, heads the cocktail program.

Grab pastries or breakfast at Walnut Street Café Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., then lunch from 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday is served between 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Dinner is available Sunday and Monday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m., and Friday at Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. The pastry counter is open from 8pm to 11:30am. Make reservations by calling 215-867-8067 or email reservations@walnutstreetcafe.com.

 

Walnut Street Café [Foobooz]

Around the Web

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.