Southern Comfort: South Reviewed

Carolina Shrimp and Anson Mills lobster grits | Photo by Emily Teel

Carolina Shrimp and Anson Mills lobster grits | Photo by Emily Teel

The first time I had chef Paul Martin’s food, I was standing in the street. Or a parking lot, maybe. Under a tent and the night sky. We both were—the two of us in attendance at some food festival or another—and though I don’t recall precisely what he was serving (shrimp for sure; some kind of sauce as smooth and rich as velvet), I do remember its effect. I couldn’t stop talking about it, demanding that people drop whatever they were eating and go, immediately, to taste what Martin was cooking. Eventually, I’d annoyed enough people and driven away all my friends and was free to just circle Martin’s table alone like a fat shark, pathetic but happy.

Martin was cooking at Mamou then, a Cajun-Creole place over on 13th Street, and though it was one of those restaurants that seemed to be overlooked by pretty much everyone, I went there, ate, drank—hoping only to get more food and more of those hot, immediate stabs of joy I’d experienced on the street.

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First Look: South


Despite having an extremely un-Googlable name (you try typing “south restaurant Philadelphia” into the search field and let me know how it goes), South–the latest offering from restauranteurs Robert and Benjamin Bynum and chef Paul Martin has opened on North Broad Street. The Bynum brothers, previously involved with jazz venues Warmdaddy’s and Zanzibar Blue, as well as Chestnut Hill’s Paris Bistro and the recently shuttered Heirloom, are sticking to what they know with this one: homey food and live music.

Photos and menu details, right this way…

1300 Fairmount Project Moves a Step Forward

1300 Fairmount | Via Civic Design Review, RAL Development Services, Cope Linder Architects.

1300 Fairmount | Via Civic Design Review, RAL Development Services, Cope Linder Architects.

Roughly a month after the Divine Lorraine’s groundbreaking, PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports Philadelphia’s zoning board voted last week in favor of approving the 1300 Fairmount Avenue project, which sits directly behind everyone’s favorite (formerly) lost jewel of a building.

As we previously noted, the plan for 1300 calls for 486 apartments, an estimated 84,000-square-feet of retail on Ridge Avenue (purported to be a two-level café with indoor and outdoor seating), a 6,000-square foot public plaza with 35 bike spaces, and a parking garage, which had required a special exception from the zoning board.

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Check Out the Opening Menu at SOUTH

Chef Paul Martin

Chef Paul Martin of SOUTH

Last week we shared the details on SOUTH, the North Broad Street restaurant and jazz bar from Robert and Benjamin Bynum. And today we’ve got Lafayette, Louisiana native Paul Martin’s opening menu.

The menu includes chilled seafood, appetizers, salads, soups and plates. The plates top out at $28 for Carolina white shrimp with lobster grits and a sirloin strip steak served with bourbon steak sauce and parmesan fondue.

A section of weekly specials includes a section of oysters, rock shrimp toast, Florida wahoo and chicken confit gumbo.

SOUTH is set to open this Friday, September 18th.

Check out the full menu »

Divine Lorraine Secures Construction Loan; How About a Papal Blessing?

Photo: James Jennings

Photo: James Jennings

News came down this week that Eric Blumenfeld had secured a $35 million construction loan to all but officially mark the redevelopment process at the historic Divine Lorraine.

“We finally got it done,” said Billy Procida, founder of Procida Funding & Advisors in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. The company is providing the private funding for the Divine Lorraine and the other Blumenfeld projects on North Broad Street. Washington Square Realty Capital helped arrange the loan, which Procida described it as the longest and most complicated closing of his life.

But that’s all behind them now, and construction has actually started inside the famed building. “Domus is on site and they have started construction,” Christopher Cordaro, vice president at EB Realty Management, Blumenfeld’s development company, said in an email. “There is nothing holding us back now!”

It was a statement that Procida echoed: “It’s up and going, and ain’t nothing stopping it.”

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Coming to North Broad, Live Jazz at SOUTH

south logo darkRobert and Benjamin Bynum (Warmdaddy’s, Heirloom, Paris Bistro and back in the day, Zanzibar Blue) are getting close to opening their New Southern cuisine and live jazz restaurant on North Broad. If all goes well SOUTH will be open in a couple of weeks.

Chef Paul Martin, a Lafayette, Louisiana native who has worked at Catahoula, Heirloom and with the Starr organization will bring the Southern food to life. Look for authentic Southern ingredients like Carolina wreckfish, Anson Mills grits, Sea Island red peas and Carolina Gold rice.

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1300 Fairmount Sails Through Design Review, Now Heads to Zoning

1300 Fairmount | Via Civic Design Review, RAL Development Services, Cope Linder Architects Read more at

1300 Fairmount | Via Civic Design Review, RAL Development Services, Cope Linder Architects

1300 Fairmount, a large mixed-use apartment complex planned on the vacant lot that all but wraps the Divine Lorraine on Ridge Avenue, sailed through the Civic Design Review process this week. Jared Brey of PlanPhilly reports that the project “received generally positive remarks” from a committee that hasn’t pulled any punches (positive or negative) as of late.

RAL, a New York-based development company, plans to bring 486 apartments to the site over multiple phases, with a supermarket as the retail anchor of the project. The two development teams–RAL and EB Realty Management, the developers of the Divine Lorraine–were working closely to ensure that the design of each building works with the other. The result is a more modern 19-story tower set with its massing set away from the Grand Dame of North Broad on Ridge Avenue.

Neighbors did have some concerns, reports Brey, as they sought some assurances from the developer that the project’s multiple phases–another apartment block built over the parking garage and also townhomes on 13th Street– would be fully realized. An emphasis was also placed on some safety issues around the site, namely better street lighting on Ridge and Fairmount avenues.

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Pole Position: Light Towers “Appropriate Signal” of North Broad’s Bright Future

Four light masts have risen on North Broad Street between Green Street and Fairmount Avenue. Photos: James Jennings | Rendering: Mark McDonald

Mayor Michael Nutter officially announced the plan that will completely change the look, feel and future of a nearly 2.5 mile stretch of North Broad Street from Hamilton Street to Glenwood Avenue.

The North Broad Streetscape project will see 41 “decorative light towers,” each standing 55-feet tall, introduced to the median of Philly’s main artery. The $8.7 million project is funded by a mix of federal, state and city funds and will look to spur even more investment on North Broad Street.

“As a government, we want do anything we can to support growth and development along this important corridor,” said Mayor Nutter in a press release. “The North Broad Streetscape project will give this area a cohesive look and make it a safer, more inviting place for customers and residents. This project will return North Broad Street to its former glory as a main thoroughfare for our great city.”

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Historical Commission Gives Thumbs Up to Divine Lorraine Plan

Photo: Jeff Fusco

Photo: Jeff Fusco

The Historical Commission gave its blessing to Eric Blumenfeld’s plans to revive the Divine Lorraine into a luxury apartment building with four “Vetri-caliber” restaurants split between ground floor and the underground Garden Veranda level, a sunken courtyard on the southern side of the project.

KYW’s Mike Dunn reports that William Alesker, an architect on the project, all but expected the Historical Commission to vote in favor of the plan, since “[the development team] spent a lot of time trying to get it right.” Here’s more:

“Our goal is to put it back as it was originally, in the 1933 design,” Alesker stated. “It’s a challenge doing the research to find out what was really there. It involved the investigation of old photographs, and just general research into what was there before. So it’s a challenge, but great fun to do.”

So does this mean that construction is finally about to begin on the long-awaited project?

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Divine Lorraine Moves One Step Closer

North Broad Street | Photos: James Jennings

North Broad Street in April 2015| Photos: James Jennings

Brace yourselves, folks. News regarding the Divine Lorraine is going to come fast and furious until the “groundbreaking” event takes place, hopefully sometime in August. Think of it as Property’s version of “Pope Watch.”

On Tuesday, developer Eric Blumenfeld went before the Architectural Committee of the Historical Commission to present the plans for the historic renovation that’s about to take place at the Grand Old Dame of North Broad Street. PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports that the committee voted to approve the overall plans for the project, but had a few suggestions for the man at the center of North Broad’s revival.

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