Last week SEI Investments Co. and Philly Mag hosted a cocktail party and dinner for invited guests at the Kimmel Center and Jose Garces’ Volver restaurant to hear David Bookspan discuss “The Art of Innovation.” Bookspan is one of the founding partners of DreamIt Ventures which helps startups achieve their next market milestones. SEI sponsors the Innovation Studio at the Kimmel Center, with art exhibitions and lectures; currently they’re displaying “Folding Deck Chair” in the Commonwealth Plaza at the Kimmel Center. (Please don’t climb on it, a fan already “sat” in the chair to take a selfie and they had to have it cleaned.)
More photos from the Innovators Dinner at Volver after the jump »
Jose Garces is rolling out big changes for the second season at Volvér, his restaurant at the Kimmel Center. Effective immediately, the ticketing requirement has been abolished and starting Wednesday, September 24th, the menu format will change.
As of today the restaurant will no longer require tickets purchased in advance. Reservations can now be made through OpenTable or by calling the restaurant directly. A credit card is required to hold a reservation, similar to how some other restaurants do.
Starting on September 24th, the dining options also change. Gone is the pre-theater and performance menus. The restaurant will have two tiers, a six-course tasting menu for $75 or a twelve-course tasting for $150, not including tax tip or beverages. An optional beverage pairing will be begin at $95.
This marks a drop in price for Volvér where the performance tasting for two would set a couple back $448 with tax and tip. Now the twelve-course dinner for two would come in at $384 with tax and tip but no alcohol.
What’s new at Bar Volver »
Volver just sent out an email offering a special Performance Tasting for tomorrow, September 11th. Jose Garces’s exclusive restaurant in the Kimmel Center is offering a ten-course tasting menu for $100 per person.
The offer is only valid for Thursday, September 11th only. Call 215-670-2303 to make reservations.
Our media partner 6 ABC follows up on Trey Popp’s four-star review of Volvér with a look in the kitchen and behind the bar on the latest episode of FYI Philly.
Craig LaBan weighs in on Jose Garces’ culinary return to Philadelphia. The Inquirer critic calls the cooking at Volvér “egocentric” though he does call many of the dishes three-bell worthy, if he could order them a la carte.
The plates, without doubt, were still camera-ready gorgeous: ember-seared cubes of Wagyu beef posed beside crimson swipes of beet puree; nasturtium leaves floated atop lubina sea bass in a composition of rice and shrimp evocative its own ecosystem; epic salads tweezered into perfect still lifes by talented chef de cuisine, Natalie Maronski. Those dishes were examples of Volvér at its best, in which the inspirations were prime ingredients, not biography. The intricate salad was a naturalistic playground of delicate greens, creamy cauliflower panna cotta, and sublimely sweet carrots drawn from the garden at Garces’ Luna Farms, lifted by tangy Meyer lemon puree and the faux “dirt” of goat-cheese crumbles tinted black with squid ink.
Two Bells – Very Good
Garces’ Volvér overdoes the culinary performance art [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Trey Popp’s four-star review of Volvér [Philadelphia Magazine]
Amada | Courtesy of Garces Group
When he opened Amada nine years ago, Jose Garces had two visions for his debut restaurant. Only one survived—succeeding so lucratively that it suffocated the other.
You can still visit the latter’s burial place, though: just ask for one of the best six seats in the house.
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Six-hour cured cobia at the Treemont | Photo by Courtney Apple
Philadelphia has so many great new restaurants that it’s hard to keep track of what to eat where. Here’s a cheat sheet of some of the best plates in the city to try right now.
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Illustration by Kagan McLeod
I saw this coming years ago. Not because I’m clever or prescient or some kind of unappreciated soothsayer of cuisine, but simply because I was on the front lines. I was a restaurant critic in Denver, Colorado, back during the second boom of New American cuisine.
I saw this coming years ago, but it had no name — not until GQ’s Alan Richman gave it one a few months back. He wrote about young chefs, exclusively male, working “with like-minded discipline, hardly ever haunted by doubts, seemingly in possession of absolute confidence.” He called it “Egotarian Cuisine” — food that is “intellectual, yet at the same time often thoughtless … straddling the line between the creative and the self-indulgent.” More to the point, food that is created solely, and with arrogant singularity of vision, to please the chef. Not the owners. Certainly not the customers. It’s food as memoir and manifesto. And often, it’s terrible.
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People go to bars for all kinds of reasons. To hang out with neighbors over three-dollar lagers. To knock back Beam-and-Pabst specials while stomping their feet to liquor-drinking music. To find out what happens when an eccentric teetotaler mixes a vast booze library with grapes juiced to order. To be quiet and get drunk.
In other words, to escape. And if Philadelphia is what you want to get away from, you need travel no further than to the bar at Volver.
Like the ticketed-entry dining room it abuts in the Kimmel Center, Jose Garces’ champagne-and-caviar lounge is in Philadelphia but not quite of it. Look one way and your eyes fall on a marbled white bar lit by the glow of four sleek halos that could have been commissioned by Starfleet. Look another—at an ultra-saturated blue textile mural crafted by local artist Conrad Booker out of 4,000 buttons and 200 yards of deeply dyed burlap—and you feel like you’ve warp-tunneled your way into Pedro Almodóvar’s Madrid. Meanwhile a soft-footed fleet of servers patrols the ebony-stained floorboards wearing black quasi-judo jackets trimmed with Jupiter orange, like a squad of acrobatic assassins waiting for Roger Moore to request a shaken martini.
It is a very, very cool place to sit down for an hour.
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A few additional musings about my meal(s) at Volver
Volver is very expensive, but…
As I noted in my review, “There’s no arguing that the $600 my wife and I spent, including a few glasses of wine and an inspired beverage pairing, could have bought a fantastic meal elsewhere with enough money left over to feed 10 foster children for a month.” But it’s also true that a year’s worth of cable would feed even more mouths, and that forgoing an iPhone upgrade would save you enough for the full 14 courses at Volver. Personally, I still wrestle with the cost of meals like this. But the debate over the cost of dinner shouldn’t take place in a vacuum. Everybody makes his own choices about what to spend money on, and eating out is one among many options to spend wisely or poorly. I mean, right now the 76ers are selling single courtside tickets for $790. The Sixers! After going 19-63!
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