Philadelphia and New York have always had a bit of an issue with each other. Both think the other is too cool for school (and that's putting it nicely), so chefs hustling between the cities, claiming allegiances to both, has historically been pretty rare. But tonight, Jose Garces, one of the crowned princes of Philadelphia's dining scene, is opening his first New York restaurant, an outpost of his 11-year-old Spanish place, Amada.
"Amada is how I started my career, my independent career," Garces says, explaining that the restaurant is named for his grandmother. "We just felt like this is what we do really well. So why reinvent the wheel here? Let's go in with guns blazing with what we do well."
Photo: Daniel Krieger
While much of the menu has remained the same, Garces has developed a few dishes for the new location, including grilled squid with celery salad, morcilla and potato; roasted squab with morels and rhubarb; and a large-format, order-ahead suckling pig served with rosemary white beans and roasted fingerlings.
Something else that's new is Amadita, an adjoining café that will open this weekend for lunch and breakfast with ham and Manchego croissants from pastry chef Michael Laiskonis (who is somehow also running the pastry program at La Sirena simultaneously), sandwiches and two types of empanada gallega, which Garces likens to a tart made with spinach and ricotta or chorizo picadillo. In the evenings, the space will switch over to a wine bar.
While this is his first foray into owning a restaurant in NYC, it's not exactly his first rodeo. He cooked at the Rainbow Room and a handful of other iconic restaurants in the late 90s. He has also taken an apartment a block away from the restaurant to make sure the opening goes smoothly.
Garces isn't the only Philly chef breaking the New York barrier lately. Restaurateur Ellen Yin and chef Eli Kulp brought their High Street concept from Old City to the West Village, and Michael Solomonov's first outpost of his hummus spot, Dizengoff, should make its Chelsea Market debut soon.
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