Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Marigold to be sold; chef to do BBQ on South St.

A domino effect: The West Philly restaurant's impending sale to an up-and-coming chef will send its chef to a new restaurant. (Got all that?)

Marigold to be sold; chef to do BBQ on South St.


You've read how Steve Cook and Michael Solomonov just signed a lease to do a BBQ restaurant at Ninth and South Streets.

There's more, and there's a domino effect at work.

First, the BBQ restaurant's name: Percy Street Barbecue.

The rundown: "A richly flavored assortment of meats, long-smoked over hardwood in authentic Texas-made barbecue pits, along with comforting sides, craft beers and tasty cocktails."

The projected opening: October.

The chef: the Southern-bred Erin O'Shea, raised in Annapolis, Md., a resident of Houston for 10 years, and an alumna of the Frog & the Redneck in Richmond, Va.

But isn't O'Shea the chef at Marigold Kitchen at 45th and Larchwood in West Philly, where she's been racking up all kinds of good notices? Yes, and Marigold Kitchen is also owned by Cook and Solomonov, whose restaurant collection also includes Xochitl and Zahav.

Until the middle of the summer. The partners confirm that they've sold the Marigold to chef Robert Halpern.

Halpern, 31, will reopen Sept. 1 with the same name, decor, BYOB policy and hours. Halpern's background includes classic French and postmodern techniques. You might read this as molecular gastronomy, but he dislikes the term because "it's limiting. I'll use any tools available to a chef. Whatever will get me to the final plate." He'll take a sauce, for example, add soy lecithin and froth it up. 

He's going for an element of surprise with a menu he calls approachable and affordable, using local and sustainable ingredients. Highlights: late-summer Cobb salad with bacon toffee and ice wine vinaigrette; sardines with apple salad and saffron-nutmeg vinaigrette; red grouper with butternut squash/short rib hash, brussel sprouts and aerated mustard; and a rib eye with herbed chimmichurri, feijoida beans, collard greens and garlic chips.

His sous is Tony Maiale, formerly of Citronelle in Washington.

Halpern's bio: Left Villanova at age 20 to work in the kitchen of Moosewood, a collectively owned natural-food restaurant in Ithaca, N.Y. This started a culinary journey that included Santa Fe (under Mark Miller and Nuno Mendes at Coyote Café), a season at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vt.., a two-year stint as chef de cuisine at Atlantica Restaurant in Camden, Maine. In search of knowledge about food science, he moved to Chicago to intern with chef Grant Achatz of Alinea. He then went to Binkley’s Restaurant in Cave Creek, Ariz., and Hugo’s in Portland, Maine.

Marigold's current management will do a farewell dinner on Aug. 1. It is a $65-a-head six-course feast prepared by three of Marigold’s previous chefs: Cook, Solomonov and O’Shea.
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About this blog
Michael Klein, the editor/producer of, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here.

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