Saturday, February 6, 2016

Russet coming to Rittenhouse

The well-traveled Andrew and Kristin Wood plan an uncompromising farm-to-table BYOB experience.

Russet coming to Rittenhouse

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Andrew and Kristin Wood, owners of Russet. (photo by Jennifer Nolan)
Andrew and Kristin Wood, owners of Russet. (photo by Jennifer Nolan)

Lease in hand, Andrew Wood feels comfortable talking about Russet, the fine-dining BYOB that he and his wife, Kristin, plan to open in February at 1521 Spruce St., in the former Ernesto's 1521 Cafe.

The couple are veterans of Fork (him) and James (her).

Andrew Wood says he doesn't want to pigeonhole the cuisine into French, Italian or Spanish, but he'll incorporate many Euro stylings in a farm-to-table experience.

He says they found the name while browsing Dictionary.com, which contained an archaic definition reading, "simple; homely; rustic."

"That kind of grew on us," he said. "I like it because it has a lot of recognition and sets our tone." Color scheme will contain warm browns and oranges; table tops are being constructed from reclaimed yellow pine. The space was found after a two-year search.

All ingredients will be sourced within 500 miles of here, and meat proteins will be sourced to Lancaster County. Entrees will be in the mid-$20s.

Wood, 35, grew up in Lancaster County and Blue Bell; his dad owns Michael's, a bakery, in Strasburg, and his mother's family is behind the Williamson's restaurants.

Andrew's first job was at a Lee's Hoagies shop in Montgomeryville. After culinary school (l’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Md.), he worked shucking oysters at Le Bec-Fin. His next stop, in 2000, was in Boston at Radius, where he met his wife.

Kristin begged Andrew to go to California to cook, and after a six-week trip to France and Italy, the couple started to head west. But, he says, they ran short on funds, and settled in Chicago, where Kristin's family lived at the time. In Chicago, Andrew worked for Rick Tramonto at TRU, while she landed at Trio. They finally made it to California -- he sous-chef at Hiro Sone and Terra in Napa, and she at Dean & Deluca as a cheesemonger.

Next was San Francisco and Quince, which has shaped the sustainable approach at Russet.

After another trip to Italy and Paris, the couple returned to Philly (her family had relocated to New York).

Andrew helped open James and Maia. Kristin was pastry chef at James, which closed earlier this summer. When Terence Feury moved from Maia to Fork in 2009, Andrew joined him in Old City as sous chef.

de Cuisine in Gaithersburg,
Staff Writer
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About this blog
Michael Klein, the editor/producer of philly.com/Food, 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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