824 S. Eighth St.
Philadelphia , PA 19147
Neighborhood: South Philadelphia
Parking: Valet costs $8
Handicap access: Not wheelchair accessible. (A step at front, but bathrooms are accessible.)
Cuisine type: American
Meals Served: Brunch - Sat., Sun. Dinner - Tue., Wed., Thu., Fri., Sat., Sun.
Style: Chef Michael Santoro, formerly of Talula's Garden, has made a cast-iron comeback with old pal (and caterer) Michael Dorris for this sophisticated-rustic revamp of the former James inspired by their Staub cookware. The French and Brit influences result in some exciting updates to bouillabaisse and roast game for sharing, and the bar offers a well-rounded opening list. The somewhat bland space is still finding its identity between ambitious destination and neighborhood haunt, but enough sparks make this debut feel like the beginnings of something great.
Specialties: Confit potato with pig trotter; chestnut soup with sweetbreads; marinated Nantucket bay scallops; oxtail with barley risotto; special roast pheasant for two; bouillabaisse for two; terres major; monkfish with chorizo and potatoes; braised beef with macaroni; chocolate cake. Dinner entrees, $17-$25.
Alcohol: Only 27 Euro-centric labels on the opening list, but most all of the eclectic collection are quality choices available by the glass, and around $50 or less a bottle. Best bets include Zind-Humbrecht pinot gris, a sparkling grüner-veltliner, Quinta do Crasto, and a South African G.S.M. "Secateurs" ideal for Mildred's game. There's a small but smart beer list (Great Lakes, Neshaminy Creek, Goose Island), and the cocktails are fine (try the bourbon-blackberry Second Nun.)
Weekend noise: Reasonable 83 decibels. (Ideal is 75 decibels or less.)
Hours: Dinner Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday, 5:30-10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, until 11 p.m. Brunch Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Closed Monday.