Christopher Lee is back in Philly, but don't expect the rarefied haute-cuisine that launched his culinary star at Striped Bass. His partnership with Joe Massara in this revamp of Salt & Pepper delivers perfectly decent, safe takes on New American flavors accessible to a wide audience. With good cocktails and pleasant ambiance, it's another solid addition to East Passyunk Avenue. That it doesn't set any new standards, though, can't help but dull some shine off Lee's return.
Mini tuna sashimi tacos; meatballs and polenta; house blend sliders; jalapeño cheese fries; pressed ham and cheese sandwiches; oysters with yuzu mignonette; spinach-quinoa salad; black trumpet-encrusted veal with chive butter; lamb shank; paella; lobster pot pie; ravioli with chestnut-apple filling; chocolate cheesecake; crème brulee.
The limited drink program is a weak point. The beer list is tiny considering the neighborhood. The wine list has a dozen affordable, basic wines by the glass and another dozen by the bottle, mostly around $50 or less, but with decent names to consider, including Broadbent Vinho Verde, Condesa de Leganza Crianza, Talbott Kali Heart, and Paul Hobbs Felino. Cocktails are the bar's best draw, with deft classics (excellent Sazerac) and fun twists on tradition, like the star anise-scented Manhattan (1623) and refreshing Sicilian Defense.
The tight downstairs room hits a buzzy 92 decibels. The more spacious upstairs dining room is a more reasonable 84 decibels. (Ideal is 75 decibels or less.)
Dinner Wednesday and Thursday, 5-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5-11 p.m. Brunch Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Sunday, until 6 p.m.