First Taste: Jose Garces's Newest Philadelphia Restaurant
As you may remember, I stumbled upon the relatively new Garces Trading Co. on a recent visit to Philadelphia. Well, chef Jose Garces opened yet another restaurant in the city: JG Domestic. This is his seventh in Philadelphia; his eighth including Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago. I was invited to celebrate the opening by enjoying a dinner at the new space, conveniently located directly behind the 30th Street train station.
Being in the lobby of the Cira Centre—a 29-story glass building that goes disco at night, bedazzled with a multitude of multicolored twinkling lights—I expected the design to blend with the feel of the building. But it stood out against it—with a refined-but-rustic look. Think: exposed wood beams, wood tables, and wood shelves lined with baskets, plants, and metal cans.
I started with the maple-glazed pecans with tiny chunks of bacon (need I say more?) and a cheese platter, whose selection is constantly changing. I enjoyed a Rogue River blue cheese, Nettle Meadow Kunik, Keswick Creamery tomme, paired with brandied candy walnuts, pumpkin butter, and apple truffle compote. My favorite, hands down, was the Kunik; but then, I can never say no to a creamy, brie-like cheese.
Next were the vegetable dishes: kabocha squash with black kale, sheep milk cheese, and candied squash seeds (pictured left), and heirloom potato cassoulet with andouille, cabbage, and cheddar. Both were amazing but, much to my surprise, the squash stole the show. I’ve never really been a fan.
Main course: Strube Ranch Wagyu skirt steak (pictured above), sliced and cooked perfectly rare and served with fried chiles. (I must admit to being unimpressed with the chiles; they just didn’t have much flavor.) On the suggestion of our friendly, helpful server, I ordered the Texas wild roast boar medium rare; it was served with mustard seeds and maple grits. My advice for the boar: try each ingredient separately, then together in one bite. They are two different experiences.
And finally, dessert. First, huckleberry ice cream and jam alongside a cube of house-made crème fraîche parfait, which had a flavor that could be likened to a decadent cheesecake. I also tried the beignets with bourbon vanilla mousseline and Maker’s Mark butterscotch (pictured right). The beignets were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, but be warned: the Maker’s Mark is not entirely cooked down. While delightfully sweet, it still has a kick. (Per our waitress's advice, you might think twice about allowing your kids to try it.)
All in all, it's another home run by Garces.
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Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor and resident tech guru at Travel + Leisure.
Top image courtesy of Fanny Allié.
Steak & beignet images courtesy of Jason Varney.
Squash image courtesy of James Narog.