Any restaurant which has a whole help yourself section dedicated to home made olive oils and balsamic vinegars is fully approved as far as I am concerned. Fortunately, the food and wine at Garces Trading Company is equally impressive, so I’m approving on both counts.
Garces Trading Company is the latest venture for ambitious Spanish chef Jose Garces, who inside ten years has managed to build himself a bit of a restaurant empire across the USA, a 40 acre supply farm in Ottsville Pennsylvania and a staff of 1,100 people.
That said, his premise is simple; to offer the kind of fresh food we take for granted in Italy Spain and France.
And I think he pulls it off.
Leafy Locust Street, in Philadelphia’s trendy Washington Square West neighbourhood is a perfect location for a European restaurant. And Garces Trading Company takes full advantage of it, aiming itself fair and square at Philly’s up and coming smart set drawn by the seduction of European cuisine.
The self service olive oils and vinegars apart, the restaurant reminds me of a Spanish Botega but on a much bigger scale, with plenty of rustic fittings and trestle tables.
The Antipasti was intriguing. Masala Vadat was a plate of black lentil fritters with pickled cauliflower and a delicious smoked tomato aioli. ($9) but I could have gone for meatballs and roasted garlic bread (10), or house made Mozzarella ($7) or roasted beets with citrus goat cheese.($9)
For lovers of cheese and cured meats, the sharing charcuterie alternative ($15) was just as appetizing with everything from Bayonne Ham to and duck liver mousse to tangy Manchego.
For my main I plumped for one of the house specialities; not moules ($19) or prime butcher’s steak ($25) but a 6 oz wagyu sirloin with duck fat fries and pepper sauce.
But if seafood is your bag, the seafood stew Bretonne did look impressive; with cod, mussels, sorrel and leek cream, smoked mackerel and grilled baguette. ($25)
Naturally, for a European style restaurant, the wine list was European, with an excellent Tempranillio from La Mancha ($12/48) and and Abbruzzi Montepulciano ($11/45)
Garces Trading Company is another perfect example of Philadelphia’s exploding restaurant scene, where ambitious independent farm to fork restaurateurs like Garces and Ellen Yin with Fork/High Street on Market, are changing the city’s culinary landscape.
All images except featured image (c) Andy Mossack
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Garces Trading Company 1111 Locust Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19107
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