Jose Garces — Philadelphia’s own Iron Chef and the little restaurateur that could — is doing it yet again. Today marks the opening of his latest dining destination, JG Domestic, and the apparent continuation of his epicurian empire.
Straying from his normal, winning formula of a Center City brownstone and ethnically rich decor, JG Domestic instead fills the airy, light-filled space of the Cira Center‘s bottom floor. Soaring ceilings and windowed walls surround pale wood shelving packed with rustic knick knacks. The tailored booth tables play off the more traditional-looking central seating, which comes with slip-covered chairs in everything from pale linen to schoolgirl-skirt plaid. Our favorite feature is by far the tiered herb gardens which create the restaurant’s “living wall,” not to mention a heady aroma.
The menu is also a bit of a departure for Garces; while his popular Amada, Tinto and Chifa establishments thrive thanks to their far-flung cuisines, with JG Domestic the inspiration is right out the front door. “American” food is the theme, and that goes for both dishes and ingredients; a bevy of the farms stocking the kitchen are within an hour’s drive of the city (one of which will be Garces’ own 40-acre investment in Bucks County). Smoked Georgia pecans, a “cappuccino” of Maine lobster, cream-splashed porcinis from Washington’s Mount St. Helen’s and Colorado lamb spare ribs take diners on a cross country tour of the country’s best home cooking, no RV required.
There may be differences between JG Domestic and the restaurants that helped make him a household name, but Garces seems sure that the true hallmarks of his empire — quality food and entertaining destinations — will continue to shine through. Grab one of the first available tables and find out for yourself.
JG Domestic is located at 2929 Arch St., 215.222.2363, www.jgdomestic.com