Midtown Village is no longer a restaurant-goers coveted secret. The word is out — and has been out for some time now — that 13th Street, specifically between Chestnut and Locust, is ripe with fine dining. Among the hot spots is Vintage Wine Bar, where chef Dan James is creating rotating menus. We scored insider info on what to expect from his kitchen this month.
Can you explain the upcoming wine and cheese flights that Vintage will have on the weekends?
Starting in mid-May we’re highlighting cheese from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It’ll probably change weekly. And we’ll have a new spring menu around the same time.
You previously worked at Brasserie Perrier, Southwark, and Pub & Kitchen. How is Vintage Wine Bar different?
Vintage is really unique. We’re a wine bar and bistro, but I feel like the bar vibe is still really strong here. I keep the cooking really simple. I think that type of food works with the atmosphere. It’s still a bar and bistro at the end of the day, just rooted in fine dining.
That part of Midtown Village has become a great food destination.
Oh yeah. I remember when Sampan was a parking lot. This is a really interesting neighborhood.
What’s your neighborhood?
I just moved back to South Philly. I was in Fishtown for a while but my girlfriend and I just bought a house in Newbold, so I spend plenty of time at South Philly Tap Room. Right now we’re renovating the house and working on a new kitchen.
Is that taking up a lot of your free time?
Yep, but it’s fun.
Are you doing anything else on your days off?
We’re planning a few day trips to the mountains and down the shore.
You were trained in Napa Valley. How did you adjust to cooking in Philly?
Well I’m from around here, I’ve just been moving around for about 10 years. The job market here is so much better because there’s a real sense of community between fellow Philly chefs. Napa was more cutthroat, kill or be killed, you know?
So you came back to Philadelphia in 2008. It’s become a progressive food town since then.
It’s really changed even in just the past three years. There are a lot more small restaurants with a focus on fine dining and seasonal menus. Everyone’s doing their own cool thing.