Philly is a food hub, there’s no way around it. And being that the city can only hold so many restaurants within its limits, it makes perfect sense that the cuisine scene is spilling out of the narrow urban streets and into the sprawl of the Main Line.
We’ve seen White Dog Cafe make its way into Wayne for a second location. Then there’s chef and restaurateur Chip Roman — co-owner of Ela in Queen Village — who flexed his Main Line muscles with restaurants Blackfish and Mica. New to the list of fine just-out-of-Philly dining is the recently opened Peppercorn.
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One of the restaurant's goals is to appeal to all dining-out tastes. You can see it in the design and the way the rooms are broken up into casual bar, main dining room, chef’s table and private event room. “The design is very reminiscent of a home, and we wanted to keep it that way to make people feel comfortable,” says Peppercorn GM Aaron Kavulich of the 165-seat restaurant. “It’s a large space and it’s designed so well.” The size, of course, is something that you won’t normally find in Philadelphia.
“What’s great about the city is that you can get everything you need,” says Kavulich. “However, they don’t have everything you need in one place.” And that’s where Peppercorn’s rollercoaster price range comes into play. You can get a $25 cut of meat or surf and turf dinner, but you also have the option of a $9 burger.
“We focused hard on being able to provide inexpensive items, moderately expensive items and luxury options on the menu,” Kavulich says. “We’re following what the public wants and demands. People on the Main Line want something like this. They don’t want to always go into the city for elevated cuisine.”
Whether it’s inside the city of just on the fringe, one thing is clear: The food scene is not slowing down.
City vs. 'burbs
It’s a game of give and take when it comes to food in this town. While some restaurateurs are branching out to the Main Line, others are finding their way into the city proper. Take, for example, chef Nick Farina, who is going from Verdad Restaurant & Tequila Bar in Bryn Mawr to a 20-seat taqueria on Seventh and Girard. Union Taco will open in October.