Jean-Georges Vongerichten Is About to Take Philadelphia by Storm
Debuting in August, Jean-Georges Philadelphia and JG SkyHigh will be the legendary chef's first restaurants in the city.
On the heels of opening a sprawling 7,300-square-foot seafood restaurant, The Fulton, in New York earlier this spring, world renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten already has another significant project on the horizon—not one, but two concepts in the new Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at the Comcast Technology Center. Set to open on August 12, the upcoming restaurant and lounge mark the chef’s first outposts in the city, joining a global profile that spans New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai, São Paulo, Jakarta, Paris, and more. As for what to expect? A few Jean-Georges New York classics, breathtaking views, and several new dishes specifically created for Philadelphia diners.
“We’re a global brand, but we’re local in content,” Vongerichten told Food & Wine.
Vongerichten shared that he’s been coming down to Philadelphia for a while now. A few chefs who have previously worked for him, including Greg Vernick—also opening a restaurant at the hotel—and Nick Kennedy from Suraya, moved from New York to Philadelphia to work on projects of their own, and he visits to support them. He thinks it’s a “great town for food,” naming Friday Saturday Sunday, Vedge, and Vetri Cucina as some of his favorite spots in the city; of course, Vernick Food & Drink and Suraya also made the list. Once Comcast CEO and chairman Brian Roberts approached him four years ago and told him that Norman Foster, his favorite architect in the world, was designing this new building, he was sold on expanding his restaurant empire. Now, Jean-Georges Philadelphia and JG SkyHigh are only weeks away from opening.
Set on the 59th floor with 40-foot-high floor-to-ceiling windows, Jean-Georges Philadelphia promises to be an elevated sit-down restaurant with “one of the best views of Philadelphia”—JG team member Nicholas Ugliarolo will head the kitchen as Chef de Cuisine. Diners will be offered a “power breakfast,” with à la carte and pre-fixe menus for lunch and dinner. For those who want to celebrate, a dinner-only tasting menu will also be available.
According to Vongerichten, about 25 percent of the menu comprises of signature dishes imported from New York, while the other 75 percent is brand-new, influenced by local flavors. There will be meals from the land and sea, as well as plant-based options. While the menu is still work in progress, he mentioned fresh mozzarella with lemongrass infusion, and a few corn dishes as well, since corn is currently in season—think salmon crusted with corn nuts in corn broth, and corn dumplings with tomato fondue. You can expect some Asian flavor profiles too, since Vongerichten trained in kitchens including the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok and Hong Kong’s Mandarin Hotel.
“I feel like food today, it’s very personal,” he says. “So my touch has always been a little Asian touch in the food.”
Up a staircase “flanked by waterfall features” lies concept number two—JG SkyHigh, on the hotel’s 60th floor. The cocktail lounge is more relaxed than the downstairs restaurant, with a small plates menu that includes some raw dishes, fried calamari, and “snacks.” Per Eater, you’ll find a Philly classic in the form of cheesesteak egg rolls; drinks-wise, there will be wine by the glass and craft beer on tap, as well as a mix of classic Jean-Georges cocktails and new creations.
When asked what he’s most excited about for the opening, Vongerichten simply looks forward to being there, and bringing something new to the Philadelphia dining scene. As August 12 draws closer, the team is finalizing the menu and making sure they fit in with the city around them.
“Every opening you do is like having a baby, you have to prep right, make sure it works,” he says. “It’s fun; it’s exciting; it’s nerve-wracking; it’s amazing to be here.”
Jean-Georges Philadelphia and JG SkyHigh open August 12—reservations are available now.