The latest venture from a well-traveled CIA grad with two stints under Jean-Georges, Vernick Food & Drink's a triple-zoned, boozy bistro opening today in Rittenhouse Square with a streamlined cement-counter bar, a kitchen-surrounding back dining room w/ a seven-stool chef's counter, and a 45-seat upstairs hangout adorned with pics of the chef's various travels, which're plentiful given his inability to dribble while running up and down the court
Edibles get down categorical style, so look for "Raw" jawns (beef tartare w/ delicate French wafers) and "Toasts" (charred spinach & leeks; Maryland crab; morels, peas & bacon), then move into mains like lamb ragu-topped potato ravioli, the aforementioned pork blade steak w/ onion marmalade, an entire Amish chicken prepped Peking-style & oak-fired in the oven, and fava-bean-accompanied beef cheeks, also what Andre Iguodala said that time Mo asked him what the kids these days called a rap quarrel
Drinks include a smattering of local crafty drafts, a literal wall of choice reds & whites, and a cocktail list balanced between classics like Sazeracs and Martinez-ez, plus customs like the South of Southside (tequila, lime & soda) and the lemon, Becherovka & egg white Czech Sour, aka Toni Kukoc during those years when he didn't get the extra Jordan step.
While Vernick Food & Drink is an upscale American eatery with a complex, innovative menu, the chef's standout mainstay is (drum roll, please)...toast. But this is not burnt wonder bread with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter -- this is toast 2.0. Vernick's chefs have created a number of spreads and mashes to dollop onto fresh baked sourdough, using everything from charred eggplant with chanterelles and broccoli-bacon jam to Bayonne ham with whipped brie and Maryland crab, all of which can be enjoyed at the bar alongside one of the numerous creative house cocktails. Beyond the sought-after collection of toasts, there are raw oysters, small plates, and plenty of meat and fish entrees, most of which are roasted in a wood-fired oven. The tables are built of thick, weathered wood, the waiters wear suspenders and bowties, and the whole place is engulfed in a warm yellow light.