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A Burgeoning Culinary Scene

Two new remarkable restaurants at Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia make their entrée into an already burgeoning culinary scene, with a vibrant and diverse cast of chefs.

Philadelphia, U.S.A.

JG Sky High arguably boasts the best bar scene in the city, with a sophisticated after-work crowd and killer cocktails. Beneath an opulent 40-foot atrium, clutches of well-dressed professionals gather around the uplit, wrap-around black onyx bar top. Plush leather bar stools encourage energetic conversations, fostering connections between key clients, colleagues, and new acquaintances. Come for the sunset views, and stay for the Ginger margarita.

When it’s time to dine, simply step down the onyx staircase between dramatic water features and gorgeous floral arrangements by the Jeff Leatham team. You have arrived on the 59th floor at Jean-Georges Philadelphia, taking its place at the top of the city’s culinary landscape. In Norman Foster’s soaring space, Michelin starred Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s artful French-American cuisine truly shines.

On the menu, luxury staples such as caviar with creme fraîche, caramelized foie gras with roasted chanterelles, or wagyu beef carpaccio do not disappoint. What surprises New York out-of-towners is the price point. That’s the not-so-secret perk: Philadelphia’s mid-market status means you can enjoy Michelin star fare for less. This, plus the friendly demeanor of the entire Jean-Georges team, removes any hint of pretension typically associated with white tablecloth service.

“All the food is very approachable. Even with two Michelin stars at Jean-Georges in New York, you’re not intimidated by the menu. We intentionally ensure that no dish is overly complex. Quality and simplicity are our main drivers,” says Nicholas Ugliarolo, Chef de Cuisine of Jean Georges Philadelphia.

Being able to source fresh, best-in-class ingredients at the Comcast Center is credited to chef Greg Vernick, a longtime Philadelphia presence who oversees Vernick Coffee Bar as well as his own ground-floor seafood restaurant Vernick Fish.

At his bustling upscale raw bar, Vernick offers an extensive selection of the best oysters and shellfish the eastern seaboard has to offer, from Virginia’s “Top Neck Clams” to “Malpeque” oysters from Prince Edward Island. Service here is also noticeably attentive, from the hostess complimenting the color of your dress, through to the line item cooks plating dishes with well-trained precision.

Though still a newcomer, Vernick is already buzzing with a vibrant social scene fueled by a smartly curated wine list, and seafood dripping in French influence. Yet, there are still some dishes reflecting pure Americana, such as the winning “monkfish a la plancha” served with a mix of New England and Manhattan Clam chowder. It’s quaint and charming—a charm which continues all the way through dessert, best capped with a chewy mouthful of salt water taffy.

Out on the Town

If you have some free time in the city of Brotherly Love, you must venture out and sample its culinary highlights. Even the toughest food critics have applauded star chef Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook’s Israeli eatery in Society Hill, Zahav, which was named the best restaurant in the country at the James Beard Awards in 2019. It’s a colorful cornucopia of flavors, such as spiced tehina, roasted eggplant, creamy hummus and warm Laffa bread all served in what feels like a bustling Middle Eastern souk. (If you need a hard-to-get reservation, ask the concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia.)

For a slower paced, but elegantly refined dining experience, head with a date to Friday, Saturday, Sunday on South 21st Street. The precision coming from Philadelphian chef Chad Williams’ kitchen is technically on point. (Take one bite of the satisfyingly soft triangular “Beet Pyramids,” filled with goat cheese, buttermilk, nasturtium honey, and shiso powder, and you’ll likely agree.)

While the menu unfolds like a silk napkin, the restaurant’s ambience adds warmth to the precision. Wood flooring, European art murals, and leather banquette seating feels more like a private dinner party than a restaurant. Here, you’re sitting next to people who could be friends, enjoying inventive cuisine that comforts as much as it delights.