On Friday May 5th Center City will welcome a new restaurant that will be ran by familiar names. Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran of Safran Turney Hospitality will open Darling Jack’s Tavern at 104 S. 13th St. in Midtown Village. Joining Barbuzzo, Bud & Marilyn’s and Little Nonna’s, this will be their fourth presently operating restaurant in the neighborhood and their eight restaurant overall that they’ve brought to the area..
Darling Jack’s Tavern is a return to casual comfort foods and will feature a 75-seat bar, restaurant, and the chef’s counter will offer a taste of everyday, classic foods inspired by local neighborhood joints around the world. To start, they will serve dinner and happy hour nightly, plus weekend brunch. Weekday lunch service to come.
“I’ve been cooking professionally for over 20 years, opened over a dozen restaurants and event spaces, and written countless menus. And we’ve loved it all, but this one means a lot. It’s been a rough few years for our industry, and we’re excited to get back to basics and cook everything and anything we love to eat,” says Chef Turney, who, with Safran, opened Open House in 2002 followed by their first restaurant Lolita in 2004. With the comfort and warmth of a staple neighborhood spot, both in cuisine and atmosphere, Darling Jack’s Tavern will surely be known as the place where genuine food, drink, and hospitality are abundantly present.
With her menu, Chef Turney will introduce Philadelphia to “tavern style pizza” – a thin crust pan pizza that is slightly crispy and just the right kind of chewy. Upon serving, it will be cut into small squares that make it perfect for sharing before digging into the main event. Pizzas will range from classic Spicy Pepperoni + Green Garlic to Clam + Ham to Potato + Spring Onion.
Other starters may include Crispy + Fancy Potato with crab salad, caviar, and horseradish; Steamed Mussels with housemade Portuguese sausage, beer, and Calabrian chili butter; Peacemakers, tiny fried oyster and shrimp sandwiches with chow chow relish and tartar sauce on a Merzbacher bun; and French Onion Soup.
From the Plates section of the menu, guests can enjoy Skirt Steak Frites, Gochujang Glazed Lamb Ribs; curried beer-battered Crispy Fish; and the All in the Family Burger, an 8oz. Primal Supply burger with Lancaster cheddar and pickles served on a Mighty Bread bun. For two, from the Large Plates section, guests may enjoy Coal-Grilled Whole Bronzino and Smoked Bone-in Short Rib. A few side dishes will also be offered including Chilled Cucumber with ponzu, chiles, and really good feta; and Charred Broccoli with tonnato, radishes, and Royer Mountain cheese. Prices will range from $12 to $38.
To complement Turney’s menu, Darling Jack’s will offer classic cocktails with an extensive selection of natural wine and craft beers. Cocktails will include Darling’s Buck with vodka, fresh ginger, mint and bitters, Don’t Do Me Dirty Darling Martini with Helix vodka and Castelvetrano brine; Easy Peasy with vodka, lemon oleo, curacao, Aji Amarillo sugar; Espresso Martini with Cardamaro, fresh espresso, brown butter and Fleur de sel; and a Spicy Paloma with Tequila, habanero and ruby grapefruit soda.
Darling Jack’s isn’t your average Tavern, although it’s inspired by the comforts of one. To design the space, Turney and Safran collaborated with Kate Rohrer of Philadelphia-based Rohe Creative. First, the duo completely gutted what was formerly Lolita and broke through the wall of the neighboring business, a former art gallery that is now located across the street. Once the space was opened up, Rohrer drew inspiration from the colors and textures of landscapes, and the simple joys of being outdoors. Darling Jack’s Tavern feels as though it’s been around for ages, yet it’s visually something completely new and exciting for the block.
As guests enter the space they may pull up to the 14-seat, 25-foot Calacatta Viola marble bar, adorned with retro bar stools upholstered in a casual-classic checkered fabric. The show-stopper facing bar guests is a wall-to-wall, custom back bar in a handsome high-gloss black finish with a large arch to center a gorgeous pearlescent beer tap against antique mirrors and perfectly styled shelves with a taxidermy pheasant. Other décor includes locally sourced vintage pieces including glassware, artwork and curio hinting at the concept’s narrative and capturing the feeling of a landscape painting – the simplicity and complexities of nature, florals, fowl and how it brings soothing comforts and familiarities to us all. Parties of two may also love to tuck into a handful of custom built-in Pullman booths across from the bar. Here guests may enjoy a more intimate dining experience under a large collection of oil paintings and warm brass wall sconces along a gorgeous, deep emerald green glazed brick wall. The bar area is warm, cozy, and cheery. There is a wonderful mix of textures and materials throughout the room – exposed white-washed brick, warm oak-wood wall panels, lacquered maroon beadboard ceilings, and red-and-white checked linoleum flooring to give the room a playful graphic tone.
Walking past the bar, guests will discover the open kitchen and eight-seat chef’s counter, and as they turn the corner, they will find a larger, main dining room. The wood wall planks are lacquered in Farrow & Ball “Oval Room Blue”, with three large, custom antiqued mirrors, coffered box-beam ceilings, custom brass metal light fixtures with fresh red and white enamels for contrast, and a vintage inspired patterned wallpaper. The main-event is a 30-foot, custom designed banquette upholstered entirely in a flying duck patterned velvet. Atop the reclaimed honey-oak wood flooring, sit a unique mix of antique dining chairs, custom checkered table tops, and a curated mix of eclectic framed artwork that includes modern abstracts, oil paintings, landscapes, and still lifes. The room’s seating for up to 62 guests includes tables paired with hand-painted captain chairs the team sourced from various places and more sofa-like Pullman booths upholstered in the softest ochre velvet hue. When weather permits, outdoor dining adds an additional 20 seats for guests to enjoy.
“We’ve always loved creating spaces that take you elsewhere,” said Safran. “Darling Jack’s might be our best, most fun time warp yet.”
As two of Philadelphia’s most prominent and successful businesswomen, Turney and Safran have been instrumental in shaping the city’s culinary scene. For over a decade, they have worked tirelessly to revitalize the once-desolate strip of 13th Street, which has now transformed into the trendy neighborhood known as “Midtown Village.” Today, they own and operate three beloved restaurants in the area: Barbuzzo, Little Nonna’s, and Bud & Marilyn’s. They also run two lifestyle boutiques, Open House and Verde, and a private event space with an open kitchen and bar, located above Barbuzzo. In addition to their successful neighborhood ventures, Turney and Safran have brought their hospitality to the Philadelphia International Airport with a Bud & Marilyn’s outpost and Good Luck Pizza Co., a restaurant and bar featuring a menu of delicious, oven-baked pizzas, small plates and more.
Darling Jack’s Tavern will serve dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Guests can also enjoy a midday menu daily from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and happy hour specials will be available every day at the bar and outdoor tables from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. On weekends, brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The restaurant plans to launch a weekday lunch menu shortly after its opening.