The Cauldron brings magical food and drink to Midtown Village

News

Plus, an update on Garces’ tacos, the King of Prussia’s hybrid food hall, the reopening of Giuseppe & Sons, and other food news.


Courtesy of The Cauldron

Hello, Buckaroos. Welcome to a surprisingly crowded edition of the Foobooz Weekly News Round-Up. We’ve got all sorts of things happening in the city right now — from a grand reopening downtown to a third act in the story of one of Philadelphia’s most famous chefs — as well as taco news, burger update and more.

But we’re going to start this week with some wizarding news.

The cauldron

Courtesy of The Cauldron

No seriously. Wizards.

You know those craft kits they sell for kids? The ones that let them make their own slime or gummies or napalm or whatever, and that you only get when you forget about your weird nephew’s birthday until the last minute and think of nothing else to buy him?

Yeah, so imagine that, but as a bar and restaurant concept. And magic wands.

The Cauldron is “an immersive experience” in the form of a restaurant – a walk-in molecular gastronomy bar and a British gastropub with a side-hustle like a paid series of “potion-making” cocktail classes with “ working magic wands crafted using proprietary technology at The Cauldron workshop in London (UK),” according to a press release.

And sure, it all sounds weird and SUPER cheesy (which I wholeheartedly agree with), but dig this: the whole Cauldron concept was co-founded by Matthew Cortland, a South Jersey native and former teacher who started a Kickstarter $500,000 to fund his dreams of a wizard-themed bar — and it worked. Dude got his wish, went to London, opened a very geeky tech shop that’s half Harry Potter and half behind the scenes ofWestworld (without the murderous robots), spent time designing magic wands and a bunch of other widgets and gadgets, and opened his first Cauldron in London. It then expanded to Edinburgh, Dublin and New York, and is now returning (a bit) to Philadelphia to open its second US location this spring at 13th and Locust, right in the heart of Midtown Village.

There’s no part of this story that I don’t like. Seriously, I respect the hell out of anyone who gets their shot like this. And while my restaurant brain might scream about the pitfalls of running “interactive experiences” masquerading as restaurants and the culinary danger of putting theme before cuisine when it comes to the food industry and drinks (see: all our reports on Mad Rex), the geek in me is jubilant. Noisy.

So here’s what else I know right now: The Cauldron is looking at a spring opening. I’m pretty confident about that date as the joint is already taking reservations for potion classes starting May 20th.

The space will be on two floors with a bar and a restaurant on the ground floor offering molecular cocktails featuring a range of effects – such as the Thomas Edison-inspired Wizard of Menlo Park, which shoots smoke into the air, or The Blob with its aloe, tequila and expanding head. There will also be a food menu that leans heavily on British comfort food: smoking fish and chips, fiery cheese dip, elven bread tied inside a banana leaf and Turkish delight to win over the brothers. and grumpy sisters betraying their family to the White Witch. Upstairs? This is the classroom where they will be holding their 1 hour and 45 minute potion making classes for adults, children and families. You get a wizard robe to wear. A magic wand. You drink cocktails from the mouth of a sparkly unicorn. It looks EXACTLY as weird and awkward as you imagine. And tickets start at $40 per person.

You can get all the info you need about The Cauldron’s early days in Philadelphia (along with some videos of the place in action) here.

Let’s move on…

Garces brings tacos to the mainline

Over the past year or so, Jose Garces has used the uncertainty of the pandemic and its impact on the restaurant community to make a sea change in his focus. We’ve talked a lot about how he’s rebuilt his empire in these columns, but this week he made some really big announcements about the future directions of two of his surviving brands.

First, Garces will be opening two new locations of his Baja surf shack-inspired taco shop, Buena Onda, this spring. The first will be at Rittenhouse, at 114 South 20th Street. The second opens in the suburbs – on the mainline in Radnor, at 200 Radnor Chester Road. The two will make the same fish tacos, fishless tacos, nachos, churros, and margaritas that define Buena Onda, and roll with the kind of laid-back, fast, laid-back, stoned-on-the-beach feel that made the brand’s original launch. so successful.

Speaking of the OG Fairmount location, it will also be refreshed, and all locations will now operate with a pandemic-born love for delivery, takeout, endless summer pop-top atmosphere and booze — including Buena Onda-brand beers and margaritas in cans.

That new Rittenhouse spot, though? It’s interesting. Because the address — right at 20th and Sansom — is where one of Garces’ other pandemic kingpins lives. You remember Tinto, don’t you? A unique favorite for its Basque heart and great snacks, Tinto hasn’t exactly survived COVID. Last spring it re-opened as Tinto Pintxo, largely shifting its focus to wine retail, with its own attached bottle shop.

But Buena Onda and Tinto Pintxo can’t both live there, can they? One of them will have to go.

And, in the end, it’s Tinto who moves on. But it’s not closing, it’s just moving to a new (and as yet undisclosed) location with a fall opening date. When it reopens, it will be a refined and expanded version of the new Tinto Pintxo concept: a wine store with a strong Spanish accent. And maybe some snacks too.

As they say around here: you’ll know more when we know more.

And now, how about some other news from the suburbs?

A take-out dining room for the King of Prussia

Alright, speaking of pandemic innovations, watch this: Andrew Masciangelo and Yohann Zinier — the guys behind Savona restaurant in Gulph Mills — just launched a massive seven-restaurant hybrid food hall called Pure Roots Provisions at 411 Swedenland Road to King of Prussia. It’s cool for two reasons.

First of all, it’s a food hall – and that’s something everyone here wants more of, but we never seem to get enough of it.

Second, it’s a hybrid food hall, born out of the pandemic, shaped by the very specific needs of the community at a time to actually enter a building, take off your mask, and put food in your face while surrounded by people. other people is a dubious proposition at best. Pure Roots exists ONLY as a curbside pickup and local delivery operation. With seven restaurants all operating under one roof, it means being a sort of one-stop-shop for anything you might fancy.

So what is Pure Roots for, exactly? I’m glad you asked. They have Japanese seafood and Hawaiian cuisine from Hook’d, burgers and wings from Upstate (which is a PERFECT name, by the way), Italian at Grazia, salads from Wonderleaf, barbecue at Sparq, pastries from Breadbox and healthy breakfasts from Sunup. All of these places have their own crews and their own menus. They cook fresh to order. They offer family meals and catering services. And, on top of all that, they have their own team of delivery drivers who do the deliveries. Think of it as a very small, very efficient, and very neighborhood-focused version of Doordash. More importantly, consider it the solution every time you get together with a group of friends, decide to order food, and everyone kinda agrees on a place except one guy (looking at you , Jimmy) who only wants wings. Like, seriously, every time. Just wings. Everyone craving sushi? Jimmy wants wings. Is everyone cool with tacos? Jimmy wants wings.

Pure Roots Provisions is the solution to Jimmy’s problem. For that alone, it’s already genius.

Regardless, operations are currently operational seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The delivery area will be expanding soon and depending on how things develop over the next few months, they are looking at expanding into catering service. towards the end of summer. If you’re in the neighborhood, you can find menus, place an order, or just check things out here.

Leftovers

Giuseppe & Sons reopened in the city center last week after being dark for some time. Chef Ed Pinello has reduced the menu a bit and seating is only in the downstairs dining area (upstairs and outdoor dining areas are still closed). But it’s still good news for the crew and fans of G&S’ Rat Pack Italian cuisine.

On the subject of surprise reopenings, how about this: Tacolab at Mission Taqueria has been closed for something like two years at this point. But guess what? They return Monday, January 24 with a six-course collaboration dinner between Mission executive Jonathan Rodriguez and Randy Rucker of River Twice.

The menu looks killer. We’re talking puffy tacos with hay smoked cream and Kaluga caviar, oyster pozole, sweetbread tacos and more. Dinner tickets will be $85 per person plus tax and tip (which makes this wizarding thing seem like a bargain, right?), and reservations open Tuesday, January 18 at 2 p.m. They should sell out FAST, so if you’re down, make sure you’re quick with the click, okay? You can get the full menu and all the other info you need here.

And finally, a quick update on something I told you about last week: the opening of the flagship restaurant Two Robbers in Fishtown.

All I really knew at the time was that local hard seltzer company Two Robbers was getting into the restaurant business with the opening of a place called Burgers and Seltzers at 1221 Frankford Avenue.

Now, though, I can tell you it’s going to be a BIG joint – 4,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space with a retail store, art installations, a beverage program done in collaboration with the New York rock star bartender Dan Greenbaum and a burger restaurant making mashed burgers and burger adjacent sides while functioning as a combined lab demo space for Two Robbers to showcase some of their yet-unreleased products like hard kombucha, fruit seltzers and a Hard Nitro Cold Brew. The space will also serve as the headquarters of Two Robbers.

Still no word on an opening date. But come back next week. Who knows what I’ll have for you then.

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