Irwin’s — Philadelphia, USA
Philadelphia’s East Passyunk neighbourhood has a well-deserved reputation for being something of a dining destination – particularly Italian cuisine. Which explains why, when Paul Garberson decided to unfurl a Turkish-inflected Mediterranean-cum-Middle Eastern menu in his new, incongruously named restaurant Irwin’s, local gourmets sat up to pay attention.
Set on the 8th floor of the Bok building – a former technical high school turned mixed-use creative development which was designed in the early 20th century by Irwin T. Catharine from whom the restaurant takes its moniker – Irwin’s views of the Delaware river and sports stadiums is a bracing counterpoint to Garberson’s mezze platter of roasted red pepper and walnut salsa, dill-stuffed carrot fritters, crispy fried Castelvetrano olives, and mussel spilling over with rice, herbs and pine nuts.
Converted from the old nursing classroom, the dining room itself is the work of Rohe Creative, the local studio mixing box-tufted banquettes, coppery light fixtures, tulip chairs and a 6 ft chandelier with repurposed furniture – to whit, the soapstone-topped bar from the science room, old science lab tables lined with communal benches from the library, and salvaged yearbook photos in the bathrooms.
Weather permitting, the outdoor terrace is Irwin’s sweet spot – a lofty perch from which to admire city views with a Golden Horn cocktail of gin and tonic, lemon, honey, turmeric and ginger. §