Red Owl Tavern Takes Flight
by kristin detterline
Philadelphians first came to know chef Guillermo Tellez in 2009 when the James Beard Foundation Award winner opened Square 1682, an American-minded bar and restaurant with upscale flourishes inside the Hotel Palomar. Three years later, the affable restaurateur has teamed up once again with his ultracool hospitality cohorts at Kimpton Hotels for the Red Owl Tavern at Old City’s Hotel Monaco.
Tellez took a more pared-down approach with Red Owl, calling on Lancaster County farmers, Kennett Square mushroom growers, and other area food purveyors to bring his rustic culinary vision to life. Farm-fresh vegetables are pickled in-house, seasonal berries are transformed into jams for homemade pies, and breakfast staples like sausage and scrapple are made on the premises. “There’s a hearty nature to the menu and a real hands-on approach to [preparing] the food. It’s resonating with local diners and visitors to the city,” says general manager Natalie Pineda.
The winter is when Red Owl’s menu really shines, offering soul-warming plates like chicken pot pie, braised short ribs, mussels flecked with spicy pork shoulder, and deliciously dense whoopie pies to guests as they unwind in the weather-washed wood surroundings. Red Owl’s cocktail program gets back to basics, too, focusing on classic brown spirits—an Old-Fashioned, anyone?—and draft and bottled beer from Philadelphia producers. 433 Chestnut St., 215-923-2267
photography by JASON VARNEY