May 17, 2017
By Marni Prichard Manko | March 16, 2017 | Food & Drink
The writing's on the wall: Autograph Brasserie is the Main Line's sexiest new spot.
In Autograph Brasserie’s Sycamore room, iconic beauties from stage and screen survey the equally stylish clientele.
As one of the area’s most prolific and innovative restaurateurs, Marty Grims is the mastermind behind the Main Line’s pair of White Dog Cafés (200 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, 610-225- 3700; 379 Lancaster Ave., Haverford, 610-896-4556). At either of these restaurants—plus the University City outpost of the café and the floating dining room known as the Moshulu ship along Delaware Avenue—the creative vision is just as important as the cuisine itself. But whereas the White Dogs pay homage to our canine friends, Grims’s latest endeavor, Autograph Brasserie, is an elegant and in-your-face nod to pop culture icons from the 1950s to today.
Walking into the vaulted space that Georges Perrier once called his own (Le Mas Perrier, Le Mas, Georges’), David Semerjian Builders and Balongue Design have transformed it into a visual wonderland. More than 550 autographed album covers line the lounge walls, while nearly 500 more autographed photos are peppered throughout the restaurant. “The inspiration came from my fascination when reviewing an autograph of President Lincoln,” says Grims. “Seeing the signature of someone who has had such a great impact on history was incredibly powerful.”
The curating process took about a year, collecting album covers from vinyl shops, autographs from dealers and auctions, and original photography from a New York gallery. And the poster-size photographs aren’t posters—they’re limited-edition photography from the original negatives. “Each person who dines with us finds connections with different pop culture figures depending on who they grew up with,” says Grims, adding that Kurt Cobain, Prince, and Elton John are some of the most commented on. “Guests walk around reflecting on when they purchased the same albums.”
The ambience has both feminine and masculine energy: The Sycamore Room, with its namesake tree planted in the center adorned with gold butterflies, celebrates legendary glamazons, while the Club Room’s manly vibe has images of Keith Richards and James Gandolfini lording over the room. Commanding the kitchen is Executive Chef Ralph Fernandez, whose stellar contemporary American-meets-steakhouse menu draws on culinary signatures of France, Italy, and Spain.
Some standouts are the charred Spanish octopus with Calabrian chili oil, preserved lemon, parsley, smoked pimenton aioli, and crispy potatoes, as well as a succulent whole roasted chicken with chive potato purée, wild mushrooms, and Madeira sage jus. And you can’t ever go wrong with one of the homemade pastas such as the pappardelle with duck confit, wild mushrooms, spinach, dried cherries, goat cheese, toasted walnuts, and citrus truffle jus. Such a cool dining concept attracts an equally cool crowd, especially at the bar, where fizzy Aperol spritzes and updated riffs on the Negroni fuel chatter from happy hour until late night about—what else?—all-time favorite albums. 503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, 610-964-2588
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRISTINE GREEN