The 49-story FMC Tower at Cira Centre South is home to the AKA hotel and residences, an elevated urban park, and now an all-day cafe and restaurant. Walnut Street Café is the first venture outside of Manhattan for the team behind acclaimed French spot Rebelle in NoLita (and the now closed Pearl & Ash). Partners Branden McRill and Patrick Cappiello, chef Daniel Eddy and pastry chef Melissa Weller have worked at a slew of top restaurants and have many awards among them. But here in Philly they’re going for an accessible menu, appropriate for everyone from business people to college students. Here’s what you need to know before you go.
The location is easier to get to than you might realize
Because the FMC Tower is just across the river, it’s about a 10-minute walk from Rittenhouse — with skyline vistas from the Walnut Street Bridge along the way. It’s also convenient for 30th Street Station commuters.
Inside Walnut Street Café. Courtesy of Evan Sung
The space is multifunctional
New York–based Parts & Labor designed a modern dining room with a chef’s counter (no special chef’s menu), a combined cafe that morphs from pastry counter during the day to a bar in the evening, and a 29-seat upstairs level for large groups, private dining and events. A 40-seat patio on the Walnut Street side is coming soon.
Cinnamon rolls. Courtesy of Evan Sung
It’s worth a visit for chef Melissa Weller’s pastry counter alone
Weller, a former engineer, is an alum of Per Se and Roberta’s, and her chocolate babka graced the cover of Food & Wine. Here she’s showcasing her talents with a heavenly spread of sweets, like the babka, plus kouign-amann, cinnamon rolls and cookies. Savory items include a ham and cheese croissant, and cheddar and chive biscuits. Rival Brothers Coffee, along with all baked goods, are available for carryout. Delivery, as well as a cold juice program by Gorilla Nutrition, is in the works.
Burger with Wisconsin cheddar & bacon. Courtesy of Evan Sung
The menu is aiming for American crowd-pleasers done right
Chef Daniel Eddy, who worked with Daniel Rose at Spring in Paris and opened several restaurants with Michael Psilakis, starts with a full-service breakfast featuring eggs, pancakes and “black scrapple,” his boudin noir-inspired take on the Pennsylvania Dutch staple. Lunch items include zucchini soup with fried blossoms, salads and a satisfying pork belly sandwich, as well as more substantial dishes like fried porgy. Dinner offerings run the gamut from a raw bar to several pasta dishes, a burger and a porterhouse steak for two.
Brown butter ravioli with mint and ricotta. Courtesy of Evan Sung
Wine lovers will want to spend some time here
Patrick Cappiello, who is a Wine Spectator Grand Award–winner and Food & Wine Sommelier of the Year, put together a list of 130 bottles (and growing) of wines he says range “from classic to geeky.” To encourage guests to try something new, “We’re going to have a lot of wine open,” he says. Everything will be available by the half bottle, and more than 50 wines will be offered by the glass. Cappiello says that he and his team, including head sommelier Kaitlyn Caruke and sommelier Etinosa Emokpae, are looking forward to getting more involved with the Philly wine scene and bringing in producers from around the world for wine dinners. Samantha Germani, formerly of Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, has also joined him at Walnut Street Café.
Look for fun frozen concoctions at the bar
The cocktail menu was developed by David Powell, formerly of Death & Co. and Pearl & Ash. But it’s not taking itself too seriously, with a rotating selection of frozen drinks. First up is a cinnamon piña colada and a Hurricane. Housemade sodas are available as well.
2929 Walnut St.; 215-867-8067