Red Owl Tavern’s New Chef: 5 Dishes to Order

By Danya Henninger  |  March 26, 2014
Credit: Danya Henninger

At the beginning of the year, Red Owl Tavern in the Hotel Monaco welcomed a new chef. Jorge Chicas brings an impressive resume - most recently he was executive chef for Jose Andres’ Bazaar at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. Prior to that he was in DC, where he opened Zaytina for Andres and ran several other kitchens.

Chicas totally revamped Red Owl’s menu, replacing nearly every item while still keeping true to the original vision for the restaurant: house-butchered meat, local producers and American classics. Charcuterie is no longer made in house - Chicas is training staff on doing that right - but is instead sourced from the best available. More salads and fish are on the slate, and there’s a renewed concentration on dessert.

With its prime location catty-corner to Independence Hall, the rustic dining room plays host to many out-of-towners and hotel guests. After a recent dinner visit, we can say that while it’s not in the top echelons (yet), we’re very glad Chicas is now in charge - we’re happy to let this version provide visitors with a representative taste of the Philly food scene.

Red Owl Tavern is also worth checking out you’re a local (if you’re ok with overlooking amateur service), because there are several dishes you will want to try. Click through for five of our favorites.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Hummus and Htipiti Dip

    Htipiti is a Greek spread of chopped roasted red peppers and feta crumbles, and it’s as good or better than the creamy hummus it shares a plate with on this appetizer. Star of the show, however, is the flatbread. Instead of mealy or dry, these housemade crackers pack as much flavor as fresh-baked bread, squeezed into crisp, seeded squares that only break when you want them too ($8).

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Hartley Ranch Skirt Steak

    “I let the Latin flavor sneak into this one,” says Chicas, who is originally from El Salvador. His chimichurri is not overly garlicky or spice, but just pungent enough without overwhelming the flavorful Texas beef. Yucca fries on the side are so good you’ll want to order an extra side of them - ethereal yet hearty, with a satisfying salty crunch ($24).

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Seared Bronzino

    Skin-on filets are expertly deboned and crisped around the edges without losing any juiciness in the flaky meat. Shallots and cipollini onions surrounding the fish add great flavor, and mini red potatoes would be very tasty, too, if they weren’t overly oily ($24).

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Lemon Cheesecake

    Cheesecake masquerades as upscale Pop-Tart in this creamy strip coated in graham cracker crumbs. Sour cherry compote finishes the classic flavor combo ($9).

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Chocolate Mousse

    Brilliant brioche croutons surprise by being just slightly sweet, and are perfect dipped in the thick pudding, which is topped by vanilla mascarpone and a layer of salted caramel ($9).