Top Chef alum Jen Carroll's Concrete Blonde is moving ahead full-steam, and she's previewing the menu at a private pop-up tomorrow night at David Katz's Mémé on Spruce Street. Carroll, who is currently shooting Life After Top Chef for Bravo (there's no shooting at the pop-up, though), is working out a lease on her new space, but has the concept and menu pretty much finalized.
"The food we're putting out tomorrow is not in some test phase, it's dishes I'll be serving when we open our doors," Carroll told Eater. "I am so excited to be out on my own, and bring a new restaurant to my hometown and local fans."
Carroll has also invited renowned mixologist Gina Chersevani from Washington, D.C. to whip up the signature cocktails for the pop-up using Philadelphia Distilling liquors. "We're doing drinks with Bluecoat Gin, XXX Shine, Vieux Carre, and Penn 1681 Vodka," said Carroll. "I'm also happy to have Monica Glass do my dessert, reuniting us from our time together at 10 Arts, and my former sous chef, Aaron Gottesman."
Some of the dishes Carroll has on the pop-up menu are favorites she brought from her time at 10 Arts, most notably the seared yellowfin tuna with passion fruit vinaigrette. Other plates Carroll's crew is dropping tomorrow include: fried Old Salt oysters with harissa and mint yogurt; black bass with spring vegetable ragout and potato espuma; Border Springs lamb with pearl onions and Sweet 100 tomato; and a chocolate peanut butter ice cream sandwich.
Mémé is normally closed on Monday night, so Carroll's pop-up won't interfere with Katz's normal schedule. "We cooked together 15 years ago, and Dave and I are good friends," said Carroll. "Mémé has an open kitchen, too, which is something we're going to have at Concrete Blonde, so it was a good fit."