Joncarl Lachman, decorated chef and owner of the cult-favorite Home Bistro (and formerly, Vincent) in Chicago, is opening a restaurant in Philly in the near future. Lachman—who also won the very first San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition in 2002—has been scoping out spaces to set up shop for quite awhile, and is eager to return to the city where he grew up.
"I was born and raised at 15th and Naudain Streets, which is now part of Rittenhouse," Lachman told Eater in an interview. "Then, we moved up in the world, and headed straight for Southwest Philly (laughs). Seriously, though, I fell in love with cooking when I was very young, and have always wanted to open a restaurant back home. Now it's time."
Lachman plans to open a BYOB that is mostly Dutch cuisine with some elements of Northern European cooking, called Winkel (he's still working on finalizing the name). Some menu items that diners can expect include bitterballen (fried meatballs), konijn in het zuur (rabbit and bacon dish in vinegar sauce), and snert (pea soup). Lachman said there will be an extensive smoked fish program and smørrebrød (a selection of toasted breads with spreads and proteins).
Joncarl Lachman has long been a supporter of the Philadelphia dining scene, and is even more enthusiastic about our culinary landscape than some of our local restaurateurs. He used our "sophisticated little BYOBs" to inspire his restaurant in Chicago.
"For our guests and regulars that are expats from the East Coast, they all say it feels like home," Lachman told Eater. "I take that as a compliment, because they're some of the best restaurants in the country. They offer a level of hospitality and service you just don't get anywhere else."
Lachman visits Philly a couple times each year, and always looks for new places to eat during the trip. He is a huge fan of Kanella and Little Fish, and counts The Farm & Fisherman and The Pickled Heron among his new favorites. And, when it comes to front of the house talents, there's no one doing it better than Bibou. "Isn't Charlotte (Calmels) the best? She exemplifies what the front of the house should be."
Some of the spaces Lachman had earmarked over the years for his restaurant were 901 Christian Street (now Monsu), 617 South 3rd Street (now Zen-Nor), and 1521 Spruce Street (now Russet). He has a few on the radar this time around, but doesn't want to name them just yet. As for a timeline, Lachman said that he will have a place open by early 2013, but if he can get a place locked down soon, they could be up and running as early as November.
Either way, chef Lachman will be here soon and become part of the influx of talented out-of-town restaurateurs that includes: John Shields, Greg Vernick, and Mike Santoro. It's a good time to be a restaurant fanatic in Philadelphia.
Welcome home, Joncarl.