Walk into Double Knot, and you'll be floored by what has become of the gay porn theater on 13th Street (120 S. 13th Street). Next Tuesday, February 2, Michael Schulson and fiancé Nina Tinari will open the doors to their coffee bar and subterranean izakaya.
Conceptually, the place is entirely unassuming, from the tiny Double Knot sign out front, to the staff's nonchalance regarding the Modbar coffee dispensing system: the only one in Philly, and one of only ten in the entire country. Automated pour-overs at the push of a button, calculated meticulously for every roast — human not required. It's the future of coffee and people should be paying attention to it. Schulson partnered up with Evan Inatome, owner of Elixr Coffee Roasters, to create a coffee program comparable , if not, better than the power-house on Sydenham Street. Morning to lunch, coffee house staples like pastries (damn-good pop tarts), coffee cakes, and quiches will be prepared by Schulson's in-house pastry chef Roxxanne Delle Site. For lunch, the menu will be a Vietnamese themed: your choice of chicken, steak, meatballs, or tofu over broken rice, cabbage salad, rice noodles, or stuffed into a bánh mi.
By 5 p.m., upstairs will do away with the coffee house concept (though, coffee will still be available through the night), and put its full bar, with two wines, sake, and beer on tap, to good use, implementing an upstairs-only happy hour similar to that of its sister-restaurant, Sampan, next door.
But the real fun begins downstairs in Double Knot's subterranean, speakeasy-esque sushi bar and robatayaki grill. The gorgeous downstairs space (designed by Kate Rohrer of Rohe Creative), bedecked with antique lighting and candles trickling with stalagmites, is broken into virtually four separate dining rooms (seats 90), with a glimmering back bar manned by Schulson's notably charismatic beverage director, Zack Davis.
From 5 p.m. to close, executive chef Kevin Yanaga, previously of Atlantic City's Izakaya, will serve up sizzling skewers of meat to both upstairs and downstairs patrons. Don't skip out on Yanaga's sushi menu. Schulson explicitly said of Yanaga, "He's the most talented sushi chef I've ever worked with."
Reservations are now live on Open Table.