A GOOD SIGN

THE WRIT­ING’S ON THE WALL: AU­TO­GRAPH BRASSERIE IS THE MAIN LINE’S SEX­I­EST NEW SPOT.

Philadelphia Style - - Contents - BY MARNI PRICHARD MANKO

The writ­ing’s on the wall: Au­to­graph Brasserie is the Main Line’s sex­i­est new spot.

As one of the area’s most pro­lific and in­no­va­tive restau­ra­teurs, Marty Grims is the mas­ter­mind be­hind the Main Line’s pair of White Dog Cafés (200 W. Lan­caster Ave., Wayne, 610-2253700; 379 Lan­caster Ave., Haver­ford, 610-896-4556; white­dog.com). At ei­ther of these restau­rants--plus the Univer­sity City out­post of the café and the float­ing din­ing room known as the Moshulu ship along Delaware Av­enue—the cre­ative vi­sion is just as im­por­tant as the cui­sine it­self. But whereas the White Dogs pay homage to our ca­nine friends, Grims’s lat­est en­deavor, Au­to­graph Brasserie, is an el­e­gant and in-your-face nod to pop cul­ture icons from the 1950s to today.

Walk­ing into the vaulted space that Ge­orges Per­rier once called his own (Le Mas Per­rier, Le Mas, Ge­orges’), David Se­mer­jian Builders and Ba­longue De­sign have trans­formed it into a vis­ual won­der­land. More than 550 au­to­graphed al­bum cov­ers line the lounge walls, while nearly 500 more au­to­graphed pho­tos are pep­pered through­out the restau­rant. “The in­spi­ra­tion came from my fas­ci­na­tion when re­view­ing an au­to­graph of Pres­i­dent Lin­coln,” says Grims. “See­ing the sig­na­ture of some­one who has had such a great im­pact on his­tory was in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful.” The cu­rat­ing process took about a year, col­lect­ing

al­bum cov­ers from vinyl shops, au­to­graphs from deal­ers and auc­tions, and orig­i­nal pho­tog­ra­phy from a New York gallery. And the poster-size pho­to­graphs aren’t posters—they’re lim­ited-edi­tion pho­tog­ra­phy from the orig­i­nal neg­a­tives. “Each per­son who dines with us finds con­nec­tions with dif­fer­ent pop cul­ture fig­ures de­pend­ing on who they grew up with,” says Grims, adding that Kurt Cobain, Prince, and El­ton John are some of the most com­mented on. “Guests walk around re­flect­ing on when they pur­chased the same al­bums.”

The am­bi­ence has both fem­i­nine and mas­cu­line en­ergy: The Sy­camore Room, with its name­sake tree planted in the cen­ter adorned with gold but­ter­flies, cel­e­brates leg­endary glama­zons, while the Club Room’s manly vibe has images of Keith Richards and James Gan­dolfini lord­ing over the room.

Com­mand­ing the kitchen is Ex­ec­u­tive Chef Ralph Fer­nan­dez, whose stel­lar con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can­meets-steak­house menu draws on culi­nary sig­na­tures of France, Italy, and Spain. Some stand­outs are the charred Span­ish oc­to­pus with Cal­abrian chili oil, pre­served lemon, pars­ley, smoked pi­men­ton aioli, and crispy pota­toes, as well as a suc­cu­lent whole roasted chicken with chive potato purée, wild mush­rooms, and Madeira sage jus. And you can’t ever go wrong with one of the home­made pas­tas such as the pap­pardelle with duck con­fit, wild mush­rooms, spinach, dried cherries, goat cheese, toasted wal­nuts, and citrus truf­fle jus.

Such a cool din­ing con­cept at­tracts an equally cool crowd, es­pe­cially at the bar, where fizzy Aperol spritzes and up­dated riffs on the Ne­groni fuel chat­ter from happy hour un­til late night about—what else?—all-time fa­vorite al­bums. 503 W. Lan­caster Ave., Wayne, 610-964-2588; au­to­graph­brasserie.com

As the name sug­gests, hun­dreds of signed pho­to­graphs from the rich and fa­mous were the de­sign in­spi­ra­tion be­hind Au­to­graph Brasserie.

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In Au­to­graph Brasserie’s Sy­camore room, iconic beau­ties from stage and screen sur­vey the equally stylish clien­tele.

The en­trance­way from the sec­ond-floor bal­cony is a glim­mer­ing spec­ta­cle of mir­rors, met­als, glass, and— of course— framed pho­tos.

from left: Au­to­graph Brasserie’s un­der­stated ex­te­rior; pre­mium Mid­west steak is one of the clas­sic fla­vors on the con­tem­po­rary menu; a se­cluded booth in the Boule­vard area.

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