Food & Drink

“The Daily” Expands “Talula Brand”

Unionville’s Aimee Olexy partners with Stephen Starr once again.

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Months of anticipation came to fruition when Talula’s Daily opened its doors in late summer.

Reminiscent of the crafty food market and epic eating adventures at Aimee Olexy’s original destination in Kennett Square, the Daily is the second partnership for the Unionville resident and Stephen Starr.

The Philly restaurant czar pulled off something of a small coup two years ago when he convinced Olexy to clone her Talula Table’s, “the toughest reservation in America,” creating Talula’s Garden that has been one of the city’s new trendsetters. One of Philly’s loveliest spaces, the Garden features a sunny room with homey touches that peers out onto a gracious garden adjacent to Washington Square, one of the five original planned squares laid out by William Penn. The Daily is mere steps from Talula’s Garden.

A combination café/market/supper club, the Daily aims to invigorate the appetites of folks who live near Washington Square. It trumpets grab-and-go prepared eats and plenty of the signature super-fresh, flavorful, and creative cuisine that has gotten rave reviews at Olexy’s other restaurants.

A long, curved wood and marble-topped bar at the entrance–created by students in the Challenge Program in Wilmington made out of marble sourced from Independence Hall–serves coffee, and curated wine and beer, as well as pastries baked in-house. Try a La Colombe coffee, an organic Rouge and Blue blend with milk from West Chester’s Bailey’s Dairy.

Up a couple of stairs is the heart of the operation, with table seating in the middle and walls lined by a cheese/bread counter plus a “larder” counter and refrigerated section that offers creative sandwiches for vegetarians and omnivores alike. Fresh-squeezed juices and heirloom recipes include kasha and bowties, stuffed pork chops, monkey bread, spinach pie, stuffed shells, and old-fashioned tapioca pudding. Staples from the Table include Kennett Square mushroom soup, grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato, and a wondrous selection of its carefully selected local farmstead cheeses.

The market builds upon the Talula’s dining experience as an easier-going alternative–a chance for customers to bring the Talula’s way of eating and cooking–like chicken croquettes, vegetable lasagna, and grilled fish–into their own home after the workday.

“It reflects the intimate nature of the small-batch cookery idea,” Olexy observes. “There’s no printed menu, a place where there’s food everywhere, and where customers meet customers. With the Daily the idea is you’re eating at a place with a home kitchen feel.”

Working with Richard Stokes Architecture, Olexy fashioned an industrial-meets-country charmer designed to serve many purposes. The café is spacious and bright with pleasing rustic touches such as exposed beams, warm wooded floors and finishes, verdant greenery (the potted fig tree grabs your attention), wire baskets overflowing with treats, and such tabletop bits and pieces like painted ceramic cups and milk-glass dishes.

Olexy drew on inspiration from Brooklyn’s Marlow & Daughters, St. Helena’s Oakville Grocery and San Francisco’s Bi-Rite Market. If some of the tableware looks familiar, Talula’s Daily has an exclusive partnership with Anthropologie to use its tabletop settings as a colorful and refreshing collection of plates, serving pieces, cheese knives, and glassware.

“I have been in food for my whole life, so I love to foster people in the culinary world, but also in the regular world,” Olexy notes. “Just in helping them eat, in learning how to bring food in a healthy way into their lifestyle, and in being more knowledgeable of food. It’s kind of all I think about, so it comes naturally to me.”

“I’ve been driven by two concepts–having a restaurant with plated food and the energy of nighttime, but I’m also a big believer in morning food, like cheeses, sandwiches, and coffee. Similar to Talula’s Table, the Daily’s mission is to promote small batch, handmade food, morning, noon, and night.”

At nighttime, after the Daily closes at 7pm (every day but Monday), the café offers a “secret supper” (by reservation or walk-in), in the form of a laid-back family dinner. Chef de Cuisine Scott Megill mans the cottage kitchen. There is one pre-set supper, which changes frequently (no choices). The menu is posted at talulasdaily.com that features five courses for $50, not including their wines, local beer, and drinks. The menus reflect the season and showcase superior local farm ingredients.

“The supper club experience is kind of like sitting in the kitchen and eating a home cooked meal without any cleanup and with a private chef,” Olexy says with a broad smile.

And supper it is!

Showcasing seasonal and superior local farm ingredients, the menu for early September illuminates the Daily’s combination of care and creativity and includes a warm chickpea panisse, tomato-shrimp bisque, locally sourced leg of lamb with a mint-parsley pistou. The meal is complimented with a tray of six cheeses and sticky zucchini bread, and as always, dinner is served with the eye and palate pleasing flour pot bread.

The Daily also offers catering and a picnic program of baskets filled with goodies, perfect to carry into Washington Park to enjoy on a sunny, autumn day.