Adam Erace Adam Erace battles adult on-set diabetes and cankles as the restaurant critic for the Philadelphia City Paper. He also writes about food and travel for publications like Details, Fodor's and Southern Living. He lives in South Philly with his wife, Charlotte, and two rescue mutts, Lupo and Marco.
Tela's Market & Kitchen
At 10:30 a.m. on a Sunday, there was nowhere to sit. Inside the gleaming construction of concrete, Carrara marble, barn wood and subway tile that is the new Tela’s Market & Kitchen on the edge of Fairmount (technically Francisville), the butcher-block tables, communal and otherwise, were occupied by dovey-eyed couples and a dude pecking away at his Mac and nursing a coffee.
Up at the counter, a cheerful clerk poured me a mug of mellow Four Barrel coffee while I swiveled back to the dining room to inspect. A table opened. I sent my wife after it: “Go. GO!” But she was too late, headed off by an eagle-eyed mom.
With a crazy affordable menu by a former Garces guy, 33-year-old Chad Williams, and homey touches like wildflowers in milk bottle vases, it’s not hard to see why the neighborhood has taken so quickly to Tela’s. The place is named for the building owner's pet beagle — and pronounced Tela like tea, not Tela like novella.
In the time it took me to fix my coffee at a pipe-and-plank, cream-and-sugar station, two seats had opened up at the communal table.
If you’re looking for luxe eggs Benedict and French toast impregnated with red velvet frosting, Williams’ straightforward brunch menu is not for you. He traffics in simpler, more honest morning fare, like butter-soaked slices of eggy brioche toast and creamy grits with bacon and black kale. A fruit salad was fresh and bright, an omelet marbled with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, onions and chèvre.
But there was definitely room for improvement, too. The welcome thicket of frisée alongside the omelet was not dressed, and while the brioche was made in-house, the accompanying strawberry jam was not. A stack of buttermilk pancakes was spongy, soft and crowned with staid cinnamon apples; calling them a ‘chutney’ is pretty misleading.
The sandwiches at lunch (meatball Parm, bacon-jammed short rib) sound tempting, and Williams just launched his weekly Dinner Table series, so I’ll have to go back. Here’s hoping I can find a seat.
Tela’s Market & Kitchen | 1833 Fairmount Ave., 215-235-0170, telasmarket.com. Mon.-Fri., 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Breakfast/brunch, $2-$9; lunch, $6.95-$9.95.
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