When Fitler Club opened in summer of 2019, it essentially announced to the world that Philadelphia could do “private clubbing” easily as well as New York or Los Angeles. We paid a visit last August, and actually thought it was better in so many ways than Soho House or any of the profusion nof competitors that followed it…save for maybe Norwood in New York.
The scope of its ambition is surely what was most impressive. With its overarching sort of neo-Corbusian design scheme (by LA’s M-Rad), it easily aesthetically eclipsed the postmodern pastiche of so many clubs that had come before it. And it had an art collection that included Damien Hirst and Joseph Beuys, while still actively cultivating young local talent; it also had a restaurant overseen by Philly godhead chef Marc Vetri (private clubs were previously notable for their mediocre culinary offerings); it had a sprawling gym and a bowling alley (a 20,000 square foot swim club is in the works); and 14 gorgeously designed, very spacious rooms that you actually didn’t want to leave, even if so much a-level socializing waited just beyond your door.
The latter, collectively known as The Rooms at Fitler Club, have reopened to guests (after being shut down by COVID, obviously), coinciding with the debut of the pithily named new restaurant The Garden at Fitler Club. Helmed by Ryan Bloome, formerly of the Jean Georges SkyHigh bar at the Four Seasons, it’s set in a handsome brick courtyard, with social-distancing in effect—and is hosting a series of special guest chef collaborations.
Most significantly, a new all-encompassing and science-based program called Fitler Forward has also been put into effect, to assure the health and safety of all guests—and, with the “In Residence” element of the program, will also assist the recovery of local businesses by hosting notable local entrepreneurs for idea sharing sessions. Included in the safety check are a rapid temperature screening, electrostatic disinfection, PPE requirements, and UV sanitizing for phones—all to be completed in under 45 seconds.
The restaurant has already been a hit.
“Launching The Garden at Fitler Club has been a welcome endeavor in an otherwise difficult time for the restaurant industry, Philadelphia and the world,” offers Chef Bloome. “We’ve seen such a positive reception from the community, who have really embraced the opportunity to dine out and feel at ease because of all the safety protocols we have put into place, giving our members and their guests the confidence to gather together again.”
In that spirit, BlackBook asked him to share a few of his fave recipes with us—though we strenuously recommend experiencing The Garden, and Fitler Club, firsthand.
Recipes From The Garden at Fitler Club
Beef Skewers with Smashed Cucumber (serves 2)
For the beef:
8oz Strip Loin or Sirloin cut, this is a great way to use the ends of a larger cut
Slice in thin strips and marinade for 2-4hrs before skewering
For the Marinade:
10g shallot, minced
5g scallion, root end, sliced thin
8g ginger, minced
2g garlic, minced
.5 of a fresh thai chili, seeded and minced
5g toasted sesame seed
30g neutral oil (we use sunflower)
20g soy sauce
2g sesame oil
For the Smashed Cucumber:
400g persian cucumber (or kirbys or parisian gherkins, anything with a thinner skin)
Smash the cucumbers with a rolling pin, you want to break them but not completely pulverize them, they should be slightly broken apart but still mostly intact. Place them in a colander, toss with salt and let sit in the sink for 30-40 minutes. Rinse well after and add remaining ingredients. Allow to sit for another 30-40 minutes or up to overnight. After a full day you’ve basically just made quick pickles and they lose that freshness so don’t make too far ahead, day of is best.
Add to cucumber:
18g shallot, sliced into thin rings
6g garlic, minced
6g fresno, sliced into thin rings (the more seeds the spicier so if you like it mild remove all seeds)
8g white miso
135g rice vinegar
Smash with a rolling pin.
Drain some of the liquid off of the cucumbers and place in a shallow bowl, Grill beef skewers to desired temperature using the existing oil as your lubricant and lay on top of your cucumbers, enjoy together!
The cucumbers are awesome by themselves or with other proteins as well, try them with grilled shrimp skewers.
Grilled Flank Steak with Hazelnut Romesco and Charred Summer Squash
For the steak I like to leave them as whole flanks for groups and slice down after cooking but you could just as easily cut the flank into the desired portion size before marinating
Marinade Steaks with:
100g Olive Oil
5g fresh basil (stems and all)
5g fresh oregano or marjoram
1 whole fresh serrano, sliced in half and smashed to release some of the oils
1 clove garlic
a few turns of fresh black pepper
You can either put your steaks in a vacuum bag with everything or just let them sit with the marinade in a bowl in your fridge for a few hours. pull your steaks out of the fridge an hour before you need them and place them on a cooling rack so most of the oil is allowed to fall away.
For grilling flank steak you want relatively high heat to start and relatively low heat for the last few minutes
Place the steaks on the hottest part of your grill for 3 minutes, flip for an additional 3 minutes and then reduce the heat of your grill or move to a cooler area for the next 2 flips (2-3 minutes per side depending on desired temperature. Allow steaks to rest for 6-8 minutes before slicing
For the Squash:
200g mixed summer squash
2g basil leaves, torn
2g scallion greens, sliced thin
2g fennel top or dill, chopped
3g flaky sea salt
We get a mix of local squash from a farm called Three Springs Farm. We use 6 or 7 different types of summer squash but any 1 or multiple kinds will work.
Cut the squash at odd angles or quarter small ones (try to keep the pieces close to the same size.)
Heat a pan well (preferably a cast iron to get a good sear) over high heat. add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
Do not salt your squash before they go in the pan, we’ll do that after. When you salt them before they begin to leach out water and that prevents a good sear.
Add your squash to the pan carefully and making sure you’ve got cut sides of the squash up against the heat source.
Reduce your heat to medium and allow to caramelize on first side. Turn each piece of squash to any cut side to caramelize.
Turn off pan once all squash are cooked just through and browned nicely and allow residual heat of pan to finish cooking the squash. We want them to have some texture left in them.
Pour squash into a bowl and dress with herbs and sea salt
For the romesco:
100g sunflower oil
3g annato seed
1g chili flake
6g dried guajillo or ancho, seeds removed
7g garlic cloves (whole)
30g shallot, 1/2’ed
150g roasted pepper (good jarred peppers like piquillos are ok)
25g sherry vinegar
15g orange juice
Place hazelnuts and oil in a small pot and heat over medium heat. Keep a close eye and stir almost constantly. As soon as the nuts are nicely toasted all the way around remove and allow to cool.
Add second set of ingredients (annato, chilis, garlic, shallot) to hot oil and reduce to very low heat. Once everything is very soft allow it all to cool completely
Put all of your liquid ingredients and your peppers into the base of a blender and add your hazelnuts and begin to blend until relatively smooth. add salt and remaining ingredients with the oil slowly, stopping to stir occasionally if needed. Once fully blended smooth you’re ready to go!
Place some of your romesco on the plate, top with your squash and finally your sliced steak, sprinkle the steak with a little bit of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!
Charred Corn and Tomato Pasta with Pecorino and Fresh Herbs
250g pasta (we use a fresh extruded Gnocchetti Sardi but mini shells are a perfect substitute)
10g scallion whites
150g fresh corn
150g cherry tomatoes
200g vegetable stock (fortified with your corn cobs and pecorino rinds)
100g dry white wine
juice from 1/2 of a lemon
40g pecorino cheese (+ more to sprinkle on top at the end of course!)
30g fresh basil
50g cold unsalted butter
40g toasted pine nuts
For the vegetable stock you can use store bought stuff or just take all of your onion, carrot, celery and herb scraps and save them and bring them to a boil very briefly and allow to cool before straining. For this vegetable stock we add the cobs from our corn and the rind from our pecorino as well as bay leaves and black peppercorns. Regular veggie stock will work just fine but the corn flavor is really amplified if you just throw your corn cobs in with it and bring it to a boil for a few minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it well. Once boiling add your pasta. While your pasta is boiling heat a large pan until very hot and add your scallion and corn and allow them to char a little bit in the dry pan. Reduce your heat to medium low and add your wine and, 1/2 of your pecorino and your fortified vegetable stock and allow it to reduce most of the way down. At this point if your pasta isnt ready just remove your pan from the heat until it is. Once your pasta is ready add about 8-10 ounces of your well seasoned pasta water to your pan of corn and begin to reduce. add your pasta and the other half of your cheese and stir well for a minute or 2 over the heat until the liquid has reduced and gotten a little thicker. Put your tomatoes and butter in now and stir vigorously for another minute, turn off your heat and toss in your basil.
Pour the entire pan into a bowl and top with pine nuts and some more pecorino cheese!