There are obvious reasons that you head to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
As a centerpiece in the city and hub for all things playful and creative, what some may not realize is that everything the PMA has to offer is not just for your eyes and mind—the establishment also takes an artful approach to your tastebuds as well.
The PMA’s in-house restaurant Stir first opened in 2018, and recently reopened (along with some renovations in the museum itself) again for the first time since the pandemic earlier this month. Here, many museum-goers seek a refined meal, but it offers more than just a place to sit and talk. It offers an experience.
Stir is designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry who is famed for his experimental, yet environmentally considerate designs on renowned structures such as the Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao), the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Louis Vuitton Foundation. With Stir however, the approach is as clean as the layout of the museum and the effects are just as powerful as you see with works of art—simply because that’s what it is.
What comes next is what you’ve arrived for, some sustenance. The restaurant from the Constellation Culinary Group is helmed by Executive Chef Mark Tropea, who after working for Sonata in Philadelphia and 15 Central Park West came to Stir when it opened years ago.
And for the re-vamp, Tropea has some tricks up his sleeve.
“When we first opened in 2018, we built relationships with Urban Roots Farms in Newtown Square, Castle Valley Mills in Bucks County, and Lancaster Farm Fresh. Since we reopened, we’re also using products through our main produce vendor, Baldor, to help support farms such as Norwich Meadows, Koppert Cress, Taproot Farm, and local dairies for milk and cheese,” he explains. “The importance is in preserving the connection to the ingredients that these farmers have. It is more than just a business for them—it is way of life. The care and respect that they have for the practice and the planet shows on the plate. Especially now, post pandemic, while supply chains are disrupted and food security has been threatened, local farmers powered through with integrity and hard work, as they have throughout history.”
As Tropea says, menu changes are made continually throughout the season as items hit their peak seasonality, but some stand-outs that Philadelphians can sink their teeth into now include the Ricotta Cavatelli with autumn squash, leeks, sage, and brown butter (“very classic”) and the Chicken Liver Mousse with pickled cranberries, maple braised butternut and toasted pepitas on Baker St. sourdough. They’ve also reopened with a fall favorite soup: Parsnip and Roasted Pear served with candied pecans, thyme, and saba. “It is our number one requested recipe,” says Tropea.
Other menu favorites include dishes like a Fig and Serrano Ham Toast, Herb Roasted Jail Island Salmon, and an artisan Quiche made with leeks, bacon, gruyère, and local mixed greens. The PMA Dry Aged Farm Stand Burger made with Lancaster Cheddar, and the Stir Chopped Salad also continue to be fan favorites, according to a release. On top of everything else, Stir’s beverage menu features a variety of signature mixed drinks, wines by the bottle and glass, and a refreshing selection of local beers.
It’s the care that is put in that is the special ingredient here. From Tropea manning the line and asking patrons how everything is, to the restaurant manager making rounds and explaining dishes in great detail, this could ultimately be another exhibit at the PMA.
“The restaurant is a way to complete the total museum experience. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is an expansive museum filled with a world-renowned collection that brings art to life and inspires visitors,” finishes Tropea.”Stir is a great place to rest and consider the collection, catch up with friends, or celebrate a special occasion, while enjoying great food crafted with care and sincere hospitality.”
Stir will be open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., and will offer brunch on Sunday from 11 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Reservations can be made through OpenTable or by calling 215-684-7990.
To learn more information, visit philamuseum.org