Matt Cahn is in a pickle. No wait. Matt Cahn Has a cucumber. A giant plastic cup the size of a small child lying flat on a pool table in the center of his new 120-seat restaurant in Fishtown. It’s across from the curved bar, on the way to the coffee station and a stone’s throw from a light pink trash can at the entrance where a familiar photo of Princess Diana – smiling blissfully and in an Eagles jacket – welcomes you to the clubhouse.
The cucumber has no part in it Clubhouse for middle kids – Cahn’s second, much larger, restaurant is slated to open next week at 1232 North Front Street – but it could turn into a light fixture at some point. “When you make an effort, everything is a light,” says Cahn, leaning against a dark green tiled bar in the middle of the dining room that was designed by Betsu Studio and Edsel Co. On the other hand, the pool table already has a job, says Cahn. „It’s the hell to hang out.”
It seems like it was only yesterday that Cahn – a real-life middle kid who used to work for Superiority Burgers and Court Street Grocers in Brooklyn before returning to his hometown to make a sandwich name – his 16-seat Luncheonette opened in Washington Square West. But in four years his shy riffs on classic sandwiches – like the vegan Vietnamese-style „Phoagie” and the breakfast sandwich with golden eggs piled strangely high between slices of potato and Pullman bread – have become such a sensation that he has Felt it was time for Middle Child to grow up.
Middle Child’s original location has always been limited by space and staff capacity, resulting in shorter opening times and the occasional sell-out of sandwiches. (See: The BLT frenzy this summer.) But like a real younger sibling, the Middle Child Clubhouse has more freedom of movement, and without the guardrails it’s more than a touch wilder.
Where the Middle Child on 11th Street has a tight menu, everything is on the table in the Fishtown Clubhouse: frozen tropical Negronis, huge chicken milaneses, fried shrimp with Aleppo pepper aioli, yuca patty melts, natural wines on t, Coffee drinks in the to-go bar, pastries from Mighty Bread, small plates, large salads and the same sandwiches that Middle Child the Senior fans know and love, except in a large open space with a lively bar, private dining room and of course , that pool table to hang out the hell.
However, Cahn admits that he failed to do one thing he said it Inquirer the new restaurant would have: „There are no dunkin ‘donuts here.”
Cahn hired Adam Sosnowik, formerly of Zahav and Res Ipsa, as his head chef, and the menu is said to be unpretentious, with five rotating small plates, two burgers (one vegan), a chicken schnitzel with ranch dressing and fried seafood, and a shishito basket. A great early dinner is a nod to Middle Child’s famous hash browns, but they are spun into latkes and topped with wasabi ginger, kewpie mayonnaise, tonkatsu sauce, spring onions, and trout roe.
On the drinks side, the bar opens with eight cocktails, 40 bottles of wine and beers from local favorites like Attic Brewing and Fermentery Form, all curated by drinks director Brandon Thrash. “We have a really great old fashioned guy,” explains Cahn. „The menu says Old Fashioned and you wouldn’t know it’s good if you didn’t ask,” he says, pausing. „We won’t even tell you.” (The secret is they add toasted basmati rice to the whiskey, a trick developed by bartender Mary Woods. But don’t tell anyone.)
Despite the playful nature of the place, not everything at the Middle Child Clubhouse comes with a wink: One of Sosnowik and Cahn’s goals when hiring them was to ensure that the employees get a fair wage, that they never work more than 40 hours a week , and that the financial imbalance between the front and rear buildings was discussed in advance. In the first two days of training, the new employees were asked to do everything together. “Cooks stood next to dishwashers, next to bartenders and waiters,” says Sosnowik. “We want to avoid some of the smoke and mirrors that have gone unchecked [in the industry] a long time ago.”
Unlike many other restaurants at the moment, says Sosnowik, it wasn’t difficult to hire people for the clubhouse. They immediately filled all over 40 positions and had to turn down a few plikants. He says that’s in large part due to the pay structure: morning cooks and dishwashers make $ 17 an hour, and cooks start at $ 20 an hour. Tips are bundled, with 85 percent going to the front-of-house staff and 15 percent to the back-of-house staff. „When there is really a lot going on in the back of the house, people see how the extra work pays off,” says Sosnowik.
In preparation for the summer opening, Sosnowik explains that the whole thing felt like “a theoretical experiment”. But now that the employees have got to know each other and the doors are opening, „I think our experiment is working.”
Cahn is confident that the experiment will pay off in the long term. “One of the nice things about Middle Child is that it’s weird and cool, but not so weird and cool that people feel like outcasts,” he says. “I just want to make the best damn food we can in the most unpretentious environment possible. We work really hard to make everyone feel like a community here. ”He makes it clear:“ But you know – in a non-cultic way. ”
Clubhouse for middle kids opens on Thursday October 21st at 1232 North Front Street in Fishtown. After a soft open, it is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Resy on Saturday October 16.