During its three-plus decades as one of the top restaurants in Philadelphia, the Fountain at the Four Seasons was a veritable Mount Olympus of talent, producing such culinary paragons as Jean-Marie Lacroix—now chef and partner of Brûlée Catering and the namesake for Lacroix at the Rittenhouse—and Martin Hamann, current executive chef at the Union League. Then there’s David Jansen, the Fountain’s long-running chef de cuisine. Thankfully, Four Seasons-caliber exceptionality continues at his eponymous restaurant in Mount Airy.
A trio of smoked fish, including house-made salmon
The foie gras special.
The cozy 300-year-old cottage, with its steeply pitched roof and uniform series of shed dormer windows, houses two cozy first-floor rooms. One has a working gas fireplace; the other is contemporized with cool-gray and whitewashed hues. An intimate six-seat bar is open in warmer months, along with a fieldstone back patio enveloped by lush gardens and stately trees. Is this really Germantown Avenue, or was Jansen actually teleported from the U.K.’s cheery Cotswolds? Yes, the place is just that adorable.
Jansen’s atrium, with a view of the patio gardens.
Jansen thrives on an assemblage of top talent, including fellow Four Seasons alum Francesco Martorella, Food & Wine’s Best New Chef of 1990. Within its small kitchen, the two skilled chefs achieve synchronization through a seasonal menu of updated classics and a four-course tasting option on weekends.
As a first course, we delighted in the daikon crunch of an Asian rabbit spring roll, along with a trio of smoked fish. For entrées, we went with a sautéed American red snapper, and a crispy pork schnitzel with red cabbage and Bavarian potato salad. A tender flat-iron steak was given an Argentinian nuance with a chimichurri relish, and the roasted duck breast was accented by a flavorful studding of caramelized walnuts and crumbled bleu d’Auvergne.
Jansen’s impressive talent pool includes pastry chef Angela Irwin (by way of the Rittenhouse Hotel). Her decadent coffee-hazelnut panna cotta could be the dessert of the year, and her brownie sundae gushed with fudge as each spoonful tapped into yet another nugget of rich chocolate and peanut butter. For an added treat, grab a drink before dinner, bring it upstairs, and take a seat at a high-top table to watch Irwin in action at her open pastry kitchen.
Lamb-and-mushroom ragout with garganelli pasta and English peas.
Coffee-hazlenut panna cotta.
Managers Kevin Keys (Le Bec-Fin) and Simon Dean have cultivated a nicely stocked wine list. Service was attentive yet unfussy during our visits, and Jansen made his own rounds through the dining room, as he does every evening. If he can impart this same easygoing vibe across the board, he’ll undoubtedly vault his place from good to great.
7402 Germantown Ave., Mt. Airy, (267) 335-5041, www.jansenmtairy.com.
Cuisine: American, Asian, Mediterranean and Western European classics.
Cost: Appetizers and first courses, $14-$20. Entrées average $30. Chef’s tasting menu, $80 ($115 with wine pairings).
Attire: Country club casual to casual.
Atmosphere: The fireplace room is warm and welcoming; the atrium is somewhat minimalistic but convivial.
Hours: 5:30-9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5-8 p.m. Sunday.
Extras: An upstairs private dining room seats up to 14.
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