Is every chef entering the fast-casual game?
José Andrés - the Spanish-born chef behind such trendsetting spots as minibar, Zaytinya, and Jaleo (and the guy credited with spreading the small-plates concept to American menus) - has inked a deal to locate a branch of his vegetable-focused concept Beefsteak at the University of Pennsylvania campus.
Beefsteak is expected to open in early 2016 at Houston Hall (3417 Spruce St.), replacing the long-closed Einstein Bros. Bagel shop. The deal marks Penn's second celeb-chef eatery on campus in two years, following the opening of Tortas Frontera, the Mexican fast-casual fronted by chef Rick Bayless.
Though located in Penn-owned buildings, both restaurants are open to the public.
Beefsteak, which opened its first location only last spring at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., specializes in create-your-own bowls focused on vegetables.
"This is what I love to do, and this is what America really needs," Andres said by phone, referring to sharing his passion for vegetables.
The idea for Beefsteak, he said, had been on a back burner for some time. He said he is tired of menus where "vegetables look like an afterthought. I love them."
Patrons can build cooked-to-order combinations of flash-prepared vegetables, grains (quinoa, rice, or bulgur), sauces (cilantro, spicy tomato or garlic yogurt), and toppings (such as radishes, romaine lettuce, crispy chickpeas, mozzarella, kimchi, and cherry tomatoes). Salt-cured salmon, roast chicken, and poached egg are also offered.
Right. There's no beefsteak on the menu. The name, says its website, is meant as a "playful take on the power of vegetables."
The menu also will include seasonal items such as sandwiches and salads and house-made juices and sodas.
Andres' D.C.-based ThinkFoodGroup is working with university food-services provider Bon Appétit Management Company on the Penn Beefsteak location.