Green Soul: Healthy options and a bar in Spring Garden
The Bynum brothers have transformed the former Alla Spina into a more advanced version of their Northwest Philly cafes.
Robert and Benjamin Bynum have taken over the former Alla Spina in Spring Garden with the latest iteration of Green Soul, the healthy, soul food-inspired restaurant they launched seven years ago in West Oak Lane and shortly after migrated to Chestnut Hill before closing last month.
Green Soul is at 1410 Mount Vernon St., next door to South, their Southern jazz-theme restaurant at 600 N. Broad. Soft opening was last week, and full operation (including lunch) is about a week away.
The Bynums inherited the room's great bones — high ceilings, loft seating beneath a well-lit bar, floor-to-ceiling garage doors — white-washing the brick walls, covering up Alla Spina's graffiti, and adding reclaimed wood and greenery, as well as oversize quotations. (They're not all earnest. While there's Maya Angelou's "We need Joy as we need air. We need Love as we need water. We need each other as we need the earth we share." there's also an eyerollingly cheeky directional sign to the restroom: "MEN to the left because WOMEN are always right.")
They're emphasizing a green approach.
The new Green Soul, by dint of its location, has become more ambitious. By day, it sticks to its fast-casual roots. The Bynums installed a self-ordering kiosk. You walk in, punch in your order, and sit in the dining room. At 5 p.m., the restaurant switches to full-service dining as the kiosk is tucked into a cleverly designed cabinet.
Menu, from chef Lauren Weitman, hits the local/seasonal/sustainable notes — a raw vegetable plate with green goddess dressing, mango jerk salmon atop a salad, Moroccan-style chicken, chicken tacos, the Impossible Burger (as well as a house-made black bean burger), and a "Soul Bowl" of root vegetables, farro, and barley. There's no beef or pork.
Bar list features mostly local spirits, with a good number of Pennsylvania wines and beers. All wine and beer are on draft — a bid to reduce waste. Cocktails even seem to hew to the healthful ethos: a pomegranate kombucha cosmo on draft, a sweet potato maple Manhattan (containing house-made sweet potato syrup and New Liberty bourbon), and a matcha drink combining Stateside vodka, matcha green tea, soy milk, and honey.
Like South next door, there's a stage.
"We're jazz next door," explained Harry Hayman, the general manager. "Here, we can be anything else." and performers include singer-songwriter musicians, poetry readings, and the like.
The Bynums, who burst onto the local scene in the 1980s with the jazz club Zanzibar Blue, also own Relish in West Oak Lane and Warmdaddy's in Pennsport, besides South.
Green Soul's hours for now are 5 p.m. to late night Tuesday to Sunday. Lunch (11 a.m.) is due to begin next week.