This past weekend I was in PA for the opening of a new restaurant and wine bar in central Philly called Jamonera (near Chestnut St / South 13th St). The two co-owners Marcie and Valerie were delighted to introduce their guests to a Spanish-inspired tapas menu. The flavors were amazing and made me reflect on how reminiscent of Spain and genuinely authentic they seemed! I was lucky enough to try a great variety of dishes, some of which were a complete first for me. The cocktails were also delicious – my favorite for obvious reasons was the “Bizet” cocktail, honoring the french composer Georges Bizet who created the french opera Carmen, set in Spain and revolving around the turbulent life and romances of the gypsy Carmen.
The interior of Jamonera (ha-mon-era) is very atmospheric. Aside from the rustic dark wood throughout the room, and the bright but not overpowering red glow of the lights, there is also a grand sized 8 ft tall mural anchored right next to the bar and visible from almost every angle inside and outside of the restaurant. This mural happens to be my artwork for the opera “Carmen” (straight from Torynova Couture’s Wearable Stories Collection). I am going to be the first to admit that it looks impressive and seems to really animate the space. Of course, I have Tim of Urban Space Development to thank. He had approached me regarding the project after seeing my work in the Decoration and Design building in NYC. It was his vision of this incredible interior that brought my artwork to Philadelphia, and for that I am very grateful.
So really, what more can I say, other than, you have to go visit it in person? If you don’t go for me, then go for the mouth-watering menu and try as much as you can with an open mind. Just remember to make a reservation because last I heard, they may already be booked for weeks. In this last photo, you can gauge the size of the mural as I sit alongside the owners Marcie, Valerie, and Tim — we are all smiles. It was the food, drinks, and the great social atmosphere of the small but well-designed space that left everyone pleased. If you do find your way into central Philly, you can visit the other shops and restaurants these ladies have in their 13th-street emporium.
Safran and Turney want to encourage those who erroneously think of sherry as grumpy granny’s parlor fodder to pair glasses with food off Jamonera’s large menu, organized into tapas, meat/cheese, toasts, salads/veg, mid-size and large-size categories… You’ll be able to eat perched on a bar stool or at a table in Jam’s 40-seat dining room, lorded over by a badass 8-foot-tall mural interpretation of Carmen created by NYC artist Tory Novikova.