LONDON GRILL CELEBRATES ITS 20TH ANNIVERSARY
PHILADELPHIA, PA – This month, London Grill (2301 Fairmount Avenue, 215-978-4545), the popular restaurant and bar, will celebrate its 20th Anniversary. Since starting London Grill in the fall of 1991, co-owners Chef Michael McNally and Terry Berch McNally have established the restaurant as a Fairmount landmark, building its reputation for creative, bold menus and culinary standpoint. London Grill’s bar also impresses with a rare and unusual selection of spirits, a highly celebrated cocktail list and a reputation for serving the latest and greatest craft beer. The duo has long advocated for the Fairmount section, even fostering its recognition on the city’s official downtown map, and continues to enrich the area, through neighborhood events and community activism.
To mark 20 successful years, the McNally’s are throwing a party on Monday, September 19 beginning at 5 p.m. Partygoers will be able to enjoy the first taste of Chef McNally’s new menu as well as two beers custom-brewed by the owners for the special occasion and live music from acts that have played at restaurant over the years.
“We are thrilled that after 20 years in business, people are still responding so enthusiastically to London Grill,” says Berch McNally. “We’re excited to celebrate with our neighbors, friends and family.”
Anniversary Party festivities will include:
5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Happy Hour Anniversary Craft Beer Battle
Chef McNally collaborated with local brewers from Nodding Head, while Terry worked alongside the brewers at Stoudt’s to each create a special beer for their anniversary. Judges Tom Kehoe of Yards, Tom Peters, owner of Belgian Cafe and Monk’s Cafe, Jeff Keel, owner of Bishop’s Collar and St. Stephen’s Green, Casey Hughes, head brewer for Flying Fish, George Hummel, owner of Home Sweet HomeBrew, beer journalist Carolyn Smagalski and beverage specialist Marnie Old will declare the winner of this friendly competition while revelers compete for prizes from a London Grill Trivia Wheel and sample complimentary sips of the anniversary beers. Live music will be provided by Kevin Hanson and Jim Stager of Huffamoose. Other old longtime friends of the restaurant are sure to join them in a two-hour-long jam session.
7 p.m. until 9 p.m. London’s 20th Anniversary Dinner Celebration
For $40 per person, guests can sit down to a special preview of London’s new dishes from Chef McNally, served family-style. The dinner includes beverage pairings, but not tax and gratuity. Menu items will include: Beer & Cheese Pairings from Nodding Head, DiBruno Bros. and Stoudt’s; Emilio Mignucci of DiBruno Bros. and brewers from both breweries will be available as well to discuss the pairings; Crispy Pork Belly with watermelon, sesame seeds and cilantro; Foie Gras Tuna Tartare; Stuffed Figs wrapped in bacon with blue cheese and arugula; Grilled Octopus with chorizo, potatoes, cured lemon and salsa verde; Pastrami Duck Breast served with house made sauerkraut and violet mustard; Marsala-Glazed Veal Cheeks with smoked mushrooms; Braised Black Kale with cippolini onions, pancetta and cream; Roasted Butternut Squash with pistachio pesto and breadcrumbs; and Creamy Marscapone Polenta with a wild mushroom Bolognese; and dessert surprises, paired with Chef McNally’s house-made Limoncello.
9 p.m. until 12 midnight London Through the Years DJ Dance Party
A DJ will spin and the crowd will dance, drink and raise a glass (or several!) to the venerable restaurant and their bright future. Terry’s knack for throwing a party is well known throughout the city and costumes, props and other fun goodies are a certainty.
After the celebration, the McNally’s will get back to doing what they do best: keeping London Grill relevant and exciting, year after year. The 20th Anniversary welcomes a new menu, featuring affordable proteins and a wealth of seasonal sides, including the famed vegetable dishes of Chef McNally’s Vegetable ‘Charcuterie’ Plate. The revamped Lunch Menu which will include new brunch items, available Monday through Friday, and will mark the first time that guests can enjoy some of their most craved items outside of weekend brunch. Chef McNally will also unveil his new house made ice creams and sorbets, a first for the talented chef and a welcome addition to their already delicious dessert offerings.
Located in the historic Fairmount neighborhood, a short walk from the Franklin Institute and its neighboring museums, London Grill has been featured in Philadelphia Magazine, Philadelphia Style, the Wall Street Journal and US Airways Magazine. In his review, Philadelphia Inquirer critic Craig LaBan wrote, “You can’t get this kind of cooking in most neighborhood restaurants, but the London Grill pulls it off with a blend of laid-back ambience and quality food that sits just right.”
For more information about London Grill’s 20th anniversary party, please call (215) 978-4545 or visit their Web site at www.londongrill.com. You can also follow them on Twitter: @LondonGrill.
Chef Michael McNally and Terry Berch McNally
Twenty Year Timeline
1991 – Michael and Terry Berch McNally take over London from Peter and Melinda Coughlin. They add “Grill” to the restaurant’s name.
1992 – London Grill installs a new draft beer system and expands the existing four taps to twelve. They are also one of the first restaurants in Philadelphia to commit to craft beers and were the first in the city to offer Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam and Willie Sutton Lager by Stoudt’s, London’s house beer.
1993 – McNally and Berch purchase the building where London Grill operates, as well as the building next door to the restaurant.
1994 – McNally and Berch start the Art Museum Restaurant Association. For the first time, London Grill throws its nationally recognized Bastille Day celebration in front of the restaurant and Eastern State Penitentiary which serves as the Bastille. Berch dresses as Marie Antoinette in an authentic 17th century French ball gown and throws Twinkies before her “beheading.”
1995 – The Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau listens to Berch’s pleas to have the city map changed to include north of Spring Garden streets and neighborhoods up to Girard College.
1996 – London Grill offers outdoor seating for the first time after the outdoor café bill was approved, which Berch pushed for with the help of then Mayor Ed Rendell.
1997 – Philadelphia Magazine names London Grill best “Neighborhood Restaurant” in their annual ‘Best Of’ issue.
1998 – Chef McNally and his son, Jake McNally host the first London Grill Kid’s Cooking class and eventually the classes became so popular that they would often offer classes several times a year.
1999 – Author and New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman is the honorary guest at London Grill for the first edition of his book, How to Cook Everything. Bittman’s visit was in conjunction with Philadelphia’s The Book and The Cook, a long-running Philadelphia food event that paired cookbook authors with local restaurants.
2000 – A 42 inch flat screen TV is installed at the bar and it quickly becomes a favorite gathering spot for customers to watch their favorite baseball, football and soccer games.
2001- London Grill’s fish and chips receive a glowing write-up by Philadelphia Inquirer food columnist, Rick Nichols, in which he noted, “Nobody else’s I’ve had in town quite measured up.” Chef McNally’s fish and chips still receive similar praises from critics and diners, establishing the dish as one of the best in the city.
2002 – Long before it becomes a popular restaurant offering, Chef McNally begins to cure his own charcuterie in house, with a variety of offerings that include: duck prosciutto, wild boar pastrami, chorizo, vegetarian salami, guanciale, and bresaola, to name a few. Chef McNally’s charcuterie plate, which is hand cut to order and served alongside an assortment of house-made mustards and chutneys, remains one of London Grill’s most popular menu items.
2003 – Berch introduces the Appletini, a drink she enjoyed in South Beach. This would not be her last inspiration from Miami…
2004 – London Grill introduces the first Brewer’s Plate dinner, which pairs restaurant dishes with local beer. The first brewery to be showcased was Victory Brewing, which at the time was relatively new to the regional beer scene.
2005 – Chef McNally and Berch receive a commemorative James Beard Foundation membership for their work with the culinary foundation.
2006 – Chef McNally debuts London Grill’s meatball menu. The menu, which even gained recognition from Bon Appétit magazine, re-imagined the meager meatball, transforming it from ordinary to chic and in some instances he forgoes meat altogether to produce vegetarian options comprised of ingredients like chickpeas and artichokes. Chef McNally, ever creative with his meatballs has recently offered items such as: Chicken and Prosciutto, with tomato sauce and mozzarella; Pork, with roasted poblano rajas; Lamb and Feta Cheese, with rhubarb tomato sauce; Duck, with cherry mostarda; and Tuna, with Moroccan Tomato Jam.
2007 – London Grill continues to offer foie gras on their menu, despite it being a time when there was much adversity surrounding it. In 2009, Chef McNally and Berch were even highlighted by author Mark Caro in his book, Foie Gras Wars for their determination to keep it on their menu.
2008 – London Grill participates in the first Philly Beer Week, which has grown into the largest beer celebration of its kind in the United States. Over the years, London Grill has hosted brewing greats such as Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery and Larry Sidor of Deschutes Brewery.
2009 – London Grill’s bar creates the city’s first menu of ‘Beer Drinks’ which combined house-infused spirits, premium mixers and world-class beers. The creative drinks even gained the attention of the New York Times.
2010 – Berch is invited to Sierra Nevada Brewery in California to make a collaborative beer for the 2011 Philly Beer Week. London Grill participates in the 20th Anniversary Dining Out for Life dinner, which McNally and Berch have supported since the charity’s inception.
2011 – London Grill celebrates its 20th anniversary!