In the Comcast Technology Center at 8 a.m., the energy is palpable. People dressed in business attire are already sitting in the café and the high–top seating area with open laptops. The decor is sleek. White leather, light–colored wood and a backdrop of towering trees complement the natural lighting and high ceilings.
Greg Vernick’s Coffee Bar—opened in October 2018—boasts a full–service café with breakfast, lunch, and afternoon menus and a barista bar with pastries, sandwiches, and cold–pressed juices. The Coffee Bar, affiliated with the Four Seasons Hotel, marks Chef Vernick’s second restaurant after the esteemed Vernick Food and Drink.
We order the oatmeal soufflé, smoked salmon toast, and “eggs in purgatory,” but before any of these dishes arrive, our waitress delivers a complimentary daily bakery selection. These pastries come on a tea tower and somehow taste better than they look. First, we try the lemon buttermilk scone. The lemon glaze elevates the lightly sweetened interior. Next, we split the strawberry, passion fruit kouign–amann. This pastry is our shared favorite. If you’re looking for a classic, however, the traditional croissant with the house–made apple butter is also delicious.
All three main courses arrive at once. Each plate is elegant and thoughtfully done, reflecting the restaurant’s aura. We begin with the salmon toast. The pickled red onion, dill, and everything–bagel seeds combined with smoked salmon, salmon rillettes, and salmon roe ensure that the small dish packs a lot of flavor.
“Eggs in purgatory” consists of poached eggs in red sauce with parmesan cheese and sourdough toast on the side. The bread is perfect for dipping.
Finally, we try the soufflé. This dish turns stone–ground oatmeal into a dessert. Fresh berries and maple cème on the side accompany citrus elements, currants, and nutmeg.
On our way out, we marvel at the display of pastries in the barista bar, and I order a tangerine turmeric juice shot to–go.
Vernick Coffee Bar lives up to the name of its chef and surpasses expectations of any coffee shop. I will be back—maybe to study, or maybe for a study break.
TL;DR: An indulgent breakfast from Philly’s favorite chef.
Location: 1800 Arch Street
Hours: 7 a.m.–5 p.m.