If you’re one of the many Fairmount residents who can’t get enough of the creative menu, welcoming atmosphere and friendly service at Trio, you’re in luck.
Restaurateurs Michael Poole and Van Chau — the masterminds behind the innovative Thai BYOB at 2624 Brown St. — are taking another shot at dining glory and opening a second restaurant in the neighborhood.
The new restaurant, a Mexi-Cali BYOB called Isabel, serves up a different cuisine but promises the same originality and fresher-than-fresh fare that locals would expect from the owners of Trio.
“It’s going to be similar to what we do at Trio,” said Poole, 40, who fell in love with Fairmount when he lived in the neighborhood while attending St. Joseph’s University. “There, it’s heavily influenced Thai food, but … we like to do different things.”
“At Isabel, we’ll serve heavily influenced Mexican food, but we call it Mexi-Cali so it’s not so strict that we can’t veer outside the lines,” he continued.
Isabel, which is set to open its doors in mid-September at 2601 Pennsylvania Ave., will seat 30 indoors in an intimate setting, while offering breathtaking views from a sidewalk dining area.
“The outdoor seating is what really sold me on [the location],” Poole said. “You have the Art Museum up to your right, and the Center City skyline is off to the left. It’s a beautiful space.”
But Isabel — named after Poole’s niece and Chau’s oldest daughter — isn’t all about ambiance. Poole is bringing his creativity in the kitchen to the next level by taking on the head chef position at the new restaurant himself.
“I always thought that if we did another restaurant, I wanted to be in the kitchen, make the decisions and set the standard for quality,” Poole said.
Diners can expect imaginative menu choices like duck confit burritos, house-made chorizo and roasted tomatillo and cilantro salsa.
Though Mexican cuisine may seem out of left field for restaurateurs famous for their Thai food, Poole and Chau heard the call of hungry Fairmount diners who they said were starving for a south-of-the-border sensation.
“It just made sense,” Poole said of the Mexi-Cali concept. “If you read any of the online neighborhood forums, this neighborhood has been crying for Mexican food for a long time. It’s always been in the back of our heads.”
The dynamic duo — who have become close friends with neighbors and regular customers at Trio, a mere block away from the new restaurant — was thrilled to keep their newest venture in the Fairmount area.
“We’re really involved with the neighborhood in Fairmount,” Poole said. “We think that, as a restaurant, the neighborhood supports you, and you support the neighborhood.”••