Talula's Garden in Philadelphia
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Restaurateurs Aimee Olexy and Stephen Starr make an unlikely pair. The two joined forces last year to create Talula's Garden, a restaurant that plays to both of their strengths. Olexy owns Talula's Table , a 12-seat restaurant in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, which boasts a year-long waiting list for its celebrated farm-to-table fare. As for Starr, it's almost easier to list the restaurants he doesn't own in Philadelphia--the latest count puts him at 20 restaurants in the city, plus seven more in NYC, Atlantic City, and Florida. (Some of his most famous include Buddakan , Morimoto , and--a personal favorite from my time in Philadelphia—French bistro Parc .) The fruit of their shared labor is Talula's Garden , a 102-seat Starr restaurant with the spirit of a gardener's dinner table. Olexy designed the space herself, in conjunction with landscape design firm Groundswell . She likes "organic, undesigned spaces," a contrast to Starr's usual hyper-designed approach. In the end, the design (like everything else) is very much a joint result. Above: A no-fail gardener's color palette of green, wood, and white. Above: Simple planter boxes serve the design intention of making the patio look like someone's (really nice) back patio. Above: A collection of vintage cake stands and cloches is used to display the restaurant's impressive daily cheese offerings. Above: Mismatched garden chairs provide an ad hoc look. Table centerpieces vary, but always include greenery (of course). Above: The food presentation matches the decor perfectly. Here, mushroom pâté en croûte. Above: Wall tile and colored glass pendants lend a Moroccan vibe to the front entrance and bar. Above: Groundswell created a functioning waterfall from vintage faucets. Above: The pergola overhead is cantilevered, made from a reclaimed truss.