11/30/2012 05:04:00 PM

Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar Gets a Makeover at 25

When Bruce Cooper first opened Jake’s Restaurant on Manayunk’s Main Street 25 years ago, white tablecloths were hip, sushi was exotic and “farm to table” was something that might happen out in Kansas. Though Jake’s maintained its popularity over the decades, Cooper took the opportunity of the silver anniversary to do a complete makeover, merging the restaurant with his more casual wine bar next door. The new decor, menu and wine lists make Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar as cutting edge as any newly launched spot - yet one with an undeniable service edge thanks to a quarter-century of experience.

As far as the decor, those white tablecloths have been replaced by Black Walnut slab tables, made from storm-salvaged trees. The atmosphere is jovial on the wine bar side, but also relaxed in the dining room, which is enlivened by rust-papered walls and colorful lighting. At the back is a glowing wine room, constructed from Hemlock floor joists reclaimed from an 1890s Germantown church.

The wine itself is part of a new beverage program that also includes “farm to bar” cocktails (a term that no doubt would have flummoxed ‘80s drinkers). Vino is offered by the glass in 10 reds and 10 whites, most for $11 or less. Bottles are deliberately priced below regular markup. Beer comes from half a dozen taps (all under $7) or from two dozen bottles from around the world.

To eat, old favorites like the crab cake and prime rib are now flanked by a wide selection of more global flavors. Grilled octopus salad comes over tahini chickpea purée with a smoked paprika sauce, for example, and shrimp dumplings are accompanied by a shiitake and pea sprout ginger salad. Scallops come atop a quinoa-apple-sweet-potato salad. Even the shrimp cocktail, that country club classic, gets an update with BBQ mustard and jalapeño relish.

The full menu is available at either the bar or in the dining room, and no matter which side you choose, make sure to leave space in your meal for a pizza (we loved the version with short rib, Parmesan and horseradish cream), and for dessert, like our absolute favorite ice cream taco. They’ll withstand the test of time and likely be popular for another 25 years. We’ll check back in 2037 and let you know.


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