The Daniel Stern Restaurant story has evolved over many years and continues to live and grow, but it began with the vision of a restaurant that combines the elegance of fine dining with the comfort and style of a home dinner party. That desire became a reality in November of 2005 when Stern, after many months of searching Philadelphia for the right location and after many years of work and training in some of this country’s finest kitchens, opened his first restaurant and made it extra special by giving it his wife’s middle name, Gayle. From the time the doors opened at Gayle through the time the doors closed, it was consistently rated one of the top restaurants in Philadelphia as well as being nationally acclaimed.
Gayle was born of a desire to go home again. After making his name in the spotlit New York, Washington, D.C., and Northern California restaurant scenes, Chef Daniel Stern returned to his hometown to open a 35-seat hideaway in Queen Village that Bon Appétit would describe as “like someone’s home. Albeit a home where the cook turns out a globally influenced roster of whimsical dishes.”
Sweetbreads, Mushroom and Prunes
Smoked Ribeye, Shepherd’s Pie and Leek and Gruyere Fondue
Monkfish, Artichoke and Saffron
Veal Stew (Named one of Bon Appétit’s “Top Ten Dishes of 2006”)
“Top 10 Hottest Restaurants” in the nation, Bon Appétit [June 2006]
Best of Philly, Best Small Wine List, Philadelphia Magazine [August 2006]
“10 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2006”, Food & Wine, 
“Daniel Stern developing a cult following,” Financial Times [April 2006]
“Excellent,” 3-Bell Review, Craig Laban, Philadelphia Inquirer [January 2007]
“Restaurant Romance without breaking the bank,” Wall Street Journal [February 2007]
Best 50 Restaurants in Philly, Top 20, Philadelphia Magazine [May 2007]
Best 50 Restaurants in Philly, Top 12, Philadelphia Magazine [May 2008]
A year later in 2006, Stern repeated this success in a much larger venue, this time taking his grandmother’s name, RAE, for the restaurant in the new Cira Centre in Philadelphia. In designing RAE, Stern was seeking a wider canvas where he could render his culinary palette in bolder brushstrokes. Located in the lobby of Cesar Pelli’s architectural masterpiece The Cira Centre®, RAE was an audacious declaration of Stern’s creative independence. With RAE, Stern broadened his culinary repertoire with full-scale catering and private events for up to 350 people. RAE was hailed “The City’s Best New Restaurant” by Philadelphia magazine in its April 2007 issue and was named one of America’s Best New Restaurants of 2007 by Esquire magazine. Placing dramatically new interpretations of family recipes such as short ribs, roasted chicken and liver and onions alongside post-modern offerings such as truffle pizza and rabbit nachos, Stern is helping to uphold Philadelphia’s legacy of revolutionary innovation.
Smoked Rabbit “Nachos”
Black Truffle Pizza with Sotto Cenere and Arugula
Braised Short Ribs with Pancetta Dressing
Veal Kreplach with Artichoke
One of the “Best New Restaurants of 2007,” Esquire Magazine [November 2007];
Excellent, 3 Bell Review, Craig Laban, Philadelphia Inquirer [January 2007] (check date)
“The City’s Best New Restaurant,” Philadelphia Magazine [April 2007]
Best of Philly® 2007, Best Happy Hour, Philadelphia Magazine [August 2007]
Best of Philly® 2008, Best Steak, Philadelphia Magazine [August 2008]
Best 50 Restaurants in Philly, Top 5, Philadelphia Magazine [May 2007]
Condé Nast Traveler, Hot List, Best Tables in the World [May 2008]
In 2008 Stern was approached about two new opportunities, one in University City in the newly opened Science Center and one to transform raw space on the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place. Stern and his team began development of two new concepts.
Urban and Rustic. Past and Present. Tradition and Renewal. This was the essence of MidAtlantic, Stern’s West Philly culinary surprise. MidAtlantic celebrated the best of what was and what is to come, with a focus on reinterpreting the roots of Philadelphia foods and the traditional foods of our region. Here, the menu brought back the tastes, seasonings, spices and produce of the bustling and vibrant city market that once made its way from City Hall down to the Delaware River. Of course, Stern used his interpretation of what was to create his unexpected signature culinary delights. With West Philadelphia as the backdrop, MidAtlantic offered guests a place at the table to enjoy the bold flavors of our region within the comfort and warmth of a local taproom.
Welsh Rarebit Fondue
Root Beer Sticky Buns
Peanut Butter Pie
“Chef Daniel Stern’s deconstructed veal stew transcends its cleverness by being flat-out delicious.”
Food & Wine
“Stern’s cooking is a mix of classic European and homey American. His sautéed skate wing with herbed tomatoes and his gooey, mahogany-dark onion soup would be the pride of any bistro in Paris. But he also nails nachos filled with rabbit meat (cured, smoked, and then braised till melting) and sprinkled with chopped jalapeños and sharp cheddar cheese. He does a hearty variation of roast chicken stuffed with morels and dumplings and, true to his own Jewish roots, a Reuben made with house-cured pastrami set atop a just-baked rye English muffin.”
“The restaurants that put Dan Stern on our culinary map – Gayle and Rae – may now be closed, but this new pub in West Philly keeps his vision alive”
“MidAtlantic Restaurant and Tap Room serves up the kind of food you’d expect to come out of your grandmother’s kitchen. That is, if your grandmother is a well-trained chef with a knack for putting a modern twist on backcountry classics.”
34th Street Magazine
“For his innovative additions to the culinary world and restaurant scene, Stern has received much acclaim by all diners. Already being talked about a few months in advance, Philadelphia is in store for two new endeavors [Midatlantic and R2L] full of flavored surprises.”
Behind the Burner
“Chef Daniel Stern (MidAtlantic, ex Rae and Gayle) finds himself on top of things – the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place, in fact – with the handsome, contemporary-meets-deco R2L, where the spendy American menu is augmented by an assortment of clever bar snacks and drinks that pay homage to classic cocktails; every seat offers a view, either of the cityscape or the open kitchen.”
“When chef Daniel Stern shut down his acclaimed and beloved Gayle this past September, Philadelphia was suddenly forced to go without his singular brand of what might be called haute comfort food. Now, though, with the opening of MidAtlantic in October and his much-awaited R2L following fast on its heels, local foodies seem to find themselves with a problem of a much more palatable sort: an embarrassment of riches.”
“Finish up with the dreamy butterscotch bread pudding, which may send you into a food coma.”
“Stern, a serious technician who’s food never looks less than exquisite”
“Stern is doing us the favor of a focal point, at first taste a not only homey, but honestly flavorful, and occasionally fanciful one.”
“Great restaurants inevitably have great chefs, and Daniel Stern has been doing great things in Philadelphia.”
While these venues are no longer in operation, the creativity, passion and energy behind the food and the personalized, inviting service that are hallmarks of Daniel Stern Restaurants are alive in our newest project, R2L. Really, though, DSR is built on passion; a serious devotion to taking an evening out and turning it into a dining experience; and a commitment to the people who work so hard to make that happen. This history is not just the work of one person, it is the result of the passion and dedication of the entire team that makes us so unique.
R2L opened January 2010 on the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place.
Built on the belief that everything modern needs firm roots in the past, R2L recalls the elegance of a bygone time and celebrates the excitement of what’s to come. With a nod to tradition, R2L’s design reflects the Art Deco look of its building’s exterior and pays tribute to the mood and essence of that time. With an eye to the future, Stern takes the tradition of classic cocktail cuisine and brings it up-to-date with a modern twist—using his always-unexpected interpretation of American food.
The food and service recall the elegance of the past with an atmosphere that invites and entices. A place to linger and lounge, R2L takes center stage from high atop Center City—a place where spectacular food and dining is topped off with spectacular, endless views.