After traveling Northern Europe and opening up two successful restaurants in Chicago, Joncarl Lachman is back in his hometown Philadelphia. This month marks the one-year anniversary of his restaurant Noord’s opening, and since then Noord has garnered plaudits from locals and visitors alike. We chatted with Lachman about Philadelphia, his culinary inspirations, and where he likes to unwind after work.
Your restaurants HB Home Bistro and Vincent are Chicago hot spots. When did you decide to move back to Philly?
My restaurant life in Chicago was wonderful. I went out there with the intention of opening a restaurant and my partner Bob Moysan and I made HB Home Bistro into the restaurant we always wanted. I’m so grateful for the success I had and the people I met in the restaurant, but I never adjusted to living in the Midwest. Philadelphia remained in my heart. When I turned 50 it was just like, you know want do this. Everything that’s happened since I’ve moved back to Philly feels so much more real and rewarding to me because I love Philadelphia. For me, the emotional experience of doing it here is a whole different animal.
Noord celebrates its one-year anniversary this month. Tell us about your first year in business.
It has been a magical year for me. We got to open [the restaurant] on the day we said we would and it has been a really fantastic experience. Everybody says you can’t go home, and this has proven to me that that’s not true. It has been a great welcome from the city. Creating an experience for people every night in a small restaurant is a wonderful and exciting challenge. I’m very happy.
Your specialty cuisine is from Norway and the Netherlands. What inspires your menu?
My family is of Dutch heritage. After college I spent a lot of time traveling to Holland and Denmark. I love the Dutch word gezelligheid—it’s our word for hospitality or coziness—and that was something I loved about dining in all of Northern Europe. The little corner restaurant is so inspiring to me more so than these big fancy houses. There’s the person that’s there every night greeting people at the door. I find that really romantic and I’ve been able to have that kind of life. Our motto is when you come to our restaurant, we want you to feel like you’re coming to our home for dinner. You bring the wine.
For first-time diners, what is a must-try dishes at Noord?
We have a rabbit dish called konijn in het zuur, which is rabbit from the south of Holland slow cooked in apple cider vinegar and then served with braised cabbage with sausage and baby turnips.
When you’re not eating a Noord, what are your favorite restaurants and shops along the Avenue?
I have so much respect for all these people that I know that have these little stores like Nicole Rae Styer Boutique. We’re on the square there so the lure of Stateside and Fond is a constant in my life. But I love supporting all the restaurants down there.
What is your favorite Philadelphia attraction?
Its history. Even its recent history. Walk the streets and alleys and see the contrasts. When we moved back, my partner and I took the 23 bus from South Philly to Chestnut Hill and back. It really shows all the colors of Philadelphia.
What do you think is Philly’s best-kept secret?
For travelers, I think that would be the neighborhoods and how vibrant they are. Take some time to peruse and eat out in East Passyunk, West South Street, Fishtown and Northern Liberties.
I am thinking of opening up another restaurant in Philly. I’m such a blabbermouth, but that’s all I can say right now. It’s been such a fun year, I just want to keep it going.