Heirloom Kitchen — the ambitious Central Jersey supper club/cooking school/boutique whose culinary style might be best described as polished, not pretentious — is coming to Philadelphia to run a six-week pop-up restaurant from Nov. 10 to Dec. 18.
Neilly Robinson and executive chef David Viana will take over the space at 931 Spring Garden St., last occupied by W/N W/N.
Their friend Ricardo Rodriguez of Miami Beach’s Broken Shaker will run the bar, where the cocktail list will be supplemented by wines from mainly female winemakers.
It will be a three-course, $55 dinner. The first reservations are now live on Tock, and subsequent seatings will be made available at 5 p.m. Sundays before each week of service.
Viana, a 2018 James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic and a contestant on Top Chef’s 16th season, says the menu will “gently” evolve, with one dish coming off the menu to be replaced by something new. He never repeats a dish, even at Heirloom, which is in Old Bridge, N.J.
Examples: tuna tartare with jalapeño, shallot, scallion, herb yogurt, and pickled ginger sorbet; paella agnolotti with peas, sofrito, paprika, and orange saffron; and duck with a foie gras doughnut, cauliflower, pistachio, wheat berries, and apple cider jus.
Viana and Robinson had designs on opening a restaurant in Philadelphia, and were about to sign a lease across the street at 915 Spring Garden St. just as the pandemic began. But they scuttled the plan — and returned $1.5 million in investments — because of the uncertainty. They pivoted to a different project, a Portuguese restaurant named Lita, which they will open in New Jersey in 2022.
Vincent Stipo, a real estate broker with MSC working with landlord Craig Grossman at 915 Spring Garden, suggested that they operate a Heirloom Kitchen pop-up “just to activate the space and draw attention to the neighborhood,” Robinson said. “We saw good bones in there.”
Viana and Robinson, a Drexel University graduate, say they enjoy dining out “for sport,” frequenting Philadelphia restaurants. “It’s how we get better at what we do,” Robinson said.
“We love the Philly culture,” Viana said, referring not only to the chef community but to the patrons, whom he sees in Old Bridge. “They’re passionate people.”