They had me at the pretzeled Parker House rolls.
Chef Biff Gottehrer, who was opening chef at Stove & Tap in Lansdale and has been second-in-command of such kitchens as The Dandelion, El Vez, and JG Domestic, is turning out what he and business partner/developer Peter Martin call "throwback-Americana" gastropub fare at Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft, opening April 19.
It's at 29 E. Lancaster Ave. in downtown Ardmore. Martin scooped out the old Fellini, next to Ardmore Music Hall, for this two-story bar-restaurant, which has a sweet semiprivate room in the back that leads into a private outdoor garden.
The Ripp's second floor, which has a dining room and a second bar, has a more relaxed vibe, based on the test nights. Martin says that reminds him of the scene upstairs years ago at the old incarnation of Friday Saturday Sunday near Rittenhouse Square.
Martin, who also developed the new Bam Bam Kitchen, a Seoul-food (as in Korean) restaurant next door, says he modeled The Ripp after several bars he's scouted, including the Keefer in Vancouver, Canada. The name is adopted both from the Grateful Dead song "Ripple"and a long-ago dive bar near his childhood home in Elkins Park. (This is an all-Main Line production: Martin moved to Lower Merion in 1995 and his wife, Sarah, grew up on the same street in Bala Cynwyd as Gottehrer.)
Gottehrer's menu is loaded with creativity. And richness.
Besides the Parker House rolls, which are served hot with whipped truffle butter and sesame, you can get clams casino; street corn; pork ribs slathered with Calabrian garlic honey and peanuts, seared scallops with oxtail marmalade, kumquat, and potatoes; fish and chips; and braised short rib done in a Dr Pepper glaze and served with a beet latke.
Desserts includes The Brookie: a half-brownie, half-chocolate chip cookie served hot in a skillet with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Restaurant manager Matt Martin and bar manager Ian Boston McCafferty are clearly having fun.
The avocado margarita is just that, mixing mellow avocado and tart lime with Sauza Blanco tequila. The Buzzed Bunny is simply carrot juice with Dewers and ginger. Kombucha is among the beverages on tap.
It's open at 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, closed Monday. Lunch is due to start May 1.