Many restaurants take a year or more to open. "Or more" amply covers the long flight of the Pickled Heron in Fishtown, which opened last week.
I first spoke with Todd Braley and Daniela D'Ambrosio in August 2008 as they charted plans for the French-inspired BYOB with the punny name at 2218 Frankford Ave. (215-634-5666).
"Life intervened," says Braley. That is, family situations and innumerable delays and snags.
He and D'Ambrosio met nearly seven years ago as line chefs at the Ritz-Carlton. They're working together in their open kitchen. The from-scratch menu uses many locally sourced products, including butter churned from cream from Tanner Bros. Farm in Ivyland. (D'Ambrosio grew up down the road.)
Prices are $7 to $12 for most appetizers, high teens to mid-$20s for most entrees. It's open for dinner only, Tuesdays to Saturdays, plus an all-day menu served Sundays from brunch through dinner. Cash only. (Details: www.philly.com/pickledheron.)
They did most of the construction themselves, which was a snap for Braley, who was in that line of work in New York. The space, vacant for many years, boasts a concrete counter, cherry floors, high black ceilings, hundred-year-old pew seating, and a stunning mosaic in the entryway by D'Ambrosio's sister, Cristina Renee D'Ambrosio. The front door is a few steps up, so the restaurant is not wheelchair-accessible, though restrooms are ADA-compliant.
Sichuan specialist Han Chiang has opened his fourth Han Dynasty, as he's taken 4356 Main St. in Manayunk (215-508-2066), most recently Beijing Homestyle. It's BYOB, open daily for lunch and dinner.
Rex 1516, due in mid-January at 1516 South St., has Evan Malone and Jill Weber of the year-old Jet Wine Bar heading across the street for this Southern-inspired restaurant open from breakfast through dinner. Malone, president of NextFab Studio, is designing and his crew of designers, engineers, and artists are working on the interior, which has a faded-mansion feel from its distressed woodwork, wrought-iron and wood chandeliers, and antique mirrors. Executive chef Regis Jansen, an Alabama transplant who has worked locally at 1601, The Latest Dish, and Royal Tavern, will use as many locally sourced ingredients as possible and offer vegetarian/vegan options. He'll also bake all his bread.
Kudos to restaurateurs Greg Dodge and Eddie Bianchini, who are taking the sting out of the closing six months ago of Bianchini's Tweed bistro at 114 S. 12th St. Dodge promises to accept Tweed gift certificates at 100 percent of face value at his Italian wine bar, Zavino, at 13th and Sansom Streets. Deadline for use will be March 31.
Restaurant Alba in Malvern has expanded, adding seating and a bar and seating. Chef/owner Sean Weinberg, an alum of the Rose Tattoo, puts out complimentary apps between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekdays.