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Bardot Opens in Northern Liberties: What to Eat and Drink

By Danya Henninger
September 3, 2014
Photo by: Danya Henninger

With the opening of Bardot, Northern Liberties just got a whole lot more attractive.

We’re talking looks — the exterior at 447 Poplar Street is decorated with a new Isaiah Zagar mural and the inside is decked out in red velvet and leather — but also the neighborhood's appeal for drinking and dining. After a tasting visit to the European-style boite, we came away impressed.

Dennis Hewlett of Pub on Passyunk East took his time on his second project, launching it nearly a year after taking over the space, formerly home to Wine-O. He came up with the interior design himself, following a vision inspired by namesake Brigitte Bardot and the French New Wave cinema movement.

He was mostly successful in creating what he hopes will be a “hideaway for artists, dreamers, freethinkers, lovers and poets,” especially because drinks are priced right and selections are at a Goldilocks level — from cocktails to wine to beer, the options are not highfalutin but not at all mainstream or boring.

And then there’s the food. Predicting it now: Bardot is going to become known mostly for chef Rhett Vellner’s menu. Flip through to check out some plate highlights, along with a few cocktails and some scenes from inside.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Chicken Liver Mousse Tartine

    Three tartines are on the menu, and they're all plated similarly to this one — deconstructed, instead of layered on a flat piece of bread. In this case, the bread is chunks of pistachio-cardamom brioche, on which you spread a very creamy liver mousse. Shreds of pickled carrots add spice and tang ($10).

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Saffron Dumpling Gratin

    Toothy dumplings in the form of spaetzle grab onto rich cheese sauce enhanced by saffron, and are just soft enough so that you welcome the crunch of purple cauliflower, shredded leeks and toasted pine nuts ($14).

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Octopus

    Tendrils are braised in citrus for hours before being grilled to order, which makes them smooth and meaty instead of chewy. A vinegar sauce picks up spice from Calabrian chiles and pimenton oil, and salsa verde with celery matches tender peanut potatoes well ($15).

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Fromage Blanc Tartine

    Prior to taking the top spot in the kitchen at Bardot, Vellner spent some time behind the line at Petruce et al., and the plating influence is obvious. Figs coated with a crackling layer of caramelized raw sugar are scattered over swipes of fresh cheese next to scoops of honeydew melon. Radicchio coated in vino cotto adds a bitter edge, and you can scoop it all up with housemade brioche cubes ($8).

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Spaghettini Noir

    One of four large plates ("Grandes") on the list, this is one of the best restaurant pastas in Philadelphia. Squid ink colors and adds oceanic bite to the al dente noodles, next to squid rings cradling kernels of grilled-on-the-cob corn. Slices of chorizo are just thin enough not to overwhelm the chile-tinged cream sauce ($19).

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Bardot Burger

    Every bar should have a burger, and this one does not disappoint. A seven-ounce chuck blend from Fishtown's Exceptional Meats sits on a Wild Flour seeded brioche roll, dripping with spicy harissa brown butter and topped with a pile of caramelized onions and Mahon cheese. Fries are surprisingly crispy for hand cut; Vellner tells us that's because he soaks them in vinegar to break down starches before they are twice fried ($13).

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Breathless

    All cocktails get their name from French New Wave films ("à bout de souffle" translates directly as "out of breath"). This twist on a Corpe Reviver No. 2 uses a very light absinthe rinse as the base for Tanqueray, Lillet Blanc, Cointreau and lemon ($10).

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Weekend

    A red wine float enhances the look of this tart drink, built atop Buffalo Trace bourbon with lemon and whiskey barrel-aged bitters ($10).

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Pierrot le Fou

    Espolon tequila just might bring on the namesake craziness of this sip, especially mixed with mezcal, lime, ginger beer and orange bitters ($11).

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    The bar also offers 12 beers on tap, including one cider (right now Virtue Percheron), and the drafts range from $5-$9 per pour. By the glass, you can choose from 14 interesting reds and whites, including a sparkling Cremant d'Limoux ($7-$10), and another 14 are available by the bottle — most are priced between $35-$60 but you can splurge on a $89 Chenin Blanc from Montlouis-sur-Loire.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Just beside the bar and behind red velvet drapes there's a nook of a lounge, where we caught a photo of chef Rhett Vellner and proprietor Dennis Hewlett.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Velvet Victorian patterned wallpaper covers the dining room, which is decorated with local art, vintage lamps and tin ceilings.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    From a certain angle, you can glimpse Brigitte gazing at you in the mirror.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    The main chandelier is by artist Adam Wallacavage, who recently had a show in the Philadelphia Art Alliance gallery.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Isaiah Zagar of Philadelphia's Magic Gardens did a custom mural for Hewlett, who said he was thrilled to bring the mosaics to this part of town.

    Bardot is open from 11 AM-2 AM, daily.

    447 Poplar St.; 267-639-4772

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