Jason Evenchik and Terry Leach are really good at running bars (see: Time, Vintage, Growlers, Garage, Bar), but their new Northern Liberties spot has grand ambitions beyond the booze. Not that the bar at Heritage isn’t incredibly impressive — the 40-foot plank of polished walnut is endowed with 36 taps and tons of brown liquor. But there’s a heavy focus on food, with chef Sean Magee running a huge, state-of-the-art kitchen and sourcing ingredients from mostly local farms — including, eventually, the garden taking shape on the roof.
Heritage might be the only Philly restaurant to have a full-time gardener on staff. Dan King, whose family owns farms in Delaware County, also waits tables, but his main duty is to tend not just the roof garden but also the greenery that fills almost every nook and cranny of the dining room.
Flora spills out of piping behind the bar and from the eaves above the kitchen, and will soon cascade down the front of the location, which was formerly home to Feast Your Eyes catering. The garage door at front will open the cedar-clad interior to the fresh air, and warm weather will also see 30 additional seats set up in the garden patio. At the back of the dining room is a small stage, which will feature live jazz nightly, and behind that is a private dining room.
We stopped in for a chance to snap a pic of the opening menu (here) and a couple of its dishes. Flip through below for look at those and a peek at the gorgeously decadent space.
The dining room seats around 60, and when you first walk in, you can catch the woodsy scent of the cedar that covers the walls.
Another 25 or so seats line the bar, topped with polished walnut and backed by ivy and ferns.
Fluke was featured in the opening plate of crudo, which will change according to what’s freshest. Lightly cured with citrus, it’s silky and supple, set off by shavings of chiles, radish and fennel ($14). Other seafood dishes on offer include oysters with Caesar mignonette, grilled squid with caviar and roasted razor clams.
Smoked Baby Potatoes
A simple-looking dish whose incredible flavor hints at the involved process used to make it. Baby potatoes are cooked, then smoked with wood chips and spice, then chilled. To order, they’re deep fried and plated with garlic aioli and curls of scallion ($7). Grilled sweet potato with salt-roasted hazelnut is another root veg on the small plates list.
Fresh mozzarella filled with cream from Vermont’s Maplebrook Farm is warmed and cut open atop a slice of house-baked bread, which soaks up the the burrata’s broth, swirling through fresh-cut herbs ($12). Another bread — made with Appalachian native paw paws — serves as a foil for foie gras, and there’s also a torchon of pig’s head (served with fried grains and maple syrup) on the opening menu.
We didn’t get a chance to photograph Magee’s large plates, but we did see a table oooh and ahhh over the 30-oz. bone-in rib-eye to share — actually a giant platter featuring steak, roasted bone marrow, potato pancakes and other accompaniments. At $80, it’s definitely the top ticket item, but veg-heads can also splurge on a $40 vegetable board featuring various preparations of “every vegetable we have in the kitchen” (a $20 option is also offered).
Beer taps are fashioned out of a former pipe.
While the whole garden concept was Evenchik’s idea, says Leach, the beer list is his creation, and it’s an impressive one.
A front lounge area offers comfortable seating in front of the roll-up garage door.
Live bands play throughout the evening on a small stage at the back of the dining room.
A chandelier of musical instruments follows the jazz theme.
Partners Terry Leach and Jason Evenchik toast their imminent opening, which comes after more than a year and a half of planning and construction. Hours will be 5 PM-2 AM daily, with weekend brunch added soon.