The Philadelphia Art Alliance is set to host a new restaurant again. Scheduled to open in April, The Rittenhouse Tavern will take over the kitchen and dining space at 251 S. 18th St., right on the square. Restaurant Associates, who specialize in eateries within museums, are teaming up with chef Nicholas Elmi who hails most recently from Le Bec-Fin. The menu and surroundings are described as “American brasserie,” and it’s expected to be affordable yet refined.
The last restaurant in the space was Gardenia, which smartly focused on the gorgeous brick patio space out back. Unfortunately, it seemed to have suffered from increasingly unimaginative and sloppy dishes over the few years it was open. Toward the end, reviews praised the restaurant for its “large, cheap and delicious” happy hour drinks. Usually not a good sign for for a fine culinary establishment. Prior to that, the French Le Jardin petered out as well. Preceding both, Opus 251 lived out a dark and lush existence, serving diners alongside the gallery that hosts contemporary art and design along with music and poetry exhibitions.
Housed in the Wetherill Mansion, designed by Frank Miles Day and built in 1906, The Art Alliance was founded and housed here by family member and philanthropist Christine Wetherill Stevenson. Here’s hoping that Chef Elmi brings a successful life to the newest restaurant, and that the back patio is full on warm and sunny days this summer.