This Speakeasy-Inspired Bar in Ardmore is Perfect for a Night Out

With indulgent, yet elevated bar food, Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft makes an excellent addition to the town’s booming dining scene.



Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft's downstairs bar area. Photographs by Steve Legato.

Ardmore’s culinary scene is officially booming. From the Bercy to Tired Hands’ dynamic duo to Bam Bam Seoul Kitchen, there’s no shortage of great options—including Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft, the decidedly hip new kid on the block.

Whether you associate the name with that of the defunct Elkins Park bar or the title of a Grateful Dead song, the speakeasy vibe was what owner Peter Martin was after when he opened this past April. “You can say it how we do and simply call it ‘the Ripp,’” says Martin, whose partners include executive chef Biff Gottehrer, previously of Lansdale’s Stove & Tap.

Ripplewood’s well-thought-out interior offers a throwback tavern feel, with Edison bulbs suspended overhead, vintage flea-market finds on the walls and a few cushy drawing-room couches. Toward the rear, you’ll discover the “secret garden” dining area, with its lush murals, and a covered outdoor courtyard. Upstairs, there’s another intimate dining room with a cozy eight-stool bar.

Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft's charred octopus. Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft's brussels sprouts

Charred octopus, with ricotta, tomato and black olive oil.

Brussels sprouts with pear, bacon and balsamic mustard.

If the classic Dead track “Ripple” was indeed an inspiration for the restaurant, then consider Gottherer’s growing contingent of fans the Grateful Fed. Carefully crafted starters include warm pretzeled Parker House rolls dolloped with truffle butter, and Ripp fries covered in a fontina-cheddar fondue, brisket and jalapeños. The tender octopus is given a smoky char, then drizzled with olive oil.

Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft house burger

Ripplewood’s house burger, with gouda, Lebanon bologna and special sauce.

Main courses like tempura-battered cod and braised short rib are outstanding, but the easy-to-share items were the serious draw for me. Their juicy double-stack, smothered with gouda and topped with zesty Lebanon bologna, is one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time. And the Tongue & Cheek Tacos—palm-sugar-and-coffee-rubbed beef cheek combined with beef tongue—are the perfect Jewish-Mexican marriage.

Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft ripp fries Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft chef Biff Gottehrer

Ripp Fries, with a fontina-cheddar fondue, brisket and jalapeños.

Chef Biff Gottehrer.

Pretty much any of it goes well with Ian Boston McCafferty’s small yet succinct beer menu—crafts like Old Rasputin Stout and old standbys like Pabst Blue Ribbon comingle. There’s an equally select list of wines, and craft cocktails are tasty and fun. The Buzzed Bunny proves conclusively that even carrot juice can make a great cocktail when mixed with Maker’s Mark and fresh ginger. Sealing his hipster credentials, McCafferty also has high-energy Kombucha on tap.

Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft brookie

The Brookie–part brownie, part cookie—served in a hot skillet with vanilla ice cream.

The overall effect of Ripplewood’s neighborhood speakeasy atmosphere is one borrowed from Martin and Gottehrer’s mutual restaurant-industry hero, Danny Meyer (New York City’s Union Square Café, Grammercy Tavern and Shake Shack, to name a few). Like Meyer, they take their customers seriously—without taking themselves too seriously. Out of this methodology comes a special spot that, in just six months, has casually upped culinary and experiential standards in suddenly white-hot Ardmore.

29 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (610) 486-7477, ripplewoodbar.com.

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