Heirloom restaurant opens today in Chestnut Hill

Chestnut Hill’s newest addition to the dining scene held a soft opening last night for family and friends.

Heirloom, a restaurant and B.Y.O.B., will feature an American-centric menu from chef Al Paris and Philadelphia restaurateur, Robert Bynum. “Al and I both had a similar vision,” said Bynum, “with his recipes and the idea to open an American cookery – we put it all together.”

Originally, a second Green Soul, a soul food cafe also owned by Bynum, was planned for the location. Bynum says he was inspired to go in a different direction upon exploring the area. “There’s an energy in Chestnut Hill,” said Bynum, “and the idea of Heirloom fit perfectly.” Bynum says he always has ideas on the drawing board, and the Heirloom concept was something he had been looking to explore.


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A look inside:

Paris is not only creative in the kitchen, but is also skilled in carpentry. He helped with much of the woodwork in the restaurant and built the stonewall that is the focal point of the dining room.

What looks like a “ladder-chandelier” hangs from the ceiling above the largest dining table. The ladder, found on a farm, is draped in grape vines and hanging candles. All of the tables are surfaced with wood and are carved with the Heirloom logo.

Bynum estimates spending upwards of $50,000 to renovate the space, not including purchasing the colonial-style antiques inside the restaurant.


The cuisine:

Paris’ dishes pair together fresh ingredients from local farms with a variety of American recipes. He will also be doing his own pickling, curing and smoking, as well as crafting his own marmalades.

Paris plans to change the menu every second Tuesday of the month, although some dishes will remain all year. The menu will change based on the local produce available throughout each season, and Paris believes this will allow him to stay creative.

“Our kitchen is a powerhouse, a culinary locomotive,” said Paris.

A variety of desserts will be featured, also prepared by the chef. Some specialties include apple pie donuts, white-chocolate bread pudding and vanilla-bourbon crème brûlée.


Staffing Heirloom

The staff at Heirloom is a mixture of newcomers and veterans at Bynum’s restaurants. They were able to train for the grand opening at the new location, and are very knowledgeable about the ins-and-outs of the menu.


The location: 8705 Germantown Ave.

Heirloom is easy to overlook because of the SEPTA bus depot blocks the view from Bethlehem Pike and Germantown Ave. But it also is located in a potentially busy hub at the Top of the Hill Plaza. Bynum believes foot traffic in the area and being centrally located to the only Wine and Spirits store in Chestnut Hill is a huge plus.

“We knew coming into this that our location would be our biggest challenge,” said Bynum, “but there’s a lot of activity in the area. If anything, we hope that our location will add to the allure of finding us.”


Parking at Heirloom

Parking for the restaurant is located around the back of the Top of the Hill Plaza, but it can be a bit tricky to find. From Germantown Avenue, veer right at Bethlehem Pike, and avoid turning onto the pathway where the SEPTA bus depot resides. Instead, keep an eye out on your left for a small driveway, which is the parking lot.

Bynum promises the parking will remain free, a feature that will soon be a novelty in Chestnut Hill. Early next year, Bynum says the PPA will begin to monitor the other ten lots in the area.


Future plans

Heirloom will feature an outdoor seating area this spring under their large awning, a unique feature for the often crowded streets of Chestnut Hill. In other Bynum-news, he is considering opening up a jazz club in the area.

“I think for many people, it’s a process to go out to Center City,” said Bynum, “but with neighborhood cuisine, it’s more accessible.”

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