I have never ever subscribed to the exhausted, city-centric fallacy that there are handful of good restaurants in the suburbs. I on a regular basis find superior factors to eat outside of the town boundaries from Delco to West Chester and South Jersey and, a few decades back, I devoted an full eating guidebook to the culinary treasures of the counties encompassing Philadelphia.
But as I took a bracing sip of my Boulevardier the other night at Lark and savored the earthy delicacy of a mushroom ravioli glossed with molten foie gras, I gazed out from its 7th floor dining area onto the Manayunk hills twinkling just throughout the Schuylkill River, and had to acknowledge: this lofty new addition to Bala Cynwyd is something particular.
From its impressive house to its heat service and refined cooking, Lark presents a new peak for Principal Line eating in extra approaches than one particular. It is breezy up there on the restaurant’s wide terrace, where hearth pits blaze atop the Home Inn that rises more than the Ironworks at Pencoyd Landing. The Landing Kitchen area, the casual all-working day cafe on the floor level, has by now started to redefine the opportunities for this post-industrial riverfront. But the culinary ambitions are significantly greater in this upscale new counterpart, a spacious aerie with 100 seats such as its gracious quartz very long bar, additionally extra room for personal dining. Husband or wife Fia Berisha says she occasionally sees bald eagles gliding earlier the windows, not to point out larks, picked as the restaurant’s namesake mainly because it sings even though it soars.
The culinary tune coming from Lark’s kitchen area, overseen by chef-associate Nicholas Elmi and govt chef Michael Millon, has a easy elegance to it, with modern day takes on Mediterranean seafood that convey vivid, complicated flavors without having at any time experience overwrought.
A tender arm of octopus infused with rosemary and citrus curls all-around grilled clams and a chorizo-spiced gravy studded with complete chickpeas ringed by intensely savory dots more than black olive caramel. Deviled eggs convey a touch of surf to the picnic favored with the addition of creamy sea urchin dusted with dehydrated tomatoes, olives, capers and candied garlic, a powdered zest our server wryly explained as “puttanessence.”
Shrimp cocktail channeled Canary Island spice with rust-coloured dabs of mojo Picón, a punchy blend of chiles, shrimp paste, fennel and garlic. Lark’s wonderful snapper tartare, in the meantime, gave a light dish some very well-positioned winter thrives. A fluttering top rated layer of sunchoke chips for texture. The tangy richness of buttermilk dressing. A ending pinch of vadouvan curry scented with fenugreek and curry leaf gave every single bite pristinely diced uncooked fish an earthy savor.
» Study Extra: Craig LaBan’s guide to eating in the suburbs
Elmi confesses that he’s been “surprised at how numerous men and women will push past a cemetery, below a bridge, into a resort and then up to the 7th floor” for evening meal. He shouldn’t be. The fact that crowds that have been swarming to this out-of-the-way eating home in a new improvement is proof that the confluence of vision, sources and expertise are all which is wanted to make a good-eating magnet.
The eyesight and resources appear from Penn Group developer Donna Galvin, the driving pressure at the rear of the Ironworks redevelopment who recruited Elmi and Berisha to sign up for her as consultants, right before the two promptly turned confident of the opportunities and signed on as companions in the cafe initiatives.
Elmi is the talent with marquee star energy, the onetime Best Chef champ powering the gastronomic tasting menus at little Laurel on East Passyunk Ave. You are going to locate some of his signature moves, which includes a steady devotion to escargot with hazelnut butter that dates to his time at Le Bec-Fin, and later Royal Boucherie (exactly where he’s no for a longer time a partner). The plump and tender gastropods at Lark are served in a shiny crock of vivid potato-leek puree, a pond eco-friendly sauce brightened with preserved lemon that is also an irresistible dip for the crusty baguette served on the aspect.
Berisha is a entrance residence expertise not to be disregarded. The Mistral alum, who earlier owned Aether in Fishtown, designed the restaurant’s partaking design and style, warming the airy place with a lot of forest green and textured wallpaper, wooden touches from area artisan Kirk Loubier, and railroad steel accents by Stu Kinckner. Berisha oversaw comprehensive soundproofing to help dampen the sounds of the challenging wood surfaces. Particulars like the sleekly molded walnut chairs from Rove Ideas and environmentally friendly velvet banquettes, backed by big wooden framed mirrors that mirror the outdoors into the sunny house, assistance make Lark 1 of the most appealingly created massive-budget initiatives of the previous couple a long time.
Berisha is also guiding the insightful services staff members, alongside with co-manager Kevin Krop, and the great cocktails — both of those the intelligent riffs on classics like that Boulevardier, resourceful signatures like the Gotcha! mix of mezcal, Chartreuse and Luxardo, as nicely as considerate non-alcoholic choices such as the hibiscus-hued Magenta Sunset.
Co-supervisor Christy Nguyen, final at Royal Izakaya, has taken possession of a wine listing that contains a rising assortment of smart Euro selections (bottles from Savoie and Alsace, Spain’s Lopez de Heredia, Austria, Sicily and Arbois), but also premium sake (Kaze No Mori) as an intriguing pairing for the crispy-skinned dorade.
One additional significant identify to recall at Lark is Millon, whose strong history of Italian cooking— most not too long ago at Fairmount’s A Mano — shines in some of this menu’s most unforgettable dishes.
Home-extruded pastas are amongst the extraordinary examples, each made with a exclusive dough for a exclusive pairings. Squid ink tints the sq.-cut strands of chitarra jet black for a medley of lobster and calamari in a lobster broth enriched with truffle butter. Porcini powder is the magic formula that gives the mushroom ravioli depth in advance of a foie gras butter with luxurious richness touched with the herbaceous forest flavor of mugolio pine cone syrup.
Toasty farro lends a nutty be aware to the creste di gallo elbows tossed with pork ragù, whose tender pork cheek nuggets ended up among the Lark’s several meat highlights. An appetizer of silky prosciutto served with lemon-whipped ricotta and crispy pillows of gnocco frito was the other. (The duck breast with turnips was wonderful, but the pores and skin was not nicely-rendered, and the meat was significantly less than tender).
My preferred pasta was the strozzapreti that showcased Philly’s preferred seafood garnish — crab. Pink peppercorns in the dough still left a flippantly numbing excitement on my lips as all those twisty, grooved noodles slipped by cradling sweet jewels of lump meat. An extreme crab broth lit with chiles cranked the crustacean quantity to 10, punctuated by the crunch of Previous Bay-scented bread crumbs and shaved environmentally friendly pea leaves.
That talent for coaxing huge flavors from seemingly minimalist shows, an productive tactic to showcase great seafood, was also evident in the fish entrees. And I cherished the silvery dorade, a fish lover’s fish whose Mediterranean bonafides had been accentuated by orange-braised fennel, a roasted eggplant puree and a caponata-model vinaigrette.
But I was even additional entranced by the subtlety of the trout.
Grill smoke infuses the crispy skin and delicate flesh of its slender fillet, which comes well balanced atop a buttery berm of basmati rice sparked with preserved lemon. That seemingly austerely presentation, however, immediately melts into creamy swipes of cauliflower puree, brown butter sauce and the wintry brightness of Meyer lemon essence. Slivered almonds and juicy eco-friendly grapes tossed in with roasted cauliflower florets about top rated add even far more sparks of texture and taste.
A supper at Lark can glide together so effortlessly, it is simple to overlook this restaurant’s workers is only at 70% of its suitable range, even with opening 5 months later than predicted.
You are going to notice the kitchen’s constraints, however. The abbreviated checklist of three desserts, whose finest solution made in dwelling without having a pastry chef is an airy budino flavored with espresso, rum and chocolate. And then there is the bespoke Lark bar, elegant 72% dim chocolate filled with creamy hazelnut praline designed by West Chester’s masterful Éclat Chocolate. It’s present wrapped on a plate all set to keep or go, and not only is it significant ample to savor for a couple days the moment you go away, at $10, it feels like a discount for Éclat. Still an additional reason to fly to Lark.
The Inquirer is not now providing bell scores to eating places thanks to the pandemic.
The Ironworks at Pencoyd Landing, 611 Righters Ferry Rd., Bala Cynwyd, 484-434-8766
Evening meal Tuesday through Saturday, 5-10 p.m. Closed Sunday Monday.
Pastas and entrees, $16-$54.
Reservations proposed, but 20-as well as seats reserved for walk-ins at the bar.