Ardiente is the hot new bi-level lounge and Latin-Asian fusion restaurant located at 33 S. 2nd Street in Old City. It took nearly two years to open with no expense spared on the gorgeous interior. In fact, I was surprised at how much painstaking work was put into even the smallest details and all of the exotic materials used to create an extravagant environment with lots of texture — stained glass, stone walls, woodwork, mosaics, paintings, plush drapery, etc. They’re going for a distinctly luxurious casino restaurant feel without the tackiness. Colorful, low-lit mood lighting and soft house music in the background exude a sophisticated vibe thanks to a state of the art lighting and sound system. From the moment you step inside, you’re embarking on a sumptuous journey in a polished atmosphere — a feast for the senses!
Ardiente Interior [Photos: David Johnson]
The bar program is exquisite thanks to beverage director and mixologist goddess Katie Loeb. We sampled a few skillfully-made cocktails which were unsurprisingly exceptional: Hotel Nacional, Old City Sour, Classic Mojito, and my favorite the Pisco Sour. Prices are reasonable and on par with most high-quality bar programs in the city. Mocktails, domestic/import/craft beers, fine wines — including exclusive sakes — round out the bar menu. If you’re looking for a sizzling new Happy Hour spot in Old City, this is it.
Ardiente Cocktails [Photos: Marilyn Johnson]
Ardiente’s Executive Chef Nihad Hajdarhodzic has developed a menu brimming with vibrant, yet approachable Latin-Asian street fare. You can select from starters, salads, ceviches, large plates, rice and noodle dishes, healthy stuff, and desserts. If you’re not sure what to get, opt for a tasting — which runs at about $60/per person — to explore the eclectic menu.
Ardiente Tasting [Photos: Marilyn Johnson]
Our tasting featured: Spicy Edamame, Fried Shishito Peppers, Spicy Shrimp Bao Buns, Fresh Burrata (imported directly to the restaurant from Italy), Shaved Brussel Sprouts Salad, Fried Roasted Cauliflower, Chilled Soba Noodles, Short Ribs, and Sea Bass Escabeche. Everything was flavorful, well-made, and nicely presented. It’s a nice introduction to Chino-Latino cuisine. You’ll get a sense that Chef Nihad is a bit of a perfectionist — the quality of the ingredients and execution are of utmost importance. He cares about your experience and wants you to not only feel welcome but walk away absolutely satisfied. We left quite satiated and pleased overall.
It is important to note that service was fabulous — André was prompt, knowledgeable, and gracious. General Manager Ron Meñdoza is keeping everything running smoothly. You’ll feel in very good hands!
Ardiente offers posh private dining and event space downstairs which would be perfect for any celebration or even corporate parties. It’s all really quite spectacular.
Ardiente is an impressive venue and welcome addition to the Old City restaurant scene. Check it out and tell them Philly Grub sent you!