Al Paris has cooked all over this town - and at such wildly different restaurants: City Grille on City Avenue, Rococo on Chestnut Street, Oberon on Chestnut Street, Guru on South Street, Circa on Walnut Street, Zanzibar Blue at the Bellevue, Warmdaddy's on Front Street and later Columbus Boulevard.
Tells you two things. One, that he's got moves, shuttling easily among American, Southern and Asian cuisine. Two, that he's old. Not really - early 50s.
Next up: A project that smacks of something even older. He and Robert Bynum of Warmdaddy's are opening Heirloom, a 50-seat BYOB, in the trolley turnaround at the top of Chestnut Hill (8705 Germantown Ave., 215-242-2700; next to Thai Kuu) that many may remember as the old Roller's Market. Debut is up for Dec. 16.
Paris is taking things back to a pre-"locavore" and "farm to table” time, drawing on oldtime recipes and techniques (potting, smoking) for his hearty regional-American menu. When I stopped the other day, he was converting a 1930s spoonbread recipe to restaurant proportions.