Harp & Crown: Funky grandeur (and bowling) in Rittenhouse

Michael Schulson must have had a heck of a rec room growing up.

Double Knot, perhaps 2016's buzziest Center City restaurant opening, has a sumptuous, candlelit izakaya tucked into its basement, in addition to the restaurant's coffee bar/cafe/cocktail bar on the ground floor, at 120 S. 13th St. It's next to Sampan, his pan-Asian themer, and its adjacent Graffiti Bar.

On Oct. 11, Schulson and wife Nina Tinari-Schulson open Harp & Crown, at 1525 Sansom St. (215-330-2800), a few blocks away. It's directly across from the forthcoming Rooster Soup Company and Ladder 15 and Oscar's Tavern.

It's named after a colonial tavern in what is now Old City. (It was probably just "New City" then.)

While most of Harp & Crown is on the ground floor - in a moody, antique-filled setting reminiscent of Double Knot's basement - the potential for cool seems highest at the downstairs bar.

Elbow Lane - as it's dubbed, after a colonial street near the present-day Third and Arch Streets - is a large room beneath reclaimed tin ceiling tiles. Walls are lined with antique millwork and intricate mirror molds, and there's a 70-foot bar made of quartz and walnut, and comfy lounge seating. Also: two bowling lanes (available by reservation). The menu downstairs will be cocktails, wood-fired pizza, and charcuterie.

On its main level, Harp & Crown opens off the street through a glass facade into an airy, small dining room clad in wood, with marble-topped tables and plain wooden chairs.  But step back, and the 140-seater unfolds beneath 24-foot ceilings, with heavy drapery suspended from the ceiling and a rear wall of paned mirrors making the grand room feel even deeper.

Four grand antique chandeliers cast light over funky vintage wallpaper and leather club chairs and millwork - assorted seating groups that work for cocktails or meals. The walls have been stripped down in spots to expose brick, plaster, and I-beams. That and the chunky wall sconces give off a slight industrial feel, as well.

A 32-seat wrap-around bar with a few TVs and a drink rail are at left; beverage director Zachary Davis handles the cocktails while general manager Michele DiPietro oversees the wines.

Rohe Creative did the design.

Executive chef Karen Nicolas, a Food & Wine Magazine Best New Chef in 2012 whose local work has included Simon Pearce, Citron + Rose, and Tria Fitler Square, is executing a seasonal new-American menu, which includes small and large plates, pizzas, charcuterie/cheese, salads, an extensive vegetable section, and dishes for two, including a whole chicken ($31), pork chops ($39), and a Neiman Ranch ribeye ($68).

Bar menu, served at the ground-floor bar as well as at Elbow Lane, is here.

Update: It's open for weekday lunch; here is the menu.

Dinner starts daily at 5 p.m. Elbow Lane will open daily at 5:30 p.m.; reservations are required to bowl.  

Below is a video tour of Elbow Lane.

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