There’s a lot to like about the Ripplewood — or “the Ripp,” as chef and co-owner Biff Gottehrer affectionately calls it. The assets begin with its collection of more than 100 whiskeys (and several creative riffs on the Citywide), a list of great beers, and a casual gastropub vibe that’s well-suited to Ardmore’s current bid to be the Main Line’s hippest place to eat.
Gottehrer’s menu is full of bold comfort food updates to balance the booze: garlic-blasted shrimp; some excellent “tongue-in-cheek” tacos with, yes, actual tongue and tender braised beef cheeks on house-pressed tortillas; and an over-the-top fried potato-nachos hybrid called “Ripp fries” that layers fresh-punched frites beneath frothy rivers of fontina-cheddar foam, pickled jalapeños, and melty chunks of braised brisket.
But even a side of Ripp fries could not upstage the juicy indulgence of Gottehrer’s double-patty burger dream. I’ve admired this chef’s burger passion since his days at Lansdale’s Stove & Tap, where he began to develop his ode to the Big Mac. But he’s upgraded his rendition here with even better ingredients: two quarter-pounders with extra fat content and dry-aged beefy oomph; melty Gouda; house-pickled onions (which add both crunch and tartness); a creamy “special sauce” with smoked tomatoes, capers and shallots; and a pain au lait bun that’s soft without being too eggy. Most important, though, two thin pads of fried Lebanon bologna are slipped in between the patties and add a touch of smoky sweetness where, in other burgers, bacon might play a role. It’s a signature touch that lends a local Dutch savor to this gusher of a burger beauty. And it’s so juicy (provided you order it medium-rare), you’ll need two hands to eat it, and most likely several napkins.
— Craig LaBan
Ripplewood burger, $13 (plus $2 for “Ripp fries” upgrade), Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft, 29 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, 610-486-7477; ripplewoodbar.com