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July 2, 2013

A.Bar, AKA Rittenhouse’s Intimate New Cocktail Bar To Open Tuesday, July 9; Take A Sneak Peek Inside And At The Opening Menus

Intimate a.bar invites its first guests to the bar on July 9. (Photo by M. Edlow for GPTMC)

Destined to be the new Rittenhouse Square neighborhood haunt, a.bar is set to open a week from today, on Tuesday, July 9.

With sophisticated touches everywhere you look, the new space at the AKA Rittenhouse Square offers up a polished and stylish dining experience, much like its sister restaurant a.kitchen next door.

Designed by architect Edward Asfour of New York’s Asfour Guzy, who also designed a.kitchen, the new 40-seat jewel-box was assembled under the watchful eye of David Fields, AKA’s food and beverage director.

Furnishings and fittings have a minimalist vibe, with a gorgeous centerpiece bar topped with pewtered brass, floors of polished concrete, sound-absorbing ceilings and finishings in stainless steel and midnight blue-stained white oak.

A shiny oyster bar occupies a sizable corner of the space, and fare from the raw bar is definitely the way to go. The menu includes a curated selection of snacks, small plates and charcuterie, but the focus is clearly on seafood, with the raw bar section at the menu’s heart.

Diners will see six to seven high-quality oysters from both the East and West coasts — like Mermaid Coves from Prince Edward Island and Shibumis from the Puget Sound — shucked and served at any given time. The menu doesn’t actually include any food that requires a flame to serve, just room temperature plates that were prepped in the shared space at a.kitchen.

From a read of the opening menu, a few of the dishes we can’t wait to try are squid-ink crackers, crispy-skin mackerel, barbecued octopus and live scallop sashimi.

That raw bar is clearly the centerpiece of the establishment, so the thoughtful oyster-friendly cocktail menu and creative wine list are no coincidence.

Like its sister, a.bar will pour top-quality, often-rare wine by the glass, but will focus heavily on white and sparkling varietals to complement the seafood-centric menu. Look for a list of interesting, mostly European-style natural vino, with organic as the minimum requirement.

Choose a premium-spirt-based cocktail from one of the six categories on the extensive menu, which includes Bubbles, Refreshers, Large Format (to serve two or three) and sherry-based drinks like the Sherry #1 with fino sherry, Aviation gin, dry curacao and Lillet, which we think sounds particularly intriguing.

After the 4:30 p.m. opening on July 9, the best time to arrive at a.bar must be for the daily oyster happy hour, when all oysters will be just $1.50 from 3 to 6 p.m.

For the complete menus and more looks inside, see below.

We can’t wait to raise a glass to this new addition to the Rittenhouse dining scene.

a.bar at AKA Rittenhouse Opening
When: Tuesday, July 9 opening at 4:30 p.m.; Regular hours, 3 p.m.-midnight, daily
Where: 18th and Walnut streets
More info: www.akitchenphilly.com

The pewtered brass bar top invites diners to linger. (Photo by M. Edlow for GPTMC)

Bar seating accounts for nearly half of the spots in the intimate 40-seat restaurant. (Photo by M. Edlow for GPTMC)

Premium spirits -- including a.vod, AKA's house vodka -- at a.bar. (Photo by M. Edlow for GPTMC)

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