In the final days of 2015, Chris D'Ambro and Marina De Oliveira revealed a few more details surrounding the resurrection of the Queen Village landmark, Southwark. D'Ambro promised some cosmetic changes, and he delivered. Heavy drapery and double-linen'd tables be gone, Southwark 2.0 is a breath of fresh air.
The bar is familiar, almost untouched, intentionally. Southwark's bar was a bit of a trailblazer when it opened in 2004 — one of the first cocktail bars of its kind in Philadelphia, specializing in the classics and bringing forth the reinvented. Now, it's an institution, and to D'Ambro, something like that, along with the Southwark name, should remain unsullied. The exterior remains a cool beige, still with an awning over the door, this time sporting the image of a jackalope — an ode to the jackalope that once stood above the doorway during its tenure under Kip and Sherie Waide's ownership.
Notice the skull sitting atop of the bar's marble beer tower. D'Ambro admits it took days to get the pig noggin clean enough to use as decoration, its meat now dedicated to pig head sliders (stay tuned for the menu).
The back dining room saw the most change. The ceiling, once painted maroon, now matches the walls, opening the room up entirely. Linens were removed from the tables — tables D'Ambro found, sanded, and stained on his own. D'Ambro hired his brother Joseph D'Ambro (The Joseph D'Ambro Collection Inc.) to help with the interior design and renovation. Guided by Amelia Runyan's eye for decor, Southwark's dining room transformed into a jewel box of a space.
Apart from Southwark's physical changes, D'Ambro and De Oliveira's menus will keep with the restaurant's original mission: expert, farm-driven food alongside some stellar drinks. Southwark's opening date is soon to come, but in the meantime, have a look around.