A Rittenhouse restaurant years in the making is finally open. Keen is now serving hand pies, pig candy, and chai chicken in the former Astral Plane space at 1708 Lombard Street. It’s currently in practice mode and fine-tuning the menu; the official opening is Tuesday, November 28.
Keen is run by married couple Caitlin and Chris Rorer, who met at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College (she was his TA). Chef Antonella Biundo also went to the Restaurant School. The sous chef, Liam Keeney, is Caitlin’s younger brother — the restaurant’s name is a play on her maiden name. Running the bar is Tom Danks, a longtime friend of the Rorers.
The menu, subject to change, is mostly American. To start, pig candy (thick-cut brined and candied bacon with spicy maple syrup), soft pretzels, or a hand pie stuffed with artichoke, bacon, and whipped jalapeno-lemon ricotta. There’s a burger and a veggie burger (made of farro and pumpkin), a chai-poached chicken breast with cranberry sauce, and a braised short rib with Brussels sprouts and mashed squash. Diners can add bacon to any dish for $2.
At the bar, Danks is focusing on “fast craft” drinks — cocktails with five or fewer ingredients. Eight taps will hold six local brews and two wines.
The Rorers decided to maintain Astral Plane’s eclectic vibe, while overhauling the bi-level space. On the first floor is a seven-seat bar with what they’re calling “sexy rainstorm” décor. The adjacent dining room goes for a forest look, emphasized by the Chinese sumac wood winding up the staircase railing. Upstairs, diners will find another bar and a lounge area dubbed the living room, along with a private event room. In the bathrooms: a vintage condom machine that gives out free condoms, branded with Keen. If nothing else, here’s where to get free condoms, kids.
When in full operating mode, Keen will be open for dinner 5-11 p.m. and serve a late night menu from 11 p.m.-2 a.m., Monday to Saturday. On Sunday, look for it to be open noon-2 a.m.
- Keen Is Taking Shape on Lombard Street
- New Details Revealed About Keen, an American Restaurant Opening in Rittenhouse