Hot Chef: Rhett Vellner at Bardot

From the beer-obsessed folks that brought us P.O.P.E. in South Philly comes new No Libs joint Bardot (447 Poplar Street). Running the kitchen at the swankier, sexier and decidedly more sophisticated spot is Rhett Vellner, formerly of Resurrection Ale House. We caught up with Vellner to learn about the new digs as well as his old roots.

How are things going at Bardot so far?

Things are great. It’s starting to really take off. People are finding out that we’re tucked away in Northern Liberties. It’s a nice crowd here.

Before Bardot you were at Resurrection Ale House. How do you feel about them closing after five years?

I was kind of bummed to hear the news. [Owners] Brendan [Hartranft]and Leigh [Maida] have always been really great to me and I’m super thankful that they gave me the opportunity when Joey, the original chef, left for New York. They are people that are always trying to push and grow, so I’m sure that this was a business decision. I’m sure they’re looking for something new and it wouldn’t surprise me if they kept growing their restaurants.

Are there big differences between coming into an established kitchen like Resurrection and helping start one like Bardot?

Yeah, there’s definitely a big difference. Bardot gave me a chance to start from the beginning and develop a concept that was a hundred percent mine. At Resurrection, I worked there for over a year and then was asked to take over the kitchen. My job then was continue that feel and slowly give it my own touch.

P.O.P.E. is such a neighborhood favorite. Is there pressure to meet the bar that P.O.P.E. set while still letting Bardot to be its own thing?

Well we’re trying to do totally different up here. It’s like night and day. There’s been a lot of time spent planning every aspect of the restaurant, from the interior to the wine selection and the cocktails we developed. Where P.O.P.E. is the rock and roll spot that everyone loves, and it’s a really fun time, Bardot is something different. It’s more romantic and feminine, more like a lounge.

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