More Than Just Food: A New Vibe at the Ridge
Vaulted ceilings. Wood paneled walls. A backlit bar with top-shelf liquor. A double fireplace. A pool table.
Although this might seem like a description of one of Philadelphia’s latest restaurants, it’s actually the new clubhouse at The Hill at Whitemarsh. The modern, upscale design is no accident; Executive Chef Adam Ochs had a vision for both the dining space and the kitchen that was brought to fruition when the restaurant officially opened to residents at The Hill this past spring.
“I got major support from The Hill leadership for this grandiose idea,” says Chef Adam. “We put as much firepower into our kitchen as we could and invested in the best equipment. We built the kitchen before building out the menu and as a result, we have a functional, organized space to work in.”
Once that space was up and running, Chef Adam and his Sous Chef, Kevin Rogers, set out to develop a menu that was as cool and sophisticated as the dining room. The result? A high-end casual bistro with a focus on local, organic, and sustainable food.
“We have been talking about moving in this direction for The Hill as a whole, but this new clubhouse provided us with the opportunity to grow and evolve faster,” says Chef Adam. “We already had such wonderful relationships with local vendors, and we’ve just enhanced them through this new restaurant.”
One of those local vendors includes the nearby Erdenheim Farm, which provides microgreens, heirloom tomatoes, heirloom squash, and Angus beef, all of which are used in the clubhouse’s signature dish called the Whitemarsh Burger. Erdenheim Farm and The Hill are neighboring properties, which makes the farm so local as a produce source that residents can see it while taking long walks around the grounds. It doesn’t get much fresher than that.
There’s also Indian Ridge Provisions just west of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, which provides fresh, organic, free-range, grass-fed meat like chicken, turkey, beef tenderloin, and short rib. While The Hill’s seafood vendor, Big Glory Bay, isn’t local, it is sustainable and environmentally sound. The ocean-farmed king salmon is ethically sourced through aquaculture, a farming process that takes place in open water and promotes healthier habitats for the fish.
The focus on fresh, local, organic, sustainable food isn’t just a trend that The Hill is adopting; Chef Adam has made a conscious effort over the years to improve the quality of the food campus-wide.
“The food makes residents feel like they’re at a resort,” Chef Adam says. “New tastes, a different ambiance, and the presentation of the food all add to the experience that they’re having with us. And we’ve found that when the food is fresher and healthier, residents recognize that immediately.”
The clubhouse, which residents have been calling “The Ridge,” has a dining room that seats 64 people, a banquet space that can seat between 40 and 60 people, a bar, and an outdoor patio that will eventually have a grill area. Chef Adam and his team are still making final tweaks to poolside dining, but he is anticipating that menu will include more casual options.
The food makes residents feel like they’re at a resort. New tastes, a different ambiance, and the presentation of the food all add to the experience that they’re having with us.”
“The residents have responded well so far,” adds Kevin. “We created, and continue to create, an elevated experience for all the diners who come through our doors.”
The approach that Chefs Adam and Kevin have taken in order to achieve this includes making the dishes more visually appealing or “bringing life to the plate,” as Kevin describes it. They also plan to change the menus seasonally to integrate more local produce and have decided to bring all of their desserts in-house.
“We have a wonderful pastry chef who is now making 100 percent of the desserts we serve,” says Chef Adam. “It really adds a finishing touch to the entire dining experience that we’ve created.”