Why pay a dietitian hundreds of dollars a session to tell you what to eat when you could just take yourself to dinner at Philadelphia’s latest show-stopping restaurant … one that offers menu suggestions based on your body type? At what appears to be the first high-end Ayurvedic herbal eatery of its kind, patrons of the just-opened Ancient Spirits and Grille in the tony Rittenhouse Square neighborhood answer a short series of questions via a mobile app that helps their server customize food and drink recommendations to match their physical makeup and metabolism.
The independent establishment, helmed by a veteran executive chef from the luxe Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse, serves European cuisine rooted in Ayurvedic principles. What are those, you ask?
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old spiritual practice from India that divides body types according to three life forces, or “doshas,” one of which governs an individual’s physical and mental attributes throughout their life: vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth). Owners — finance, tech and hospitality entrepreneurs and lifelong friends Syam Namballa and Mahi Reddy — have designed the optional questionnaire, accessed through a QR code, to assess each patron’s emotions, behaviors and activities and give them clues as to what kind of holistic fare will best serve their body, mind and spirit.
With many vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, organic and seasonal options, menu items include: grilled octopus with smoked paprika chickpea puree coconut-cardamom cream blood orange salad ballotine; rack of lamb with turkish date, couscous, rosemary-boswellia mustard, sesame puree and port wine; ginger duck breast with rosemary plum chutney, blistered scallions, parsnip-potato puree and red wine reduction.
The drink list features wellness-focused alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails that took 18 months to develop, contain syrups infused for two weeks and boast healing botanicals like turmeric, brahmi, saffron, ashwagandha, cinnamon, and lavender. One exotic such concoction is the Divyagandha: house-infused black cardamom gin, organic mead, hemp oil, blood orange reduction. Fifty wine selections highlight organic, bio-dynamic and minimal-intervention producers, while two dozen beers are poured at the restaurant’s two bars.
The lavish space contains five distinct dining rooms spread over three floors, plus a chef’s table and a “date night” table for two suspended 15 feet in the air with views of the city, lobby and a 50-foot green wall. Creations by local artists accent the contemporary plant-filled interior.