Philly food and drink scene

Fishtown’s new wine bar brings Princeton favorites to Philly

Seafood will be a focus at the Frankford Avenue spot from the group behind Mistral and Elements.

Oysters will be a focus at Aether

Oysters will be a focus at Aether

Mistral Restaurant
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Fishtown’s boom shows no signs of slowing, and the restaurateurs behind acclaimed Princeton destinations Elements and Mistral are the latest to join the party.

Led by Fia Berisha, operations manager for the restaurant group — which first expanded beyond its hometown with a Mistral in the King of Prussia Mall last March — the spot at 1832 Frankford Ave. (at Berks) will be the team’s first location in Philadelphia proper.

Called Aether, the restaurant will be an affordable wine and cocktail bar with a full kitchen that focuses on seafood.

“Scott is so good with fish,” Berisha said, referring to Elements/Mistral chef Scott Anderson, “and I think that’s something the neighborhood is still missing.”

A raw bar with oysters “from all over the world” will anchor one end of the 16-seat counter that fronts the space. The rest of Anderson’s menu will include crudos and other prepared fish dishes, plus small plates and mains built around vegetables, meat and poultry.

What it won’t include is plates done up in fancy, highly composed style like the ones Anderson has become famous for at his other restaurants, especially at Elements, which focuses on a chef’s tasting menu. Berisha expects apps at Aether to run $12 to $18, and entrees to stay below $30.

Drinks will include a wide selection of natural and organic wines, something that’s a passion for Berisha. There will also be carefully considered cocktails and around six beers on tap plus more in cans and bottles, all similarly affordable.

“Our focus is to keep it more of a Fishtown environment,” said Berisha, explaining that she fell in love with the neighborhood (she recently moved into the apartment above the forthcoming restaurant), and pitched Anderson and sole investor Stephen Distler on opening there. “If you’ve ever been to Princeton, well… I wanted to do something for people my age,” said the 33-year-old.

“It will be simple — but a Mistral/Elements version of simple. And our version of quality, meaning the best. We don’t half-ass.”

Groundswell Design has been hired to do the interior. Approximately 50 to 60 seats will fill the long, narrow room, which will extend beyond the bar with banquette seating that then leads into a lounge area at back. Berisha has installed a hanging fireplace there, and is planning to roll up the back garage door in warm weather for semi-open-air dining.

The plan calls for Aether to serve six nights a week, plus Saturday and Sunday brunch, which Berisha notes is a very popular meal at Mistral. Target opening is June 2018.

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