LOWER MERION — Twenty One Pips Game Room and Kitchen, a brand new dining and board game concept, opened recently at 24 Cricket Ave. in Ardmore.
From the owner of Thirsty Dice, Philadelphia’s first board game café, Twenty One Pips offers guests an engaging dining experience with board games, locally sourced sharable menu items, and elevated pub-style entrees. In addition, a curated wine, beer, and whiskey program and a seasonal selection of craft cocktails featuring local makers comprise the beverage program.
The name is fitting to the concept as Twenty One Pips refers to the number of dots, which are called pips, on a six-sided die. A large sign at the hostess station provides the dictionary word meaning of “pips.”
The interior of the 5,000-square-foot, family-friendly restaurant seats approximately 170 guests with soaring 22-ft ceilings and a mezzanine for private dining. Dramatic 15-foot-high woodsy moss walls are offset by an overlay of artwork depicting the playful nature of games in everyday experiences by artists David Cuzick and Zach Bird.
Banquettes are created from reclaimed church pews and juxtapose comfortable booths covered in rich navy and gray fabrics adorned with tufted red buttons — a playful nod to the pips prevalent in the concept’s brand. Custom lighting creates intimate spaces with colors and shapes indicative of game pieces. The restaurant was designed by Partum Interiors.
To further support the spirit of supporting local artist Natalie Hope McDonald created unique and intricate black and white hand-drawn murals incorporating iconic game-themed imagery like Pac-Man Ghosts and Monopoly pieces mingled with game phrases, words, and quotes. The bar area features reclaimed drawer fronts. An extensive museum-quality dice collection is on display, encouraging guests to explore the space and learn the unique history of featured works.
Two vintage skeeball machines, a 3-D Atari Pong Table, and a striking black and white checked floor complete the game-inspired décor. Plus, there’s a retro arcade video game library for up to four players.Locally sourced, house-made and customizable items dominate the Twenty One Pips menu.
Customizable boards boast a rotating selection of artisanal cheeses and house-made crudité and spreads including Glazed Carrots with agave, ginger, and turmeric; Split Pea Hummus with garlic confit and wonton crackers; Eggplant Polpette Fritters with za’atar spice and whipped tahini and locally prepared charcuterie such as Soppressata; Nduja, a spicy spreadable pork sausage, or Pfefferwurst hickory-smoked hard sausage ($18/3, $25/5, $32/7). Additional items include a variety of flatbreads, including “Not Your Nonna’s Margherita,” with fior di latte, basil pesto and white balsamic glaze ($17).
Small Plate offerings consist of Hand Cut Chesapeake Fries with crab, cheddar, Old Bay remoulade and scallions ($13) along with Caulilini with bagna càuda, Calabrian chili oil, and asiago ($13) and Crunchy Cheddar Curds with herb breading and marinara ($10).
The signature 21 Burger is topped with bacon and bacon jam, Gouda mornay, house-made pickles and served with a side of pub fries or a side salad ($17).
Entrées and salads include a smoked and roasted half Cornish chicken served with braised kale, pommes purée and bourbon jus ($29) and a Citrus Arugula with orange slices, heirloom carrot, pistachio gremolata, lemon-basil vinaigrette ($14).
Desserts round out the menu with an Espresso Semifreddo made with a signature blend of Herman’s Coffee Co. espresso and dark chocolate ganache and a Cast Iron Brookie, a freshly baked triple chocolate brownie and cookie served with or without Bassetts vanilla ice cream. Twenty One Pips features locally roasted coffee created by Philadelphia’s Herman’s Coffee.
Twenty One Pips also offers a ‘Pips-Squeak’ Menu filled with pint-sized portions of kid-friendly foods like burgers, fries, chicken tenders, mac and cheese and more.
Playful cocktails like the Professor Plum made with gin, lemon, butterfly pea tea syrup, plum sake, and elderflower tonic ($12), Game Changer with cucumber-infused tequila, mezcal, jalapeño agave, orange liqueur, lime, and bitters ($13) or Carrie the Team with citron vodka, cranberry liqueur, mandarin orange liqueur and lime ($14) and three mocktails headline the beverage program. Extensive wine, whiskey, and local craft beer selections ensure there is a perfect libation for every occasion including local favorites.
The enormous Twenty One Pips game library features more than 600 games. Full-time gametenders will be on hand to help guests explore games based on themes and interests ranging from strategy-based games like Catan, party games like Blank Slate, or family-friendly games like Dixit — and of course, the entire catalog of nostalgic classics like Guess Who, Trivial Pursuit, Yahtzee and Jenga. Library passes, which cost $5 for two hours, grants access to all games.
“We are excited to join the Main Line community and help guests explore how easy and enjoyable it can be to connect while playing games and sharing a great meal,” said Matt Hendricks, owner of Twenty One Pips. “Twenty One Pips is a neighborhood spot to meet friends after work, enjoy cocktails, or entertain your family while sipping on a great glass of wine and nibbling on locally sourced cheese and charcuterie.”
Operating hours are Monday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition to regular operating hours, grab-and-go coffee and pastries will be available Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Twenty One Pips is at 24 Cricket Ave., Ardmore. To view the menu or for more information, visit http://twentyonepips.com or call 610-228-2711.
Server Evan Sheehan of Philadelphia holds the Kennett Square Mushroom, a vegan option at Twenty One Pips that features a Flatbread topped with artichoke puree, confit garlic, kale, and truffled herb oil. (PEG DEGRASSA/ MediaNews Group)
An inside view of Twenty One Pips Game Room and Kitchen in Ardmore. (PEG DEGRASSA/ MediaNews Group)
Alice Deutsch, a Twenty One Pips game tender, stops by a table to offer games, instructions, and gaming advice to diners. (PEG DEGRASSA/ MediaNews Group)
Bistro Filet and Fries is among the entree options on the menu at Twenty One Pips. (PEG DEGRASSA/ MediaNews Group)
An unidentified couple plays skee-ball inside Twenty One Pips last week. (PEG DEGRASSA/ MediaNews Group)
Twenty One Pips, a new dining and gaming restaurant opened at 24 Cricket Avenue in Ardmore on July 22. (PEG DEGRASSA/ MediaNews Group)
Customizable cheese boards at Twenty One Pips boast a rotating selection of artisanal cheeses and house-made crudité and spreads. (PEG DEGRASSA/ MediaNews Group)