Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Philadelphia Bar and Restaurant

120 Market St
Philadelphia, PA  19106
(215) 925-7691

On a Monday night, I went to check out the Blue Cross River Rink, rehash some of my old Ice Hockey skills, take a tremendous fall showing off, and head to Philadelphia Bar and Restaurant to nurse my wounds. All in good fun. First off, we were impressed by the size of this place. It's really quite large, and tastefully decorated. Secondly, it was a warm welcome reprieve from the cold air, and a Kenzinger special was just what the doctor ordered. That is, if doctors prescribed alcohol, which I am pretty sure, they do not. Ahem, if you find one that does, be sure to email me his info. Anyway, we were hungry, but in a sharing kind of mood, what with having just survived near death experiences on ice and all, so the $5 bar snack menu was calling out to us.

The fries were obviously going to get hit, hard. I have a mildly frightening love affair with smoked gouda, and these things were served with a smoked gouda fonduta. It was great, smokey, with a tinge of truffle, I believe, and highly additive. I mean I dipped a butter knife in it to scrape the rest out after the fries were (quickly) demolished. The fries, oh those fries. They were some of the most enjoyable french fries I have eaten in a while. Salty, crunchy and slightly sweet, I need some more of these, about now. Next up were the short rib puff pastries. They were pretty delicious, a definite cold weather treat, with rich smokey, short rib, accented by a sweet sauce and some micro greens. The pastry was a bit soft, but it was most likely a result of the sticky syrup it was smothered in. Overall, they were quite satisfying.

Next we moved to the deep fried mac and cheese. Usually, this is one of my favorite things to eat. However, this was the only real miss of all of our snacks. I hold this dish up to increased scrutiny, as one of my favorite places to eat fries it up to perfection every time. I also have made numerous variations of it myself, and if I do say so, I do a bang-up job. That's what made this offering thoroughly disappointing. Well, that and the fact that it was as though someone took al dente macaroni noodles and hollow mozzarella sticks and combined the two with no additional ingredients. I got the mac, but alas, where'd the cheese go? I don't know. Also the dipping sauce was basically some crushed tomatoes. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.

On to one of the most exciting orders of the evening, the wings. I must disclose, there were actually 5 in the $5 order, but I was so excited I grabbed the only drummy right off the line and it was gone in approximately 6 seconds. These things were legit. Not traditional, by any means, but darn tasty and extremely crispy. I would say they were a slightly updated version of the original with a Stilton and hot sauce dressing. The sauce was sooo good. I immediately wanted to order more, but alas, in the interest of keeping it interesting, we chose some other items.

The pickled vegetables, which I traditionally do not like, as I feel most places use to much anise or clove (or whatever they decide will be the off-putting, overwhelming spice of the day) in their brines, but these were actually quite good. I really liked the flavor, and it was again, an updated take on a traditional recipe. The table was split on whether to love or hate the fact that there were eggplant sticks, which were still very crispy, and eggplant tops, resembling mushroom caps which were almost mushy. I just pretended they were mushrooms and enjoyed them all.

The spinach and parm dip was a nice change of pace from the traditional as well, with the addition of white beans to the mix which really helped lighten it up a bit. The spinach was plentiful, and the top - crusty and cheesy. A winner.

We strayed from the bar menu with the addition of the special pork tacos, which were, served with fries, and quite honestly, the only way to keep the table from getting another order of fries straight up, they were that good. They graciously accommodated our request for additional fonduta for the fries, and generously heaped these sticks of glory onto the plate. The pork was incredible. Smokey, spicy and sweet, with some help from the tomatillo sauce that the waitress politely explained was made from tom-a-till-lo's, which she explained are green and kind of like tomatoes. It was endearing to have someone not assume that you know what something so ordinary to my crew was. An A for effort. We loved the tacos and would definitely order them again and again. I have to say, Philadelphia Bar and Restaurant (or PBR), might not win the title for originality of naming your establishment, but they would certainly be in the running for the most affordable and incredible bar snacks.

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