Category Archives: Restaurants

Nurse Your Hangover Like an Irishman

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, in case you hadn’t noticed your emerald-clad coworkers or the bruise on your arm from where Tim from accounting thought it would be funny to punch you because you forgot to wear something green.

Despite being of the Irish persuasion myself (my skin tone gives Edward Cullen’s a run for its luminescent money), I tend to look at St. Patrick’s day as less of an actual holiday and more of a day when my front stoop becomes an extension of the bar next door.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good drink.  Guinness, Jameson’s and Baily’s run in my veins.  But green beer disgusts me and, quite frankly, I don’t need to wrestle bead-clad frat boys for an overpriced Miller Light with green food coloring in it when I can enjoy a glass of whiskey in the comfort of my own home.  I also learned a valuable lesson a few St. Patty’s days back when I decided that 10 Yuenglings, a shot of whiskey, and a shot of tequila was a great idea.  It wasn’t.

So what’s the point of this post other than to prove my utter uncoolness and old-person mentality?  I’m here to talk about the Irish hangover, and (more importantly) the cures for an Irish hangover.  After the aforementioned St. Patty’s day fiasco with the tequila, I was not exactly in the best physical state, to say the least.  It was a long road to recovery involving about a gallon of Gatorade and a crate of saltines.  Had I known then what I know now, I guarantee I would have recovered much faster.  What do I know now?  I know about Ida Mae’s.

idasfrontAny Fishtowner worth their messenger bag knows about Ida Mae’s.  For those not in the Fishtown loop, it’s located on the corner of Norris and Tulip Streets (catty corner from the Rocket Cat Cafe).  It’s a lot bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside, and it’s terrific for those who will spend a little too much time huddled up with their Irish car bombs tonight.

My personal hangover cure of choice is the Soda Farl: A sandwich on Irish soda bread consisting of bangers (sausages), rashers (bacon sliced from the back of the pig), eggs and cheese.  The $6 sandwich is deceptively small, but I can never finish it in one sitting.  They also serve full Irish breakfasts (eggs, toast, bangers, rashers, beans, black pudding), as well as a myriad of other specialties including pancakes, tofu scrambles, breakfast burritos, and pierogies.  They have a lunch menu, but, to be honest, I only ever eat breakfast/brunch there.

They’re a Fishtown staple for a reason, and the staff is local, as are all of the ingredients.  They only accept cash and are open Tuesday-Sunday 7am-3pm.  They also offer take-out.  So this March 18, nurse your green beer hangover the Irish way, if you can get out of bed before 3pm.

Ida Mae’s Bruncherie
2302 E Norris St
, Philadelphia, PA
‎ 
(215) 426-4209

–DB

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Sit, Ubu, Sit.

There are several things I love in this world that fall into the “food and drink” category: Guacamole, fish and chips, Walt Wit, pancakes, Sailor Jerry Rum, and mint chocolate chip ice cream, among others.

But, at the very tippy top of my list are two things: Sweet potato fries and Strongbow Cider.

Growing up, my father had a distaste for cooked orange food (don’t ask), so sweet potatoes were never on the menu. I didn’t even really see a sweet potato until college, when my roommate (who was very Pennsylvania Dutch) introduced me to them, along with other delicacies like shoofly pie and pirogies, but that’s for another post. When I moved to Pennsylvania a few years ago, the concept of “sweet potato fries” was still fairly foreign, but after I had my first taste at some hole in the wall diner in Allentown, I was hooked.

Philly doesn’t share the love of the sweet potato fry that the Lehigh Valley does, but you can still find some good ones around here. Most notably, at the Good Dog Bar (224 S 15th Street).

I fell in love with Good Dog when I was working at a place I hated in Center City. I would go there during my lunch break and order the Grilled 3 Cheese Sandwich, made with slices of fontina, asiago, and gruyere, sliced apples and bacon served on brioche. And, of course, served with a generous nest of both regular and sweet potato fries.

The Grilled Cheese is my Good Dog staple, but they offer some other amazing dishes, including a quiche of the day, baked mac and cheese, duck pot pie, mussels, and a Rice Krispy Treat sampler for dessert. It’s not the cheapest pub food, but it’s damn tasty.

Their beer menu seems to have changed recently, but the tap and bottle selection is up to par. Everything from PBR to Chimay is available at reasonable prices, no more or less than you’ll pay anywhere else in the city

Oh, you didn’t think I had forgotten about my other list-topper, did you? Good Dog is one of the few places in the city I’ve found that serves Strongbow Cider in cans, the way it needs to be properly enjoyed.

You can find Strongbow on tap in some of the Irish Pubs around town, and even in bottle cases at some of the beer distributors. But Strongbow really is best served in cans.

If you’ve never had Strongbow, don’t be fooled by the “cider” label. This is no Woodchuck. It’s dry, it’s refreshing, it’s 5.0% ABV. It’s an excellent alternative to beer without making you feel like a 19 year old girl at her first frat party.

The long and short of it is that Good Dog would be a place I would frequent even if it didn’t serve two of my all time favorite ingestibles. The staff is friendly and attentive, the atmosphere is dive-y without the irony, and the upstairs has a pool table, darts and a ms. pac-man machine. It seems to get a bit crowded on the weekend nights, but what bar in center city doesn’t?

My vote is to go there on a lunch break (even if you don’t hate your job), or an early happy hour. My personal preference is to sit at the bar on a lazy Saturday afternoon, with a Strongbow in one hand, a sweet potato fry in the other, and a half naked Michael Phelps on the TV. But that’s just me

–DB

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The Devil and Thomas Mütter

Happy Monday, web-o-verse. I’ve decided that Mondays around here will be restaurant/bar reviews as we tend to go out on the weekends and do things like eat and drink. Imagine that.

I’ll get to the restaurant review in a minute, but first I need to share a little geekitude.

If you haven’t yet been to Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum (19 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA), then you are truly missing out on one of the best museums Philly has to offer. The collection boasts everything from a plaster cast of the torso of world-famous Siamese Twins, Chang & Eng to a case with drawers full of over 2,000 objects extracted from people’s throats. My favorite part is the wall of skulls. Beneath each skull is an index card with the country of origin, the subject’s name, and a little bit about them and how they died.

The descriptions read something like this: “Suicide by cutting her own throat due to disappointments in life”. It’s not for the weak of stomach, but those looking for a more historic version of the Bodies exhibits are in for a good time.

Ok, on to the restaurant. Because who doesn’t go on the prowl for a good burger after spending a few hours staring at jars of human organs? Since Phrigid was out of town this weekend, my restauranting/museuming partner was my friend Zach. We walked out of the museum with no real purpose in terms of what we wanted to eat, just that it should be filling and involve good beer. Which is pretty much how I go about my daily life.

We stumbled upon the Devil’s Alley Bar and Grill (1907 Chesnut Street). They had both upstairs and downstairs seating, we chose to go sit by the upstairs bar. It was fairly busy for a Sunday afternoon, but not so much as to feel crowded. The beer selection included Legacy Euphoria, Magic Hat #9, Yard’s Tavern Spruce and Victory Hop Devil on tap, and Unibrou Ephemere, Legacy Hedonism, Arrogant Bastard Ale, Lucifer and Chimay in bottles. Zach got a Euphoria, I got an Ephemere.

The food is fairly standard American, with the “Devil Burger” (topped with onion rings and fries) being the headliner. Other menu standouts were a Grilled Cheese with apples and bacon, a Grilled PB&J, and a healthy selection of BBQ ribs. Zach ordered a Turkey Cubano, and I went with a Turkey Burger with guacamole.

The Cubano arrived with a side of homemade waffle potato chips (gaufrettes), sliced and with accompanying red sauce. Zach seemed to enjoy it. I tried a chip and sort of wished that my burger came with a side of them as well. If you go, don’t assume that your burger or sandwich will come with a side of some sort unless stated on the menu, my burger came with nothing of the sort. The turkey burger was definitely good and they didn’t skimp on the guacamole. I sort of wish there was a little more of a kick to it, but I’ll survive.

The bar itself is open and welcoming, and the staff seemed friendly. We never wanted for service, although we did have to hunt down napkins at one point. The downstairs dining room looks entirely date-worthy, with small tables, booths and candles. The upstairs bar has open windows and two, large HD TVs. As Zach put it, “There’s something about watching baseball, or any sporting event, on a really large, widescreen TV that’s just…..beautiful” I think he may have teared up a little, too.

Overall, it’s a spot I’ll probably go to again if I’m in the neighborhood, but not one I’m going to go out of my way for. I am interested to try those ribs, though, maybe I’m missing out on the raison d’etre of the place.

–DB

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A goat chimichanga and why The Spirit is going to suck

Phrigid and I used to frequent a wonderful restaurant/bar in Northern Liberties by the name of Azure. Reasonable prices, good food, good servers, awesome margaritas. When we found out a few months ago that it had suddenly closed, we were heart broken.

A week or so ago we noticed that a new restaurant had popped up in its place. Well! The nerve! To replace our beloved Azure so soon after its sudden demise! It was all too much. We went home and got drunk and listened to the Cure while writing tear-stained LiveJournal entries.

Ok, I’m being over dramatic here, but the point is that we didn’t think anything could replace Azure in our fish taco and margarita-loving hearts.

Yesterday, we decided to give the new place a try:

Cantina Dos Segundos

Mon-Fri: 4pm-2am
Sat-Sun: 11am-2am

931 N 2nd St
Northern Liberties
Philadelphia, PA
215-629-0500

We entered hesitantly, and were greeted by the same warm and laid-back atmosphere that we had loved so much about Azure. We sat at the bar, and were immediately presented with chips and two kinds of salsa (the salsa verde was awesome).

The beer selection has improved. On tap there were 2 PBC offerings (Rowhouse Red and Kenzinger), Hennepin, Jevel, an IPA I can’t remember and Franziskaner Hefe Weiss. Phrigid got the Hennepin (which is a little strong for my tastes), and I got the Hefe Weiss.

It also looks as though the tequila selection has expanded. They have tequila specials and even tastings. One day when I’m not feeling the urge to be conscious for the rest of the evening, I plan to try that.

Phrigid ordered the Roast Goat Chimichanga, I got the Empanada Special (Roast pork and Mexican cheese). The empanadas were brilliant, cooked with cinnamon and served with pineapple relish and guacamole. I will refer to them as fried pockets of awesome. I’m personally not a huge fan of goat, but the bite I had of the chimichanga was really good. He couldn’t finish it, which is aying something for portion sizes. Phrigid isn’t shy about eating.

The entire meal (including drinks) came to less than $40 for the two of us, which is on par for what we used to pay at Azure.

The bartenders were funny, kind and attentive. One I recognized as a holdover from Azure, who deftly made recommendations for both food and drink, and kept us in good (and decidedly geeky) conversation all night.

Speaking of geek things, The Spirit is going to suck. And it pains me to say this. First off, I can’t stand how it’s being marketed. It looks like a giant T&A fest with some one liners thrown in for good measure. Oh, wait, no, that was Sin City. But I had no problem with that for Sin City. Sin City is about guns and darkness and tits and violence and quotable lines. That’s fine. The Spirit is a classic storytelling comic. It’s real detective noir, not the faux nouveau noir of SC (say “faux nouveau noir” 5 times fast). I mean, it’s fucking Eisner. The Spirit was an adult comic, it had storylines and it made you think a little. Yes, it was campy and racist and sexist, but it was well-written and the characters were fleshed out. Miller is not a bad writer (well, he used to not be a bad writer) but Miller is not Eisner. The Spirit is not Sin City. Stop making it seem like it is.

Judge for yourself:

–Digital Bohemian

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