Sunday (and other days) Suppers

We have been lax in starting a periodic series we originally planned to call Sunday Suppers, the idea stemming from a recent practice of heading back to Philadelphia on Sunday evenings and dining out at some local joints. But the weeks have flown by, partly due to the holidays, and now that we are into 2019, it’s time to get back on track and review some places we’ve visited on other nights. Most venues are in Northern Liberties and Fishtown, the neighborhoods closest to our apartment, but we’ve hit other spots in the city recently so this is our take on some. We’ll try to do future updates more expeditiously.

Mainstay Brewery

5aJVVdIORHu1kEsbt9ddiQThis is the most local of the local spots; it’s literally across the street from our complex. Walk out of the gate and it is to your right. It was the original location of Yards, the Philadelphia-based brewer that has grown to have reasonable distribution in the Mid-Atlantic region. Yards moved to another spot closer to Center City, and this new operator opened up in the fall. We actually were in the place for the first time about two hours after it first opened. We can’t comment on the food because we haven’t eaten anything yet, and the food menu is pretty limited, though we understand other food purveyors could be adding to the offerings. We will see.

The beers are decent, maybe a little on the frothy side, but it has the benefit of proximity. Our only gripe is being referred to as the “older couple” on the ticket (see above) during our second visit. OK, it was probably accurate relative to the 20-somethings at the bar that night (we were watching the Eagles lose in overtime to the hated, in these parts at least, Dallas Cowboys.) Still, “handsome older couple” would have felt better, or I’d have taken, “guy with the rock-star hair” (hey, got to have a good image of yourself). Plus, I over-tipped the offending bartender, though in truth the guy was a bit mortified that people actually looked at the ticket that closely. We originally didn’t. If another patron hadn’t pointed out she was referred to as the “woman sitting next to Rick,” and then turned and introduced herself to the guy, we probably wouldn’t have noticed it.

Standard Tap

Moving on, this veteran gastropub on Second Street has been getting high marks for inventive bar eats for years. We finally visited on New Year’s Day evening after a later-than-planned return to the city, and it didn’t disappoint. It was like a Sunday because they were serving an all-day brunch. Brunch is a big thing around here. Think it’s generational, not sure. I’m not big on it myself as a rule, wastes too much of the day IMO, and I didn’t feel like a breakfast kind of thing in the evening, so I went with a roast pork sandwich that I think is a menu staple. It was excellent, with a crusty roll and some mild hot peppers. I started with a cup of New England clam chowder that was outstanding. Well stocked with clams and potatoes, very flavorful, and not overly thick like poorly executed versions often are. Pat went with a kale salad and a roasted squash soup. We agreed the chowder was the stronger of the two starters, though her soup was good. Her kale salad had a lot of blue cheese, which I’m not in love with, but Pat thought it was well executed. She took some home as a side salad for the next day’s lunch.

Fond

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We went to this fine-dining establishment in South Philadelphia on a quiet weekday after first visiting the block-long Christmas Light show on South 13th Street. The restaurant itself is small, about 15 tables in the main dining room. It’s located across from the “singing fountain” on Passyunk Avenue.  The bartender was quite skilled, very into his craft cocktails, and we briefly got to chat with the chef/owner via a connection through one of Pat’s Comcast colleagues. It didn’t show up on a recent “Top 50” restaurant list published by Philadelphia Magazine, but we think it could have qualified, though admittedly we haven’t been to most places on that list. Pat had an Icelandic Cod for a main course. It was servedQe%ijRra3smARoC7TTg with roasted cauliflower and pickled celery. Quite different. I went with a sliced hanger steak. It was served on a bed of farro mixed with a mild blue cheese (I asked the kitchen to go easy on the cheese) and radicchio.  We’d give the place four stars out of five.

Other Sunday Spots

To quickly wrap up, another spot we really liked is North Third, a very cool neighborhood kind of place on the corner of yes, North Third and Brown St. in Northern Liberties. It features two bars with two different sound tracks depending on if you are in the front bar or the back bar. Another gastropub kind of place that reminded us of a long-closed old favorite in Trenton. (“Soho” for those who remember.) Definitely worth a return visit. Heritage on Second St. is probably a lot of fun in warm weather but was really quiet when we visited on a chilly Sunday night in early December. It has a garage door that is opened on warm nights so people can spill out onto the sidewalk and features different local music nightly. (Sunday nights are reggae night; the band played well, but vocals were so-so.) Features a long, straight bar.

In Center City we also liked another Steven Starr venue called Love. Starr is everywhere in Philadelphia, we know, but his places are generally pretty consistent. It was another midweek venue after doing a quick tour of the Christmas displays around City Hall. We enjoyed a very tasty kale risotto on a night when we weren’t that hungry.

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