Tapestry

Tapestry is a neighborhood joint in the South Street area.  It’s literally the kind of place where you could bring your kids (there were multiple families there for dinner).  It’s cozy, relatively inexpensive, and offers approachable food.

The Drinks

The reason we originally wanted to try this place was the super classic cocktail menu.  We were not disappointed by the well mixed drinks and the extensive beer list.

Josh: Manhattan w/Rittenhouse rye; luxuardo cherry garnish.

Not on the official cocktail menu, but obviously something every bar should be able to produce well. I was very happy to order this with my preferred whiskey which is hard to fine. If you are looking for a more interesting take, try the Bensonhurst. Its a Manhatten with dry vermouth instead of sweet and they sub in an italian bitters over the more common angostura.

Hotel Nacional: el dorado 5 year rum, marie brizzard apry, pineapple juice, lime juice

This was a delicious, tropical drink that was really balanced for being a tropical drink. I’d definitely have to attest that to a strong pour of the rum in it and the apricot liquor making it more rounded out than the likes of a hurricane.

Holly: Abbey of the Christ Monk’s Ale

I wasn’t feeling like a cocktail (strange…I know) so I went with a beer I hadn’t tried before.  it was crisp, refreshing, but relatively forgettable.

Cocktail Menu

Bottle List

The Food

Appetizer: Chicken Wings

Okay, so these were normal chicken wings.  I probably don’t have to review them.  Yummy, like all junk food is yummy.

Holly: Cubano Panini

Sadly, this was just okay.  Somehow it just wasn’t as chrunchy-chewey-cheesy-flavorful as a Cuban sandwich should be.  The pickles were also sweet-ish.  I think my biggest problem wasn’t really that it tasted pretty plain, but that it had no texture.   Note: The last time I went to Tapestry, I had Fish and Chips, and it was delicious–perfectly cooked, crispy, and really tasty.  They obviously know how to make food, the cubano just wasn’t as satisfying as i would have hoped.

Josh:  Burger

This is actually our second time here and I got the burger the first time and I got it again this time out as well (Lame, I know, but sometimes you just want a burger, amirite?) and equally enjoyed it. It was cooked to order just right (medium rare) and their smoked bacon addition outside the ordinary. Fries were good.

Dinner Menu

The Design

Tapestry is styled to look somewhat like an old bistro.  There’s lots of wood, penny tile floors, and large chalk boards with the specials.  The most interesting design feature are the velvet draperies in all of the many windows, which give diners some privacy and give the restaurant a reason to sport its moniker.  It’s definitely not the prettiest place, but it isn’t like they’re trying that hard.  Tapestry is just a neighborhood joint that is trying to put out decent accessible food, so a decent accessible design is completely fitting.

The Service

Despite not having a hostess in any real way, we were acknowledged as soon as we walked in the door and sat right away. Our service was prompt and basically everyone in the place was very on the ball.

The Receipt

Drinks range from 9-11 each and prices on the beer list were harder to nail down, but all seemed appropriate for the bottles. The food is good value, they offer a nice solid menu with variety of charcuterie, cheese, desserts and a daily mac and cheese that change up and could be anything when you arrive.

Our Ratings

Drinks: 5/5

Food: 4/5

Design: 3/5

Service: 4/5

Budget: 4/5

Overall Experience: 4/5

Will We Visit Again:

Most definitely. The food is a step above normal gastro pubs, though it doesn’t break any molds. However, the selection of beers in bottle, number of beers on tap (around 20) and the large and impressive cocktail menu of genuine classics mixed well make this a new favorite stop of ours.

Restaurant Website

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Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House

Nan Zhou is a neighborhood joint in Philly’s China Town.  It’s a quaint place, but the food is ohmagoarshuhmazing.  Try it.  You wont be disappointed.

The Food

Appetizer: Coconut Curry Chicken Dumplings

Holly called this “whitey-bait” and I don’t know how I feel about it. It is true that coconut curry chicken as a dumpling filler is in no way a traditional filling, but at the same time it was a perfectly cooked dumpling. They asked me if I wanted steamed or fried (and I laugh in my head at the thought of steaming anything) and they were perfectly cooked and crisp.

The Soups!

What a bowl of soup. Despite the temptation of rice flake noodles, we both went with the eponymous hand drawn noodles which were aces. The broth was really flavorful and satisfying without being overly fatty.  Hooked up with chili oil and soy sauce, we spent 15 minutes just slurping noodles in foodie silence.

Culturally challenged beware: it may be extremely hard to eat with the utensils given (Chinese soup spoon and chopsticks. Josh is a noob with chopsticks. Holly rocked it). Also know that there will be bones in the duck, and the beef tendon is really gelatinous and chewy.  This is part of the enjoyment of the food!

The Design

This is probably one of the best examples of classic Asian restaurants trying to look “designed.”  Basically, it was the same wooden chairs and cheesy Asian “art” on the walls, combined with what seems like a ubiquitous love for neon thanks to the blue lighting accents in the ceiling.  But really, the design doesn’t matter here.  I don’t give a damn about ambiance when it take 5 minutes for my food to arrive and I’m too busy eating to notice that the place isn’t pretty anyway.

The Overall Experience

You know a place is going to be great when it’s hoppin’ at 2pm, and the only people there are ethnically and culturally the “proper” eaters of the food being served.  We were the only white folks there, until when we were about to leave and a strange middle-aged dude came in and tried to sound like he knew what was up as he ordered half the menu. (One of the servers was eating her lunch, and he asked her what it was, to which she replied “wonton soup” although clearly there was some kind of nasty-bits meat in it, possibly some kind of testicle.  I think she made the right choice in telling him to order something boring).

The Receipt

Very, very affordable. Dumpling were $6 for eight medium to large sized dumpling and our giant soup bowls were $8 a piece as well. If you want a good, affordable lunch in China Town this is definitely a place we would recommend.

Our Ratings

Drinks: n/a

Food: 5/5

Design: 1/5

Service: 3/5

Budget: 5/5

Overall Experience: 5/5

Will We Visit Again: Yes. Couldn’t keep us away if you tried.

Flights and Bites at Square Peg (Philly Beer Week)

Our mini foray into Philly Beer Week this year was a tasting event at our new foodie crush, Square Peg.  We tested them out on brunch a while back, and it was delicious, so when they decided to team up with Dogfish Head to do a tasting menu for $25, we were all over it.

Dinner Course

Three beers, three bites, triple tasty! First, the menu paired Dogfish Head’s Namaste with Fluke Ceviche.  The ceviche wasn’t as acidic as they are many times as it was cut with orange juice and basil for a light summery taste.  Namaste was a perfect choice for this–a witbeer brewed with orange and lemongrass that could easily become a session beer for me.  This whole combo was super delicious, and I even went for the “Tiger’s Milk” and drank the ceviche juice because it was so irresistibly fresh.

Next, one of our favorites, Midas Touch, was paired with roasted beets.  Midas Touch is one of the Ancient Ales from Dogfish head, and is brewed with ingredients that archeologists found in 2700 year old vessels from the Tomb of King Midas!  It’s rich, dark, and somewhat sweet, which paired perfectly with earthy beets (both in color and flavor).

The last part of dinner was Carne Asada, paired with Raison d’Etre, which isn’t one of my favorite beers, but it went really well with the steak.  The Steak was the BOMB, however.  I could eat spoonfulls of the accompanying paprika aioli all day.  Yum!

Dessert Course

It’s pretty rare, I would say, for the dessert course on a beer tasting menu to be the best part of the meal.  This accomplished that feat.  Dogfish Head’s Black and Blue was served with a super simple ice cream sundae, topped with pickled blueberries and Minus 8 vinegar.  The beer was one of the only fruit beers I have ever enjoyed, but it was far out-shined by this simplest of sundaes.  The blueberries in vinegar sauce perfectly coordinated with super sweet vanilla to produce a flavor that could be compared to a shrub cocktail, if a shrub were a milkshake.

In conclusion, pretty much everything was perfect.  We even got to schmooze with one of the reps from Dogfish head , who gave us a sweet trucker hat! (shhhh–Wendy said it was a secret!).  We also scored some Pint Glasses with the Dogfish Head logo out of the whole deal.  Pretty much every experience at Square Peg has been super enjoyable, and their Beer Week event only brings us closer to what is sure to be the pièce de résistance: DINNER!  Look back soon for that!  It’s sure to happen soon.

Lemon Hill

Remember our difficulty in choosing a place when we ended up at Supper?  Well, we finally made it to our original destination, Lemon Hill!  Lemon Hill is the new venture by the proprietors of Franklin Mortgage and Investment and Supper in the Fairmount neighborhood of the city.  Fairmount is (in)famous for bar hopping and generally cheap eats, so this adorable palette-challenging spot is a great addition to the area.

The Drinks

Franklin Mortgage is (obviously) responsible for the tasty cocktail offered at Lemon Hill, which was the original reason that we wanted to try the place out.  We were not disappointed (so not disappointed, in fact, that we each partook in two drinks).

Holly:Clover Club

The clover club is a twist on the Pink Lady, which is one of may favorite drinks.  I liked the sweet and sour flavors, and the smoothness that egg whites add to a drink is always appealing to me.  This drink tasted a bit summer-y to me, due to the fruitiness of the raspberry syrup.  Super tasty, and a great starter drink.

Holly: Fairmount Project

My second beverage was a play on an Aviation, which is known for the inclusion of maraschino syrup.  The Fairmount Project is more complex than the clover club, and was a great complement to dinner.  I really enjoyed how sour it was–like an adult sour candy.

Josh: Blues Explosion:

I’m not one for Tennessee whiskey on most days (actually everyday), but the ingredients caught my eye. Fresh grapefruit juice with maple syrup & Angostura bitters made for an exception when I would otherwise order something with bourbon or rye.

Current Drinks Menu

The Food

Appetizers

Holly: Smoked Tomato Soup with Bleu Cheese Popovers

How could I say no?  This soup was smooth, rich, and creamy. The popovers were adorable little semi-fried blobs of bleu cheese that slowly melted into the soup, adding a touch of funk that made the whole thing that much more interesting.  I really enjoyed this (and it inspired me to start adding bleu cheese to tomato soup all the time!)

Josh: Hot Spiced Pecans

These were more than I ever hoped they could be. I like pecan pie, and that’s about it for me and pecans; but smoked nuts with bacon sounded interesting and a nice snack to have with the first drink while waiting on our food. These were the perfect blend of smokey and salty and the cuts of thick bacon and red cherry peppers went great with the flavors.

Dinner

Holly: Roasted Mushroom French Dip

I was feeling like I hadn’t eaten nearly enough vegetables that day, and I love how the earthy flavor of mushrooms in a sandwich act like a protein.  Goat cheese was a great addition as well, because like the popovers, the slight funkiness was a great addition to the mushrooms.  This sandwich was fun to eat, also, because like a classic french dip, it came with a small bowl of jus for dipping.  Who doesn’t like to play with their food a little bit?

Josh: Fish Special of the Day: Scallops with charred escarole, potatoes, and “salsa” verde

I wasn’t sure what I was going to get and made one of those last second menu decisions. I was worried I’d have regrets and that the patty melt (Need to go back and try) would be infinitely better. My doubts were assuaged by some of the best cooked scallops I’ve ever had.

Dessert: Mississippi Mud Pie

There was a much more exciting option on the menu (key lime pie if I remember), but they were out of it at the time. I went with the Mississippi Mud Pie out of a sense of needing to have some kind of desert to gauge the restaurant on for the review. It was well made, but there wasn’t anything that was standout about it.

Current Dinner Menu

The Design

Lemon Hill is barely designed at all. It almost feels like walking into someone’s classy Philly row home (which it basically is).  The exposed brick wall may be a little overdone in restaurants around here, but at least this one is original to the building, and it serves a purpose by separating the bar from the quieter dinner area.The copper-y tin ceiling (which is probably actually a acoustic panel tile) is a beautiful element in this pretty bare-bones space.   If it is acoustical tile, it was a smart choice for a restaurant that invites cozy dinners with friends or a date: many restaurants forget that although hard surfaces usually look pretty great, they are horrible at dimming the sound that will inevitably be a problem.  My one real complaint is that the faux finish on the wall was pretty ugly, and I would have much preferred simple paint (or at least losing the textured “sandy” grit that they used).  Overall, Lemon Hill felt warm and homey, just like the food.

The Service

The staff was kind and helpful. At the beginning we did have that long wait when you aren’t ready to order so they really give you a lot of time to order. This was annoying but also understandable to a degree.

The Receipt

Closer to the 20 dollar side of a 10-20 dollar range for meals, I definitely felt we got good values. The cocktails lived up to my expectations and the prices along the lines of being just below Franklin Mortgage prices with a taste level that was equally just below it.

Our Ratings

Drinks: 5/5

Food: 5/5

Design: 3/5

Service: 5/5

Budget: 4/5

Overall Experience: 5/5

Will We Visit Again?

Definitely.  How could we not?  We love Supper.  We Love the Franklin.  This is the best of both worlds, and pretty close to where we live, as well!

Restaurant Website

Philly Brunch Round Up

Sunday is the only day that Josh and I both have off.  This means that we go out to brunch after church pretty often.  This is often a way that we will try out a place before going there for dinner (because really, if you can’t do breakfast we probably don’t want your dinner).  Below are some Highlight meals and cocktails from different brunches around the city.

Kraftwork

Kraftwork, as I’m sure our regular readers (aka: Holly’s Mom) are aware, is one of our favorite spots in Philly.  We raved about them in our dinner review and their brunch is equally delicious. Highlights include Biscuits n’ Gravy (perfect comfort food with country sausage gravy and flaky biscuits), massive bloody marys (maries?), and daily house-made pastries.  As an added bonus, it’s even an acceptable place to take your parents/siblings/grandmother because there’s a large selection of well-made recognizable food (we tested this theory with Holly’s dad, brother, and brother’s friend, who all enjoyed their meals).  Kraftwork just can’t fail us.

Kraftwork Brunch Menu

Square Peg

Two Words: Breakfast. POUTINE! (more to come on that in a bit)

This center city spot is the new kid on the block.  Square Peg (thankfully) replaced one of the played-out locations of the Marathon Grill with a creative menu fitting of the large interesting space and trendy center city location.  We chose to test this place out for bunch based on the unique whiskey-centric cocktail menu, which delivers the best Bloody Mary concept ever presented: bacon infused SCOTCH replaces tasteless vodka to create a tangy, complex, and thoroughly enjoyable cocktail to accompany equally exciting brunch menu items. Like breakfast poutine.  Our waitress assured us that it would change our lives, and oh hell yes it does.  Poutine is a Canadian specialty composed of fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Add to this already delicious combo two fried eggs and replace the regular gravy with country sausage gravy and you’ve got Square peg’s answer to the game changer.  it’s huge, delicious, and absolutely perfect (especially with their bacon mary).

Square Peg Brunch Menu (they also get a shout-out for really attractive website design)

The Abbaye

The Abbaye is a neighborhood joint in Northern Liberties with friendly staff and a decent bar menu.  I like to give them my business because they used to let me church have events there, which is pretty cool for a bar that generally has no connection with religion.  Unfortunately, their dinner menu isn’t so exciting, so it’s hard to encourage Josh to try them out.  Luckily their brunch is pretty irresistible, namely the brunch cocktail menu and the variety of “hangover cures.”  I ordered the Texas Benedict, which garnered a high-five from our waiter, apparently because it’s a shiz-ton of food.  Fried chicken, bacon, eggs, and gravy atop fluffy biscuits is awesome – and completely impossible to finish in one sitting.  I also received my coffee in a shark-week mug.  Pretty unbeatable, I’d say.

The Abbaye Brunch Menu

Conclusion

This is only a small sampling of places we love.  Other honorable mentions (that may be featured later) include: Sidecar bar, Ida Mae’s Buncherie, and Rocket Cat.  We also have a few places that we have yet to hit up. Anyone up for another brunch roundup soon?  I know we are.