Franklin Mortgage and Investment

Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. (herein referred to as the Franklin) is the best bar in Philadelphia with no real contenders. By “bar” I mean a place that not only makes and serves strong cocktails, but where the bar tending reaches gourmet and everything about the establishment is focused around the cocktails. The Franklin is just such a place. We recently revisited the Franklin (my 3rd time there)  for my birthday and had a great time.

The Drinks

Much was imbibed and I got to try a bunch of my friend’s cocktails too, but the only real way to do this is focus on the drinks Holly and I had and that we  can vividly remember.  Cocktails ranged from 12-15 dollars and I’ll list the prices for each drink for those who might be interested.

Josh: Friday Foster

I’ve had a similarly named cocktail at another bar that tasted a lot more like a banana’s foster due to it having mashed fried bananas in it, but that drink was more of a dessert than a real cocktail.  The Franklin’s version was comprised of banana infused Venezuelan rum, punt e mes, cream, cane, egg yolk, & aromatic bitters. The Friday Foster certainly had body, but featured the herbal and spiced flavors of the bitters and punt e mes more so the banana in the rum. This drink was also par of their “Cool It Down” section, meaning it was poured over lots of crushed ice (though high density ice that in no way watered down the beverage. A great cocktail to start the night on a humid day.

Round 2: Regime Change Punch

The Franklin makes a big to-do about punches, and rightly so as they were the first true cocktails. Any and all of the punch drinks can be ordered in a single serving, carafe for 4, small punch bowl or large punch bowl. I would like to go all in and get a punch bowl someday, but I went with the single serving this time. The name just leaped out at me and the with bourbon, applejack, galliano, allspice dram, fresh lemon juice, demerara, honey, black tropical tea, & elmakule bitters in I was a goner. This was probably my favorite cocktail that I ordered simply because the flavors were very balanced and it was very refreshing.

Round 3: The Dead Turk

I knew I was going to order something from the “I asked for Water and She Brought Me Gasoline” menu simply because it is the page that features the strongest and usually most interesting drinks.  With bourbon, ramazzotti, sweet vermouth, apricot liqueur, & Moroccan bitters the Dead Turk stood out. The idea of a Manhattan with addition of apricot made complete sense to me and indeed it worked great. The bridged the bourbon and the vermouth making for a very smooth, very strong drink.

Holly: Mrs. Stackhouse

This drink is from the “Easy Going” (read: girly drink) menu, and as such was sweet, light, and very refreshing.  I have been on a gin kick for a while, so the combination of gin, zucca, honey, lime, strawberry, and salt sounded perfect for a summer evening.  It is served with soda, which basically means this cocktail is a kicked-up gin daiquiri.  It was well-mixed and would have been perfect for most, but I like my drinks a little stronger and I was disappointed that I couldn’t taste the gin.  That’s what I get for ordering from the weak-sauce section of the menu!

Round 2: Continental Divide

Time to kick it up.  I learned my lesson from the Ms. Stackhouse, and I was ready for the big guns.  This cocktail is from the “Rebellious Spirits” menu and featured a perfectly balanced combination of gin, dry vermouth, strega, and orange bitters.  I love myself a good strong martini, and this was a delicious variation.  I especially enjoyed that the vermouth was an important part of the flavor, as many times bars will only rinse a glass in the stuff rather than giving it the full stage in the profile of the drink.

Honorable Mention:

Our friends Jake and Tate both ended getting whiskey sours (not a menu item, but the Fountain can and will mix all sorts of classic cocktails) and for Jake it was a food life changing experience.  These sours had egg white in them for an amazing smooth texture and were poured over a rock of ice.  I had a sip and it was without a doubt the best whiskey sour I’ve had.

The Snacks

The Franklin does not serve any sort of meal (so eat before you go, or plan on hitting up a place nearby afterward), but they do offer an array of snacks/appetizers to keep your thirst going and to counterpoint all the alcohol you’ll be drinking.  According to our waiter, the Franklin used to be 100% drinks, but their insurance was 6 times the usual rate. With the inclusion of some food its gone down to 4 times the rate.  All the snacks are prepared out of house by another restaurant and none of them are hot.

Pei King Pork Rinds

I ordered this before Holly got to the bar and it was a leap of faith on my part. I’ve never eaten a pork rind once in my life and generally always found the idea of them unappealing (but not revolting). Having ordered my first drink I realized that I eat scrapple all the time and can handle that so whats a little pork skin gonna do? These were one of the crunchiest thing I’ve eaten in a long time. The Pei King seasoning was not as spicy as I thought it would be, but definitely gave flavor to what would have been a very one note snack.


Pickled foods are a big favorite of ours and we both innocuously thought that pickles would merely be some sliced or small pickled cucumbers in a dish. Wrong! The Franklin is a classy lady and serves only the finest to her guests. What did come was a mason jar filled with 3 different kinds of veggies and none of them the expected “pickles.” Cauliflower, beets, and Brussels sprouts were expertly pickled and the presentation was excellent.  An amazing surprise that left us smiling.

Pastrami Salt Pistachios

We didn’t order these, but one of our friends did and I’ve had them before. Pistachios are one of my favorite nuts anyway, but the pastrami salt really broadens out what would otherwise just be plain old nuts.

The Design

The Franklin is intended to look and feel like a speakeasy.  When you arrive, you are greeted by a usually well-dressed “bouncer’ who escorts you to the door of their sub-street level establishment.  Once you enter, it is dimly lit and filled with masculine surfaces.  The seats are made of tufted red leather (or perhaps high-quality vinyl), the tables of marble, and the walls are a mottled grey-black specialty paint finish.  The crowning design feature surprisingly is not the bar, but the whimsical mural portraying various attendees of the speakeasy participating in such sinful activities such as drinking, dancing, and gambling (including a cameo by Mr. B. Franklin himself).  In the end, a theme that could have been very cheesy is well done, and they managed to make a small space feel warm and comfortably intimate.

The Overall Experience

The service at the Franklin has always been great. There was a small snafu with the check, but considering that it was 1 waiter for the whole place I can completely sympathize. I also got to sit in the awesome booth area with B Frank throwing dice in an alley painted behind me.

The Receipt

A night at the Franklin means a sure investment in gourmet cocktails.  You will get your money’s worth and enjoy your time, but the Franklin should be visited frugally to stay in the black.

Our Ratings

Drinks: 5/5 — If we could give it a 6/5 we would.  Hell, this is our blog. We can do whatever we want.  6/5

Food: 5/5

Design: 4/5

Service: 5/5

Budget: 3/5

Overall Experience: 5/5

Will We Visit Again

Most certainly, as budget allows. In fact I (Josh) plan on going labor day weekend to show the place off to our good friend Tim.

Good Dog Bar

Like Dogs? Like Bars? Then this is– actually you can’t bring a dog here, but you can look at lots of nice dog pictures as you enjoy a beer and a burger at this great center city bar. Located on 15th street between Walnut and Locust, Good Dog Bar is the antithesis of the big name steak houses and celebrity restaurants that inhabit the area (nothing against them though!). You can get a meal for around ten bucks in a very cozy themed dive setting.

The Drinks
Good Dog has a dozen beers on tap (8 standards and 4 rotating) with another 2 dozen assorted bottles and cans covering domestics, crafts, and imports.  Holly and I both had beers and they were served quickly. They also make cocktails though these vary wildly.Of the 4 times I’ve gone to Good Dog over the years I’ve only gotten one once. That cocktail was the Bob Loblaw (of Arrested Development fame): a margarita with pineapple juice and jalapeño infused tequila that was an experience. Most of the time its silly vodka cocktails that probably taste like candy. As with valor, discretion is the better part of imbibing.

Beer Menu

Cocktail Menu

The Food

Appetizer: Truffled Cheese Steak Empanada

These sound really lame (like cheesesteak eggrolls) but delivered for above both of our expectations. The empanadas were crisp, not greasy, and the dough tasted slightly sweet. The truffled cheddar cheese and sliced ribeye were an amazing combo. Equally important was the bourbon infused Rogue Chocolate Stout dipping sauce that cut through the richness of the empanadas.  Hands down the best appetizer in a long time.

Main Courses

Josh: Roast Beef ( From the Specials menu)

Sounds like something out of the golden-age of Diners, at first appearances this sandwich looked like a regular roast beef sandwich that I could whip up at home. This sandwich however sports their own seasoned and roasted beef with a delicious mustard, sweet peppers, and swiss on nice sourdough bread. It came Good Dog’s signature fries (shoestring cut mix of sweet potatoes and regular potatoes) and overall it was a good meal.

Holly: Fried Tomato BLT

A ate this sandwich as a shout-out to my Mom.  As long as i can remember, she would almost always get the BLT at any restaurant (and when she went to Good Dog, guess what she had?).  This tasty variant was made with perfect sourdough toast, basil mayo, and of course the fried Tomato–which I was sadly kind of disappointed in.  The words “fried” and “tomato ” are almost always separated by “green” for a reason.  The crunchier texture and acidic bite of a green tomato would have been refreshing in this sandwich, but the fried ripe tomato just didn’t deliver like i wanted it to.  The flavors were great–it was mostly a texture issue that contributed to my overall lack of satisfaction with this entrée.

Food Menu

The Design

You want a dive?  Good Dog is the definition of dive.  The best part about the ‘decor” of most dives is the old-man-club appeal of wood paneling, dark colors, and dim lighting.  Good Dog delivers on all of these points, and also provides a plethora of adorable doggie portraits to view while you munch on tasty treats.  Good Dog is definitely a step up from your standard center city dive, but all the charm that you would expect is still present.

The Overall Experience

We went for an early dinner this time, and our service was very punctual.  Sometimes it can be incredibly busy at Good Dog, so if you go during normal dinner hours or on a weekend, expect to wait for a seat and your food.  This time we walked right in and sat down, which was great.  Our waitress was sweet and our food came almost too quickly, if you can even complain about that.  It was a good time, as always.

The Receipt

Good Dog is pretty affordable.  We didn’t keep the receipt this time (shame on us) but it was under $50 for a meal and drinks for the two of us.

Our Ratings

Drinks: 3/5

Food: 4/5

Design: 3/5

Service: 5/5

Budget: 5/5

Overall Experience: 5/5

Will We Visit Again: Yes. Good Dog has good food at good prices and every time we’ve been there the service has been great. Not a place that will blow your mind with its offerings, but a great place to relax and grab a bite and a beer.