Emmanuelle

emmanuellephilly

Emmanuelle is a new spot in the Piazza in NoLibs, but bonus: it’s in the BACK (away from the noise and bustle of the front section of the Piazza).  It is a really cool little place, and we kind of hope it doesn’t get discovered because the quiet atmosphere and friendly staff make this place one of our current favorites.

The Drinks

THEY HAVE A PHO FLAVORED COCKTAIL RIGHT NOW! ’nuff said.

But seriously: Emmanuelle’s menu is intriguing, fun, and challenging in the best way.  Split into “The Entire Civilized History of the World” (classic cocktails) and “New Shit that has Come to Light” (original cocktails), the menu has a wide variety of drinks with a flavor profile for every palette.   At this point, I have sampled most of what I find interesting on the menu and I can safely say that I don’t see myself becoming disinterested with these flavors.  The complexity is really attractive to me – as a lover of flavorful, well-made foods, the obvious next step in my culinary advances is to become more adventurous in the drinks department.

Which brings me back to the Phở cocktail – you’ve probably read our posts showing my love of Asian noodles (here, and here), but I just wasn’t convinced about a cocktail with that flavor profile (not because I was unconvinced that it would be well-crafted, but because I genuinely don’t like “spicy” drinks most of the time). The bartender assured me that is was more “savory” than spicy (despite a float of Sriracha), and I am really glad I went for it.  Do you love Phở? Well, prepare to spend a lot of money at Emmanuelle while this is on the menu because it’s INSANE-ly tasty.  Seriously, go try it.  Right now.

Josh will probably also want to give a shout-out, since their house rye is Rittenhouse.  This place really was made for us.

Menu

The Snacks

They have a small sampling of bar snacks, which are just enough to help you fill your stomach with something other than alcohol. (But really, why would you want to?) We have tried their mixed nuts, which came in an adorable cut glass mason jar (catering to my love of cute, hipster-popularized vintage memorabilia) and were salty and herbaceous, a perfect complement to my cocktails.

The Design

I had a mentor in school who described his design style as “Modern Victorian.”  While this place is a pretty over-the-top interpretation of that, there’s not really a better way to describe it.  Emmanuelle is named for a French soft-core porn film (yeah, really) and the interior reflects that.  It is a darkly-lit, jewel-toned, and eclectically-styled interior with fun custom art pieces, damask wallpaper, and mirrored ceiling soffits. It’s really much classier than my words are making it sound – I promise.  Even Josh liked it, and it helped me to finally convince him the “eclectic” interiors really are a good idea, and that the Victorians knew where it was at (their over-stuffed rooms probably looked baller in lamp-light, while in our standard brightly-lit spaces they would feel overwhelming). My preferred mark of a well designed restaurant interior is that it matches the product, and Emmanuelle’s interior does that perfectly.

The Overall Experience

The bartender made a point to introduce herself at our first visit, a group of girls sitting next to us involved us in a conversation, and the barback got a bottle of gin down from the top shelf for our friend to look at because the bottle was recently redesigned.  The people here are super great, and even though we are probably not “cool” enough for Emmanuelle, we never feel like we aren’t welcome.

The Receipt

Cocktails of this quality should cost more than what they do at Emmanuelle – only $10 – $12 per drink (on the menu).  It still may not be an every-night-of-the-week place, but it’s definitely doable often.

Our Ratings

Drinks: 5/5 — (Remember how we tried to give Franklin Mortgage a 6/5? We can petition to do that again, right?)

Food: 5/5

Design: 5/5

Service: 5/5

Budget: 4/5

Overall Experience: 5/5

Will We Visit Again

We already have, and plan to do so again.

Sidecar Bar and Grille

Sidecar is a South Philly staple, and the vibe and food fit right in with its hip neighborhood.  Although we have gone to Side Car many times before, we have neglected to share a review with you all.  This seemed like the perfect time to do one, since Holly’s mom was in town, and we could get her two-cents in the post as well!

The Drinks

Sidecar keeps a pretty fresh and ever-rotating set of taps featuring a lot of area craft brews and specialties with some old standbys like PBR. They also have a respectable bottle list with beer offerings in all the major styles for those who aren’t feeling the draft list (myself during our latest visit).

Holly: Ithaca Saison

I have learned that Saisons can pretty much be a crap-shoot flavor-wise.  Some are more wheat-y, some are very bitter.  This one was very biter, which I’m not a huge fan of.  But it went well with my food so it became drinkable with dinner.

Josh: 1809 Berliner Weisse

I’m a big fan of the berliner weiss style. It’s the sourdough of beer in my mind: light, airy, and with a nice sour pluck to it. Plus, if you’re ever offered a syrup (natural fruit syrups like raspberry or Woodruff) don’t. A great beer to drink with your meal and especially good to go with the creative pub faire offered at Sidecar Bar and Grille.

The Food

Josh: Burger and Onion Rings

Sidecar makes a solid burger at an affordable price. They offer 3 different topping options all ranging from 10-12 dollars. I went with the cheddar, bacon and mushroom burger ($10) medium-rare w/fries (vs. mixed greens). The burger was great if a bit more on the medium side of medium-rare. It was pretty big as well but wasn’t really greasy at all ( a nice plus to not have my burger on my hand).  I also got way more fries than I remembered/was expecting. Their fries are a solid straight cut fries with the right amount of salt.

The onion rings were ordered because I forgot how much fries they give you with a sandwich @ Sidecar. These were huge, beer batter onion rings that were perfectly crisp & golden brown. They were fried expertly (no excess grease) and were as good as I remembered them being in the past.

Holly: Sweet Potato Soup (special) and Pork Carnitas

I wasn’t feeling all that hungry at this visit, so I thought I’d be safe with a soup and a small appetizer.  Foiled again.  The soup came in a bowl as large as my face,with beautiful and delicious bright orange soup contained.  The soup was savory and slightly spicy from the chipolte.  It was garnished with cilantro and sour cream.  I chose to pair it with a single pork carnita (an appetizer sold per piece).  The carnitas are juicy pulled pork, paired with jalapeno and pickled onions.  i was really craving the sharp pickled flavors, and they went great with both the pork itself and the silky smooth texture and flavor of the soup.  I was not, however, able to finish my meal by any stretch of the imagination.

Mom: Turkey Sandwich (Thanksgiving dinner on sourdough).

“The greens were excellent.  The sandwich was massive, and I had to bring half of it home! It’s excellent though” –Mom. Her sandwich really did look excellent.  And the bread was MASSIVE.  Her sandwich was almost 4 inches tall, and chock-full of the essence of thanksgiving.  I might have to try it sometime.

Current Dinner Menu

The Design

Sidecar, in all honesty, is a designed for (and probably by) hipsters.  It’s a little bit urban, a little bit too dark, and a little bit eclectic.  But truthfully, this is exactly what the food is like there so the decor actually works to support the whole vibe.  It’s pretty simple, but cute details like religious votives, melted vinyl record spice racks, and beer menus tacked into a cork board wainscot give the place just enough uniqueness to keep me interest.  The also just opened a new upstairs area, but we didn’t get to see it.  We will eventually, though, because Side car can be absolutely packed downstairs if it’s a weekend or during an event, and that extra space was badly needed.

The Overall Experience

Sidecar was and is usually a little noisy, but its a small space and it never gets out of hand. The food and the service are always spot on and there is always something good to drink on tap or to be mixed for you by their competent bar tenders (I’ve tested their gin cocktails in the past). It’s a great place to go with a friend or a small group, but too noisy for a date and even with the new upstairs I’d avoid going with a large group during peak hours.

The Receipt

Sandwiches around 10 dollars, snacks and appetizers under 10 with beers in the 5-10 dollar range definitely makes sidecar very affordable and an easy place to drink for awhile or just have nice big meal.  Our check was around $50 for the three of us.

Our Ratings

Drinks: 4/5

Food: 4/5

Design: 3/5

Service: 5/5

Budget: 5/5

Overall Experience: 4/5

Will We Visit Again:

Yes.  And we have already.  For a fun experience check out their Sunday Night Pork special “Pork Me Sundays”: everything with pork in it is half off!  They also offer an amazing brunch (with their namesake sidecar cocktail featured. – Note from Josh: It’s a girly sidecar w/ sugar on the rim which is not part of a traditional sidecar).

Restaurant Website

(And on a side note, be sure to Like both Sidecar and Kraftwork, their sister restaurant, on Facebook.  The two send the best ridiculous music videos to each other and it’s great for some laughs, besides the updates you get for restaurant events and menu additions).


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.

Pickles

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.