Midatlantic

Midtatlantic takes University City to the next level in regards to cuisine.  Chef Daniel Stern (of R2L) has fun with the foods of the Midatlantic states and creates a restaurant the encourages exploration.  With items like crab or vegetable scrapple, Tastycake bread pudding, and a multitude of local craft beers, this restaurant has an original and delicious menu that gives a West Philadelphia foodie a chance to come up for air from all the pizza and freezer burgers in the area.

The Drinks

Josh: The Stovepipe

Basically an adult root beer float, but way classier than those words sound. Made with Bourbon, Navan, Drambuie & Root Beer, The Stovepipe was designed by head chef Daniel Stern.  The drink definitely had bold root beer flavors and was a great way to start the meal while we waited for our food.

Rumspringa 2.0

I had the Rumspringa in its first version around when Midatlantic had recently opened. I enjoyed the drink at the time, but it was hard to find the bite of the rye in the cider it was mixed in (really great cider though). RumSpringa 2.0 is made with Rye, Aita Snap, Bitters, Maple & Burnt Orange and was a much more potent and enjoyable drink. All of the flavors complemented one another and it was nice to have a cocktail with Snap in it (vs. the much more proliferated Root by Art in the Age).

Holly: Shrub

I always have the shrub when I got to Midatlantic.  It has gone through a few evolutions.  it has always included fresh fruit, vinegar, and a little sugar with a spirit.  Originally you could choose the spirit, but they learned that the best of us order gin drinks.  The newest variation has gin with fresh muddled berries and tarragon in the mix, and the sweet and sour profile of the drink is very refreshing.  It is a unique drink that I have not seen made in other bars, so when at Midatlantic I jump at the chance to have it.

The Food

Appetizer: Meat and Cheese Board

Now THIS is what charcuterie should always be like. 3 different kinds of meat (plus a terreine), 4 kinds of cheese, condiments, and a pickle jar!  Plus they serve it with a varied assortment of breads in an amount appropriate to the size of the plate.This enormous appetizer is recommended for 2-4 people, and it could easily feed more.  The actual items will change out frequently, but this time we had the pleasure of sampling a house cured summer sausage that was pleasant (if not a little bland) and a chorizo with a great kick. The cheeses, much to Josh’s chagrin, included a soft goat cheese (which actually was quite clean tasting rather than the usual funk of a goat cheese) and the local “Tommenator“, a Tomme style that is brined with Troegs Troegenator double bock.

Main Courses

Josh: The Midatlantic (Burger)

I’ve had this burger before, but there’s about the flavor combinations that keep me coming back. The burger is always cooked exactly how I order (medium rare for me, thank you) and comes with their house made summer sausage sliced on top with horseradish cheddar and pickles.  The Ma Chips are a must. These house made kettle crunch chips are perfectly cooked and fresh and really help the burger to standout from the crowd.

Holly: Corned beef and Cabbage

Rich and delicious!  Corned beef and cabbage is one of my favorite meals (thanks to my father) and this variation was perfect.  The meat was incredibly tender and rich, the cabbage was well cooked but not soggy, and the cute assortment of multicolor potatoes, baby beets, and long slices of carrot were not only delicious but really beautiful to look at. It was topped with a horseradish cream and a couple of croutons (which I could have done without, truthfully).  The whole thing was buttery, savory, and incredibly satisfying.

Dessert:Simmons Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pie

Okay, so this specific time we didn’t get dessert (that meat and cheese board is a beast) but you MUST try this peanut butter pie.  Each little pie is made in an individual (sharable) portion, which is filled with a rich chocolatey -peanutty mouse, and topped with pretzels!  Sweet and salty–feeding our stereotypical foodie nature to its very core.

The Design

Midatlantic has a great interior.  It takes the industrial vibe that is ever so popular in this city and makes it just refined enough that it is appropriate to the level of cuisine it accompanies.  The floors are of polished concrete, which always looks great in my opinion (and it’s really easy to keep clean).  The lights are custom pieces made from bundles of fluorescent tubes with wild looking red wires escaping from the tops into the ceiling, which was left uncovered.  Along the back wall, sheets of wood in various shades of yellow, red, and green create an interesting texture that also draws attention to the open kitchen area and bar, which also had the keg room exposed to draw attention to the plethora of craft brews available.  There is also a private room that is separated from the main dining floor by a sheet metal wall with tiny windows punched through, giving a small peak of any parties that me be planned.  Besides  the fact that the now-ubiquitous Emeco Navy chair was used, this interior is highly original and very successful.

The Overall Experience

This visit the place was actually pretty busy (which is not usual during dinner time as Midatlantic seems to do its biggest business at lunch) so the service was just a tad slow.  But our waitress was polite, very knowledgeable, and eager to help us make good choices in both food and drink.  We also sat outside this time, which was very pleasant due to the glass division protecting us from people on the street and the swanky firepit in the middle of the outside patio.

The Receipt

Midatlantic is definitely not the cheapest place around (especially not in the proximity of its University City neighbors).  This trip we go three cocktails, an appetizer, and two entrees for around $100 before tip.  The great thing about this price range, however, is that the restaurant wont become overrun with rowdy college students during game time, and the quality of food and portion sizes are really worth the slightly higher price tag.  It’s not a place to go every couple of days after work, but it’s great for impressing a date or a quiet evening with a friend or two.

Our Ratings

Drinks: 5/5

Food: 5/5

Design: 5/5

Service: 4/5

Budget: 3/5

Overall Experience: 4/5

Will We Visit Again

Yes, and we already have a few times.  This is one of our favorite places due to its proximity to our home, the fact that it is usually quiet, and the great selection of interesting food and drink.

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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.