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.

KraftWork

Kraftwork

This Fishtown foodie haven is the much hipper (and possibly more refined) younger sister to South Philly’s Sidecar Bar.  Kraftwork has everything that a gastro-pub should: great beer selection, interesting bites, and great service.  This joint can (and will) run with the best of the Center City luxury eateries, but it’s down-to earth atmosphere, wait-staff, and clientele make it a great place to try items that may otherwise seem out of reach.  Its non-intimidation factor means that aspiring foodies can dip their toes in the world of weird, while providing a safety-net of familiar options to run back to if the more adventurous menus are too daunting.

The Drinks
Kraftwork is known for their large selection of beers on tap (24 at any given time) which come in varying pour sizes depending on the beer (ranging from 8oz pub glasses to 64 oz growlers). Kraftwork uses a unique system of pairing second set of 24 kegs that will automatically go once the beer on the first list kicks.  This is noted on the menus, which makes it easy to tell what is available at the time of ordering.  In addition to a really great beer selection, Kraftwork has a few cocktails on the drink menu that they also change up about as often as the menu does which tend to have interesting names to match their interesting ingredientsI had The Poe (Dry oaked Gin, Dubonnet, Orange Curaçao, Pechaud’s Bitters, and Absinthe) and it was a well made cocktail.  The Gin was up front (as it should be) and all the other flavors followed, mingling, but each distinct. Cocktail service was fast and our bartender obviously knew what she was doing.  Unfortunately for any of you reading this the Poe is no longer on the menu for you to try, but I would suggest either the J.F. Sebastian (a shout out to Blade Runner) or the Montgomery Scott.

Current Drink Menu (As of Monday May 16th)

The Food

Appetizer: Corn Fritters (from the specials menu)

The fritters piqued our interest and we tried them. They were appropriately sized for an appetizer and perfectly fried (crispy with no excess oil). The came plated with a black sauce which we couldn’t deduce what was in it, but it certainly tasted good and added to the fritters over all as did the greens garnishing the plate.  This was a great appetizer to have with your opening drink and set the stage for the meal to come.

Main Courses

Josh: Burger with Cheddar and Bacon-Onion Jam

Usually Holly is the burger aficionado and I’m the one that tries the other sandwiches or plates at a gastropub, but we mixed things up this time. The menu offers you a couple choices when you craft your burger from the cheese to 1 free topping and of course you can add more depending on what you like. I went with the 2 year aged cheddar (cheddar is by far one of the best burger cheeses) and the bacon onion jam (had to see how that paid off). The burger was cooked exactly to order (I always order medium rare) and the cheese and jam (little crunchy from the bacon and sweet from the onions) did not disappoint. I got the same herb fries as Holly and really enjoyed them.

Holly: Short Rib Sandwich

This beast of a sandwich came piled high with deliciously tender slow-cooked short rib, poblano cream, pepper jack cheese, and fried onions.  Firstly, the meat was perfect: fall apart, juicy, and flavored just right.  But seriously, the best part was that poblano cream.  it added just enough spice to make the sandwich interesting, and it cut through the richness of the short rib.  As with all sandwiches at Kraftwork, the short rib comes paired with either herbed fries or a salad.  If you’re not trying to watch your figure, go for the fries.  They are the perfect match-stick cut, with great texture and a really interesting flavor from the herbs (and German-style mustard aioli).

Dessert: Chocolate Terrine

This aptly named dessert comes with raspberry coulis and salted walnut brittle.  A terrine, for those who don’t know, is usually constructed of meat purée and seasonings, and formed into a little brick to be served with toast and cheese. Well, this was basically a chocolate version of that (and with better texture).  The dense little chocolate “brick” melted perfectly in our mouths, and when paired with the slightly sour raspberry sauce and salty brittle, it became a harmony of opposites to quell the most discerning foodie into submission.  Salty-sweet, crunchy-dense, clean and rich flavors and textures marry to create the perfect little ending to a great meal.

Current Dinner Menu (As of Monday May 16th)

The Design

Kraftwork’s menu is full of items that are constructed from familiar elements presented in an interesting way, and their interior mimics that notion.  One wall features the almost-stereotypical crumbling brick wall, but the plaster damask pattern (designed to look like it was crumbling as well) makes a ubiquitous design feature into a piece of art.  What would normally be extremely uncomfortable backless bar stools are custom-designed (by a sculpture artist) with ergonomic seats and personal foot rests.  Structural I-beams are the support for industrial lamps that look like they come straight from the mind of Dr. Seuss.  And a GIANT saw with laser-cut hops in the blade calls attention to the focus of the place: a central U-shaped Bar made of perforated steel and wood.  This is one time that I wont criticize an industrial interior: Kraftwork’s designer got it just right with elements that make the urban industrial look cool again.

The Overall Experience

Kraftwork more than delivered on all of our expectations. We went in expecting good food, hipster staff and customers, and a decent beer selection and got all of that, but not quite in the way we expected.  The food was the highlight of the night (I thought that the beer would be – Josh) as both the appetizer and the dessert were more than their menu descriptions belied. Although a good portion of the staff and customers were hipsters, there were some normal middle-aged couples  and our bartender looked like she could have worked in just about any kind of place. The beer selection is as good as it looks,  but despite trying out a beer made with rye (which was delicious)  it was Josh’s cocktail that took prize  above all of our beer selections in a restaurant that’s supposedly all about beer.  Everything about the outing was enjoyable and we can equally recommend it for a date, ladies night, or guys night out.

The Receipt

Appetizer, two dinners, 4 drinks, and dessert!  We managed to get all of this for  just under 65 dollars (and we weren’t even trying to be thrifty).  Kraftwork is a really great place to grab a bite (or a beer) on a budget.

Our Ratings

Drinks: 5/5

Food: 5/5

Design: 4/5

Service: 5/5

Budget: 5/5

Overall Experience: 5/5

Will We Visit Again: Yes.  They have an ever-changing specials menu and the beers are also regularly rotated.  Not only was the service, food, and drink selection great, but it was easy to get to and super easy to find parking. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for the most up-to-date food and drink menus!

Visit The Kraftwork Website