Brick American Eatery (Brunch)

We had the distinct pleasure of trying Brick a few months ago on a whim.  It was a really good whim.  This cute little family-owned joint is in a great part of South Philly, where parking is easy and the folks are pretty friendly, too.

The Drinks

This place has bottomless bloody marys at brunch.  That’s why I chose it, and it was a darned good decision.  The Marys just kept coming (especially because we sat at the bar) and they we tasty. Holly was the only one drinking since I had a caffeine headache so I kept to the coffee which was serviceable, though nothing to write home about.

The Food

Holly: South Philly Skillet

This was the perfect hearty breakfast.  It was full of savory sausage, grilled veggies, and cheese and it all mixed very well.  it tasted like something I would make at home, which usually isn’t appealing to me when i am paying for it in a restaurant, but Brick feels like a place where home-style cooking is exactly what should be served.

Josh: Country Omelet

I couldn’t make up my mind and wussed out on getting the stuffed french toast w/baileys and the chocolate waffles because I was afraid they’d be too sweet so I got this omelet which was good sized and as a bonus came with toast (multi-grain) and little side cup of mixed fruits.

Current Brunch Menu

The Design

Absolutely nothing to praise, but nothing to criticize either really. An approachable place with lots of brick walls (as one might expect).

The Service

They seemed to be fairly busy in the small dining room so instead of waiting half an hour we sat at the bar that had only 2 people at it instantly. The bartender had good service and we got to hear some interesting stories as she talked with her coworkers.

The Receipt

Very affordable. These weren’t the best Bloody Marys ever, but they were bottomless and our food was reasonably priced for the quality and amount we got.

Our Ratings

Drinks: Bottomless Bloody Marys will always get a 5/5

Food: 4/5

Design: 3/5

Service: 4/5

Budget: 4/5

Overall Experience: 4/5

Will We Visit Again?

Maybe.  It was a really cute place.  It will probably be a good place to check out for dinner with friends sometime.

Restaurant Website

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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

Supper

This evening’s adventure was strife with indecision.  We started out wanting to try the new spot by the owners of Franklin Mortgage and Supper, but Lemon Hill had just opened and was predictably packed.  Then we tried Osteria, but we can never get a table there because we don’t plan ahead.

The next logical step was to try Supper, since they were the partner in the Lemon Hill enterprise.  Supper is located on arguably the only “classy” block of South st, just across from the Whole Foods. It shares its block with places like Percy St. BBQ and Brauhaus Schmidt (both to be reviewed here in the future).

The Drinks

Supper makes all the snacks that Franklin Mortagage and Investment Co. serves, and in fair trade Supper’s cocktail menu is designed by the expert staff from the Franklin Mortgage. It was a short list, but all six cocktails featured read as good and interesting combinations.

Ride the Lightning: (Plymouth gin, lime juice, simple syrup and créme yvette)

As always these days, I went immediately for the Gin cocktail (I also couldn’t resist the name, as Joshua used to always do some stupid pose and yell “Ride the Lighting” as if he were some kind of super hero). Ride the Lightning is basically a gin daiquiri by flavor with the added kick from the violet flavored crème yvette (which also makes this a completely girly pink drink). It was a simple yet totally delicious drink.  So delicious, that I had two.

Ace of Spades:(Laird’s BIB, punt e mes, averno amaro, rothman & garnished with a winter orchard cherry)

This was basically a fancy manhattan, made by subbing out the whiskey for Laird’s Bottled in Bond Apple brandy.  It was very drinkable and not too sweet. I found it a good combination to the rich food I had for dinner.  Would have had 2 or another drink but I was DD that night.

Cocktail Menu

The Food

Appetizer: Smoked Chicken Wings

These were really, really awesome and interesting. The skin with the rub was perfectly crunchy. The rub itself? Blown away by the root beer flavor they’d managed to get onto the chicken wings.  ROOT BEER FLAVORED CHICKEN WINGS, PEOPLE.  Why is there not a line out the door for these things?

Holly: Duck and Waffles:

I have had duck at another restaurant before and I wasn’t happy with the gamey-ness, but how could I pass up this classy play on chicken and waffles?  And boy am I glad I was brave and ordered this.  Remember my reaction to the pork chop at R2L? This was that to the tenth power.  The duck was juicy and sweet (and the gamey flavor was properly balanced with other flavors).  The sage and pecan waffle was savory and sweet, and it perfectly counterpoised the juicy meat of the duck leg.  The whole thing was finished with maple jus (which makes the Vermonter in me very happy).  I am always a fan of breakfast for dinner, and this was probably the classiest breakfast I’ve ever had.

Josh:  Supper Burger

There were far more interesting opportunities on the menu (like Holly’s duck and waffles), but I wasn’t feeling any of them and decided to be boring and go with their burger. Well, this burger might as well as have been called Super Burger. This thing was huge and cooked perfectly to my specifications (medium rare), topped with a really good cheddar, and it also featured overnight tomatoes and some pork charcuterie that was basically charcuterie bacon. All of this was on a nice potato roll. The differences in texture between everything was just awesome. It came with some fries that were good, but nothing special and a little on the salty side (luckily it also came with some nice mustard to dip into).

Dinner Menu

The Design

Supper cannot be described as anything other than a pretty restaurant.  The features are all beautifully proportioned: from the patina’d metal on the façade, to the oversized drum shades on the hanging lights, to the soft palette of coral, cream, and wood tones.  Although many of the industrial elements of the space are untouched, they are counterpointed by natural looking wood structure, floral fabrics, and soft lighting.  I’m not a huge fan of open kitchens, but this one isn’t ostentatious or showy. When you walk into Supper, you get an idea from the interior that you are going to have a quiet, classy, and enjoyable evening.  Any interior that can perfectly convey the experience of a restaurant is a successful one, in my opinion.  My only complaint is that the double build-up on granite on the bar was poorly detailed, and I’m sure the result was not what the designer intended (this nit-pick brought to you by a designer who works in the stone industry).  Overall, I felt comfortable in Supper, which is exactly how a luxury restaurant should feel.

The Service

The service at Supper is top-notch and starts from the moment you enter the door and are greeted by the hostess. Our waiter was pretty much the definition of professional. Not pushy, very prompt and nice he expertly served us. We all got a personal greeting from the chef as well which was appreciated as well.

The Receipt

Supper is not inexpensive, but with expertly prepare food, cocktails, service, and interiors, I would not expect a cheap meal (nor would I want one).  We probably spent close to $150 for the two of us, and in a classy establishment like Supper, that is to be expected and welcomed.

Our Ratings

Drinks: 4/5

Food: 5/5

Design: 5/5

Service: 5/5

Budget: 3/5

Overall Experience: 5/5

Will We Visit Again:

Most probably. It’s definitely not a place to go to every week, but the atmosphere and food begs a second glance.  Many of their items come directly from a farm that is operated by the restaurateur, so the food changes with the seasons. I would be intrigued to see what kind of menu changes come with the seasons.

Restaurant Website

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).


International Smokeless BBQ

International Smokeless BBQ

This place is a true cultural experience, deep in the heart of an Asian community in South Philly.  It may not be as easily accessed (travel or cuisine-wise) as China-Town, but it will provide a unique and valuable food-culture experience. It may be hidden away in a strip mall, but it should definitely be sought out by any adventurous foodie.

The Food

International Smokeless BBQ is an all-you-can-eat “Korean” buffet. Now, this definitely is NOT your typical suburban “Chinese” food American gorge-a-thon like we’re used to.  At a Korean-style buffet, the food is brought to you in copious amounts on a large tray, and from there you will choose what bits look best to you.  International Smokeless BBQ takes it a step further as it is a “BBQ” which means that each table is fitted with a gas “grill” in the center, and you cook your own food. If you are a white-y, you are pretty much expected to just order the dinner special, which will offer plenty of tasty items to enjoy. The tray comes to your table with a variety of veggies and marinated beef, poultry, pork, and seafood; along with some already-cooked appetizers like fish balls on a bamboo stick (like a Korean corn-dog) and super crispy fried spring rolls.  Just lube up the grill pan with the provided 1/4 stick of butter and have at it. My personal favorite from the offerings was the calamari, but the beef was also tender and very well marinated. And when you run out, you can get more–it IS a buffet, of course.

Cooking your own Food

Food Cooking at International Smokeless BBQ

The Design

The one thing about this place that was reminiscent of our favorite Chinese food buffets from the suburbs was the decor.  I swear every Asian restaurant buys their chairs from the same catalog, and the faux brush-stroke paintings were in place as well. The ceiling is what set the place apart: It was painted to look like a clouded sky, and in the center a soffit shaped like a heart enclosed another soffit with a cloud-like profile, which then opened to reveal a night sky complete with LED stars. Cheesy? Yes–but absolutely perfect.

The Overall Experience

The best part about this place is how perfect it is for a group outing.  A pile of food is just brought to you on a tray, and you can sit around cooking and eating–which is actually really fun.  There is no pressure, no decisions to make, and everyone is bound to find something they will like.

The Receipt:

The price is 18.99 per person.  For unlimited protein as well as some tasty side dishes and the interesting experience, I would say it’s worth it.

Our Ratings

Drinks: N/A (we were just brought water and were not offered anything else, although there was a “bar” in one corner of the place)

Food: 4/5

Design: 2/5

Service: 2/5

Budget: 5/5

Overall Experience: 3/5  (but it gets lots of points for being unique)

Will We Visit Again: Maybe.  It’s hard to not fall in love with the unique-ness of this place, but we probably won’t venture back unless it is to show it to our friends.