Archive for the 'Bar' Category

Good Dog Bar


June 17, 2007
Cuisine: American (traditional), Burgers

224 S 15th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Phone: 215-985-9600


Good Dog Burger – half pound house ground sirloin, stuffed with Roquefort, topped with caramelized onions and served on toasted brioche ($10) 

Ever since Craig LaBan released his article about the best burgers in Philadelphia, I’ve been jonesing to try his top pick—Good Dog Burger. What can I say? I am a sucker for lists. LaBan writes:

The burger that inspired the song “Cheeseburger, I Hold,” Good Dog’s signature sandwich triumphs where so many before have tried and failed – stuffing a burger with blue cheese. The meat itself is deliciously seasoned, perfectly cooked, and wisely topped only with a mop of sautéed onions. But bite into the heart, and behold. A river of molten bleu. A powerhouse of tangy savor. Too rich to be an everyday burger. But can you hear the music playing? Order it no more than medium-rare, or risk losing the cheese.

For my final dinner in the city with two of my favorite girlfriends, Tara and Melina, we headed to Good Dog Bar to try the famed burger. Curious to see if the hype was warranted, we each ordered one; Tara requested hers prepared medium rare, while Melina and I had ours cooked medium. Our burgers were served with a mountain of shoestring sweet potato fries and a side of flavored aioli.

The Good Dog Burger is a damn fine creation and maybe even a little genius. Okay, a lot genius! The meat was well-seasoned, just like LaBan promised, especially around the lightly charred edge of the meat. Tara appreciated this little touch. The Roquefort oozing out of the center of the patty was deeply flavorful, but not too overwhelming. By the way, my perfectly cooked medium patty still retained a good amount of cheese. The caramelized onions and brioche added a tinge of sweetness to the entire burger, which enhanced the Roquefort’s taste. Tara, Melina, and I unanimously agreed that the Good Dog Burger rocked! The sweet potato fries with the aioli were plentiful and fine accompaniment for the burger.


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Standard Tap

March 3, 2007
Cuisine: American (New), Burgers, Bar Food

901 N 2nd St, Philadelphia 19123
At Poplar St

Phone: 215-238-0630

Appetizer I: Octopus ($9)

Appetizer II: Green Salad ($6)

Entree I: Tuna Tartare ($12)

Entree II: Pork Sandwich ($9)

Entree III: Double Standard Burger ($9.75)

Entree IV: Standard Burger ($8.50)

As the gastropub trend gains serious momentum stateside, Philadelphia is leading the way, particularly in the neighborhoods of Northern Liberties and Fishtown, just north of Old City.

Standard Tap in Northern Liberties was the first, and the one by which all others are measured. Nowhere in town are there better bartenders to guide you through the large local beer selection. All of the Mid-Atlantic’s top brews are on tap, including, if you’re lucky, hand-pumped Yards E.S.A. and Victory Hop Devil I.P.A. They pair ideally with menu staples like the huge plate of fried smelts and the pork sandwich on crusty bread, as well as seasonal specialties such as roasted lamb shanks. (901 North Second Street; 215-238-0630;

— By Andrew Knowlton, with additional reporting by Liz Mathews, Janet Taylor McCracken, and Dara Moskowitz, Bon Appétit, March 2006

It’s the biggest restaurant trend of the year — the British pub redefined, American style. The beers are local, the vibe is friendly, and the food is homey yet refined. It’s called the gastropub, and Philly’s Standard Tap is a star example. Take a page from chef Carolynn Angle’s menu and bring home a meal that couldn’t be more perfect for a cozy winter’s night.

— Carolynn Angle, Bon Appétit, January 2006

After reading a lot of press about the Gastropub trend in Philadelphia, I finally made my way to Standard Tap to see if the hype was warranted. The Astronomer and I, along with our friends Ross and Melina, walked a ways to Northern Liberties—a part of the city neither one of us had ever been to. Many of Philly’s hot new restaurants seem to be sprouting up in this part of town.

We sat at a small table for four in the main room where the bar and juke box were located. The noise level was pretty high, but expected seeing as though we were in a bar. The boys got the evening started with some local brews—Ross had the Sly Fox Stout ($4) and The Astronomer had the Sly Fox Red ($4). Both of them seemed satisfied with their choices and since I know nothing about beers, I’ll leave it at that.

For our appetizers, Ross, The Astronomer and I shared the octopus. Melina had a green salad. I’ve eaten a great deal of squid in my life, but this was my first taste of octopus. The octopus was fantastic—the meat was not the least bit rubbery and marinated to perfection. Our waiter informed us that the octopus was boiled first, then marinated, and then grilled. The Astronomer enjoyed the octopus as well, but was a little wigged out eating the creature’s head and tentacles. Ross found the octopus tender and surprisingly steak-like in texture. Melina liked her green salad as much as someone could like a green salad.

For our entrees, The Astronomer and I shared the Double Standard Burger and the pork sandwich. Melina had a regular standard burger, while Ross had the Tuna Tartare.

The size of the patty on the Double Standard burger was approximately 1.5 inches thick so I had difficulty biting the entire sandwich at once. The burger was adorned with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, and provolone cheese. The burger was excellent, but could have used some “special sauce” to tie all the flavors together. The French fries were crisp and delicious. The pulled pork sandwich was good, but not as tasty as traditional barbecued pulled pork. The sandwich came with homemade Ruffles.

Melina liked her burger as well, but preferred the burger fixings at Monk’s. Ross found the tuna very fresh and of high quality. The flavors of the seaweed and tuna were clean and palatable and the sauce, a chipotle mayonnaise, was a nice contrast. His only complaint was that the radish and cucumber did not provide enough crunch for the dish.

Overall, I thought Standard Tap had above-average food, but lacked the little things I love about restaurants—ambiance, menus, formality, etc. As someone who hardly drinks and doesn’t frequent bars, I don’t think I can properly appreciate Standard Tap to the fullest. In the future, I’ll stick to restaurants for good eats and pubs for watching sports.

Irish Pub

October 5, 2006
Cuisine: American (Traditional), Bar Food, Irish

2007 Walnut St, At S 20th St
Philadelphia 19103 At S 20th St

Phone: 215-568-5603

Entree I: Old World Meatloaf Melt – Thick slices of original recipe sirloin served on a Brick Oven Steak Roll with smokehouse bacon, melted FarmHouse Cheddar, and Caramelized Onion Bourginone sauce. Served with our house fries and crisp dill pickle slices.

Entree II: Crab Cake Sandwich – A Maryland style crab cake served on a pub roll served with tartar sauce and Honey Dijon Garden slaw. Served with our house fries and crisp dill pickle slices.

I love bar food. I really do. I think I adore it because my everyday fare lacks hardcore greasy and salty goodness. As I watched the Cardinals bury the poor Padres during game two of the national league division series, I enjoyed the crab cake sandwich. The Astronomer went for my old favorite, the meatloaf melt.

Both sandwiches were super salty, super greasy and thus, super tasty. First up, the crab cake sandwich. I smeared ketchup on my sandwich rather than tartar sauce because I prefer tangy straight up over tangy and creamy. The sandwich was piled high with lettuce, pickles, and a tomato. The “pub roll” was perfectly moist and held the contents well. A regular hamburger bun would not have been able to hold all the fixins nicely. The pub roll came through like a champ. All of the flavors melded together beautifully and I scarfed it down pretty quickly. The fries were thickly cut and decent. I gave most of them to the carb-seeking Astronomer.

The meatloaf melt is a lot like the Double Double from In and Out and maybe even a little better because it comes with BACON! There really isn’t much to say about this gem except that it’s really delicious and hits the spot like few can. Yah, it’s not all that healthy, but who cares? I’m in a pub and red meat rules (and cheese too)!

The “IP” is a three minute walk from my apartment. I’ll be returning the next time the Astronomer wants to watch some cable-only sports and my greasy spot needs its fill.

Monk’s Cafe


September 9, 2006
Cuisine: Burgers, Belgian, Other

264 S 16th St, Philadelphia 19102
Between Latimer St & Spruce St

Phone: 215-545-7005

Appetizer: Monk’s Mussels prepared “Ghent” style – Saison Dupont, fume, parsley, caramelized leeks, bacon, bleu cheese & garlic. Served with frites, bourbon mayonnaise, and bread rolls.

Entree I: Monk’s Burger with Monk Topping – caramelized leeks & blue cheese in between a roll from the Metropolitan Bakery.

Entree II: Steak Frites Salad – sirloin steak (grilled to order) over baby greens served with fresh cut frites.

After so much superb eating this week, I was a bit disappointed by dinner at Monk’s Cafe. The food was good, but not great which is somewhat understandable given that Monk’s is better known for their 200+ beers on tap. However, prior to my visit I had heard many positive things about their food, especially the mussels. I found the mussels to be very average. The Ghent preparations did not penetrate the mussels so they just ended up tasting like mussels, which isn’t terrible but did not meet my expectations. The bread that accompanied the mussels were not ideal for dipping. Crostini is definitely a better mussel complement due to the crunch factor. The frites were tasty, as was the bourbon mayo dipping sauce, even though I usually steer clear of mayo.

The Astronomer ordered the Monk Topped burger that I thought was pretty decent. The fixins (cheese and leeks) were fantastic, but the burger itself seemed a bit dry. I like my burgers juicy like the Kobe Beef Sliders from Barclay Prime. Additionally, the hamburger patty was smaller than the bun which is a big no no. The actual bun was alright, but could’ve been softer.

For my entree I ordered the Steak Frites Salad. The steak was prepared rare (just the way I like it) and the greens and dressing were fine. The salad was exactly what I expected; nothing more, nothing less.

Since I’m not a beer connoisseur and found the food just average, Monk’s Cafe will most likely be a one time deal.