Monday, April 13, 2009

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

Of the many options available to soak up the $3 Bud Light drafts at Drinker's Pub, their Buffalo Fries take the blue ribbon (probably because they were the only option sampled). The perfect storm of fried potatoes, Frank's Red Hot, shredded cheddar, and a blue cheese sauce fit for both sipping AND dipping was an excellent pre-Pub & Kitchen appetizer, but I couldn't tell you the reason why, aside from the fact that it gives me a nice segue into my review of the much buzzed about gastropub. What I can tell you is this: from the bar snacks to the mains, two out of three in each category ain't bad.

Bar Snacks:
Winner: Duck liver on toast. As smooth as meat butter gets. A schmear so perfectly schmeared that you didn't lose any with the inevitable toast crumble after the first enthusiastic bite.
Honorable Mention: White anchovies. Cured to perfection, with a wonderful vinegar finish that was an excellent complement to the Riverhorse beer special.
Loser: Potato pancake topped with smoked salmon and creme fraiche. I know it's passover and all, but much like the angel of death (great Slayer song), I would have been just fine passing over this one.

Winner (tie): House made French style gnocchi. Everything about this dish (even the hint of mint) made me want to jump in a vat of it and eat my way out. The preparation was brilliant. The little pasta peeps were pan seared and tossed with olive oil and queso fresco, and every bite was a bittersweet reminder that eventually the bowl would be empty.
Winner (tie): Scallops in a rich sauce that made me wish I was at home so I could lick the plate clean (no joke). It's hard to fuck up a scallop, but I think it's even harder to elevate it past being just a scallop. The latter applies here.
Loser: Mussels. Shame on me for thinking, for whatever reason, that the advertised beer and sausage broth did not contain whole links of sausage.

Winner: Steak with hotel butter, roasted potatoes, and arugula. I normally don't like to order steak outside of a steakhouse, but this turned out to be a great call. Expertly seasoned and cooked, the melt-in-your-mouth texture was only made richer by topping it with hotel butter.
Honorable Mention: Oysters on the half shell. Rhode Island sent a great batch of oysters over to Pub & Kitchen. As mild as the calm just before Saturday's storm.
Loser: Fluke with roasted asparagus and risotto. The mint from the gnocchi showed up again in the risotto, but it didn't work this time. The fluke needed salt, and the asparagus was a sad few limp spears.

An excellent meal from start to finish. The service was of the "your-water-glass-will-never-be-empty" caliber. The soundtrack was current, loud enough to sing along to (if you're cool enough to know the songs), but not too loud so as to drown out the conversation. Mrs. Gastro would definitely approve, and we plan to eat here in the very near future. Buen Provecho.

Pub & Kitchen, if you don't already know (meaning that you should) is located at 1946 Lombard St. in Philadelphia. Budgetwise, I'd wait until you have an out-of-town guest or other similar occasion where you'd like to show off. If you're still into that whole debt thing, they take major credit cards, but not reservations.

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