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Category Archives: philly beer week

Story of a Burger

Despite Pennsylvania’s archaic liquor laws (which up until recently required you to buy an entire case of beer from a distributor or buy individual bottles and 6 packs at a significant markup from a completely different store or a bar), there are breweries abound all over of the state – many of them right here within the Philadelphia area. The demand for great beer is so high here that we even have our own annual event celebrating it – Philly Beer Week – which kicks off one month from now. And what goes better with beer than a great burger? This week I stopped into 2nd Story Brewing in Old City (which recently opened in the old Triumph Brewing space) to check out their namesake burger, which comes topped with arugula, cheddar and tomato jam on a Le Bus bun.

The burger was cooked perfectly to medium as requested and was nice and juicy, but not so much so that it would sog up the bottom bun. The bitterness of the arugula was countered by the sweetness of the tomato jam, which was smeared on the bottom bun. It kind of snuck up on me at the end – in a good way! A nice treat for the last few bites. As for their beers,  I tried the Five Mile Ale, a dark, English mild-style beer that had notes of chocolate and toffee, but was light enough to not leave me feeling full the way a porter or stout might. They’ve also got another burger on the menu topped with battered/fried onion & jalapeno, Fritzie’s fondue, and a Tilted Barn farm-fresh egg. I can’t wait to get back to check it out along with a few more brews!

Burger rating: “B”

The Splatty Awards!

Welcome all to our 100th post! In honor of this milestone, I bring you a little something I like to call “The Splatty Awards!”: recapping the best things I have been eating, drinking & doing for the past year or so.

Best food item that comes in a jar: Tomato Conserva at In Riva 

Briefly removed from their winter menu for a few weeks in December (in which I cried into my pillow every night), the Tomato Conserva is back in action!

This sweet bruschetta will have you licking the jar clean & begging for more!

Best New York City to Philly transplant (other then myself): Shake Shack

Danny Meyer’s fast-casual burger joint quickly gained a fandom on Sansom Street in the summer of 2012, and expanded this year with outposts in University City & King of Prussia.

The Smoke Shack was initially conceived for the Philadelphia location, but has expanded to all Shacks globally.

Best food I used to be terrified of but now can’t stop eating: Oysters

Yeah, they’re slimy and salty and weird and jiggly, but they’re also delicious!

I’ve been making it my mission to hit every buck a shuck & half price oyster night in town.

Best pop-up: Lucky Old Souls’ Patty Melt Pop-up at Kennett

 When the LOS truck’s engine went kaput this fall, the team at Kennett lent them a hand – and their kitchen – for the evening to raise money for a new one.

And maybe I’m a little bit biased because it was my suggestion to turn out patty melts; a once in a blue moon burger special they were serving up on East Passyunk last spring.

Best Beer Drinking Event: Philly Beer Week Opening Tap

I’ve been partaking in Opening Tap for the past two years now, and seriously, if you’re not making this a priority during PBW, you’re missing out.

Opening Tap showcases the best and brightest of the local Philadelphia beer scene under one roof (the Independence Visitors Center, to be exact). But remember, it’s a marathon – not a sprint!

Best Beer Drinking Event Involving Animals: Summer Ale Fest at the Philadelphia Zoo

Great Beer + Local Food + Adorable Animals = One of the most awesome times you will ever have. Don’t forget to take a selfie of yourself “drinking a beer” with a tiger!

Most of the animals are actually awake compared to a day trip, and zoo docents are on hand to provide detailed information on your favorite critters.

Best Happy Hour (tie): Sampan and Alla Spina

Sampan gets the advantage as they have happy hour 7 days a week from 4-7 PM, but Alla Spina offers some great bar bites and their Victory Brewing beer collab, Novello, for only $3!

Don’t miss Sampan’s edamame dumplings or the pretzel bites with beer cheese at Alla Spina (they come in an adorable wooden piggy)!

Best Brunch: Jerry’s Bar

The Brunch crowd mourned the loss of Cafe Estelle for many months, but Marshall Green’s famous & delicious sticky buns have finally found a new home in Northern Liberties.

I hated Bloody Marys until I tried the one at Jerry’s and now I’m hooked. Seriously – best Bloody Mary ever!

Best Restaurant: Spot Burger

But isn’t Spot Burger a food truck?”, you’re probably asking yourself. Well, who says a restaurant needs to be defined by four brick walls?

 SpOt Owner/Grillmaster Josh Kim is the hardest working man in these streets right now, and he proves it on a weekly basis with his innovative specials (like a $10 Lobster Roll this summer), as well as his philanthropic efforts. He supports dozens of college organizations and local charities, frequently running specials and donating portions of his proceeds to these causes. He’s been a champion for food truck rights in Philadelphia, residing on the board of the Philly Mobile Food Association, and turned the corner of 33rd and Arch St into the “Food Truck Mecca”. So next time you see his yellow cart around, grab some grub; you won’t be disappointed! Spot serves up one of the best burgers in town.

And that concludes our awards ceremony! I hope you’ll at least check out some of the places and foods I love, in addition to the delicious burgers I recap for you guys each week. Got any great places and foods you think I should try? Post em up in the comments section and maybe they’ll wind up on my “best of” list next year!

With Love…

Now that I’ve officially recovered from Philly Beer Week ’12, I can share about my visits to the With Love Beer Garden at the Four Seasons hotel. Hidden in a picture-esque nook behind the main entrance lies the lush green courtyard that was transformed into a week-long after-work drinking paradise. With drafts and bottles provided by local breweries, live music nightly, and food catered by the wonder chefs at the Four Seasons, it was delight for all the senses. 

The first night I went was Wednesday night (6/6) of the week-long happening, which had local breweries Round Guys, Evil Genius and Prism. I tried the Evil Genius Hunchback, their summer seasonal Hefeweizen, and Round Guys “Himbeer”: Their Berliner Weiss mixed with Raspberry syrup. (I had it at PBW Opening Tap and quickly made friends with guys who were fascinated that I had a pink beer.)

Prism’s “Bitto Honey IPA” – I’m not usually an IPA person, but this was pretty good!

I also tried the Beer Garden Burger, which was topped with Meadow Farm cheddar, grilled applewood bacon, a dill pickle and special sauce. It was grilled to perfection – nice, pink center  and juicy, packing quite a punch for such a small slider. I wanted to savor it as much as I could, and even though it was small, it was still pretty filling. 

I’m kind of disappointed because I tried it again when I came back on Friday and it was slightly overcooked – probably because there were a lot more people there on Friday and so therefore, higher demand.

I wasn’t even going to come back again, but uwishunu was giving out the rest of their Boot mugs, which had only been available on Monday’s opening night, so obviously I had to get one! Braving Friday rush hour traffic on a SEPTA bus, I made it just in time to score one of these bad boys. DAS BOOT!

BYOB – Bring Your Own Boot!

Beverages that night were provided by Dock Street Brewery, who was doing a collaboration with the Four Seasons hotel and offering a Cherry Verbena summer saison. Very crisp, very sweet, very summer! Victory bottled beers were also available and demand was so high that they ran out! The staff had to go scrounge around for more, and a line of servers with cases of Summer Love, Hop Devil, and Whirlwind Witbier hoisted high above their heads saved the day as they made their way through the garden to the cheers of the thirsty masses. 

I thought the With Love Beer Garden was a great set up, great space, great overall atmosphere  – serene and quiet, beats the typical after-work bar scene – and I hope that in the future they decide to start making this a regular event. Even if it’s maybe only every Friday or once a month, I would definitely come hang out here again. 

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