For a long time, I would go to the Shake Shack near Rittenhouse Square in downtown Philadelphia to get my burger fix. I hadn’t need to do that recently because of the opening of Shack Shack in Delaware, but as a result of previous encounters, I’m somewhat familiar with Rittenhouse Square. So it came to me as a total surprise when I learn that there is a really good burger right across that Shake Shack. I passed by this unambiguous gastropub restaurant many times, and never had I took a second look at it. I have to redeem myself.
We came on Easter Sunday, which came with the assumption that the tiny restaurant would be crowded by everyone celebrating the something of Jesus with brunch food. Nope, the two of us represent 50% of all the customers, and 25% of all the people in the restaurant. There is a very long bar, and opposite was filled with round booth tables with cushy seats. There were nobody to greet us when we came in, so we opted for the bar seats. The décor is definitely inspired by the 1920s speakeasy establishments – black and white square tiles lined the floor. The shelves were stock full of whiskey and its relatives, a raison d’etre.
The bartender greeted us eagerly as we took our seats. We were given a very long list of whiskey, and another menu with more drinks on it. I looked at Eric and whispered to myself, this is heaven. Single malt scotch are very expensive, and this place was no different. I opted for the cheaper 12 year Glenmorangie because I have never heard of it. It tasted great, smooth and gentle in the beginning and strong at the end. Eric official description – “it is like getting hit by a very old bookshelf”.
The star of the meal was the burger, the village burger; though, the duck fat fries topped with short rib and cheddar might just be as good. The burger comes on a very soft sesame roll with a slice of tomato, Boston Bibb lettuce and house made Thousand Island – i.e. In-n-out style. I almost got the truffled mushroom topping because it sounded very good, but I was afraid it might dominate the flavor of the burger, and got it with cheddar cheese instead. That was a good move, because the burger was amazing and didn’t really require any add-ons. I have eaten thousands of burgers, and rarely do I taste the patty itself. The thick patty was tasty – I want to say that’s what umami is, but I’m not sure. Very flavorful, definitely delicious. My first rule of burger is to never put tomatoes in it, but I absolutely did not taste the tomato in this burger, which begets the question, why put it in in the first place? I also didn’t taste the thousand island, but that didn’t matter. The meat and cheese dominated all the flavor, and that’s all that mattered. Meat to bun ratio was superb.
The burger isn’t huge, and did not come with a side. I noticed that when I ordered and got a side of the duck fat fries with brisket and cheedar. This was a large portion of fries, and plenty to share between Eric and I. Fries were cut thick, and the duck fat gave them a lot of substance and flavor. The brisket and cheddar gave the fries even more flavor, and the combination was amazing. Had the burger not stand up to the taste taste, the fries would have stolen the show. I think they are both equally good. This place is too amazing; there is nothing I could ask more with whiskey, burger and fries. I will have to come back more often in the future, and I’m very worried about my wallet and my waist line.
Visited: April 16th, 2017. Sunday for lunch.
Address: 118 S 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103