My roommate bargained with me when we head to Philadelphia. I planned to get a dozen at Federal donuts (you can’t get the specialty in the afternoon since they sell out like hot ‘donuts’) while he wanted pancakes for breakfast. Since he is the one driving, I gave in to his demands and found a restaurant serving decent brunch, from a food list online . I didn’t not check the reviews on Yelp and hoped that this turns out good. The dandelion uses a well dress gentleman looking lion as its mascot – I get it, a dande-lion. Ahha!
From the outside, the restaurant looked like it is trying to imitate a 40s classy sit down restaurant. They did a good job, because when you step inside, it is indeed pretty classy. The restaurant is rather dark and dingy, lightening up with only a couple of light bulbs and natural light source, but these helps to bring in that nice atmosphere in the dining room. This is obvious because those couple of large windows made the rooms much brighter compare to those dark alleyways. We didn’t reserve a table, but there isn’t a need to on a Saturday morning at 10.30am.
This is one of the main restaurants owned by restaurateur/chef Stephen Starr. He has many other great restaurants around town. This was designed with the British gastropub theme in mind. Had the servers spoke in English accent, I would had thought I’m in York or something. The Dandelion is 3 stories tall and have enough tables to sit hundreds of customers. Instead of a bar, it actually looked like a tiny British town house, comes with fireplace in each room (though it also comes with a bar on every single floor). Even though it is a rather slow morning, there is a full staff standing by, all dressed in long white sleeve shirts and blue jeans. This totally reminds me how Londoners dress. We were brought to the second floor that faces the balcony and was offered flat or seltzer water. I am still in a dazed.
There is a pretty long list of breakfast items on the menu, and I got the brioche French toast with a side of smoked Applewood bacon, and cup of British tea to wash them all down. My roommate ordered the recommended dish from the online list, the brandy soaked pancake – he loves it but complains about the portion. Service is very quick and my tea comes in loose leaf in a teapot that serves 2 cups. A day begins with loose tea beats that with tea bag, always.
My French toast doesn’t look like the normal triangle bread slices. Instead, they look like sponge cake soaked in maple syrup, topped it off with vanilla Crème Chantilly. A Chantilly is basically vanilla and cinnamon flavored whipped cream. The side order of bacon is rather generous too. The French toast is crispy and crunchy on the outside but soft in the inside. The flavor comes from the maple syrup, which gives the sweet flavor for the sponge-like-toast. It is hands down the best French toast I have had for years. The crème is also rich and flavorful – I really like the vanilla bean taste added to the otherwise blend cream. I am not that big of a fan of bacon and rarely had apple smoked meat, but a single bite of this crispy bacon filled my senses with the burnt wood smell. This is how you do bacon – the right way.
I do not have a single complaint about this restaurant. It is definitely not on the cheap side, and there aren’t too much spaces between tables. In other words, this might not be the intimate kind of romantic breakfast you are dreaming about; or that I’m not used to tables are arranged in bigger cities. However, these are minor nitpicks on an amazing breakfast experience in Philadelphia. I enjoyed my breakfast a whole lot. I’m sorry Federal Donuts, but I might just found a new place to waste money on.
Address: 124 S 18th St, Philadelphia PA 19103
Visited: August 2nd, 2014 at 10.30am (Lunch)