>> 5/23/11

138 South Second Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 413-1443

I arrived by train at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station to meet the fam for a little trip through the City of Brotherly Love. See, Bro has moved there and, couple that with some existing vacation time, we all decided to converge there and spend a long weekend wandering (side note: Bro threatens to create his own Philly food blog, link to follow should it ever happen). After a wee bit of debate, the decision was to try out City Tavern, a restaurant in the Old City neighborhood that specializes in colonial-era cooking and which traces its roots to the days when it fed the Founding Fathers.

In a very real sense, City Tavern is a theme restaurant. Just the way that Jekyll & Hyde is like eating in a haunted house, and Rainforest Cafe is like eating in a jungle, and Planet Hollywood is like eating in the cafeteria of a Madame Tussaud's, City Tavern is like eating in 1785. The staff dress in colonial-style clothing, the water goblets are faux-pewter, tall candles decorate the table, it's dark because there isn't any lighting, the food and even the beer is largely based on recipes from the colonial-era, and there isn't any music. Someone was playing a piano at one point, but not for very long. This lends an eerie silence to the place, as everyone tries to talk in a whisper to prevent other patrons from listening in.

The City Tavern waiting room.

If there is one thing that colonial food was, it's simple. These were not elegant dishes, not fancy dishes, and there was hardly even the attempt to make them such. I think this was my biggest problem with City Tavern. Given the cost (expensive), I expected more. Maybe colonial food is just boring in general and to make it "better" would delete its colonial character. But personally, I need way more than kitch to be willing to shell out this much cash again.

The second floor dining room.
For an appetizer, Dudeman ordered the Crab Cakes "Chesapeake Style" with an herbed remoulade dipping sauce. These were very good. Creamy, loaded with crab instead of bread. Easily, it was the best thing of anything we ordered on the menu this evening. Unfortunately, that means that everything else wasn't as impressive. And so it was with the Mallard Duck Sausage, a duck and pork sausage over sweet and sour cabbage. While Bro liked it, finding that the sausage was well spiced and flavorful, I found it pretty bland and in dire need of the cabbage. My appetizer was the Giant Cornmeal Fried Oysters, and they were indeed giant. They were decent, deep fried and, coated with some tartar sauce, not bad. But nothing better than I could have gotten at any one of a dozen pubs for less money. Shrink ordered the Mushroom Barley Soup and, when I asked what she thought, she replied "it's salty mushroom barley soup".

Bro ordered the Roasted Duckling in a clover honey glaze with chutney, herbed barley, zucchini and asparagus, again, he won out with best entree. The glaze, while a little thick, worked well with the duck, which wasn't fatty in the least. The steamed vegetables were fine and clearly barley was the go-to side of the time. Dudeman went with the Medallions of Venison in a rosemary bourbon sauce with herbed barley, leek and vegetables. He found it gamey and that's not surprising for venison. As we passed the dish around, everyone just sort of nodded their assent. A venison stew. No more, no less. My dinner was the Tenderloin Tips & Mushrooms, beef cubes over egg noodles in a mushroom cream sauce. If you have ever had beef Stroganoff, then you've had this. All that they changed was the name. Don't get me wrong, I like beef Stroganoff. But by the third bite I was literally bored. Shrink's Braised Rabbit in a mushroom vegetable red wine sauce, also over egg noodles was too heavy on the wine sauce, so you could barely taste the rabbit.

My dessert was a Chocolate Mousse Cake based on a recipe by Martha Washington. It was very smooth, very creamy. Not bad. But it wasn't as good as the Apple Cobbler that Bro ordered (again, besting me), though it came with a cinnamon ice cream that I didn't much care for. Mostly this was because the cobbler was already cinnamony and it made the spice too prominent.

I feel like City Tavern is the kind of place that a tourist to Philadelphia might go to after having visited the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and so forth. It can wrap up the whole colonial experience before moving on to the more modern things that the city has to offer. But I can't envision going here again personally, and I don't see City Tavern a restaurant that would be appealing to anyone who isn't here as a tourist.

Four appetizers, four entrees, four coffees, two desserts and some drinks came to $ after tax and tip.

[ © Copyright eateryROW 2011 ]
City Tavern on Urbanspoon


Caroline - Philly Tourism May 24, 2011 at 10:24 AM  

Hi Jon! Caroline from Philly Tourism here. It was fun to read about your experiences at City Tavern. You're right... it's definitely part of the Historic Philadelphia experience. Hope you can come back and try out some other dining experiences soon.

Jon Parker May 24, 2011 at 1:27 PM  

Hi Caroline. I'm sure I will return. But, fear not, I have two more Philadelphia restaurants under my belt to post from the trip! (better ones)

Post a Comment

Copyright Notice

The contents of this website/weblog are the property of its author and are protected under the copyright and intellectual property laws of the United States of America. The views expressed within are the opinions of the author. All rights reserved.

Readers are free to copy and distribute the material contained within, but such external use of the author's original material must be properly attributed to the author. Attribution may be through a link to the author's original work. Derivative use is prohibited. The borrower may not alter, transform, or build upon the work borrowed.

The author is free to change the terms of this copyright at any time and without notice. At the written request by the borrower, the author may choose to waive these rights.



$ $$ $$$ $$$$ $$$$$ 24 Hours Alphabet City American Asian Fusion Astoria Atlas Park Australian Austrian Bagels Bakery Barbecue Bar Scene Battery Park City Baychester Bayside Beer Garden/Hall Belgian Belly Dancing Beyond NY Bhutanese Bistro Boerum Hill Bolivian Brewery British Bronx Brooklyn Brooklyn Heights Brunch Burgers BYOB Cafe Cajun/Creole Carroll Gardens Cash Only Celebrity Chef Chain Chelsea Chinatown Chinese CLOSED Cobble Hill Cocktails Coffee College Point Comfort Food Czech Deli Dessert Dim Sum Diner Ditmas Park Downtown Dumbo East 40s East 50s Eastern European East Village Elmhurst Events Filipino Financial District Flatiron Flushing Fondue Food Court Forest Hills Fort Greene Fort Tryon Park French Gastropub German Glendale Gramercy Grand Central Terminal Greek Greenpoint Greenwich Village Harlem Hell's Kitchen Hoboken Hookah Bar HOT DOGS Howard Beach Indian Irish Pub Italian It begins... Jackson Heights Japanese Jersey City Korean Koreatown Kosher Latin Lenox Hill Lincoln Center LISTINGS Little Italy Long Island City Lounge Lower East Side Lunch Manhattan Meatpacking District Mediterranean Mexican Michelin Starred Middle Eastern Middle Village Midtown Moroccan Murray Hill Nepali New Zealand NoHo Nolita Noodles Norweigian NY Area NYC Institution Organic Other Outdoor Seating Park Slope Peruvian Pizza Polish Queens Ramen Raw Bar Red Hook Rego Park Rockaways Rooftop Russian Seafood Small Plates SoHo South African Southern South Street Seaport Spanish Sri Lankan Staten Island Steakhouse Sunnyside Sunset Park Swedish Tapas Tea Thai Trendy TriBeCa Truck Ukrainian Union Square UPDATED Upper East Side Upper West Side Uzbek Vegetarian Venezuelan Vietnamese Views Vineyard Washington Heights West 30s West 40s West 50s West Village Williamsburg Wine Bar Winery Woodside Yemeni

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009. Sponsored by: Website Templates | Premium Themes. Distributed by: blog template

Back to TOP