Wednesday August 29
There's no better way to spend your hump day than at happy hour, and in June, July, and August, Philadelphia brings the city together through the City Sips program. Many popular restaurants and bars offer $5 cocktails, $4 wine, $3 beers, and half-price appetizers on Wednesdays from 5 to 7.
I visited The Farmer's Cabinet. There’s not much you could dislike, with its speak-easy feel, charming soft lighting, and clusters of barrels for bar tables. The bartenders are knowledgeable and the drinks are crafty; if you sit by the bar, you notice they chop their own ice and use their own bitters. They also brag that they have the most diverse collection of European craft beers in Philadelphia.
The food’s pretty good too. Take your seat at the large farm table in the back of the restaurant and start with a cheese tasting plate, a house cured meat tasting place, and a pickled tasting plate (if you’re into more than just pickled cucumbers). For your entrée, the pork chop with pickled blue-berries and the grass fed strip steak with charred spring onions are good portions with great taste. And the dessert menu changes weekly but if they offer a choice with “spicy pepper and chocolate foam” – say yes! Definitely stop by when it’s a nice evening; they have large terrace doors facing Walnut Street and you’ll have nice people watching and a nice breeze. Best time to share dinner is on a late working night after 9:00 pm when you can dine to old school sounds of hot jazz, popularized during the turn of the century, and day dream about less stressful days…
For dinner, we slowly stumbled over to Barbuzzo which is a very popular Mediterranean kitchen and bar. When the restaurant first opened, it was so popular that you had to wait weeks to get a reservation, and it's pretty small and intimate place (don't be surprised when you brush elbows with the table next to you). Brought to you by Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney who more or less completely turned around a desolate city area with their delicious groceries and restaurants, the food is meant to share and it's outstanding. I ordered the red sangria (of course) and the pig popcorn which has a delicious flavor combination of apple cider, chile, mustard, and horseradish. Always check out their specials - we ordered the squash blossoms which were lightly fried to perfection - and definitely get a pizza to share (you can't go wrong with the Margherita). For pasta, they offer varieties like squid ink tonnarelli, pan seared gnocchi, and beat ravioli, and my favorite entrées are the grilled bronzino, caciocavallo stuffed meatballs with shortrib and pork, and the mussels with peppers and onions.
One should note that although the food is delicious anytime in the evening, the pizzas, pastas, veggie boards, and barbuzzo burger are all $10 after 10 pm (and the sangria is $4)... Excellent option if happy hour takes you into the evening hours and your stomach rumbles after all those cocktails!
I could have stopped there but given this was my last night out with some dear coworkers who have been through the ringer with me, we stopped by McGillin's. Wednesday is the best night at McGillin's because it's kareoke night in the confines of the oldest and best Irish pub in Philadelphia. You have to veer through an alley or two to get there, but you can't miss it - it looks almost like a gingerbread house in the middle of a garbage alley. It's crowded and messy, but a staple. Enjoy!