April 25, 2012

Philly Lately: New Bars/Restaurants Worth Checking Out

Update for 2013: The Boilermaker is now closed. Boooo.

'Tis the season for new bar and restaurant openings around Philadelphia. We are always excited to check out the newest spots and report back, so in this new "Philly Lately" series we'll briefly feature some of our recent destinations.

First up, The Boilermaker. Think a simpler Farmer's Cabinet with more candles. The same owner, Matt Swartz, went around the corner to open another bar featuring an extensive craft beer list and a fancied up version of an old classic, the boilermaker - a beer and a shot of liquor.

Yes, there is the locally famous and economical Pabst + whiskey combo, but The Boilermaker kicks it up a notch with carefully-devised craft beer and liquor pairings, meant to be sipped back and forth to enjoy their complementary features. As a whiskey fan, I would personally recommend the "Pennsylvania," which pairs Victory Braumeister Pils with Shine white whiskeyIt was definitely something different to try and made for a nice, chill evening of slow sipping and good conversation.

BBQ pork, served open-faced for us to sample 
The beer list on its own is impressive, with 28 taps of mostly American craft beers downstairs and 12 taps upstairs reserved for Pennsylvania brews. The upstairs bar also features Cobbler and Sazerac cocktails inspired by 19th century American classics.

We attended a media gathering at The Boilermaker and got to try a lot of their food. We were biggest fans of the mac n' cheese with lemon zest, chicken sandwich, BBQ pork sandwich with fried egg, mashed potatoes, shrimp n' grits and zeppoles (Italian donut-like dessert w/ powdered sugar) served out of a paper bag. I know the bag thing sounds weird, but it was fun and kept them piping hot.  The menu also includes options like a burger that was decent, a two-hot dog with kimchi platter, and roasted lamb shoulder that came a little dry for our liking.

Swartz said his vision for The Boilermaker was to be more approachable than Cabinet, and a place that combined beer and spirits "the right way." The vibe at The Boilermaker is definitely more of a candle-lit, sophisticated night out with friends or a date - not so much the place to go for an all-out booze fest. Between that medieval, Game-of-Thrones-ish atmosphere, quality drink options and kitchen open late night, we'd say Boilermaker is a great addition to Center City.

Zeppoles in a bag

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