Monday, July 18, 2011

Revolution House: off to a nice start

Got an invite to a press opening at Revolution House (I know, Facebook link, but the website they did have up appears to have been temporary...) last week, and I gotta say: it is probably the reason I failed to lose any weight on my Weight Watchers' weigh-in on Friday, despite 70+ miles of hard biking last week. My God, the food! Lemme tell you how it happened.

I invited my buddy Rich Pawlak to go along with me, because he doesn't get out much, because he's good company, because he knows everyone in the Philly food/PR community...but mostly because the invite mentioned a pizza oven, and he's berserk for good pizza. We were going to meet there around 5:30, 6:00, so I headed down to Philly about 4:30. No way I was going to park in Old City, so I stuffed the bike in the Jetta, parked on the block of N. 2nd between 700 and Standard Tap, helmeted up and rode down to 2nd and Market; mostly downhill, so I wasn't really sweating much in the heat.

Turned out I was early, so, well, haven't been to the re-done Khyber Pass yet: stopped in and got lucky. They still had some Deschutes Black Butte Porter on tap, and I killed a glass of that toot sweet. The Khyber is cleaner (especially the floor), and has gone for food in a big way, but the bar? Still great beer, still a bit scruffy, still laid-back sassy.

Sorry the bartender stepped out of frame: she was quite cute!
Back up the street, past the State Store (which of all the ones in PA, looks most like a corner liquor store; they must hate it in Harrisburg...), and into Revolution House. That's the first thing I saw, to the right (okay, the first thing I saw was the pizza oven; more on that later, and to be honest, the first thing I paid attention to...was the bar), and that's an antique back bar out of western saloon; they bought this one and the one upstairs out of Oklahoma. Very nice, and the original mirrors. Beer selection, as you might be able to make out, was nice: a good portion of locals -- Victory, Yards, Tröegs -- plus away beers like Great Lakes Dortmunder, Allagash White, Hennepin: clearly a summertime lineup, and quite welcome. I started with a Philly Pale, and took a look around.

It was hard to believe that this was the old Snow White Diner, but it was. Wow, what you can do with money, hey? This is the work of Panorama's Luca Sena (Snow White owner John Poulos is in with him, and was there, looking quite calm) and designer/photographer Dominic Episcopo. Notable bits were the see-through steel staircase up to the second floor, the antique bottles over the second floor bar (see below), the massive chandelier over the stairs, and the outdoor deck.

The antique bottle lighting 2nd floor bar: brilliant.
But enough about the design: how about that food? As I said: pizza oven. Why you'd have a pizza oven in a place in Philly called Revolution House beats me, but damn, it was cranking. Rich started quizzing the chef about it: the oven came from Naples, and a Neapolitan pizza expert worked with them for two months, making pizza pizza pizza (Episcopo confirmed this to me, "Yeah, we ate a lot of pizzas!") until they got it. Sena said he was concerned that people "wouldn't get" the Neapolitan-style crust, which is not crisp, but more elastic, flavorful, chewy; if they don't get it, screw 'em, it was awesome. We had slices of margherita, and a proscuitto and arugula one (with bits of fresh fig) that was excellent.

That wasn't what broke me, though, it was the parade of goodies. Great grilled vegetables, cheese/sausage-stuffed cippolinis, piles of fried onion straws, cheeses, soppressatta, sliders on golden rolls with what looked like free range fried eggs on top, and more, more, more: I swear, few things were repeated, they just kept bringing out new stuff. You know, even if you just have a little! It's still a lot!

So we repaired to the deck -- nice, above the traffic -- and sipped beers, surrounded by the hoi polloi (as I tweeted, though, at an Old City VIP opening, you get mostly hoi, not so much of the polloi). And, finally, it was time to go...and Rich says, "Have you been to the Blind Pig yet?" I knew he wasn't talking about the famed bar in NYC, he and I have been there together, so I asked. New place in Northern Liberties, he said, and explained where it was...hell, I was parked right in front of it! So I saddled up and rode north, and sure enough, there it was. Well. Had to have one...since this was apparently my night for new gastropubs.

Blind Pig was nice: sidewalk dining, good beer selection, food smelled excellent, service was quite correct. I had an O'Reilly's Stout and relaxed. Or tried to, as three obnoxious women at the end of the bar just totally harshed my mellow. Lord, each trying to outdo the other with how much their cars cost and how 'the best' they were, and the new places they'd been, and how bad the service was there, and how much they were going to spend on vacation -- not where they were going to vacation, but how much it would cost! -- and it was to make you ill. I wanted to take a flash picture of them and tell them how much I was going to blog about them, but...piff. Anyway, I'd like to say they drove me out, but actually, I was done. Nice place, but go when it's a bit more busy! That stretch of 2nd is getting crazy cool, and to think it used to be a place I was nervous about parking the car.

Again: the beer scene in Philly is expanding into the mainstream. Good beer at all these places, and people expect it. Keep it up, folks: it's working!

1 comment:

HolzBrew said...

Sounds like a pretty nice way to start your week. How's the weather up there in Philly?