You guys, I totally cheated on New York this weekend with a quick trip to Philadelphia and I have to admit something kind of awkward - I am crushing big time.
When Gillain suggested a girls trip a couple of months ago I was hesitant.
For all of my hither and thither, and as much as I seem as though I have a well balanced (and sometimes imbalanced?) social life for the mother of a toddler, Rob and I have actually only spent two evenings away from Nico since he was born over two years ago: One approximately 24 hour period for our anniversary when we drove up to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and one 8 hour period when he spent the night with my mother while we stayed in a house a minute or two away by car.
Being away from your kids, it seems to me, well - the longer you go without doing it the more impossible it seems. Furthermore, I felt bad that my first several-day trip away would be with my best friend, instead of my husband, but hey: Gillain and I have been dating since 1991 so there is seniority there I think. Yes? No? That's what I'm telling myself, at any rate.
Philadelphia is the perfect destination for a weekend away from NYC. It is only 2 hours (and $15) on the Bolt Bus, and it is sufficiently different from New York to constitute a real, rejuvenating change of scene. We had, also, the benefit of visiting in order to fit in some of the last performances in the Philadelphia Live Arts and Fringe Festival where we were lucky to see (among others) Pig Iron's Zero Cost House - which was a tremendously moving and satisfying afternoon of theater - the kind of show that reminds you why you go to these things anyway.
But, that's not why I'm writing.
I'm writing, naturally, because of the food. Oh man. THE FOOD.
Those of you who have read for a while will recall I used to do a fair bit of food writing here, as well as, in the early days, a number of reviews. After a while I started to feel self conscious about it, who was I, anyway, to critique a restaurant? And did I really want to keep on taking pictures during meals? (No, I did not.)
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I should own immediately that there were no cheese steaks consumed (I've had a cheese steak in Philadelphia, and it is certainly well worth doing), but our eating and drinking experiences were so excellent it would be cruel not to share with you my list of must-visits.
If you ever find yourself in Philadelphia with meals to spare and a companion who loves to eat and drink as much as you do, hightail it to the following locations and know that I am somewhere, very jealous:
Do you hate breakfast and adorable, homey restaurants with good-looking, friendly groups of people manning the ship? Honey's isn't for you. If you love creative but not overly weird choices in the morning (Peanut Butter Chip, Banana and Bacon pancakes anyone?), old classics, wedges of crispy latkes with sour cream and applesauce, local bacon, freshly squeezed juice and bottomless coffee all for you-must-be-joking reasonable prices - then you should get your ass over to Honey's immediately. I'm not kidding, there will probably be a line (and cash only, is, as always, a bummer - despite a conveniently located ATM) but this place will not fail to put you in a fantastic mood (if a bit of a food coma).
Sansom Oyster House
So this is where we start to go nova with our food intake, in that everything at this place was pretty much flawless. A smoked bluefish salad, some perfect raw oysters (grant you they only opened them, and the rest of was really the oyster's doing - but that can be done only one way - flawlessly), peel-and-eat shrimp (a personal favorite of mine) and, the plat de résistance: BBQ'd Oysters. Have you had these? I mean, HAVE YOU HAD THESE? A sauce of garlic, butter, oil and herbs spooned into shucked oysters before they are grilled on an open flame? Do you hate pleasure? Why do you want to deny yourself joy? Please discuss with your therapist and report back.
The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.
After our final (and quite frankly, pretty terrible, show - something I would describe as what people who hate theater think theater people are doing when they go to the theater)we were ready to bag the rest of our evening and head back to the hotel in a rather mournful mood. Yes, that bad. Instead we wandered around trying to use Foursquare, Yelp and our Debauchery-dar to find a suitable place to return to a happy human state. This is, if possibly, my one criticism of Philadelphia - and it isn't really a bad one. Every city has its undesirable elements. In New York City we have two! But while tourists can be sort of a sweet affirmation of how much we love our city, the second element, the um...mass transportation element - can be just the opposite. I hear you Philly. I feel your pain. We passed bar after bar where the the Axe body spray formed a permanent fog, where the Von Dutch and Ed Hardy outerwear shivered menacingly in the darkness stretched over curated pecks, where big hair floated above tiny sparkly dresses and cheap platform shoes in tiny, identical armies. One such bar (not mentioning names) was described on Foursquare as simply: "Douche Central" and I have to applaud that writer for brevity in the face of horror. But all of that was why we were so happy to find The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. - a speakeasy-style cocktail bar filled with seemingly normal people who didn't, at first glance, appear to be talking about waxing. Just an exceedingly lovely place with, far and away, the nicest bouncer ever to tell us there was a fifteen minute wait. If most of that sounded pretty snobby....yeah, I'm kind of fine with that.
Look, I grew up on Long Island, we have similar wildlife. Mostly I find them adorable, like small children who speak French. Yup....there is just no way for me to talk about this without sounding stuck up so I'm going to stop.
The Dandelion Pub
If there is a restaurant more charming than The Dandelion I've yet to see it. A warren of rooms in what appears to be an old home and updated (and sometimes not) British classics? I mean, obviously I'm going to love this. We had fish'n'chips and the English Breakfast - but I want to go back and try their Sunday roast.
Aside from a few drinks at our lovely Marriott and a cocktail at the Ritz - you're looking at my weekend. I hope it helps someone visiting that wonderful little walking city match their meals to the sights.
5 hours ago