Friday, April 10, 2009

Review: South Philly Tap Room

At long last, we made it to the South Philly Tap Room last night. Located minutes from my parents' house but in a somewhat sketchier neighborhood, it is nonetheless very pleasant inside, aside from an overly-loud jukebox.

Befitting its name, there's a very fine assortment of beers on tap, and a cooler full of interesting bottles if none of the keg selections interest you. A good deal of the beers were of the high-octane, 6+% ABV variety, though they had the good sense to serve these in 8 oz. glasses rather than pints. I went for a tamer Sly Fox Rauchbier, which had a pleasantly smokey taste and was very light on the fizz.

Now, the previous chef at SPTR was famous (infamous?) for serving a variety of semi-exotic game meats and house-cured charcuterie. According to a third-hand rumor, he was let go after wanting to serve lion. Alas, if you'll excuse the pun, the current menu is much tamer, and Simba and his friends are nowhere to be found. Instead, we both went for beef dishes – L got the burger and I got the "steak Alejandro".

By L's account, the burger was quite good. The thick steak fries served alongside it were deliciously crispy and steaming hot inside. My steak, on the other hand, was something of a disappointment. It was what appeared to be two boneless sirloin medallions, ordered medium rare but arriving damn-near cooked through. Though they had some color on them, their flavor was somewhat unpleasantly watery and diffuse. It came with a spoonful of fiery-hot habanero chile sauce and a quite rustic hash (for lack of a better term) composed of cherry tomatoes, onions and watercress. I think the concept was solid, but the dish could have benefitted from better execution.

Though my choice to order the steak dish haunted me with regret for the rest of the evening, there were lots of other alluring options on the menu, and I would definitely give SPTR the benefit of the doubt for a return visit. Until further review, I'm going to slot it under Royal Tavern in the South Philly gastro-pub pantheon, though it does win out over the Royal for a more open, bright dining atmosphere and a wider selection of brews. Stay tuned.

South Philadelphia Taproom on Urbanspoon

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