Philly Restaurant - City Tavern

Friday, January 13, 2012

(above slideshow of pics from City Tavern visit)

City Tavern on Urbanspoon

For any regular readers who read my New Year's Eve post I exclaimed about finding $140 in the movie theater on NYE, which I felt was a good omen for me and Tinsel & Tine for 2012.  And I felt the best thing to do with the money was spend it on dining out, thus completing the circle of film and food.

My Aunt watches Chef Walter Staib's show on PBS "a Taste of History" , where each week Chef Staib prepares cuisine from the 18th Century. So with the windfall, I decided to treat her to the historic dining experience of his establishment City Tavern Restaurant  (138 South 2nd Street at Walnut St).

Before I go into what we ate, here's a little excerpt of history taken from "The Tavern Guide:
The tavern was built "for the convenience and credit of the city" by a group of eminent Philadelphians who felt that their hometown deserved a fine tavern which reflected its status as the largest, most cosmopolitan city in British North America. When the tavern was completed in 1773, it was one of the most elegant buildings in the city. Situated where it resides today on Second Street, then a main thoroughfare.

Inside, it "boasted" several club or dining rooms, (some large enough for ballrooms) lodging rooms, two large kitchens, a bar,  a coffee room and attic for servants quarters.

In 1774 the tavern was thrust center stage in the dispute with England.  From that time until the close of the century the City Tavern knew the patronage of the great and near-great of the American Revolution.

After the war, City Tavern settled into a more sedate existence which was not interrupted until the opening of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when once again, these leaders enjoyed the hospitality of the City Tavern. However, by 1834 it began to lose its place of prominence and in 1854 was demolished to make way for new brownstone stores.

In 1975, after painstaking research, the National Park Service rebuilt the City Tavern. Today, the tavern appears essentially as it did two hundred years ago, even down to the front awning which shielded the tavern from the summer sun. Both the National Park Service and Concepts by Staib Ltd, the tavern's operator, have made every effort to faithfully recreate the tavern and the culinary experience to the way it operated during the American Revolution.
I decided if I was going to splurge I'd might as well go all the way, so I ordered:
Rack of Lamb -  Roasted with Dijon mustard & walnuts, rosemary infused au jus, mashed potatoes, asparagus & Sauce Béarnaise.  $32.95  rating: 4 Tines

My Aunt immediately zoomed in on the: Colonial Turkey Pot Pie -
Tender chunks of turkey, mushrooms, early peas, red potatoes, sherry cream sauce & flaky pastry crust baked in a pewter casserole. Come with  a side of egg noodles in a heavenly brown gravy. 
$21.95 rating: 4 Tines


I also suggested we start with an appetizer of : Mallard Duck Sausage - Broiled duck & pork sausage, sweet & sour cabbage $9.25 rating: 2 Tines - It was good, just not exclamation good. Actually enjoyed the cabbage more than the sausage.


I check into Foursquare upon arrival and discovered an offer of a free dessert for my efforts. We choose the Apple Crumble  rating: 2 Tines - When I order this dessert, I always want the apples to be a compote, not hard slices. I'm sure traditionally the apples are supposed to be intact, but for me, that just means I eat the crumble and ice cream and leave the apples.  By the way, the a la mode was Cinnamon Ice Cream, which I adore. Always a flavor hard to find.


Two additional treats of the evening 1) Benjamin Franklin was sitting two tables away from us.

 Ok, it's the guy who does the historic tours in Olde City; still it was cool to see him in the Tavern. When I went over to ask him for a picture. He spoke to me in character.  I never knew he introduced soybeans into the country.  Franklin sent the beans and recipe for Tofu (smuggled out of China) back to John Bartram (Bartram's Gardens - where my sister got married). I would have thought this country didn't start eating tofu until the mid-1970's not 1770's.

2) The service was excellent 4 Tines!  All the waiters were friendly and informative, not just Lachlan who was our stellar server. 

Rating System:
* Excellent - 4 Tines / * Great - 3 Tines / * Good - 2 Tines / * Fair - 1 Tine / * Poor - Tarnished



3 comments:

The Bicycle-Chef January 17, 2012 at 12:50 PM  

good to know it was an enjoyable experience and good meal. I'm always such a skeptic about tourist traps and "historic" places. They mostly always seem to be money pits and the food usually is the pits.

tinseltine.com January 17, 2012 at 1:45 PM  

Well, I did spend nearly the whole "windfall", but the experience was worthwhile.

Barbara January 19, 2012 at 11:22 AM  

I haven't been there in many years because of a bad experience. My son was visiting and we were doing the whole 'historic' tour on a nice spring day. We decided to top it off with lunch at City Tavern. When we got to the door the costumed host asked if we had reservations. I said no. Who makes reservations for lunch? He responded very pompously, "Well I wouldn't dream of coming to your house unannounced!" I thought my son was going to punch him.
Despite that we went in, had a mediocre lunch and I've never been back.
Glad you and your aunt had a better experience!
b

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.
-tinseltine@gmail.com


Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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