As you can imagine, December is a month packed with holiday planning and parties, and this Friday night was not an exception. We originally headed for one of Philadelphia’s notorious hidden bars, Ranstead Room, but we ran into a snag when it was booked to capacity! Sorry, come back later. Ok, no problem. Of course there were others on my bucket list nearby so we headed for the first one on the list. I create two lists that night, one that were hidden pubs and one that had fireplaces in honor of a wintery December. So, when the hidden bar was unavailable we opted for the fireplace spot.
I had not done any further research but I did have a recollection of the name “Dandelion”. It did not sound very Decemberish (dandelions are spring flowers) but due to the close proximity everyone agreed to head for that spot. They followed, and we were all delighted to discover an English Pub! The entrance was extremely classy — urns with fine greenery and ornately carved doorway. Upon entering, the ambiance smacked us in the face. The glow of the fireplace was to the right and the bar was to the left, through velvet curtains. This place was also packed but it was apparently large enough to handle the Friday night crowd.
The bar area did not have seating at first, but with patience we waited until the power seats at the curved end of the bar opened up. All four of us slid onto the stools — Paul, Debbie, Eric and me — and ordered a drink.
Looking around I noticed it was not the usual decor. At ceiling height was a full-size cow statue flanked by assorted antiques. There were numerous collectible treasures and cozy lighting fixtures around this old world pub. The bartenders were attentive and friendly. A patron sitting next to us was enjoying a baked chicken an offered a piece of it to my husband — talk about friendly! He said it was so delicious he wanted him to experience it while we were deciding what to order. Hearing the testimony, we all knew it would be prudent to try something and ordered from the menu — shepherds pie, crab risotto, steak tartar — dishes that were delicious food. British dining?
After the drinks and food, it was late and we paid our tab and headed out onto the street. I decided that I should use the loo before driving home so we all returned inside and noticed there was an upstairs. Whoa! The upstairs portion opened into another gorgeously appointed bar “Man’s Best Friend” and several glamorous dining rooms. Another fireplace, stunning windows and china figurines graced the rooms.
The waiter, Iain, graciously offered information about the restaurtant and took our photos. It’s a Steven Starr restaurant and he was delighted to be one of the core employees, having worked there since the opening in 2010. That evening the upstairs had been packed with holiday parties. It is such a beloved restaurant that on any other evening the rooms are often booked for revelry, frequently with students from Penn. Lucky students!
No wonder this establishment has been reviewed by Zagats and the Food Network. We stumbled upon it for the fireplace. What a treat!
December 13, 2014
Address: 124 South 18th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
In The News
Food Network VIDEO