Author Archives: charmweber

Season Finale – Franklin, Continental and Whiskey

The Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company

Speakeasies have become a favorite on Debora the Explora’s Bucket List this winter. We approached the award-winning Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company for a second attempt. We missed it on a previous chilly night when the street was filled with a long line ahead of us. But this Friday night we made it and it was worth the wait, not just for the cocktail concoctions but the surprise that was awaiting us!

Out on the sidewalk a handlebar-mustached fellow gave us the green light. Through the dark doorway we entered into a narrow, dark prohibition den with black walls illuminated by chandeliers and tea lights. Booths for intimate tete-a-tete conversations ran along one side, facing a bar that ran the length of the room. The host escorted us to seats at the glamorous bar where the bartender immediately offered his services. The drinks were sophisticated and original, topped with fresh fruit and poured over massive handmade ice cubes. We ordered an old-fashioned and a specialty bourbon cocktail.

Here is where the surprise occurred: My husband was recording our visit with his GoPro camera which inspired a conversation with two handsome young guys sitting next to me– Kyle & Rick. They were so funny! The playful conversation followed and we had so many laughs together that they invited us to join them for dinner. Drinks on Kyle & Rick and an invite to dinner. A first!

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The Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company
112 S 18th St, Fl 1st,
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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The Continental Mid-town

Walking a few blocks, we continued our evening at The Continental Mid-town, a Steven Starr establishment. The dining room is impressive with a vaulted ceiling, two-stories high, featuring an enormous chandelier made up of nearly 100 lightbulbs dropping from vertical stems. Around the second floor perimeter is a railing lined with suspended egg-shaped chairs, swinging and facing each other like love-birds.

Packed with diners, the hostess directed us to an elevator that carried us to the rooftop patio while we waited under the stars and continued the comedy! Rick is an avid photographer and shared a photo ap “snap seed “with easy to use filters. We hardly had time to enjoy the patio when we were called to our table. The food was Starr quality. We ordered small plates of roasted brussel sprouts, creamy macaroni and cheese, and pork tacos wrapped with scallion ribbons. We finished with decadent flourless brownies, pure ice cream and chocolate mousse served with cups of joe in oversize yet graceful cups. Again, a gift from Kyle and Rick. Oh stop! Thank you.

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Continental Mid-Town
1801 Chestnut St,
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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Village Whiskey

My energy picked up on the way to our third venue. Owned by Chef Jose Garces, Village Whiskey has been on my bucket list for two years! In the past, the bar was always too full as a walk-in or there were no reservations when I called ahead. Arriving at midnight seems to be the key this bourbon and burger joint, famous for duck fat fries.

A classic shape, it is a long, dark and narrow bar decorated with vintage black and white floor tiles. They are known for many kinds of whiskey obviously! With room in our stomachs for only one night cap, we toasted to our new friends with plenty more laughs–until we explore again.

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Village Whiskey
118 South 20th Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103

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Dock Street Brewing Company

IMG_3297The Dock Street Brewing Company is housed in an old West Philadelphia fire house. Serving up delicious pizza, they are known more for their craft ales that won awards from the 1980’s to today. Their previous location was near Logan Circle in Center City when the 1980’s television drama “Thirtysomething” referred to their brews in their episodes.

Man Full of Trouble #manfulloftrouble  is one of their brews that refers to a Philadelphia Revolutionary War tavern. Behind the bar, the brewing equipment where they tap the beers regularly can be admired through large internal windows. The young hipster crowd with knit caps, beards and jeans looked like college students. We ran into another friend named Cory who works at the local university.

The interior architectural bones of the venue make an attractive backdrop to the dining room. Arched brick windows recall the bays used by the fire trucks of the past. The space is cavernous with high ceilings and lots of rustic tables nestled on the painted concrete floor between the front door and the back wall. Patrons also sit along the serpentine-shaped bar that extends the entire length of the large room, in front of a glowing wood-fire brick pizza oven. The wait staff passed back and forth all night with pizzas.

This night we met up with two sets of friends who have come along with us to explore other places this winter. The six buckteers! Bill & Mary split a pizza with us while Eric O. & Brian ordered calamari and French fried potatoes and leeks, washed down with Man Full of Trouble. We ordered brews & wine and I enjoyed my mock-tail seltzer water that was served in a bottle. Fancy!

March 13, 2015

Web site:

701 S 50th St,

Philadelphia, PA 19143

Near the intersection of S 50th St and Willows Ave

(215) 726-2337

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Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club

Beer Advocate

The Drink Nation

New York Daily News


Red Hot and Blue

IMG_6217After a winter storm dropped 8 inches of snow, we dug ourselves out and headed to Cherry Hill New Jersey’s Red Hot and Blue Restaurant to hear some great blues and eat Memphis Barbeque — worth the trip! It is a bar & restaurant combination next to a Holiday Inn on Route 70.

When we first arrived we couldn’t figure out where to sit. To be honest, the feng shei in there is terrible because the entire bar and dining room is in the shape of a boomerang! A little too bright, a little too long, but we were there for (a) the SISTER BLUE BAND and (b) the BBQ!

As tradition dictates we chose bar stools, however it was wrong for so many reasons. The band was going to perform at the far end of the boomerang shape so we wanted to sit in the center of the room, but our seats were across from the front door–every time someone walked in an arctic blast came in and hit us!

IMG_6218Nonetheless, despite the chill we ordered tasty ribs of three different flavors: Memphis dry rub, pepper garlic, and a crazy spicy vinegar that drove our tongues a little crazy. Along with the ribs we ordered a healthy “chopped salad” which was packed with a rainbow of veggies!

Once the music started we paid our dinner tab and moved to a table in the main dining room. The color red dominated the decor. Red and brown patterned wallpaper was very Holiday-Inn-mid-century, on purpose. The wooden dining booths and tables had red veneers. Suspended over each table were pendants with big drum shades displaying the umber trapezoid shapes from the 1960s. Adjoining the dining room, a separate room was filled with a private party.

Sister Blue was in fantastic form, singing and playing blues with her full band. Their sound is engaging, fun and energizing with a playlist that ranges from classic blues to modern R&B. When they started playing Ike and Tina Turner’s Proud Mary –“Rolling on the River”– the folks in the party room came out to listen. Sister Blue shouted “Come on out sisters!” Suddenly the dining room floor was filled with beautiful black women dancing and singing with fantastic voices. The band yelled out “It’s church!” So fun! Lots of smiling faces, with Tina dance moves all over the place. We stayed until the lights came on, around midnight.

March 6, 2015

2175 Rt-70 W,
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

Near the intersection of RT-70 W and Sayer Ave

(856) 665-7427

Local website:

Main website:

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New Jersey Monthly–blue.html

Bloomberg Business

Devil’s Pocket

Devils Pocket logoI invited a friend, Eric O., to join us for the bucket list and asked him to recommend a place. He immediately named Devil’s Pocket, a new gastro pub. Curious! We headed into an old rough and tumble neighborhood in Philadelphia known as Devil’s Pocket. With help from industrious angels it is becoming a gentrified place.

Devil’s Pocket is owned and operated by Marcus Versace, Eric’s friend. The chef, Andrew Wagner, hails from a popular Philadelphia restaurant where he brought with him his recipes for delicious comfort food such as mashed potatoes. The two partners are a match made in heaven.

Maurin_QuinaThe pub is located on a corner with understated signage but I spotted the logo on the front door window. Inside, the first impression is bright and striking! The intimate space is adorned with a gallery of devil art, hung on cream embossed walls with red beadboard below the chair rail. One well-known piece is a french advertising poster featuring green devil —Maurin Quina by Leonetto Cappiello. The attractive “Pick-Pockets Wall of Shame” gallery is hilarious. After speaking to Marcus about the history of the neighborhood, the selection of art about thieves makes sense.

There was a nice crowd on a freezing Friday night. We found two spots at the bar which had place settings ready for hungry patrons and brought over a third stool. Marcus came right over to welcome us when he spotted Eric. We enjoyed their specialty jerk chicken wings, chili, chicken soup, hummus platter and a sumptuous BLT — super-think bacon, lettuce and tomato on butter-grilled artisan bread. We washed it down with craft beer and spiked hot apple cider. Yum.

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Eric’s friend, Brian, joined us and we took over the end of the bar with conversation. Marcus graciously granted us an interview and we learned about the whirlwind opening just six months earlier in October 2014. We enjoyed a devil-may-care evening and do plan to return in warmer weather when the bank of windows are opened to the outside world.

Feb 13, 2015

Devil’s Pocket
Address: 2425 Grays Ferry Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
Phone: 215-735-2202


In The News–Spirits.html


FooBooz Philly Mag

Four Dogs Tavern

4dog-signFour Dogs Tavern was on my bucket list tonight because live music was provided by two fantastic musicians,  Johnny Never and Zep Harpo.  Favorite performers of ours, the duo plays “awesome Mississippi Delta blues, Piedmoont blues and East Texas Blues.”

The building is historic—old fieldstone covered in plaster located on winding tree-lined roads, out in the country. The building that houses the Four Dogs Tavern was originally the stables to the Marshalton Inn & Tavern, founded in 1804. The Marshalton Inn was popular to travelers due to the midway location between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

On the way to the entrance we peered through the pane and muntin windows to see the band and the packed house. Inside were meandering rooms with old, wide-plank floors and diagonally-panelled walls with a fireplace burning brightly in the corner.

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We found seats near Zep and Johnny and sat down for a Gastro pub experience with a fine dining price tag. Usually I don’t mention the price but we were a little surprised tonight. Just a little sticker shock. One glass of Jamison was $12 and one bowl of snapper soup cost $10 so the seltzer and cranberry mocktail that I enjoyed saved us a couple of bucks. We ordered jerk chicken wings and gruyere cheese & smoked salmon on sourdough bread which was deeelicious.

During the break the musicians joined us and we had some good laughs. Well-heeled patrons were friendly and photo-bombed our photos! The staff was super friendly and efficient and we stayed until the music stopped and most of the patrons went home.

Menu highlights include charcuterie boards & cheese flights, duck pate & charred octopus, and meatloaf & slow cooked pork.


History buffs may find this interesting: Just 27 years prior to the opening of the Marshalton Inn, the Village of Marshalton was central to the Battle of Brandywine in 1777. My ancestor was a revolutionary soldier in that battle! More History:

Feb 6, 2015

Four Dogs Tavern

Address: 1300 West Strasburg Road, West Chester, PA 19382
Phone: (610) 692-4367

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Tavern on the Hill

signageI was in the mood to hear some live jazz and clicked over to the WRTI website to see if they had a link to local jazz events. I found a link that led me to not just one but three venues that night! Two of the bands were in Center City and one was a musician in a tavern in Chestnut Hill — “Reverend Chris on the Piano”. The website stated “it’s New Orleans Piano Night in Philadelphia; Solo piano, swing, boogie, blues and much much more.” Being a marathon consumer of HBO’s hit show “Treme” about Katrina and NOLA, the chance to hear that kind of jazz in person on demand was very lucky. I called the restaurant  and someone said “Yes, he is playing and usually performs until 11pm”.  Excited!

Friday nights this January have been snowy and cold and so it was again. We approached the building, spotting a red waving flag under the streetlight — at the top of the cobblestone street in Philadelphia’s charming Chestnut Hill section.

Walking into the narrow, dark tavern we penetrated a dense crowd of patrons. Seats were being shuffled at the front of the bar, with someone saying “Take our seats”, pointing to the back. He introduced himself to us as Nick and we had a fun chat with him about the neighborhood. We discussed our blog and our previous discoveries in the Hill area. Nick, a local patron, set us up with perfect seats in the corner with a view of the dining room, Reverend Chris and his piano and the bar.

A landmark of the neighborhood, I remembered that I had lunched here a few years ago. Outside above the front door, there is a real pineapple mounted to the building which is a symbol of friendship and hospitality. The restaurant is small and romantic with beadboard and floral wallpaper on the walls, and dark wood everywhere — tables, carved moldings, a tin ceiling and an elaborately decorated bar.  Fresh greens were on the tabletops.

Please press play (Music: “The Treme Song” by John Boutté and by “I Wanna Be The Big Chief” piano by Reverend Chris, from Reverend Chris and the High Rollers Viper Mad)

The lovely bartender served us our mocktails and cocktails and we waited to finally hear the mix of NOLA and blues music. We thought we arrived during a break, but we were so disappointed when we realized Reverend Chris looked like he was saying goodnight to some fans. “Uh-oh. Noooo.” When I asked Reverend Chris he confirmed it, but he generously gave us two CDs! He is quite funny! We chatted with him a bit and planned to return because he is a constant provider of fine music here on Friday nights. Just next time we will get there way before 10PM! Thanks Reverend Chris!

Friday Jan. 30, 2015


Tavern On the Hill

Address: 8636 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118

Phone:(215) 247-9948

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Trip Advisor


La Peg Brasserie

A french brasserie set in a converted historic pump house with a huge outdoor patio.

lapegAlthough Philly was waiting for the arrival of a Nor’easter, it wasn’t supposed to start snowing until 11pm so we headed out to explore. The evening’s quest was a restaurant known as La Peg, recommended by our friend, Matt Money, the bartender. Great choice!

Recently opened in the fall 2014 it is new on the scene. La Peg is housed in the Fringe Arts Building on Columbus Boulevard underneath the expansive and illuminated Ben Franklin Bridge. Inside, the industrial chic space is cavernous. It was previously a pump house with snaking pipes, heavy chains, iron beams and valved tanks overhead. A chunky clock the size of a mack truck tire is suspended in an iron grid.
The windows stretch from the ground to the second-floor rooftop, with views of the bridge, the Delaware River and the snow! On the sidewalk, diners wearing heels stepped gingerly on the ice. Patrons dined on the main floor or in the loft above the exposed kitchen. All seats at the bar were filled so we waved hello to Money and found a two-top in the corner.

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A five-piece band “Arty and the Hot Katz” entertained the crowd. One of the musicians was enwrapped in a sousaphone–the marching band instrument that resembles a tuba! The five guys wearing hats–bowler, fedora, cap– produced instrumental covers of famous rock and roll tunes…More Than A Feeling by Boston, Pinball Wizard by The Who, Midnight Rider by the Allman Brothers. Dare I say, it was comical to see and hear a sousaphone and violin producing classic rock tunes instead of guitars. But, their sound was fantastic and the customers clapped loudly after every set. Bravo!

We left early to beat the snow storm and next time we need to try out the menu.

La Peg

Address: 140 North Christopher Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone:(215) 375-7744

In The News

FooBooz Philly Magazine

Philly Eater