Sticks and Stones on East Passyunk near our house has had a neon sign up since almost when we moved in 3 years ago. They finally opened a month or so ago, and claimed in their press releases that they would be a beer bar but also a neighborhood hangout. I have been eagerly anticipating this opening with the hope that this bar would straddle the line between hipster beer bar and local place a bit better than some other places around here, though South Philly Taproom comes close it is West of Broad. Not to be lazy and picky but I was hoping to have a place right around the corner that was my ideal bar. So maybe I set the "bar" too high. But Sticks and Stones didn't even come close to it when we visited for the first and probably last time the other week.
Walking in, I liked the decor. A big picture behind the bar of what is apparently the owners grandfather or uncle in South Philly circa 1920 or maybe even earlier (just guessing on the year). The walls are lined with white subway tiles and chalkboards containing the beer lists, and the taps come out of the back wall rather than the bar itself, which was kind of different/interesting. The beer list was solid, I had a Bells Oatmeal Cream Stout that was quite nice, and Victory Schwarz Pils, a dark pilsner which wasn't my favorite but an interesting style. The taps and bottles were a nice mix of locals and out of state heavy hitters such as Bells. Our bartender was friendly enough, if slightly inattentive. So where did Sticks and Stones go wrong?
The food, mostly. My wife and I both opted for the burger. My thinking is, if you are going to have a burger on your menu, it should be solid. It doesn't necessarily have to be special but cooked to order, well seasoned, and with decent cheese and probably an option for bacon. I'm not even picky about the roll. The Sticks and Stones burger comes with a bleu cheese and a fried egg on top. I ordered it medium rare and it came out well done. We were the only people in the bar eating, as it was January 2 and most people were home recovering, so in my mind there is no excuse to screw up that order. I felt like the egg was just a gimmick trying to cover up the fact that I was eating a mediocre patty of under seasoned, overcooked beef. The fries were a mixture of sweet potato and regular fries with some sort of aioli haphazardly squirted on top of them. At this point I was disappointed. And then Elvis walked in. I thought he was the owner, some commenters have alluded to the fact that he may be just the manager. It's a small point but I was surprised to see him wearing a Chargers hoodie in South Philly. He was friendly but he rubbed me the wrong way; he was loud and obnoxious, flirting with these girls at the bar and flinging obscenities like nobody's business. I understand it's a bar atmosphere but as someone associated with the bar I thought his actions were a bit unprofessional.
The worst part is I saw him at my barber in Cherry Hill the next week. He asked me how my experience was and I said "Good." I didn't have the gumption to confront him. Live and learn.
Update: I've actually been back to Sticks and Stones and had a better experience. I didn't order food as I had already eaten, but the service was good and they accomodated our rather large party quite well. I'm sorry if I offended anyone who is a fan of Elvis or the bar, I should not have made my disappointment personal and I admit that I should have talked through my complaints with Elvis when I had the chance rather than through my blog. I stand by my review of my experience and my first impression of Elvis was not a good one. I am not saying he is a bad person I just didn't appreciate the foul language and atmosphere he created when he entered his bar.