On Friday night we made the trek up to East Falls to check out Fork and Barrel, an upscale gastropub from the owners of Tap and Table up in Emmaeus. My wife and I decided to walk 5 miles from the subway to East Falls, to work up a nice appetite. We walked along the river, it was bit chilly but a pleasant walk and certainly had me craving food and beer by the end.
The first thing you notice about Fork and Barrel is the lighting, the entire downstairs area is lit by candles only (luckily the fire department is right accross the street). It makes for a dim atmostphere, but once your pupils adjust it's quite nice. Next, the beer selection. This was about the most interesting beer list I've ever seen. The bar downstairs has about 8-10 taps, all imported beers. We did a flight of 5 and then tried a few more throughout the evening. Here are some noteables: Hitachino Classic Ale-A Japanese IPA aged on cedar; a German granitbock cooked with hot stones in granite mash tuns, an Italian stout with a hint of chili pepper, and a fantastic British pale ale on nitro. The pale ale was my favorite but that's just because I enjoy pale ales, especially when they are poured creamy as from a cask or on nitro (the beer name escapes me right now but when I update my beer list page I will get it in writing). The granitbock had one of the most unique finishes I've ever tasted, which I can only attribute to the stone. The bottle list was very impressive, as well, I didn't want to overwhelm myself by reading through every selection, but we did choose a nice Gose, which is a german wheat beer with salt and coriander. Aside: Gose is one of the few styles that does not adhere to the German purity law because of the use of spices but gets a pass as a regional specialty. In short, this place had a very special list of beers that could impress most beer geeks. No pint was cheaper than 8 bucks, and the flight of 5 was $18. Not cheap, but the beers were each pretty special.
Now the food. We shared the salt potatoes as an appetizer, they were these tiny baked potatoes that somehow were crunchy and came with a nice dipping sacue. We were with two other couples, and each couple decided on the roast pheasant for two ($35) for dinner. The pheasant was a lot of fun, we ripped it apart and made sure to get all of the "morsels" from it, as one friend called them. I think game animals tend to be lean, and there were some dry bites, but on the whole it was a beautifully cooked bird. The oyster stuffing was the best part, it was so moist and salty. The brussel sprouts were fine but maybe could have been better. Next time I'd probably want to try the lamb burger and/or the braised rabbit, but the "pheasant party" was a lot of fun; it was so funny to see them carrying three birds out of the kitchen to our seats.
After dinner we headed up to the upstairs bar, which is their casual area, serving a dozen or so different types of hot dogs and free peanuts. The upstairs bar has one cask beer and then a bunch of American craft bottles. We shared a Stillwater Stateside Saison, which I thought was fantastic.
I thought Fork and Barrel was pretty special. It's not super cheap in relation to other gastropubs, but it's really more of a restaurant than a bar. If I didn't hear familiar city sounds like car alarms outside I could have sworn I was in the British countryside. I'm glad it's not in walking distance to my house, or I'd be tempted to see what's on tap on a regular basis.