We checked out this spot as part of our day spending time with friends at PIFA, the arts festival in Philly last week which concluded with bizarre ten story acrobatic/musical act on a shut down Broad Street. PIFA left a bit to be desired--though I did enjoy the free performance of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings--but I won't get into that. Let's talk about food and drink.
Pub and Kitchen has a great vibe. It really feels like the pubs I went to in England, with the wooden bench seats and the decor--lots of wood and blue paint. The beer list was solid. I had an English session ale made in collaberation with Pub and Kitchen and Sixpoint up in NYC. It was a solid beer, maybe on the hoppy side for something advertised as "sessionable." They had a few local-ish beers and some others from Sixpoint, Bells, etc. What grabbed me about the drinks menu is the cocktails. They had two barrel aged cocktails, where they mix the drink and then age in in wood for a few weeks. I had the barrel aged manhattan, which I think suffered a bit from the use of Jim Beam Rye but was still a solid drink. My wife and friend had tne barrel aged cocktail which they called Dahlia, a tequila based drink with mole bitters. It was fantastic. Good strong flavor but still somehow refreshing. Our waitress warned them it was a bit stiff for a late afternoon drink, but my buddy said he was already three sheets to the wind so bring it on. They had a bunch of other cocktails as well, fairly priced for Center City as all were less than $10. Beats a mediocre manhattan at a Stephen Starr restaurant for $12. Not a lot of gastropubs get too into the cocktail scene, and I like that here I had the option of beer or cocktails. I opted for both.
The service was okay. The menu was clear to a point, but I was still confused when the fries did not come with the dipping sauce--some kind of aioli--advertised when you order fries separate from a sandwich (I told you I was confused). They were charging extra for condiments on the burger; they should have just had in the menu that the sauce could be added for $2, which the waitress told us when we asked for some. The thing is, she never brought it and it still wound up on the bill.
The food was great. The sauce debacle notwithstanding, the fries were perfectly done, crispy on the outside warm and soft on the inside. Now let's talk about the Churchill burger, which made the final in Foobooz's burger bracket squaring off against Village Whiskey, besting my favorite burger, the Royal Tavern burger. So I was stoked to try this burger. They get the custom meat blend from La Frieda, a famous meat supplier in NYC. Here is the description of the burger from Foobooz:
•Pub & Kitchen is Philadelphia’s first restaurant using a custom blend from La Frieda
•Contains dry-aged beef
•Glazed with bone marrow butter
•Topped with sauted onions
•Served on a Metropolitan brioche
•$18 and accompanied by fries
Sounds incredible, and it was, almost. The meat was so flavorful and rich, and the butter was, well, buttery. The overall effect was fantastic. I like that it's focused on the meat, whereas the Royal burger is a bit more about the toppings. What held it back from true greatness is an unneccesarily common mistake: I ordered it medium rare and it came out almost well done. I swear I'm going to start ordering my burger rare, so nothing can be lost in translation. I feel the Churchill burger could have been the best I've ever had, but overcooking ruins even the best meat blend. The South Philly Taproom uses a grassfed patty, hardly able to provide the flavor of a fatty, grain fed custom meat blend, but it is always cooked perfectly to my order, so the flavors it does have are not lost and therefore it can still compete with the others.
Long story short, I really liked this place, I hope to go back again but 20th and Lombard is not my usual locale. I would like to give the burger a second run, though...