Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lemon Hill

Lemon Hill
745 N. 25th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

My brother, visiting for the holiday, had pretty much shot down every idea I could come up with to do in Philadelphia city limits that was fairly quick and easy to get to. At the last minute, I was given info regarding a new spot opening up that day, and with but a few words, cocktails & food, an easy agreement was finally made.

Lemon Hill, situated in the Fairmount/Arts District neighborhood(s), is a new joint venture from The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co and Chef Mitch Prensky of Supper/Global Dish Caterers, which makes it a mix of a cocktail lounge and warm down home southern-comfort food. These are then folded into a wood-paneled, brick-walled, tin-ceiling space with no name and no house numbers outside to carry over the speakeasy feel.

The menu is spaced evenly between small plates, appetizers, and mains which makes it great if you want a lite bite with your cocktails (to stave off that hangover, or allow just one more for the road), or a full dinner.

Heading there opening night with my brother, we looked forward to a menu of the unknown (as of this posting, there's no menu available on line).

The drink menu consists of several signature cocktails, regional and independent brewery beers, and wine. There were three very odd exceptions to the list, however. One was that they have Miller High Life on the menu. It's not known if this is a dare, was due to some thugs at Miller making threats, or if the owner really needs a cheap beer. The other two is that there was no coffee or tea options, which is understandable for a straight cocktail lounge, but not for a restaurant. Not sure why somone couldn't have made a run to a Starbucks and purchased some beans and tea.

The first round of drinks consisted of the Rye Buck and the Clover Club. The Rye Buck consists of rye, lemon, angostura bitters, and a home-made ginger syrup. What makes this drink so good is that no one ingredient overpowers the other, nor is it overly bitter or sweet. The Clover Club consists of gin, lemon juice, raspberry syrup, and egg white. Again, no one ingredient overpowers the others, and if you weren't told it had egg white, you wouldn't be able to tell.

Rye on the left, Clover to the right

Food wise, up first was the Dirty Rice Fritters. While these were not terrible in any way, they were not very exciting. 

Along came the Smoked Tomato Soup and Pastrami Fried Chicken Wings. The tomato soup came with cheese filled popovers, which added a nice creamy texture to the soup. The soup itself didn't taste very smokey, but on a cold winter night, was a good choice overall. One thing that turns me off of most tomato soups is the over reliance on salt and luckily this one does not. The chicken wings were very good; moist, tender, with a crust I've never encountered before. Bro felt the opposite, saying they were overly salty, without any real oomph, though he wasn't able to really explain that. The sauce of the wings was a thousand island dressing  style, which didn't seem to add much.

Wings in the bag, soup up front

The second round of drinks consisted of the Blues Explosion, a tincture of  Tennessee whiskey, fresh grapefruit juice, maple syrup, and angostura bitters. It was good, but not memorable. While you won't go wrong with it, if you are not a whiskey fan, or grapefruit juice fan, there are many other good options available.

For the mains, we ordered the Hearth Baked Cavatappi and the Shrimp n Grits . The cavatappi was a mac-n-cheese dish with gruyere. This was creamy, with a light crunchy top, and unlike many other baked pasta dishes, the pasta was cooked well. The shrimp n grits came with cooked okra, smooth grits, and shrimp that was amazingly not over cooked. Both of these dishes were quite good, though the shrimp n grits did come with one large shrimp on top, for good effect.

The apple and cranberry pie finished up this meal, adding sweet fruit and filling, as well as a well made crust.

Two extra beers finished the meal.

Cocktails average $12, beers $5, wine $11.

3 cocktails, 2 beers, three small plates, two mains, and one dessert came out to $110 before tax and tip.

There is street parking, though you are competing with residents and other diners. SEPTA bus routes 32, 7, and 48 stop just near by.

Lemon Hill on Urbanspoon

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