This is for a series of posts related to Iron Chef Jose Garces including:
Amada, Distrito, Rosa Blanca, Bar Volver, Buena Onda, The Blue Anchor, PHS Pop Up Garden, JG Domestic, Tinto , Tinto , Tinto [Brunch], Village Whiskey, and The Olde Bar.
The Olde Bar is Iron Chef Jose Garces' contemporary oyster saloon in Old City. It's a memorable and distinct space that pays homage to the landmark Old Original Bookbinder's, a seafood restaurant steeped in historic tradition stemming back to the late 1800's. Chef's deference is reflected in the menu as well, which includes a modern take on the Old Original Bookbinder's snapping turtle soup!
The main dining and bar area extends beyond to two distinct event spaces, the Blackburn and Vessel Rooms. So if you're interested in hosting private events, The Olde Bar has got you covered. There also aren't many restaurants in Philly where you can enjoy your meal and indulge in a quick tour of an historic space.
El Dorado 8 year rum, aperol, beet & horseradish syrup, lemon, cherry shrub
The GF and I started off our brunch with some cocktails, including the Beat'n Horse Thief. We absolutely loved the rum-based specialty cocktail, which featured sweet grassy notes from the beet syrup, along with some kick from the horseradish to offset the smooth, sweet rum.
Tomato juice, clam juice, horseradish
We also indulged in the Caesar bloody mary, which featured a subtle brininess from the clam juice and a slight kick from the horseradish. While prototypically peppery, this drink showed restraint - perfect to enjoy and not overtake a dozen of Olde Bar's finest oysters. Speaking of which ...
Dozen Oysters [East Coast $3/pc. | West Coast $3.50/pc.]
A dozen beautifully-arranged oysters ranging from bold Glidden Points to crisp and buttery Choptantz and Cape May salts were brought forth. Traditional accoutrements were provided, but I was more in favor of letting the gorgeous bivalves shine on their own. Be sure to stop by during Happy Hour for Buck-a-Shuck. And if you're averse to the raw persuasion, expand your palette with the Oysters Belmont, baked with bacon, spinach, manchego, and fennel. Pro tip? They're only $5 on Thursdays from 5-8PM!
Crab, lobster butter, oyster stoudt, cheddar fondue
A must order in my mind are the Olde Bar fries, which features incredibly crisp, beef fat fries, topped with an abundant mound of jumbo lump crab, gorgeous lobster butter, and a ladle of oyster stoudt and cheddar fondue. To. Die. For. As much as I love the Village Whiskey duck fat fries topped with short ribs and Sly Fox cheddar, this has to be my favorite Jose Garces take on fries!
Crab Benedict [$14]
Jumbo lump crab, country ham, lobster butter, poached eggs, bernaise
The crab benedict featured even more jumbo lump crab alongside rounded brioche, topped with country ham, wonderfully runny poached eggs, and a rich lobster butter bernaise that amplified the seafood essence in this dish.
I mean ... c'mon. Absolute delicious!
French Toast [$14]
Brioche, toasted coconut, berries, bourbon candied pecans, whipped cream
But the surprise of the meal for me had to be the dish I probably wouldn't have ordered from the brunch menu. In fact, The Olde Bar might have the best french toast I've ever had at brunch - quite a statement I know! Sure, Philly has Sabrina's and Green Eggs Cafe and their reputable stuffed french toasts. But the texture on The Olde Bar's bad boys have those beat by a mile. The brioche almost had a lightly deep-fried mouth-feel on the exterior, revealing light and pillowy airiness within. Bourbon candied pecans offered sweet crunch, offset by the tartness of the berries. Drizzled in syrup and whipped cream, this was the perfect ending to a wonderful brunch meal.
As with all Jose Garces restaurants, service was great. Our server, Matt, and all of the runners were extremely knowledgeable and affable. I'd highly recommend stopping by for brunch and for Happy Hour. I know I'll have to stop by again to try the snapper soup and enjoy the dinner menu!
FTC Disclaimer: Special thanks to Corie from Gloss PR for the invitation and to The Olde Bar for hosting us. Regardless, my opinions are mine alone and, therefore, unbiased.