One of the fun parts of working for STAGE is that it allows me to go to a lot of different kinds of restaurants. Being a foodie, I love to try different cuisines, cooking techniques, and ethnic foods. This time, looking for some place centrally located among all of the Philly Fringe events we were attending, we found The Dandelion Pub, 18th and Sansom Streets. The Dandelion is a British pub, with classic furniture and a dog-themed upstairs dining area. The seating is intimate, allowing for private conversations, yet there are plenty of tables for small and larger groups.
Upon being seated upstairs, our waitress asked for our preference in water, still or sparkling. We requested still water, which was delivered in a classic glass quart milk bottle. Fresh bread was delivered as well, including a malted-salt sourdough bread, complete with fresh butter and a small container of more malted salt to sprinkle on top of the buttered bread.
The dinner menu is varied, with seafood and pasta choices as well as “from the farm” selections and British classics. Looking at the appetizers, there are traditional pub favorites…devilled eggs, pickled beetroot jar, a cheese board, and fish cakes among others. We decided to try the Chicken and Duck Liver Parfait, with grape chutney, cornichons (small dill pickles), and brioche toast. In my companion’s words, the parfait was “as smooth as meat ice cream”, with a subtle flavor which was delightful. The contrast of the chutney and the cornichons also was a flavor delight.
The choice of entrees is varied enough to provide something for every palate. We ordered a couple of classics…the lamb shepherd’s pie, and the beer-battered fish and chips. The shepherd’s pie was delightful…the lamb tender and lean, the broth full flavored and the vegetables perfectly seasoned. The fish and chips (featured on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”) were indeed a classic. The fish (a Chatham cod) was tender and flaky, battered and fried perfectly, keeping the fish juicy. The chips are triple-cooked (I wish I had asked about that!), and were zesty, the perfect compliment to the fish. Traditional malt vinegar was available, as well as ketchup and tartar sauce.
Other choices on the menu that we saw delivered were steak and chips (perhaps my next choice when we return), a beautiful house-blend beef burger, roast tandoori chicken and lamb curry. All looked delicious, and from the looks of the diners, the food was as good as it appeared. There is also a traditional family-style roast available on Sundays and bank holidaysOur evil waitress (my apologies to her…I forget her name, and she was delightful!) brought out a dessert menu for us to peruse, which we, of course, had to order from. Choices include cherry almond clafoutis, vanilla panna cotta, and chocolate pudding. We chose the semolina custard rolls (light and flaky, perfectly cooked) with mission figs (carmellized with a kitchen torch), and the peach and blackberry cobbler (fresh fruit with a flaky crust, baked in an individual pot) with vanilla ice cream (fresh and refreshing, a perfect compliment to the meal.) After dinner drinks include a small but impressive selection of sherry or port.
The Dandelion Pub sits somewhat unobtrusively on the corner of 18th and Sansom. It would be very easy to pass by without noticing its existence. Do yourselves a favor…when in that part of the city (especially when enjoying a Philly Fringe day as we did) stop in for lunch, brunch, afternoon tea or dinner at this hidden treasure. The Dandelion is one of the Starr Restaurants, and Stephen Starr has done a fine job recreating a bit of jolly ole England in this classic gastropub. Reservations taken and suggested.
The Dandelion Pub
124 S. 18th Street, Philadelphia