Posted 11 September 2009 - 05:36 AM
First, I am ashamed how much I miss Brasserie Perrier. Without Perrier, the only really classy traditional bars are in steakhouses. I hardly ever ate there (maybe once-twice/year) but I enjoyed it every time. Why is this relevant? Because Village Whiskey is a classy traditional bar and it is not a steakhouse.
Second, I get good service in general from restaurants (I guess the tip system works), bad service is the exception for me, and usually not because of the server but the set-up (he has too many tables, etc). But there was something about the service at Village whiskey that made me warm all over. We could not get a table or seat anywhere, we had drinks at Tinto, the hostess came over to tell us a table was ready at Whiskey Bar, and then our drinks and bill were whisked over to Whiskey Bar from Tinto. I know it is a unique set of circumstances (both places have the same owner) but they could have thumbed their noses at us and I would not have even complained it would have been so natural.
Third, I love Tinto, and I am sorry, a restaurant next to a place I love basks in its glow.
Fourth and least important, the food was delicious. The menu is very small, even too small I would say (there should be more than two green salads on this sort of a menu if you ask me). As good as the hamburger was, it will get old. We ordered 2 dozen oysters and the server forgot to bring them. Who cares? Not me. I was tipsy by then, our server was adorable-hot but not snooty, and everything was good and my guests pleased.
I will be back, but now I hope Garces opens other places I secretly lust for, like a BRASSERIE.
Posted 04 October 2009 - 05:46 AM
In any event, we had time to return there and my impression was the same. Mistake after mistake but the service, atmosphere, food, and importance of the place's genre (non-hotel non-steakhouse classy/conservative bar) won me over so that this is one of my favorite bars in Philly. As a practical matter, its limited seating makes it a dfficult place to meet someone for drinks unless you are willing to fall back to Tinto or perhaps American Noble around the corner. And I can imagine getting tired of its really small menu with a few weak spots. The lobster roll seemed weak on the lobster and could not be eaten as a sandwich as served. I did not think my wife's vegetarian burger was anything special. I really think a place like WB should have more salads than just Cobb and Green, perhaps Caesar, Nicoise and something else. It needs two or three more entrees.
What seemed to be watered-down cocktails were taken off my bill when I complained. And I do not know that they were since I am no cocktail-expert, the opposite. But the place and staff just exudes class. $61/person.
Posted 04 October 2009 - 09:13 AM
I tried the deviled eggs, which were good. My wife got an ice cream sundae, and the ice cream was melted. I also tried the soft pretzels; they were offensively bad. Not remotely pretzel-like; some kind of pastry dough, a totally non-pretzel like texture, smothered in a mustard sauce.
I had a cocktail which was unmemorable. The scotch list is very disappointing to me, on two levels. First, it's just not a very impressive list. Perhaps my expectations were too high (think Brandy Library in nyc), but this list just isn't going to excite a scotch lover, in the sense that you're probably not going to encounter any expressions that you haven't encountered regularly before.
Now about the prices. Wow. A 1oz pour of Highland Park 18 year is $45. You can regularly find 750 ml bottles of the stuff for ~80 (here's one for $75). 750 ml = just over 25 oz, so at $75/bottle this is $3/oz. Vs. the $45/oz they're charging, this is a 1400% markup.
I should remind you that unlike with wine, scotch doesn't go bad after you open a bottle, so there shouldn't be any substantial premium for getting a glass or small pour vs. getting the bottle.
Now I'm sure someone's going to look it up, and indeed the Highland Park 18 seems to be $125 through the PLCB to us civilians. (Though I could swear I've seen in, and indeed purchased it, in stores for less.) This would still be an 800% markup. Though I still the the other figure is relevant, as from the perspective of what's a good value, it doesn't matter what the establishment paid, it matters what you would have to pay.
I'll add that I have no problem paying $45 for an ounce pour of something, as silly as that might seem. I believe I've spent well in excess of twice that for that size pour of mind-blowingly special stuff at the Brandy Library. But I'm sure as hell not going to spend that money on stuff that I have sitting in my apartment already that I purchased for a fraction of the cost.
Posted 31 December 2009 - 08:00 AM
As others have mentioned, this place is small and still pretty popular, resulting in a 30min wait (no waiting area) for a seat at the bar at 1:45pm on a weekday. Tables started to open up around 2:30pm.
I ordered the top of the line, Whiskey King - an 8oz burger patty w/maple bourbon glazed cipollini onions, applewood bacon, foie gras and rogue bleu cheese (which I recommend getting on the side so that it does not overpower the foie). When the burger arrived, it had a nice piece of perfectly cooked foie gras on top, but the bun was sitting in a pool of liquid - not ideal for the brioche bun. The liquid seemed to be a combination of the braising liquid from the onions, melting of the foie gras and oozing from the burger. Now, I don't mind a juicy burger, but I don't recall ordering a sloppy joe. Nonetheless, I brace the ginormous burger and in my best Adam Richman impression from Man vs. Food, I dive right in.
Juicy - check
Fresh brioche bun - check
Subtle flavors of the foie (if you put blue cheese on the side) - check
Best tasting burger I have had - errr.....not so fast.
Yes, the burger was juicy and the foie flavors just speeked through on certain bites, but what was missing IMHO is the ever so important flavor of the meat itself!! The best burger I have ever had is the 40 day aged prime burger from David Burke's steakhouse in Chicago. Not because it was the most opulent burger I have had (that honor goes to the DB burger at Daniel Boulud in NYC - 36 hr braised short ribs with foie and truffles), but rather for the umami that the meat exuded. I would rate the Whiskey King burger a 7.5 out of 10 for the price. Personally, I think they can loose the blue cheese which can easily overpower the other flavors and offer it as an additional topping. Perhaps next time, I will go a more minimalist route their regular burger topped with caramelized onions and fried egg.
On to the duck fries, which are a separate order. Nice but not particularly memorable. The seasoning on the fries makes it next to impossible to pick up any subtle flavors the duck fat might have imparted.
Service was friendly and efficient. The selection of whiskey and bourbons were good, but as David points out, the markups are too high. Besides, I recognized many of the same names I stock in my bar at home.
So in short, if you have not been, try it out but if you are a burger purist, skip the Whiskey King.
Posted 08 February 2011 - 07:33 AM
Went with three people, we all got burgers and split the cheddar and short rib fries. Those damn fries are excellent. They took over the whole meal, since we were all basically full after eating them. I ordered my burger with bacon and blue cheese, and it came out perfectly medium-rare. It was a fine burger and I was perfectly content with it, but it was missing something that made me think "this is the best burger in the city". When you bite into a great burger, you know instantly. I'd say the Village Whiskey burger is just short of that. I can't put my finger on it. It was a good burger, but not anything to wait more than 20 minutes for, and certainly never 2 hours for. The fries, on the other hand, I'd wait an hour for. They're that good.