This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Andrew Steinthal and Chris Stang from Immaculate Infatuation are on a mission: explore the world of fine dining and Knob Creek® pairing, come hell or high levels of bourbon. After conquering Dallas, Seattle, San Fran, and their hometown of New York, they shot over to the City of Brotherly Love to find out if Philly has more to offer than their infamous cheesesteaks.

On our fifth go-around of Knob Creek® Taste Experience, we hunted down the best eats in Philly. This city has changed a lot over the last five years – upstart restaurants are beginning to receive national attention, both for what’s coming out of the kitchen and what’s being prepped behind the bar. It’s now loaded with all kinds of hot action for your mouth (aside from cheesesteaks, of course). Clearly, it was our duty to eat the hell out of this city.

Parc Brasserie

Restaurateur Steven Starr runs the Philly dining scene. He owns over 20 establishments, almost all of which are worth dining in. The guy has a full-on monopoly — but no one seems to be complaining. Parc Brasserie is his massive French restaurant, located on a corner in the charming Rittenhouse Square and perfect for pretty much any occasion. You could come here on a date, with the parents, or with a bunch of close friends for the purpose of crushing a bunch of brown stuff. Seafood towers, steak frites, frisée salad with lardons — they execute all the classic Americanized versions of French favorites very well here. Drinks at Parc aren't fancy, just simple and straightforward. We had an Old Fashioned, a Sazerac on ice, and a bourbon neat while here, which pair well with just about anything.

Food Rundown

Petit Plateau Seafood Tower

We love a good seafood tower. The Parc tower is loaded with raw bar options like oysters and littleneck clams, a scallop ceviche, mussel salad, king crab legs, and shrimp cocktail.

Charcuterie

You know what goes really well with a Knob Creek® Single Barrel Bourbon? Cured meats. Lots of ‘em.

Salade Lyonnaise

Our favorite salad in the world is the classic French prep of frisée, lardons (bacon chunks) and poached egg (probably because it’s the least healthy salad in the world). They do a great job with it at the Parc. Stang approves.

Steak Frites

You can measure the quality of a French brasserie by their steak frites, and Parc gets high marks. The steak was perfectly cooked — all kinds of juicy and quite delicious. Also, the fries are impossible to eat one by one; handfuls are the only option.

Half Roast Chicken

A solid chicken dish with minimal bells and whistles. Simple is underrated.

Drink Rundown

Sazerac

Knob Creek® Rye Whiskey, Peychaud’s bitters, simple syrup, absinthe, and a lemon twist.

Old Fashioned

Knob Creek® Bourbon, sugar cube, orange slices, Angostura bitters, Maraschino cherry.

Knob Creek® Bourbon, neat

Knob Creek® in a glass, no rocks.

Photos:

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Let’s get this party started.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

We considered a triple-decker seafood tower just for the sake of the photo, but the double-decker doesn’t look so bad, either.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Cheers, Philly.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Frisée salad, Stang approved.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Now that’s a good looking steak frites.

Stateside

We love a high quality bourbon bar that also serves great food, and that's exactly what Stateside is all about. If we had to name a winner of the Taste Experience for Best Drinks, Stateside would take home the gold. Our night officially took a turn for the best when we decided chasing back-to-back shots of Knob Creek® Bourbon with Stateside's homemade pickle juice was a good idea.

Stateside is all the rage among the food enthusiast population of Philly right now — partially because their drink game is on point, but also because the kitchen operates at a high level. The menu of seasonal small plates may be limited, but it’s focused and well curated. Also, the vibe is great. Stateside is exactly the kind of place you want to spend quality time in while catching a buzz. It also doesn't hurt that the late night cheesesteak joints, Pat's and Geno's, are only a few blocks away.

Food Rundown

Oysters

You know what goes quite well with a bourbon cocktail? A dozen oysters on ice. Stateside knows all about this.

Baby Kale Salad

Kale salads are on pretty much every restaurant menu these days, and we have a hard time not ordering them. Stateside’s version came with asparagus and some crazy truffle emulsion. It was really good.

Hamachi Crudo

Thin strips of raw white fish decorated with trout roe, watermelon and shisho. Yup, this was a winner.

Arctic Char

Stateside does impressive work on their seafood appetizers. We thoroughly enjoyed the char, which was beautifully presented with hearts of palm, radishes and yuzu sauce.

Soft-Shell Crab

One of the best dishes we ate on this tour. The crab was lightly fried, perfectly cooked and diced up all nice and pretty. Delicious.

Drink Rundown

Boulevardier

Equal parts Campari, Knob Creek® Bourbon, and sweet vermouth

Bourbon Flip

Knob Creek® Bourbon with a whole egg, bitters, and half and half

Talking John Birch Society Paranoid Blues

Named after an old Bob Dylan song: Gin with sage liquor, house made grenadine, lemon juice, and Knob Creek® Bourbon

Photos:

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Dessert, with bourbon, in a glass.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

The lineup.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Stang drink pose, take one.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Oysters and drinks.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Soft-shell crab, don’t mind if we do.

Talula’s Garden

If you find yourself in Philadelphia during the summer, a meal on the patio at Talula's Garden is mandatory. With the exception of the 2 AM cheesesteaks we barely remember eating, this was definitely our favorite dining experience of the trip. The setting couldn't be any nicer, as Talula clearly takes good care of her Zen-like garden. It's a beautiful oasis of greenery in which to eat, one you'd assume is on an island somewhere and not in the heart of urban Philadelphia. The move is to hit an early dinner here and catch the magic hour just before sunset. Enjoy a meal on the patio that focuses on “seasonal American food inspired by the farm and the garden,” a.k.a. vegetables, cheese and fruity bourbon cocktails. Break out the bandana and your finest Hawaiian shirt.

Food Rundown

Warm Bread

A telling sign at any restaurant is the bread. When you’re sitting in the sunshine and a warm batch of glistening homemade yeast arrives on your table, you know you're in for a treat. Don't fill up on it, though. Save room for the cheese flight, assorted vegetables, pasta, and possibly even an entree or two.

Cheese

Talula takes her cheese very seriously. It has its very own dedicated menu, where you can choose flights of cheese with different themes — from stinky to Italian to seasonally delicious. It’s pretty incredible, and we were quite impressed with how well our server knew each one.

Little Vegetable Dishes

Each dish from this section of the menu looked so good that it was difficult to decide which to get…so we ordered pretty much all of them. Highlights included an amazing Marinated Watermelon and Fresh Corn Salad with smoky macadamia vinaigrette, lime and mint. Roasted Mushrooms Galore was a big crowd pleaser, as was the Marinated Cucumber Salad with pine nuts and feta. The big winner was the Marinated Beets with almonds, herbs, citrus and Talula’s ricotta. Equally stunning on the eyes as it is in your mouth.

Torchon of Hudson Valley Foie Gras

Big coins of chilled foie, served with all kinds of awesome stuff — sliced nectarines, plum jam and brioche toast among other things. Needless to say, this didn’t suck.

Muscovy Duck Breast and Crispy Leg Confit

The duck breast was sliced and served over a bed of glazed farrow oozing with cherries, walnuts and baby turnips. So good.

New England Cod

Talula pretty much dumps her entire garden in each and every dish, and this was no different. Charred artichokes? Check. Spring radish? You know it. Creamy cannellini beans, fennel, black olives? Yup, all that too. The cod itself was nothing special, however it was the accouterments that made this worth ordering.

Drink Rundown

The Daytripper

Knob Creek® Bourbon, local strawberries, and fresh mint

The Treehugger

Knob Creek® Bourbon, maple, and black walnut

The Neat

Knob Creek® Bourbon in a glass, no rocks

Photos:

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Let’s get this garden party started.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Up close and personal with “The Treehugger.”

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Try and look into Steinthal’s eyes. Not possible.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Cheese flight, one of two.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Pretty colors.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Top down. Quack quack.

Fountain Restaurant

You might be wondering why we wound up at Fountain Restaurant in the Four Seasons. Well, we heard nasty, delicious rumors that one of the best burgers in Philadelphia existed here, the much talked about Fountain Truffle Burger. That, and after the success we had at San Fran’s Four Seasons, we decided we’d class it up a bit and splurge on an expensive lunch. This is technically a vacation, so please stop making us feel guilty here.

Truth is, high-profile hotel kitchens usually have smart, classically trained chefs. If they’re ambitious, they’ll take it as an opportunity to hone their craft before going out on their own. We’re not sure if that’s what Fountain Chef Rafael Gonzalez has up his sleeve, but he’s certainly got the skills for it. At Fountain, we found what we expected. White tablecloths, an older crowd, stiff drinks, solid food and an extra large check. This isn’t the first destination we’d suggest when visiting Philly, but you can surely do a lot worse. Just make sure not to max out the old Discover card.

Food Rundown

Ahi Tuna Tartare

A beautifully presented tartare with an Asian flair. Avocado mousse, veggie slaw, seaweed salad and ponzu sauce topped with fresh tuna. We housed this guy.

Garganelli Pasta

A comforting plate of garganelli soaked in a tomato cream sauce with baby zucchini. You can’t really go wrong here.

Fountain Salad

It’s all about the shallot-sherry vinaigrette. When the dressing on the greens and herbs are right, salad can actually be addicting. Who would have thought?

Truffle Burger

Beef chuck, mushrooms, onions, sottocenere cheese, and black truffle aioli on toasted brioche bun. This isn’t the best burger in Philly, but burger lovers will thoroughly enjoy it. It’s a juicy mess in all the right ways.

Drink Rundown

Manhattan

Knob Creek® Rye Whiskey, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, Maraschino cherry.

Old Fashioned

Knob Creek® Bourbon, sugar cube, orange slices, Angostura bitters, Maraschino cherry.

Knob Creek® Bourbon, neat

Knob Creek® Bourbon in a glass, no rocks.

Photos:

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Breakfast bourbon.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Just a couple bros hanging out at a Four Seasons, gazing off in opposite directions.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Smile for the camera, tuna tartare.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Greens and browns.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Truffle burger, get in our collective bellies.

Osteria

Every city needs to have that quintessential Italian restaurant; one that’s hip enough for young people, traditional enough for the older folks, and “now” enough to stay current. That’s exactly what celebrity chef Marc Vetri’s Osteria brings to Philly. Osteria has won James Beard awards and is consistently mentioned on “Best of” lists year after year. It’s a boisterous dining room filled with people feeling it and loving life. They’re assaulting homemade pasta, pizza, bottles of wine and, if you’re us, Knob Creek® Bourbon. Lots of it.

Food Rundown

Burrata Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Lightly fried squash blossoms stuffed with burrata and Alabama blue crab. Yup, these were good.

Charred Peaches

Peaches are a sleeper dish — you rarely see them on menus — but each and every time we get them we wonder why more people don’t put them to good use. Served in a creamy stracciatella with farmer honey and thyme, the peaches had a ton of sweet flavor going on. We essentially had dessert as an appetizer, and we’re definitely OK with that.

House Cured Salumi Plate

The fact that they cure their own meats in-house is impressive. By the way, salty meat pairs quite well with bourbon drinks.

Spinach and Parmigiano Ravioli Alle “Trecce”

Deciding which pasta to choose on an Italian menu can be tough. You know what’s usually a good idea? The first one listed. It’s often the signature, as was the case with these cheese-stuffed green raviolis, which were soft, delicate, and scrumptious.

Polpettine Pizza

Pizzas are a big part of the Osteria menu, and we did work on this creation of spinach, meatballs and pepperoncini on thick dough. Infatuation approved.

Drink Rundown

Knob Creek® Bourbon, neat

Knob Creek® Bourbon in a glass, no rocks.

The Classic Old Fashioned

Knob Creek® Bourbon, orange zest, orange slices, bitters, cherry.

Photos:

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Osteria, it’s business time.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Tasting and experiencing the Knob Creek®.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Neat, that’s how we do.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Meeeeeats.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

That’s what the Polpettine pie looks like.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

There’s a party going on inside these lightly fried squash blossoms.

The Dandelion

To be honest, we’re not the biggest fans of brunch. The general concept of waking up early for bottomless mimosas and soggy eggs benedict doesn’t float our boat. We generally pass on the local greasy spoon and the $25 All-You-Can-Drink spots that turn into spring break by 1 PM. Now, knowing what you now know about us, understand that we had already run five miles, shaved, showered and read the New York Times front to back in an attempt to properly prepare, both mentally and physically, for our morning meal at The Dandelion. When brunch equals burgers, fish and chips and scotch pancakes, you have our undivided attention.

The Dandelion is an American adaptation of an English pub and we absolutely loved it here. It’s the kind of place you walk into and immediately feel the urge to have an alcoholic beverage in hand. We had only been inside and drinkless for less than five minutes, and we were panting from bourbon dehydration like dogs in heat. Luckily, the drinks came flowing. And fast. Not only were the classic cocktails on point, but the food was excellent and the service, phenomenal. As we had hoped, this was a meal worth waking up early for.

Food Rundown

Scones & Jam

They’re famous for their scones and for good reason — they're about as good as any you’ll find in the state of Pennsylvania. And their homemade berry jam ain’t too shabby either. Not a bad way to kick off the meal.

Deviled Eggs

When you come to an English restaurant, deviled eggs are required ordering.

Scotch Pancakes

Buttery silver dollar-sized pancakes bubbling in cinnamon cream with maple apples. Good lord was this good.

Duck and Chicken Liver Parfait

We didn’t order this, but the kitchen brought it out anyway because they thought it would go great with our Knob Creek® Bourbon drinks. They were right. Served with thick slices of airy brioche toast, the warm mousse spread over it like butter. It’s savory, salty and big on flavor.

House Blend Aged Beef Burger

Our server said this was the best burger in Philly. She may not be wrong. This thing was a behemoth, served with Vermont cheddar, pickles, apple smoked bacon and special sauce. Each and every bite oozed with medium rare moisture.

Beer-Battered Fish & Chips

The Dandelion is best known for this dish. It’s one big piece of chatham cod, expertly cooked and then lightly fried, which gives it a crunchy, golden outer layer while maintaining a moist interior. We’ll be thinking about their fries for years to come, too. Thick, crunchy and triple cooked.

Drink Rundown

Manhattan

Knob Creek® Rye Whiskey, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, Maraschino cherry.

Old Fashioned

Knob Creek® Bourbon, orange zest, orange slices, bitters, cherry.

Knob Creek® Bourbon, neat

Knob Creek® Bourbon in a glass, no rocks.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Breakfast is served.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Not a bad way to kick off a meal.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

That duck and chicken liver parfait looks damn good on our Instagram.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Glorious scotch pancakes in cinnamon cream.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Burgers always look at Steinthal sideways.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

The Dandelion’s famous fish and chips.

This is How You Grub in the City of Brotherly Love

Destruction.

All photographs courtesy of Michael Mignano.

Full? Never! Next up on the food tour: Andrew and Chris go wild in Washington, D.C. Until then, head to Immaculate Infatuation to check in with them, or go on a Knob Creek® Tasting Experience yourself.

Knob Creek® is a registered trademark of Jim Beam Brands Co. and is used with permission.