Each trip I've taken to Philadelphia has followed the same routine. Alex picks me up at the Bolt Bus stop, gives me a sorely needed warm embrace, and then we gaily saunter to Capogiro where we proceed to fill our digestive tracts with gelato.
But that's when I arrive in Philly at 10 p.m. on a Friday night. During my last visit, I arrived at 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon; we skipped the gelato and went straight to Alex's apartment so I could plop down my bags and hang out Alex-style, which involved collectively oogling over photos of autumnal gourds in Martha Stewart Living, covering his mattress in more layers of fluffy bedding than I've ever felt on a sleeping surface before, and learning about the Chinese chicken feet-market on Planet Money.
And then at some point, it became dinner. Alex and I met up with his friend Chris at Standard Tap, one of the top places to try on my Philly burger list.
Alas, it didn't live up to expectations. Not that it was bad—it just left me wanting something better. The components of grilled 7-ounce patty with cheese, sautéed mushrooms, semi-grilled onions, lettuce, and tomato came together fine—nothing stood out as memorably great or bad. The meat wasn't particularly juicy, not dry. The flavor wasn't bland, nor cast any rays of bovine sunshine into my mouth. It's a good burger, just not one I would go out of my way for.
I wrote more about the burger on A Hamburger Today if you want the full sort-of-thought-out review. That's not how we do things on TGWAE. Noooo.
Alex and Chris shared two vegetarian dishes: the veggie burger and the butternut squash and goat cheese. Veggie burger got two thumbs down, while the squash-n-cheese dish got points for flavor, but demerits for awkward execution and inadequate amount of toasted bread.
Despite being quite stuffed, the night of eating was far from over. Because it ain't over until my intestines attempt to leech the nutrients out of something sugar-based.
We moseyed down through Northern Liberties to get to Franklin Fountain, an ice cream and soda shop made to look like something from the early 1900s, but is only five years old. DON'T BE FOOLED. Not that you would be. Read more about the shop's history at their website since I don't feel like summarizing it.
Their menu features over 20 flavors of homemade ice cream, specialty sundaes, and a wide variety of non-alcoholic beverages (WOOHOO FOR ME) including milkshakes, phosphates, and ice cream sodas.
...And 25 different flavors to choose from for your soda.
Alex, Chris, and I shared The Franklin Mint, a big metal bowl neatly packed with vanilla ice cream layered on top of mint chip ice cream, smothered in fluffy marshmallow glaze accented with lines of chocolate syrup and creme de menthe, encircled by a halo of whipped cream around the edge, and finished off with a mint-flavored green maraschino cherry that is purely decorative and probably shouldn't be eaten even though it is technically non-toxic.
So...yeah, it's tasty. Because how could all that stuff in my last paragraph not be tasty? Every refreshing creme de menthe-enhanced bite features gooey creaminess heaped upon sweet, non-gooey creaminess, interspersed with crispy chocolate bits. ENJOY IT, YOU MUST.
And finish it, you must. Even if your stomach is all like, "Nooo, I'm too full, stop it, you're going to tear through the lining"—ppfff, whatever, you just plow through the pain. Unless you feel like you're gonna puke, in which case, it's time to stop.
Against better judgment, which is usually how I handle situations related to overeating, I hobbled back inside to try a drink: the Japanese Thirst Killer phosphate made with orgeat (almond-flavored syrup), grape juice, and angostura bitters with phosphate.
So what the heck is a phosphate? The name given to sodas made with phosphoric acid, which Wikipedia says "gives the bite taste" found in colas—er, the acidic flavor. It might have shitty effects on your health (not that sodas lacking phosphoric acid would be good for you) like, ooh, maybe encourage osteoporosis, so don't guzzle it down or anything. I like soda as an occasional treat, such as when I come across one called Japanese Thirst Killer.
Now that I just spent way too much time looking up information about phosphoric acid (and not having much to show for it), I don't think there was much of it in my drink—it was pretty mellow without much "bite." But it was pleasant. It tastes like grape. And...other things I couldn't really discern, but I assume if they weren't in the drink it would've just tasted like fizzy grape juice, which it didn't. Sort of.
No matter what my drink tasted like (or didn't), I'm a fan of Franklin Fountain for providing interesting mixed drinks that aren't based in throat-burning fermented grain juice squeezed by the fist of Satan. (For those who don't already know, I have a sort of deep, raging aversion towards alcohol. My reaction to a sip of hard liquor is akin to that of a three-year-old who just tasted...well, hard liquor, screwed-up face and expulsion of tongue and all, the difference being that I can express my distaste with a slightly larger vocabulary: "Oh sweet jesus what the hell was that and why does anyone enjoy this?" Not that I won't try alcoholic beverages—oh, I will, but it's unlikely I will ever fully any of them.)
All I remember about the rest of the night was feeling one step below "vomitous." Once again, I ate too much. When will it end? When will I learn? How am I not obese? So many questions to which there are no concrete answers.
Philly Eats, Part II: Banh Mi from Q.T. and a Bucket-O-Bean-Curd
Philly Eats, Part I: Capogiro, Carman's Country Kitchen, Random Pizza, and Tiffin
French Toast from Sabrina's and a Burger from Monk's
A Day of Pork and Beef from DiNic's and Royal Tavern