When the weather becomes this beautiful, one of my favorite activities is people-watching. Preferably at a place where I can order frou-frou drinks and pleasing bar food, and, most importantly, get a table. Tavern 17 is one of those places.
Since it opened last year, I have been a fairly regular customer. Its service has generally been a bit spotty (although this week brought us a witty waiter) and its food, while ambitious, sometimes misses the mark. A few blocks off Rittenhouse and down 17th Street, it's also off the beaten track for many. For these things, I am grateful. What might otherwise be a mobbed scene manages to always have an available table or a seat on one of the comfortable leather sofas. When I held my annual birthday happy hour there over the summer, I knew that my guests would fit.
Tavern 17 also offers one of the best ideas: the 3 oz cocktail. Allowing one to sample all of Tavern's riffs on the mojito, including the "bojito," with basil, and the "o-jito," with fresh oranges. I went traditional, pictured above. The cocktail menu is long and interesting, with everything from a cucumber martini to "butterfly kisses," featuring macerated berries in cointreau and brandy spooned into a glass of champagne.
The highlight of Tavern's food offerings has to be the sliders. They offer five types: the hamburger, with dill pickle chip and homemade ketchup; the smoked pork, with apple slaw and cranberry mayo (pictured below); lamb and feta with cucumber and sweet curry mayo; beef short rib with provolone and caramelized onion; and the lump crabcake with romaine and remoulade. The best part? Sample all five for $12.50. Or, as my friend did, order five crabcake sliders (pictured withe mojito, above). Last night, the brioche buns were a bit stale and the sparse portioning of toppings like the ketchup, curry mayo and remoulade added to the dryness of the bun. The stars were the smoked pork (below) and the crab cake, which is always pretty pleasing.
Tavern 17 is located in the Warwick Hotel. In perhaps my most bizarre celebrity sighting, when I went to the ATM in the lobby, I saw... C. Everett Koop. Former Surgeon General.
With all of its quirks (including the Surgeon General), Tavern 17 is a great bar/restaurant for the value. And the outside table, of course.Tavern 17 is located in the Warwick hotel, 220 S. 17th Street, Philadelphia, http://www.tavern17restaurant.com/.