Goodbye, Letterly Street

We go to set­tle­ment on our Let­ter­ly Street home in a few hours. Once it’s over, it’ll be the first time nei­ther Helen nor I have rent­ed or owned a prop­er­ty in the Philadel­phia area since we met in 1996.

You were good to us, Let­ter­ly Street. Thanks for all the won­der­ful mem­o­ries.


Saying Goodbye to Port Fishington

When Helen and I first set­tled in Port Fish­ing­ton six years ago, we thought we’d made a bad deci­sion. We’d moved from a vibrant, bustling street in Pennsport to a des­o­late block above York Street. We found lots of vacant hous­es and even less to eat. It was­n’t scary; the neigh­bors were friend­ly and wel­com­ing. They plant­ed the tree in front of our house for a few bucks and a case of beer! But we still felt like we’d left the place we loved for a place we could afford. That feel­ing of buy­er’s remorse was hard to ignore.

Now that we’re get­ting ready to say good­bye to Philadel­phia, we know we made the right choice mov­ing here. This neigh­bor­hood flour­ished since we moved here, with fan­tas­tic new restau­rants to go along with the music scene. We’ve been spoiled by hav­ing Greens­grow Farm around the cor­ner. If you’d told me then that Stephen Starr would have not one, but two restau­rants here, I would’ve laughed in your face. And then it hap­pened. Heck, I intro­duced the #toomany­gas­trop­ubs hash­tag as a tongue-in-cheek com­plaint about our restau­rant boun­ty.

We loved it so much, we start­ed a fam­i­ly here. Char­lie loves it, too! We’ve played count­less games on the side­walk in front of our house, say­ing hel­lo to every­one who smiles at him as they pass. We made Mem­phis Tap­room our liv­ing room away from home. We con­vinced our friends to move here, too! We’ve made great mem­o­ries here. Port Fish­ing­ton’s been good to us. We’re going to miss this place when we go.


Sad Social Media Commentary on the Fishtown Library

I par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Save the Library protest back in Novem­ber 2008. When I recent­ly vis­it­ed, I checked into Foursquare. If I check in again, I’ll be may­or of the joint. At a time when peo­ple are check­ing into Wawa, you’d think at least a hand­ful of folks would still be will­ing to pop in for a book or two. Does it real­ly make more sense to pay for every book you read?

C’mon, denizens of Fish­town! Vis­it your local library. Check out a book! It’s free and it will make you smarter. And you can hit Kraft­work imme­di­ate­ly after­ward to reward your­self.


The Fishtown Coffee Problem

When Helen and I moved to Port Fish­ing­ton, or Flat Iron as it’s prop­er­ly known, from the hus­tle and bus­tle of Two Street, we were in for a rude awak­en­ing. There was prac­ti­cal­ly noth­ing here! Want a bite to eat? Our neigh­bors rec­om­mend­ed Apple­bees! Good piz­za? Key Foods!

Yuck. Stranger, there was just one cof­fee option for the bulk of Fish­town: the dread­ed Rock­et Cat. Now, Rock­et Cat brought cof­fee right into the heart of Fish­town, locat­ed at the cor­ners of Frank­ford and Nor­ris, which is about as great a loca­tion as you can have in this neck of the woods. It’s a shame they serve bad cof­fee at pre­mi­um prices with ser­vice that will ruin your day. Top it off with the shop’s west Philly vibe and you’ve got the tri­fec­ta of awful.

Last year we wel­comed Milkcrate Cafe to Fish­town. It’s been out go-to spot when con­ve­nient. They serve La Colombe cof­fee, which is the gold stan­dard of Philly cof­fee. Major upgrade over Rock­et Cat, although they claim to have fol­lowed suit as cus­tomers reject­ed their watery organ­ic blend. Bonus, right? It is, but Milkcrate is quite a hike, unless I’m head­ed to Penn Treaty Park with Char­lie on a Sun­day morn­ing. The cof­fee’s good, the price is right and the ser­vice is won­der­ful, but I just don’t get over their often enough for it to be my reg­u­lar spot. Would­n’t hurt if they did some­thing about the seat­ing, too.

Enter the Lola Bean, which opened Sat­ur­day, right on Frank­ford just a block from John­ny Bren­da’s. I’ve already been twice! The cof­fee’s great and the ser­vice is love­ly. It’s a great addi­tion in the heart of what will soon be a bur­geon­ing strip of new busi­ness­es. I’m real­ly excit­ed to see what hap­pens next!

Best part about the Fish­town cof­fee “prob­lem?” We have options! It’s a lux­u­ry we did­n’t have just three years ago. Love local folks invest­ing in the neigh­bor­hood!

Drinking Eating

Have You Been to Kraftwork?

I’ve been to Kraft­work a num­ber of times now and I think I like it. I mean, it’s okay. There’s that one sand­wich that’s real­ly deli­cious, but not much else that real­ly stands out on the (recent­ly recon­sid­ered) menu. The draught list is amaz­ing, although it’s like doing surgery with a shot­gun; put enough beers on tap and you’re sure to get some­thing right, no?

But you can fix menus and curate beer lists to make it seem like you know what you’re doing, rather than not want­i­ng to get it wrong. What you can’t real­ly change is phys­i­cal plant. If you want to be clubbed over the head with con­cept, Kraft­work is the place. With­out even men­tion­ing the clunk­er of a name, you know it’s styl­ized to a fault, which real­ly dis­tracts from the things that prob­a­bly brought you there in the first place. Did I men­tion how NOISY it is? Now, I know I’m get­ting old­er, but when you have a DJ spin­ning dance music dur­ing din­ner, at a place that does­n’t have a dance floor, you’re going out of your way to seem sil­ly. I mean, at least the Abbaye had sen­si­ble brunch DJs.

Thing I hear from fans of craft beer and gas­trop­ubs in gen­er­al though is that the prices are sim­ply too high. I can get a pint of Russ­ian Riv­er Blind Pig for less than I can a tulip of the same at Kraft­work. And while the taps are more plen­ti­ful than oth­er neigh­bor­hood bars, I don’t get the sense that more thought went into select­ing what’s on them. Instead of feel­ing like you’re get­ting a deal on some­thing that’s been care­ful­ly con­sid­ered, you know you’re over­pay­ing for some­thing you can prob­a­bly get some­where else in town.

Will I keep going back? Absolute­ly. I have faith that Adam Rit­ter will get it right and, hell, who I am to say any­thing: the place is usu­al­ly full to over­flow­ing, which is a good prob­lem to have in this econ­o­my. If they can build a tasty, inex­pen­sive menu around their beer can chick­en sand­wich, then they’re already on the right track. Where else can you get a Mikkeller Break­fast Beer Geek Impe­r­i­al Stout at 10:30 on a Sun­day morn­ing?