Johnny Brenda’s

9 05 2009

Anita and I have now been to Johnny Brenda’s three times in the past three months, which we think officially makes it our “hangout.” JB’s is unpretentious but too cool for school at the same time. Too cool for us, anyway. Most of the clientele are tattooed bikers, groups of lesbians, starving artists, or fashionable under-25-year-olds. Anita and I currently do not fit into any of those categories, but we get served the same as everyone else.

The interior is eclectic. Enter through the front past a pool table and long bar and sit in the back where there are plenty of tables and a wide window that is thrown open on nice days. Upstairs is a stage where live music happens after 9:00 almost every night. This is past our bedtime so we have never been to that part.


The view from JB’s is of Girard Avenue, a busy street that has a lot of vacant buildings:

The charming trolley rolls on by every few minutes, which makes up for the otherwise depressing street:

The menu changes by the minute. Literally. During the two hours we were there, I’d say at least ten items were erased and added to the boards. The beer is local and reasonably priced:
beer board

The food is delicious but a bit pricey. (Do you notice something odd about the food menu? Post below if you see it.)

I was excited to see PBC’s Fleur de Lehigh on the menu. This beer is light, citrusy, and unfiltered. I told Anita I thought it had a grassy taste and she told me I was crazy. But it does.
fleur de lehigh

We always get the fries. Because they are almost the best fries in Philadelphia. I’d say that Monk’s fries beat JB’s fries but not by much.

I ordered the baked oysters for $9.50 only because I wasn’t that hungry and Anita said that it only came with three. But these were so tasty. So moist. So tender. I couldn’t place all of the flavors and ingredients, but I know there was some bits of bacon on them.  The herbs might have been cilantro and dill but again, I wasn’t sure.

George joined us for dinner and ordered the ribs.  They were mouth-wateringly good.  Falling off the bone and covered with BBQ sauce, George said he would definitely order them again.  On the side were collard greens cooked with bacon, which were tender and sweet.


Anita’s dinner was a little disappointing.  The lamb chops were fine, but her sides were not.  We decided that she had Israeli couscous with some Mediterranean flavoring, but it was mushy and not at all al dente the way we think any couscous should be.  The potatoes were just potatoes and did not fit into the theme.  Her yogurt and dill dipping sauce was Anita’s favorite part.


It was Friday, we were sitting by the open window, and George covered our tab.  I love George!  He’s one of the girls but he pays!  Then we realized that JB’s does not have TVs to watch the Phillies.  Refreshing, but we were still checking our phones to see what the score was:


I am so excited that JB’s is our new hangout.  Now we just have to get some tats and leather.


Review: Monk’s Cafe, Philadelphia

18 03 2009

Monk’s Cafe is a Philadelphia stomping ground. Known for its burgers, fries, mussels, and Beer Bible, this corner bar hasn’t changed much over the years–in a good way. The burgers are still $8.50. The fries still come separate. The Bible is still holy. And the only night of the year it’s empty is on St. Patrick’s Day.

I got there early and took a few experimental shots:





This Flemish Sour Ale was not sour at all–it was rich and sweet and nutty.

We started our meal with the country terrine, which I don’t usually like, but I practically inhaled this and didn’t even need the toast.


I chose a new burger on their menu: the Antwerp with sottocenerre truffle cheese and shiitake mushrooms. Matt chose an old favorite, the Brussels (bacon and cheddar).



This is the burger cooked medium:


The basket of fries can easily be shared. These are my favorite fries of all time–and I consider myself to be a very picky fry-eater. These are perfectly cooked–not too mushy and not too crunchy–served with a mayonnaise sauce.


We never needed to use this:


The menus are so comfortable. I really don’t think anything has changed in at least six years–maybe a couple of additions here and there. Of course, the beers on tap are always in rotation.


Besides the sour ale, we also had these delicious beers…



…from the Beer Bible:


Total bill (terraine, two burgers, fries, 28 oz. bottle of beer, one glass Chimay, and one bar draft) not including tip: $66. Not bad.

Visit Monk’s in Philly. They don’t take reservations and you won’t get seated until the whole party is there. The bar is small and the decor is tired. But it’s worth the wait and the food never disappoints. Neither does the beer.


Check out these blogs for more reviews on Monk’s Cafe:

Days That End in Y
McDuff’s Food & Wine Trail