Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Burger and a Beer at Swift Half Pub

It's really only by way of happy accident that our core BP-weekend group ended up at Swift Half Pub for lunch and to commence our adventures in pub crawling. At the request of my three Philly loving comrades, we'd actually headed out to Northern Liberties with lunch at Standard Tap in mind; problem was, I'd forgotten that Standard does lunch only on Saturday and Sunday.... So, a quick walk up 2nd Street it was. We momentarily contemplated Cantina Dos Segundos, but the Denverite amongst our group shot down that idea as he gets his regular fill of Mexican food back home on the Front Range. Continuing on then, we soon found ourselves at the Piazza at Schmidt's.

The Piazza itself is actually worth a visit if you find yourself in the neighborhood, both for its public courtyard design and its conceptual approach to community-focused living. I'm not sure I like the idea of having my living room or bedroom overlook a twenty-foot wide television screen and a courtyard designed for late night communal reveling. But I can see the appeal for those that are more socially minded than I. And I can certainly see the appeal of having a decent place or two to eat and drink within rolling distance of your front door; of the several options at the Piazza, we pointed ourselves straight for the Swift Half.

I'd expected Swift Half to have a hipster dive bar feel along the lines of Center City's Good Dog Bar, as both pubs are under the same ownership. Instead, we found a wide open space with large booths, airy lighting, ample seating and elbow room, finished brick walls, ESPN on the TV.... Kind of MOR one could say, definitely family friendly and, actually, very much in keeping with the open, contemporary, something-for-everyone design of the Piazza at Schmidt's.

Given that I'd worked up a ferocious hunger with that long hike up 2nd Street and that I hadn't filed A Burger and A Beer report since my trip to California back in the fall, it didn't take me long to figure out what to order.

Swift Half's "Traditional Burger" is aptly named as, unlike at Good Dog, where its counterpart is stuffed with molten blue cheese and topped with a mass of caramelized onions, here there are no bells and whistles. Just a half-pound, hand-formed patty of tender sirloin, a leaf of lettuce and a slice of tomato, all sandwiched between a just-barely-substantial-enough-to-hold-it-all-together brioche bun. I opted for a slice of Keen's aged cheddar, worth the $1.50 up-charge for the sharp, nutty, salty goodness it added to the burger, which I might add was copiously juicy and cooked just to the bloody side of medium-rare. Just how I like it. The shoestring fries were satisfying enough but, really, it's the burger that's worth the trip. That and the admirable tap list. A pint of Bell's Amber Ale, which seems to be making a resurgence around town at the moment, was just the thing with which to wash it all down.

Swift Half Pub
1001 North 2nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
(215) 923-1600
Swift Half on Urbanspoon

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