Rarely making an effort to cross the Schuylkill into West Philadelphia, it was not Daniel Stern's (R2L, and previously Gayle and Rae) recently opened restaurant featuring cuisine from the Mid-Atlantic states that persuaded me to make that river leap, but it was a Burger Club Philly meating held at Midatlantic that did the sweet talkin'. And there's not even a veggie burger at Midatlantic!
Behind the long glass facade of Midatlantic is an open and modern restaurant with a rustic reclaimed wood wall behind a shiny steel bar and open kitchen. Sliding steel wall panels at one end of the room create a small private dining area, or can be pushed back to make the room even larger.
An outside patio area is equipped with a long, eye-catching caged box of flames which would be pleasant on cool spring and autumn nights, but no one dared dream of stepping outside this evening with temps in the 20's.
Feeling I should stick with Pennsylvania specialties, I started with the pretzel and Welsch rarebit fondue (PA Dutch meets British, I guess). Expecting the iconic pretzel twist, I was surprised by the long, dense, pretzel with hints of rye. Pretzels come in all shapes, I know, but I'll offer that turd-shaped is not the best presentation. The beer-infused cheddar cheese fondue was thick and pasty with a hard broiled cheese skin. Tasty enough and certainly a generous portion, the pretzel and fondue could use a little refinement to suit the casual fine dining atmosphere.
A veggie version of scrapple is offered on Midatlantic's menu along with pig, crab, and chicken versions of scrapple. All scrapple types come as a sandwich with a side of fries or salad.
Midatlantic's veggie scrapple is a mixture of vegetables, kasha, buckwheat, and oatmeal formed into a patty. Even with a crispy fried outside, the thick patty was mostly mush with a texture, thanks to the substitution of other grains for scrapple's traditional cornmeal, no where close to scrapple. Flavor was also far away from the traditional sage-heavy scrapple. Midatlantic's veggie scrapple is nothing but a grain and veggie burger with zero resemblance to srapple.
So...it turns out Midatlantic does have a veggie burger!
Now, before you comment, I know what you're thinking: I have no room to comment on scrapple since I'm vegetarian. I will counter that I have eaten livermush (the South's equivalent of scrapple), and I have eaten Vrapple, the outstanding vegan scrapple that out-competed all but one pork scrapple in 2009's Scrapplefest.
To end on a bright note, the accompanying Farmhouse salad (minus the summer sausage) was excellent. A wedge of butterhead lettuce with an inspired mix of fresh and pickled carrots, green beans, wax beans, and pearl onion dressed in a light buttermilk dressing was a much better choice that the overly fried, dark brown potato cubes that accompanied the burgers of my fellow diners.
With mostly salads, pickles, and sides left for this vegetarian to sample, if in the rare event I find myself on the other side of the river and at Midatlantic it will probably be for drinks and a nibble, not dinner.
3711 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19104
Lunch: Mon-Fri, 11:30am-2pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat, 5-11pm
Snacks: until midnight