If there's a blockbuster movie, you can bet that I'll wait the 9-12 months for it to come out on DVD, and then wait another year or two before I watch it...if even at all. Similarly, with great patience and disinterest is about how I approach much-talked-about restaurant openings. I'm in no hurry to be seen, or be in the know.
And so, I waited for a good while to visit Jose Garces' whiskey emporium, Village Whiskey. In fact, I never even planned on visiting Village Whiskey until I saw that the neighboring restaurant I intended to dine at did not have outdoor seating, and, well, it was such a lovely evening, so decided to take up residence at one of Village Whiskey's outdoor tables.
Village Whiskey showcases over 100 bourbon, rye, Irish, blended, and Scotch whiskeys, but don't miss the wines, beers, and delicious sounding cocktails also on the menu. With most drinks costing more than the food, we went the economical route and ordered a bottle of Village Sangaree for $28. One of the better sangrias I've tasted recently, this mix of whiskey (of course!), orange curacao, red wine, Fees Barrel Aged, Fees Orange, sugar, and lemon juice poured out 6-7 healthy wine glass servings, making the Village Sangaree one of the wisest drink choices.
Vegetarians will find most of their choices on the small menu under the bar snacks column: tater tots, deviled eggs, soft pretzels, and cheese puffs. If there is a deviled egg on a menu I will order it. Village Whiskey's deviled eggs are filled with a creamy, salty (but not too salty), pickle-studded filling. Perfect and familiar. Nothing avant garde, just classic.Also, be sure to check out the assortment of pickled vegetables, each individually served in a hinged canning jar accompanied by black olive tapenade, whipped ricotta, and toasted sourdough. A steal at $4, the cherry tomato pickles were both sweet and tart without being overwhelmingly so. Perfection, really. Thanks to Meal Ticket and the recipe for Village Whiskey's pickled tomatoes they posted, you can recreate them at home this summer. I've heard many complaints about Village Whiskey's duck fat fries being limp, but our fries fried in vegetable oil (not on the menu; you have to ask) were perfectly crispy. Maybe skip the duck fat indulgence next time, guys. I'd also skip the Sly Fox Cheddar cheese sauce; it was so mild and flavorless that the flavor of the potatoes outshined the sauce. The cheese sauce was ignored in favor of plain ol' ketchup.
Garces' 8-ounce beef Village Burger tops most Philly burger connoisseurs' list of best burger in Philly, but how does Garces' veggie burger stack up? Well, the crunch and tang of the bright pink pickled cabbage was not enough contrast to the mushy black bean burger, creamy guacamole and soft sesame seeded bun. The veggie burger was tasty enough and a pretty bean patty, but it does not live up the the Garces legend. Stick to the starters, my veg friends.
With the exception of the $26 famed foie gras-topped Whiskey King burger and the $28 Lobster roll, the food prices at Village Whiskey are quite reasonable. What is not reasonable are the drink prices, especially the straight whiskey drinks, which will put you back anywhere from $6-$70, with most parked somewhere right in the middle.
If I had to do it again, I'd do it all much the same — cheap and delicious bar snacks with an economical bottle of cool sangria.
118 S. 20th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103