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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Old City Tavern | Old City District | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

When I arrived in Philadelphia, my stomach was gurgling and throwing a fit because she was hungry. I had every intention of going to Red Hook Tea and Coffee since I hadn't been there in three years,but I was running late and ended up at the Red Owl Tavern on 5th and Market instead. I had coffee, applewood smoked turkey bacon, and a bagel. It was pretty good.

I loved this sign. I will get a pie when I go on Black Friday since it helps charity.

After I finished the tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, it was close to 1PM. My stomach began gurgling again and was screaming, "I'M HUNGRY! FEED ME!" and I knew I had to get lunch. Since I rely on public transit, the 38 is the only SEPTA bus that runs from the Art Museum and it goes to 5th and Market. I had every intention of going to Red Hook Tea and Coffee since the restaurant is on 4th and South (that's why I went to 5th and Market in the morning), but on my way there I had a hunkering for rabbit. I hadn't had rabbit since I last went to Casablanca, a Moroccan restaurant in Warrington, PA, in February 2011. It was well overdue for rabbit. I Googled restaurants that serve rabbit in Philadelphia and it yielded four results.

The Old City Tavern was the only place near where I was going - South 2nd Street. It would only be a three block walk and I felt comfortable with that area. I always passed it when I would walk to Cedars on 2nd and South (South 2nd Street is 2nd and Market heading south, where 2nd and South is South Street intersecting with 2nd Street) or South Street in general. I always thought it looked like William Penn Inn and with that assumption I thought it'd be expensive since William Penn Inn is expensive.

It is, but I wanted to give it a try. I wanted rabbit and their website sold me. Everyone dresses in period clothing and the food is period food. I love that. It was very windy on Friday and when I arrived, I was windblown. I looked forward to sitting down and having a hot meal.

The hostess, dressed in Colonial dress and bonnet, seated me. When I sat down, I had a pewter cup and classic porcelain dishes. A guy dressed in his best blue Colonial wear poured water into my pewter cup. My waiter, dressed like the other guy introduced himself and asked if I wanted anything to drink. I asked him if they served non alcoholic drinks, they did - hot apple cider, raspberry shrub (vinegar based raspberry juice mixed with Sprite), the coke products. I settled on the raspberry shrub. It was actually pretty good.

He also brought me different breads. One was a tea bread, which I loved; one was a molasses bread, which I didn't like because it tasted fermented; then Thomas Jefferson's pecan scones, which were to die for. I actually ordered more of the scones. So sweet. I then ordered potato leak soup as an appetizer, then braised rabbit for the meal.

The potato leak soup was amazing. It was creamy and rich, it paired well with the tea bread they gave me. The potatoes were cooked well, they were soft to the teeth (I like soft foods, so I see this as a good thing) and the leeks blended the flavors well. Potato leek soup is one of my favorite soups.

The braised rabbit was interesting. I never had anything braised before and it was rich. The rabbit was tender and very good. Was cooked perfectly and wasn't tough either. The rabbit was mixed in a wine sauce with vegetables, so I had to dig through the vegetables to eat the rabbit first. I did eat the rabbit with the vegetables, but I had a lot of vegetables left over when I was full. I had it wrapped to go. He included some rabbit in the wrappings - it was amazing reheated.

Close up of the rabbit, though it's dark.

The waiter did bring out the dessert tray and the desserts looked AMAZING- from creme brule to pumpkin cheesecake, but I was full. I also didn't want to overspend - my lunch was $30. Like I said, it's a high end restaurant and very good, but is a place one goes to on special occasions. I would definitely go back because I loved the atmosphere. I loved going back in time to the Colonial period and enjoying a meal from that time period. I also loved the rabbit and would order it again. I would recommend the Old City Tavern to anyone from other re-enactors to everyday people.

The layout. I didn't take pictures of the waitstaff for obvious reasons. City Tavern website


  1. Hi, dear Jessica! What a feast! I love hot cider on a chilly day. The pecan scones sound scrummy. I haven't eaten rabbit since childhood but might be tempted to try it at a good restaurant. Mrs. S occasionally makes us potato leek soup. At the moment my stomach isn't screaming "I'M HUNGRY. FEED ME!" It's screaming, "WHY DID YOU EAT THAT DEER MEAT"? You see, my out of state relatives got me to try a meat loaf they prepared. I was halfway through eating it before they revealed it was made from deer meat. That was at dinner, Friday. Today, Mrs. Shady and I both feel poorly. It might not be related to the deer meat at all, just being in close proximity to a group of people which included germy children.

    I'm happy to know you are having such great dining experiences, dear friend!

    1. Hi Shady!

      Oh no. I hope it was sick children and not the deer. I've never had deer, but dad is friends with a butcher and gave Nan deer meat for her to turn into meatballs. She had to give the meatballs back, but her and dad said the meat smelled strong. I'd try it! I hope you feel better, though!

      Mmmm... I would love to try to make potato leek soup. Is it hard? I can't really find rabbit around here, so I always have to rely on a restaurant. Even that is hard to come by.

  2. Sounds delicious. I'd like to try the pies at Red Owl.

    1. It was. :) $12 for a whole pie; $7 for a slice - that's why I didn't get a slice and well, I didn't walk back to 5th Street after lunch because I caught the el at 2nd Street to go back to 15th Street to ice skate.

  3. That turkey bacon looks good. I've never eaten rabbit. I don't think I've ever been in a restaurant where it was served. I don't know why the idea of eating rabbit or lamb bothers me. I eat beef and pork. They're all animals. I'm glad you had a scrumptious meal.


    1. Hi Janie,

      Turkey bacon is awesome. I was nervous about trying it for the first time last month, but I'm glad I did. Since I don't eat pork anymore, I'm glad it tastes good. I've been incorporating other meats I can eat into my diet.

      I actually don't like lamb. I had it once when I was 10 and got sick. Was probably just a stomach bug, but I associate lamb with that. I remember the taste being strong. I like duck, bison, elk, rabbit, alligator, and snapper. It's hard to find rabbit here too. That one Middle Eastern restaurant has it, as does the City Tavern, but it's slim pickings outside of those restaurants.

      I think I'd go back for a birthday or something. Like I said, the price isn't something I could afford all the time.