In my recent review of High Street on Market, I wrote that brunch there set my spouse on a “tirade” charging the restaurant with “Brooklynizing Philadelphia comfort food” via its “inhospitality to non-foodies” at that tender hour.
Later, Eater posted a summary of my review, remarking: “Oh, what we wouldn’t give to read a full companion review by Popp’s wife.”
Which made me laugh out loud, because I’d actually tried—fruitlessly—to get her to write one.
If we’d had an audio recorder on our ride home that morning, all it would have taken was a little transcription. We’ve been going out to eat for a good many years now, but never has a meal teed her off like that brunch did. And one of the most interesting things about her diatribe was that she’d enjoyed just about every bite of the meal that sparked it.
It made for a lively debate in the car. She took up the cause of the non-adventurous boyfriend, pulled out of his pajamas to try a spot his more-intrepid girlfriend had her eye on. The menu we’d just feasted on lacked safe harbors for such a pair. Which is fine at dinner, my wife argued, but inhospitable before noon—when a lot of folks just want a bagel, or an omelet, or an egg sandwich that’s simply a little plainer than the oyster-mushroom-and-kale job that had just spilled its runny yolk over the sides of a rim-less wooden plank in front of her (which, I had to agree, came pretty close to a Park Slope parody).
Brunch, she maintained, ought to welcome all comers. And a place that failed to do that was snobby.
I played devil’s advocate. “But you liked everything,” I said. “And if people want plain, conservative, boring brunch food, they’ve got nothing but options—all they have to do is go to any other brunch place in Philadelphia.”
But then it was back to the poor boyfriend who shouldn’t have to be put in the position of spoiling his sweetheart’s quest for squid-ink bialys. And from there it was back to our five-year-old, who almost always looks at the bright side but had spent half our brunch moaning, “But I just wanted a bagel…”
I ended up deciding that my wife was right. (An area in which my experience is vast.) And since one of the things that elevates Ellen Yin’s restaurants above all but a small handful of others in town is her deep hospitality, I decided it was worthwhile to point out in my review an area of easy improvement toward that end.
But it turns out that Yin was a step ahead of me—or a step ahead of the magazine’s lengthy production schedule, at any rate. The day my review came out, she sent me a characteristically kind email about it, and noted that they’d added plain bagels to the breakfast and brunch roster since my visit.
This week I swung by to try one. There were plain, poppy seed, sesame seed, and everything bagels, still warm from the oven at about 8:30am. The one I tried was excellent. It had a slightly thinner shell than the ones at Spread, a terrifically chewy interior, and a faint sweetness that was barely perceptible under a noticeably (and pleasantly) sour smear of cream cheese.
I look forward to more. And more to the point, so does my wife, and the rest of our brood.
High Street On Market Review [Philly mag]
High Street On Market [f8b8z]