Dark Beer Tap Takeover At The Red Owl Tavern


As a way to put the final knife in the back of this wretched winter, the Red Owl Tavern is celebrating the Ides of March with a well-curated dark beer tap takeover. It starts tomorrow, Friday the 14th, and will run straight through the weekend with local and national craft beers at the bar.

So what will you be drinking? I’m so glad you asked. They’ve got Philadelphia Brewing’s Joe Porter for starters, Shawnee Black IPA, Founders Reserve Breakfast Stout, Southern Tier 2X Milk Stout and then Sly Fox Nihilist Imperial Stout to round out the list. So if you’re a fan of beers that drink like a meal–or if you really just need a drink or seven to get through this last terrible stretch of cold and ice–check ‘em out this weekend.

Red Owl Tavern [f8b8z]

Craig LaBan’s Year in Bells

Photo by Jim Graham

Photo by Jim Graham

Craig LaBan’s Year in Bells came out last weekend. The annual feature includes some revisits to restaurants reviewed earlier and the announcement of a Chef of the Year award.

The Saint James in Ardmore, which was skewered a year ago in its initial review has now been upgraded to a single bell (hit-or-miss). Citron & Rose, which lost its partnership with Michael Solomonov and his Zahav team maintained its two-bells, based on the strength of new chef, Karen Nicolas.

Tiffin Bistro and Red Owl Tavern rounded out the revisites. Each managed to hang on to their one bell ratings but frankly, each sounded lucky to have done so.

Chef Eli Kulp, who came to Fork and High Street on Market from New York’s Torrisi Italian Specialties was named Chef of the Year. LaBan said of Kulp’s cooking, “his knack for unexpected combos and rustic techniques (offbeat pastas, fermenting, charcuterie) produced grand presentations like his whole-duck feast – a multi-part poultry masterpiece that was among the best birds (and meatballs) I’ve ever eaten.”

Craig LaBan’s Year in Bells [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Red Owl Tavern Stumbles Out of the Gate


Red Owl Tavern couldn’t put it all together for Trey Popp as the restaurant in the Hotel Monaco was the definition of hit-or-miss.

Such was the pattern: a few things to like in a dish, and then something else that marred it. Luscious house-made pastrami sandwiched in flaccid “grilled naan” without char. Exquisitely cooked sheepshead snapper over an underseasoned cassoulet. A dynamite linguica sausage—arranged on awkwardly oversized toast bites. A deep liquor list but completely forgettable cocktails. Even the beet pasta I loved at Square 1682 was gummy here. And service was a roll of the dice: swift and candid one night, clueless and interminable another.

One Star – Fair

Philadelphia Restaurant Review: Culinary Fumbles at Red Owl Tavern [Philadelphia magazine]
Red Owl Tavern [Official Site]

Photo by Courtney Apple

Philadelphia Restaurant Review: Culinary Fumbles at Red Owl Tavern


“No matter where you go, there you are.”

A review typically requires more than one sentence, but when it comes to describing most hotel restaurants, Buckaroo Banzai’s eight-word epigram does the trick perfectly. Whether the rooms upstairs have a view of Central Park, Biscayne Bay or east Market Street, the dining room might as well be in Cleveland. There’ll be steak and salmon, a blue-chip wine list, and barely a whiff of whatever city lies beyond the doors.

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Red Owl Tavern Needs Some Polish


It is indeed a hit-or-miss affair at Red Owl Tavern on Independence Mall. Craig LaBan finds some good dishes but all too often sloppy cooking and service hinder his meals.

This kitchen’s determination to do much of the butchering in-house, however, has paid dividends with a few highlights. The charcuterie platter features a number of excellent nibbles, from hickory-smoked lomo to spot-on country pate. The house-made sausages of the day, which come over grilled toast smeared with white beans, were also worthwhile, from the smoky spice of the andouille to the winey savor of linguica. The seafood sausage had some texture issues, and the ground halibut and scallops were a little chalky without the use of cream, but the flavor was still excellent.

One Bell – Hit-or-Miss

Red Owl Tavern [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Red Owl Tavern [Official Site]

The Menu: Red Owl Tavern

We’ve been keeping our eye on the progress over at the Red Owl Tavern, going into what appears to be the bottom two floors of the Hotel Monaco at 5th and Chestnut. Just this afternoon we’ve learned that a hard date–October 4–has been set for the opening of the hotel itself, Red Owl and Stratus (the rooftop cocktail lounge), and that Guillermo Tellez (of Square 1682) will now be on as exec chef for all three properties.

But what’s even better? We also got to take a look at the opening menu…

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Help Wanted: Chef to Drive Ginormous Restaurant on Independence Square


Uwishunu has a bunch of slick rendering of the upcoming Hotel Monaco that is coming to 5th and Chestnut Streets. Included in the 268 room hotel will be the 130-seat Red Owl Tavern and a 300 seat rooftop bar and lounge. The Red Owl is being described as “chef-driven” and offering a chef’s table, mezzanine seating and outdoor dining along 5th Street. The rooftop bar and lounge will be open all year with table service, heat lamps and two pavilions available for private events.

So if you’re a chef with a good name and want to run a restaurant right on Independence Mall, we’d suggest getting your resume in pronto. The hotel and Red Owl Tavern are both aiming to open this September.

Coming Attraction: A First Look Inside The Forthcoming Hotel Monaco, And Its Restaurant The Red Owl Tavern [UWISHUNU]