Top Shelf: Looking for Love
Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue, 200 South Broad Street, 19th floor, 215-790-1919, nineteenrestaurant.com
Don’t waste a drink here on any ol’ Joe Schmoe. It’s simply too … special, too intimate, too classy. For starters, there’s that rosy lighting, the product of a crackling fireplace reflecting off dark wood paneling and chocolate-brown leather seating — a timeless homage, perhaps, to the legendary Founders restaurant, which occupied this space from 1988 to 2005. Here, 19 stories up feels miles, and years, removed from the world below; the perfectly curated bar menu, with high-end classics plus 19 signature cocktails, adds to the aura of possibilities: of your Most Romantic Night in Philly, of that breathtaking view (it’s said that in Founders’ heyday, Philly’s great minds were so inspired by the vista down Broad Street that they anointed it Avenue of the Arts), and of those hotel rooms below, just waiting for you.
The Glenmorgan Bar & Grill
593 East Lancaster Avenue, St. Davids, 10-341-3188, glenmorgan.com
Enter Radnor Hotel’s Glenmorgan on a typical night and you might see coupled-up 40-somethings canoodling around the expansive oval bar, while a single guy watches the Phillies over a Bud, and a boisterous convention group laughs from a nearby table. It’s your average hotel bar/restaurant, in other words. But come happy hour, it isn’t just the watering hole for lonely hotel guests; half the folks here are regulars — classy, straight-from-the-office Main-Line-ers, who come from five to seven on weekdays for the lengthy martini list and see-and-be-seen atmosphere. No wonder its awards from suburban mags include Best Happy Hour and Best Place to Cheat on Your Spouse.
1300 West Strasburg Road (Route 162), West Chester, 610-692-4367, marshaltoninn.com
The sublimely cozy, entirely wood-surfaced taproom at this circa 1814 horse-country bistro is romantic, but it’s not the sort of place to take someone you shouldn’t be seen with. The space is small, and the locals are, well, inquisitive. They’ll introduce themselves, and you’ll hear their stories, and before you know it they’ll be offering you a glass of wine from the bottle that barkeep Tim Madden has opened for them personally, and you’ll be asking them the secret to their 35-year marriage, and they’ll inquire when you’re planning on starting a family, and you’ll look over your craft beer into his eyes and know full well that it’s probably tonight. Unfortunately, the inn no longer has guest rooms for such worthy projects.
Brownies 23 East
23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, brownies23east.com
If you went to college on the Main Line and did it right, you know Brownies. You know about “Sink or Swim” Wednesdays (free pizza and wings, and 50-cent drafts and $1 mixed drinks that have sunk more ’Nova and St. Joe’s kids than finals week). You know that if you join the mailing list, you won’t have to pay the cover. And you remember when that frenetic combo of cheap booze, live music and exam angst resulted in a mid-dance-floor makeout session with that hottie from your bio lab.