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Phillies Bar Review: Madira Bar and Grill

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The first part in a series of reviews of bars in which the reader might consume a Phillies game as well as various beverages.

Beer + Baseball = America
Beer + Baseball = America
Rich Schultz

Now that we're over 2/3 of the way through the season, it should be strikingly obvious to every sentient being who both inhabits this world and pays any attention to baseball, in particular the Major League variety thereof, that the Phillies are not a very good team this year. Amaro even admitted as much earlier this week when he, for the first time, expressed a thought long on the minds of all those who follow this site, namely, that the Phillies probably aren't going to be a competitive team anytime soon.

During times of such despair and hardship, us humans need two things most of all: drink and company. It is because of these sad times, then, that I am pleased to introduce a project I have been meaning to officially undertake for some time: a thorough review and subsequent ranking of various bars in the Philadelphia area regarding their suitability for watching Phillies games.

A Note on Method

Because this series is baseball-related, bars will be graded on the 20-80 scouting scale on the basis of what I have formulated as the five tools of a good Phillies bar:

  • Aesthetic: This will be judged in a way not dissimilar from how Potter Stewart identifies hardcore porn: I know a bar aesthetically suitable for viewing Phillies games when I see it.

  • Phillies Game Specials: Pretty self-explanatory. A good bar will have a couple beers and a meal-sized food option on special. Cool cocktail concepts will be awarded extra points, but not many because I likely won't sample them due to price and a strong personal preference for beer.

  • Noticeability of Game in the Bar: Like a scout might go to see a game assuming a all the players are capable of picking up a baseball bat, I'm going into each bar with the assumption that they will have the Phillies on. No points will be awarded just for showing up. An average bar will have  the game featured prominently, either on multiple TVs or on an especially large one, depending on the size of the bar. Good bars will have the audio on loud enough to hear clearly.

  • Quality of Other Fans/Clientele: The Phillies aren't particularly good this year and aren't likely to be any more pleasant to watch in the near future. I don't know about you, dear reader, but I'm certainly not up for enduring this alone. A good bar will have many fans watching and reacting to the game without engaging in obnoxious displays of mindless fandom.

  • Beer/Food (sub-scores will be given for each): At least on the beer side, the available specials will probably not be enough to sustain me for an entire game. I don't like to order the same beer twice in a session, so I will need a good selection to choose from for 9 innings. To score well here, a bar will likely need at least 20 beers on tap, or an incredibly well-chosen selection of at least 10 beers.

I'm not particularly picky with food, so this portion of the grade will probably be generous across the field. In general, food options should be traditional enough to be recognizable to my American culinary taxonomy, yet unique enough to not blend in with everywhere else.

Appending these five tool grades will be an overall grade for the bar, again on the 20-80 scale, that bears no strict mathematical relation to the component scores. Most of the time, this will probably correspond closely to the average of the component pieces. Sometimes, however, as a student, you write a paper that gets torn to shreds in the comments, yet ends up with a good grade or, similarly, you write a paper that receives praise throughout only to be slapped with a poor grade. Sometimes life doesn't turn out how you'd expect.

Madira Bar and Grill: A Bar for All and None (Point Breeze)

Date Visited: 6/6/2014

With Philly Beer Week bringing crowds to most mainstream bars in the city, I was attracted to Madira because it was off the beaten path. Add the promise of Phillies specials and this figured to be an appealing option given the circumstances.

Aesthetic: Madira has a classic bottle shop in the front, bar in the back layout. Like any new bar (it opened in the fall), it struggles in the personality department for the same reason most high schoolers are all unpleasant people--they haven't overcome much adversity yet. No bar fights, no divorces, no experiences of unrequited love through which it might define itself. It's too early to give up hope, but it's hard to tell what exactly it is, or thinks it is, yet. 30

Phillies Specials: As noted on their fine website, Madira offers two beers for $3 and fries for $2 during Phillies games. I found the beer choices amusing: DC Brau Citizen, likely an attempt to make a nominal connection to Citizen's Bank Park, and Shiner Ruby Red, presumably because the Phillies wear clothes with red on them. Additionally, they have a daily sandwich and beer special. On Friday it was a chicken burger with some herb chutney spread and a Lagunitas IPA for $10. Extra points for creative selections for beer names, but otherwise, pretty average offerings. 55

Noticeability of Game in Bar: This one is tricky. On one hand, the game was shown on the largest TV in the bar, which was prominently placed dead center, with the volume on, albeit on low. On the other hand, the TV was inexplicably not changed from live ESPN coverage of the Madden 15 Cover Vote to the Phillies game--remember this bar advertises its Phillies specials online--until the 2nd inning.

This is not the special you are looking for. 40

Quality of Other Fans/Clientele: Until the 6th inning, Lady Larue and I were the only non-employees in the bar. When others came later on, it was likely more on account of the time and day (9pm on a Friday night) than the broadcasting of the Phillies. Accordingly, the fan aspect of this grade will not be complementary. But, notice that this tool accounts for non-fan clientele. In this case, I will add some points for the hipster quality of said clientele. I don't care much for hipster men, as I find them unbecomingly self-absorbed. There were, however, some chill hipster lady-folk, whose company I quite enjoy. 35

Beer/Food: Madira had 18 beers on tap and, while the list was not excellent top to bottom, there were a number of good selections in there: Lagunitas IPA, Racer 5 IPA, Daisy Cutter, Hennepin, Nugget Nectar. They also featured an alcoholic root beer float. I only had a sip, but Lady Larue very much enjoyed a couple of those.

On the food side, I found the fries overly salty, but everything else was plus. The chicken burger I had was solid on it's own, but the herb chutney spread they put on it added an extra kick and the uniqueness I'm looking for in a world too full of cookie cutter bar food. Lady LaRue had a chicken curry that was a topic of conversation for hours, so points will be awarded on its account.

Beer: 55, Food: 60, Cumulative: 60

Final Thoughts: This place has potential. Currently, it really doesn't cut it, but it'll be worth a revisit in a year or so because a) it has only been open since the fall and b) it is on the edge of a rapidly developing neighborhood. The grade here is reflective of my experience Friday night, but, if everything breaks right, Madira projects as an above-average neighborhood spot with all-star potential.

Overall Grade: 40 (60 Potential)