This is the second act of a project undertaken by the author to find the proper company, both in human interaction and in drink, to endure the rebuilding era of Philadelphia Phillies baseball. Absent friends who even bother to pretend to care about the Phillies, that same author has taken to the streets, as it were, of Philadelphia and its environs to find the ideal spot to watch a Phillies game. Just as Socrates found himself unsatisfied in his pursuit of the Forms, the present author will likely find himself in a similarly futile, albeit less noble, pursuit. Nonetheless, this series has been promised to the internet, and internet promises must be upheld.
Note: If you require a refresher on the exceptionally rigorous methodology behind these reviews, refer to the first post in this series.
This season, due to the reviewer's offseason move to the suburbs (henceforth referred to as "the ‘burbs"), the geographical scope of this series will be expanding slightly westward. Seeing as westward expansion is as essential to the American fabric weaved by old white historians as baseball, it seems justifiable that, even in its infancy, this exploration would turn westward. As it was last year, the evaluative glance will primarily focus on bars in the city of Philadelphia, but some weeks it might not be possible to conduct extended baseballing business in the city.
For the second consecutive review, I was able to find my way into the city of Philadelphia. However, unlike last session in which I had a predetermined destination, lack of decisiveness in the planning stages of this review rendered me a temporary vagrant. I wandered into one bar that was small, crowded, and didn't have bar seating. I walked around the block waiting for my girlfriend, hoping she would offer bar-related guidance. We searched for a suitable location for her to lock her bike. After half-heartedly brainstorming where we might go, we settled on the closest place: Fox and Hound.
As it turns out, this wasn't a terrible decision, but this is not quite the time to expound on that reveal in general terms. These reviews have a scientific methodology that we must maintain in the interest of upholding the tradition of rigor that runs through this series. If our neighbors across the street have taught us anything, it is that the process must be upheld and trusted regardless of how contingencies might tempt us to deviate from its way.
But, just as the Process can't be skirted, we can ill-afford to put off this review much longer. So, in the interest of rigor, I would like to welcome you to Fox and Hound!
As is probably evident if you've read previous installments in this series, I prefer small, neighborhood bars for watching games. That atmosphere, I feel, is more conducive to conversation and complaining about all your Phillies-related troubles to the open ear either of a grizzly barkeep or an incoherent fellow patron. This seems more suitable for enduring the misery of a Phillies season. Intimate is not a word that one would use to accurately describe Fox and Hound. It is a huge sports bar with an overwhelming number of overwhelmingly large televisions. The floorplan is excessively open, which makes its size a true force with which a visitor must reckon. In a (couple of) word(s), the aesthetic of Fox and Hound is "mega-sports bar." It does it well, but such a vast, TV-dominated space is not well-suited for misery in the company of a drink.
Phillies Game Specials: 40
At the urging of our comment section, I have lowered my standards on the specials. Although the name of the tool will not change, one should interpret it as the ability to eat and drink at said establishment for three hours or so without spending a bloody fortune. For food, Fox and Hound scores low as it serves average-to-slightly-below-average bar food at slightly-above-average prices. Not an ideal mix, to say the least. On the drink side, it depends on the night. I would recommend going on a Tuesday night, if you're going to go at all, because Tuesdays are $2 draft beer nights. That applies to all draft beers, not just the watery ones. Last winter, there was a major snowstorm on Tuesday, work closed early, and I anticipated no work the next day. I texted a couple of friends and we posted up for a solid 5 hours drinking $2 beers. When the check arrived, it was so long, it should have been presented on a scroll. Each of us paid less than $20 before tip, if I recall. In case you were curious, work was not cancelled the next day. That was fun.
Noticeability of Game: 50
Without any other compelling Philadelphia sporting events taking place at this time of year, there is no reason for a Philadelphia-area bar to not have the Phillies game featured prominently. On a slow Tuesday night featuring only baseball and playoff basketball, Fox and Hound scraped by with mediocre Phillies coverage. The game was featured on approximately 1/3 of their TVs and there was no audio (not that I expected that from a Megabar. A perfectly average grade of 50 seems appropriate here. I should be giving more 50s; this is only my second of the series.
Quality of Other Fans/Clientele: 35
When you go to a bar in Center City and, in particular, to one like Fox and Hound, you're probably not going there to meet new people you will like. With very few places as exceptions, I avoid Center City bars with greater zeal than that with which I seek a glass of water after a hungover, weekend morning long run. That I even dared to cross the threshold of Fox and Hound marks a triumph of no small measure. That the other people there did not automatically receive a grade of 20 is even more impressive. For the most part, the other people behaved like I expect others to behave in public--they sat down and shut up. There's little worse in this world than an over-cheerer--the person putting on airs of fandom to receive attention and praise. One has an increased risk of encountering that type in places like this just as Ash will find more dangerous Pokemon as he advances through the map of the game. This time, fortunately, we found a wild Pidgey in the tall grass of Center City Philadelphia.
Beer/Food: 45 (Beer: 50; Food: 45)
The tap list at Fox and Hound is solid if unspectacular. If you're even moderately cultured when it comes to not-crappy beer, you'll likely never here encounter a new beer. On the other hand, unless you are an insufferably snobby consumer, you will most certainly find something you enjoy drinking. Outside of Philadelphia, the tap list here would receive a score of 60 or better, but park adjustments can be a bitch. Philadelphia is Petco Park.
I briefly dealt with the food while discussing the specials, characterizing it as too expensive for its quality. Here, we'll go a little deeper into that quality. Sharon and I split a Ranch Burger and Nachos. Both were pretty disappointing in my opinion. First, I don't know why we got the Ranch Burger. I don't like ranch dressing and I understand Sharon to be sympathetic to that opinion. We kind of froze when put on the spot by the bartender. That's the only explanation I have. We ordered it rare and it came out medium, if we're being charitable. As a result, it lacked flavor that inferior garnishing, such as ranch dressing, was unable to make up for. The nachos were just okay once you adjust for the fact that anything with melted cheese is going to be pretty good. As I said, it's standard bar food, but maybe a notch below average.
Despite being nominally a sports bar, it should be clear by now that Fox and Hound will not perform favorably under the rigorous scrutiny of this review. "Will it be the worst?" That is the one question that remains after this review. To discover the answer to that, you will have to scroll to the end of this paragraph and then refer to the table at the bottom of the page (now sortable! h/t Brandon Lee Gowton from Bleeding Green Nation). But, first, you'll have to bear with me for just a bit, or cheat.
Unlike the most recent review of the Wishing Well where I got an early sense that I was in a special place, Fox and Hound gave me the opposite sense. That sense was that Fox and Hound was a place that encouraged and could accommodate a large crowd. Now, I don't like crowds. So much so that two tools--aesthetic and other fans--act essentially as controls to make sure places like Fox and Hound don't rate favorably. While scout ratings might be objective, the tools they choose to rate are subjective. These bar reviews are the same. The methodology is set up to screw over Fox and Hound and I stand behind it.
Fox and Hound, as a Megabar, is certainly a bar for someone--the over-cheerer, a person clad in a suit on the weekends, a NOOB--but it is not for me and, since I am the creator of this unobjectionable reviewing methodology, it is not for these reviews either.
Overall Grade: 35
Updated Rankings: As a new feature, I'll be updating the rankings of the bars I've visited based on how I graded them at the time of my visit. In the future, grades might be updated and bars might move up and down the list. Instances like those, if they ever occur, will be duly noted. Ties have been broken arbitrarily.
|Bar Name||Neighborhood||Overall Score||Aesthetic||Specials||Noticeability||Other Fans||Beer/Food||Beer Subscore||Food Subscore|
|Wishing Well||Bella Vista||70||70||60||70||70||60||55||65|
|Great American Pub||Main Line||65||75||40||55||60||50||35||65|
|Citizens Bank Park||South Philly||60||65||25||75||65||45||55||45|
|Devil's Den||South Philly||55||60||35||60||25||65||70||55|
|Madira Bar & Grill||Point Breeze||40||30||55||40||35||60||55||60|
|Fox and Hound||Center City||35||35||40||50||35||45||50||45|