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.
At the suggestion of The Good Phight commenter tommg, we return this week to Center City Philadelphia. This was not my first trip to Brü, as I have been there a couple of times on Friday or Saturday nights. As someone who often experiences some manner of anxiety in the presence of crowds, I did not personally find Friday and Saturday nights at Brü particularly agreeable. Yet, I dared to venture back there on a rainy Tuesday evening for the purposes of conducting a Phillies Bar Review and thus pleasing the internet commentariat.
Before I get into the assessment of tools, I would be remiss to not include tommg's brief, yet effective, pitch of Brü:
Why not do Bru? I was there not long ago, before going to a Who concert because I'm ancient, and I liked it because it had German food (duh) and good beer. At the time, it had Chimay on tap, so it got, in my mind, an 80 overall, just for that. And Brats. I love brats.
Plus, we could stare out the open back of Bru and see the facade of McGillin's.
If you want to get a sense of the Brü aesthetic, their website is absolutely amazing, aside from the background audio. You just scroll and the site whisks you along a walk-through tour of the entire bar. One note to start: the girls wearing suspenders were not around at the time of my visit. This first-look on the website may be more a marketing gimmick than a real reflection of the bar. As you can glean from the tour, there are a couple of things going on at Brü. Walking in from the Chestnut Street entrance--as they do in the virtual tour--one encounters a very modern-feeling bar. There's weird Jenga-like wood panelling and some tropical-looking plants. Odd decor for a German beer bar, for sure. Entering the bar area, the feel is still pretty modern with three sizable TVs and the continuation of the Jenga walls. We keep walking/scrolling and, finally, at the back of the bar near Drury Street, we get our first confirmation that this is a German-themed bar. Although indoors, Brü creates a beer-garden feel with the whole Christmas-lights-suspended-from-wooden-beams thing. Further, cuckoo clocks and old pictures of German-looking faces lets you know you're in Germany, or something.
All in all, it's sort of tacky, but I still like it for some reason. I like that it provided the modern bar for the networking-obsessed MBA and the beer-garden feel for the large group of people that just wants to kick it and drink some damn beers. You have to take some risks to get rewards and Brü gets a small, insignificant, reward for their aesthetic risk-taking in their score in this review.
PHILLIES GAME SPECIALS: 30
As I noted a couple weeks ago, this tool has been slightly reconceived due to the urgings of some in the comment section. Instead of exclusively valuing the presence of clearly delineated specials for Phillies games, I will now award venues that offer affordability in whatever form it may come. Having Phillies-specific specials will be necessary to receive a 70 or 80 in this category--this is an attempt to measure the quality of the place to watch Phillies games, specifically, after all--but bars will be able to score highly now by providing everyday cheap prices.
Brü isn't cheap, not that you expected it to be. Currently, there are no beers under $6 on the menu and I doubt this is a fluky occurrence. Similarly, the food menu has no items below $6. In fact, the cheapest non-side item, is a $6 Pretzel. Granted, it's a very good pretzel, but it's still a pretzel.
A potential avenue for securing a good deal would be to show up a half hour or so before the start of a 7:05PM game to take advantage of their happy hour menu, which has all of their German beers and about half of their other beers available for $4 a pop. That's a pretty good deal, so I would recommend getting one or two of them in before the game starts to a) save a couple bucks and b) be able to endure a Phillies game.
NOTICEABILITY OF GAME: 60
I mentioned that this particular Tuesday night was rainy, and, in fact, the start of the Phillies game against the Yankees was delayed because of said rain. Of the three TVs behind the bar at Brü, two of were tuned in to the Phillies, even during the entirety of the rain delay. That is worth serious points, even if it was simply the result of the bartenders being oblivious. Game audio, however, was not provided, so Brü will have to rest satisfied with a solidly above average--in fact, a one standard deviation above average--grade here.
OTHER FANS/CLIENTELE: 40
As I alluded to while discussing its aesthetic, Brü tends to attract bros and conspicuous happy hour consumers. This is a major knock against the grade here because those people are annoying. (Note: If you are one of those people, I'm sure you're fine. This doesn't apply to you.) However, we had the fortune of sitting next to a perfectly fine human being and conversationalist. I attracted his attention when A-Rod hit a fly ball to deep left field early in the game. I was wearing a Phillies hat and got a little too excited that it might be a home run. He was confused that I was wearing a Phillies hat and cheering for a positive outcome for their opponent. We ended up talking for the next 30 minutes or so until I left. That is why I like watching games at bars when I get the chance--it's fun to meet new people who like baseball.
FOOD/DRINK: 75 (FOOD: 70; DRINK: 80)
I already complained about the prices, but setting that aside, the food and beer are top notch at Brü. For food, Sharon and I split a pretzel and some sort of apple-flavored wurst. They were both incredible. The pretzel comes with a smoked gouda fondue. Both Sharon and I thought the fondue was amazing and ran out of it before we finished the pretzel. The apple-flavored sausage was strange, but really good. It came with two varieties of mustard--sweet and spicy. Both Sharon and I liked the sweet. In fact, I liked it so much, I didn't even bother to try the spicy, but Sharon said it was just as good.
The beer list at Brü is heavy on German beers and, along with Frankford Hall in Fishtown, it certainly has the most extensive list of German beers in the city. In addition to that, half the tap list is devoted to American breweries and that half alone rivals that of just about any other bar in the city. I'd be negligent to not mention that they had bottles of Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout available as well. If any bar is going to get an 80 beer grade, this is going to be it. Tommg nailed it.
I was pleasantly surprised by Brü's performance here. On a Tuesday night, it was crowded enough that you didn't feel lonely but not so crowded that you couldn't find a seat. Sharon and I only arrived 10 minutes before the scheduled start, so we only managed to get in an order of one beer each before the happy hour deals ended. If I were to do it again, I would arrive at 6 or 6:30 in the hope of getting two beers in at the $4 price point to save some money. It's sort of like tailgating in a way--drink before the game starts to save money and better enjoy a crap game.
OVERALL GRADE: 60
Updated Rankings: I'll be updating the rankings of the bars I've visited based on how I graded them at the time of my visit. Recently, thanks to the tutelage of Brandon Lee Gowton from Bleeding Green Nation, or, BLG from BGN if you're into the whole brevity thing, the table has become sortable. 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.
As always, if you have a recommendation for a future bar review, leave it in the comments.
|Bar Name||Neighborhood||Overall Score||Aesthetic||Specials||Noticeability||Other Fans||Food/Drink||Drink 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|
|McGillicuddy's Wayne||Main Line||55||65||50||65||45||50||45||55|
|Devil's Den||South Philly||55||60||35||60||25||65||70||55|
|Roache and O'Brien||Main Line||45||55||65||40||40||40||40||40|
|McGillin's Olde Ale House||Center City||45||50||60||45||30||45||45||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|