Hilltown Tavern, Manayunk
Holy Shit! I normally don’t begin a review with expletives, but this is an unusual occasion.
Today was one of those back-to-back conference call days, that lasted through my usual lunch hour. It was 2:15 before I was able to break away. That is one of those hours where one is famished, but still has to be careful not to ruin the dinner appetite.
I figured wings are light, and I’d run by the Union Tap, but it was closed. Checking Yelp for “Wings” came up with a few alternatives sorted by distance. I generally don’t like Main Street Manayunk parking so I went for a more “tucked away” neighborhood tappy.
Hilltown is SMACK in the middle of a residential neighborhood with plenty of street parking and several outdoor tables. As I walked in, I was surprised how many little kids were at the bar (not imbibing, but nibbling snacks while their dads pounded down a Guinness or two.) They had the requisite craft beers as well as local foam, and 11 different Irish whiskeys. So far so good.
Irish tavern food is always hearty, but usually not extraordinary cuisine. My expectations set, I almost ordered the wings, but something caught my eye. “Disco Fries” are typically a pathetic New Jersey diner version of the provincial Quebec specialty, poutine, rendered with cheap Mozzarella and canned brown gravy as opposed to the squeaky fresh curds and veloute proffered by our Northern neighbors.
This version included SHORT RIB and scallions. How badly could I go wrong? What arrived in less than five minutes was a basket of steaming hot FRESH CUT fries with piles of tender succulent short rib strips that melted in my mouth. The Cheddar was of good quality, and rapidly melted into the rich brown gravy creating the gestalt which is the hallmark of good poutine .. all without the traditional Styrofoam container.
I included the beer glass in the picture for scale. No fewer than FIVE fully-grown adult Russets gave their lives for this one order. It was far more than I could eat, but I gave it a valiant effort. This could easily have satisfied four big guys. For $11.
The very friendly barmaid assured me all their food was of similar quality and quantity. Certainly another place I intend to revisit, and explore the menu.
I realize I just reviewed Hilltown Tavern, but need to add this footnote. I stopped in for lunch today at noon and found out they actually have a LUNCH menu, where items are essentially half off what they charge after 2:00 P.M. I simply arrived too late last time.
Burgers are 7 bucks (including this perfectly medium rare baby with sharp Irish cheddar and whiskey-caramelized onions on a toasted brioche roll that held up until the last bite.) Also the fries are available in “1/2 size portions” including the disco (short rib) and these BAY fries with cheddar and delicate lump crab meat.) I could STILL not finish the 1/2 size (but hey.. there WAS a burger on the side.) Burger had an excellent char taste, by the way, and was quality beef. Among the better burgers in the area,