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Setting the Bars High: Craftsman Row & Bar One

One thing I am unrelentingly boastful of about Philly (though now that I think about it, there are a LOT of things) is the bar scene. Countless casual corner bars put out high quality draft list and burgers without being pretentious about it. Last week I was invited to sample the bites and drinks of two newcomers in this genre: Craftsman Row Saloon and Bar One.

Craftsman Row Saloon opened in December by Jeweler's Row, replacing Coco's which I never got a chance to try. The Saloon is run by the same team behind Opa/Drury; showing Philly they know more than just Greek food with a more American comfort food style menu. Inside, animal horns and dark seating help form the saloon vibe.

My favorite of the night, was the super flavorful country style fried chicken and biscuits ($14.50).

It seems that casual decadence is the theme here, from the Dorito crusted mozz sticks, the brisket filled crock of mac and cheese ($10), and the cured meat topped burger called "The Stalone" with ham, genoa, capicola, sharp provolone, red pepper relish ($13). Cocktails have the same not taking itself too seriously attitude with 5 adult milkshakes to choose from.

Craftsman Row Saloon, 112 S. Eighth St, 215 923-0123


Bar One opens today in the former Wishing Well spot on 9th and Catherine. Like Craftsman Row, the family behind Bar One isn't new. The owner comes from Ralph's around the corner (5th generation) and helped open the Ralph's KOP location before pouncing on this corner spot to make it his own. True story about the Wishing Well- a few years ago my crew took advantage of their unlimited brunch on St. Patrick's day. Let's just say I did not make it out for the rest of the day's festivities.

"Italian" style spring rolls come in a few varieties, I was in to my samples of buffalo chicken cheesesteak and roast pork but will be back for the shrimp and mushroom pesto. If I remember correctly, Bar One has plans for a half off EVERYTHING happy hour. I liked the calamari over kale salad, but preferred the couscous salad with goat cheese and candied walnuts, everyone has pickled beets these days, so I was particularly impressed with these bright and snappy cubes.

From the short list of homemade pasta, the classic papperelle with short rib wins with its generous portion of slow cooked meat.

Juicy lamb burger is wrapped in prosciutto and comes with a pad of goat cheese.

To finish with something sweet, we sampled some of the decadent brunch menu items: the tiramisu french toast and my favorite, cannoli pancakes ($12). I believe Bar One is the only spot in Philly to find this "why didn't I think of that" creation. Like Craftsman Row Saloon, you can find some playful cocktails here too- a Manhattan comes with a frozen cube of juice and bitters.

This week is the soft opening for Bar One, with a free snacks during happy hour this Friday.

Bar One, 767 South 9th Street, 484-238-1990

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