Village Whiskey, Philadelphia

Village Whiskey is one of Jose Garces’s Phildelphia restaurants. The Jose Garces who is an Iron Chef. He also owns Amada and Tinto and more recently Garces Trading Company. I’ve been to Tinto, a tapas place which I love. I so love tapas, it really is the way to explore food but that’s another blog. This one’s about Village Whiskey which is actually more a bar with it’s 100 odd varieties of whiskey but being a Jose Garces joint, it’s also known for it’s food, especially the burgers!

I recently went for lunch on a work day so I focused on the food, not the drinking. I’ve wanted to go try the burger ever since I saw a feature on the restaurant on The Food Network, or was it The Cooking Channel? Before I get to the burger, let’s talk about the “restaurant” itself. I really like the look of the place, kind of like an old, worn bar. It’s a pretty narrow place with some booths and a bunch of stools along a long bar. It’s like a long standing, small neighborhood bar. Very cool.

The clientele is an interesting mix of guys in suits (like me), trendier and younger people in their 20s, blue collar workers and attractive model types. It makes for a nice mix and great people watching.

There were 3 things I wanted to try – the pickled tomatoes, the duck fat fries and the whiskey burger. The picked tomatoes come in a cool jar along with whipped ricotta cheese and slices of baguette. The way to eat them is to spread the ricotta on the bread and then add the tomato. This is so simple and so good. They taste so fresh, slightly tart from the acid in the pickling liquid along with the different spices. I’ve made these at home. Very simple and a real crowd pleaser at parties.

The duck fat fries are perfectly fried. They have the right thickness, the right crunch and so damn good. One word describes them – yummy! That is high praise since I am so finicky about my fries. I’ve eaten plenty in my time, so I do know my fries.

Onto the main event – the burger. I decided to indulge in the whiskey burger that comes with foie gras. Normally I’m not a huge fan of foie gras on burgers since I think it’s over indulgent and unnecessary but I’d heard so much about it that I had to try it. It also included caramelized onions. The burger arrived and it look wonderful and then I took a bite. My first thought was yummy, I so wanted to like this burger and then I actually started processing what I was tasting. The burger was a little dry, a little bland and the onions were way too sweet. And the foie gras, over indulgent and unncessary. This was becoming disappointing. A few more bites later and I knew that this truly was disappointing. It’s all the more disappointing when you’ve just expended all those calories and saturated fat on something that wasn’t worth it. Damn!

Overall I would say that everything else about Village Whiskey was great, but the burger was disappointing. Perhaps I should have gone with the basic burger. Oh well!

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