Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bar Hygge, Philadelphia, PA - Restaurant Review

Bar Hygge, Philadelphia, PA - Restaurant Review 
It's been ages since I've done a restaurant review! I don't really have a reason as to why it's taken me so long to get back out there and experience the foodie scene, other than I'm a food hoarding recluse, but Philly is right over the bridge and it has a lot to offer. 
Bar Hygge (pronounced HOO-gah) is one of the newest editions to the Philly food scene, and my step-dad and uncle did all it's carpentry! (Which is how I knew this place existed or how to pronounce it's name.) Bar Hygge brews it's own beer, makes unique appetizer boards and entrees (with vegan options), and the building is decorated with tons of recycled materials. It's hipster-y, which has become a dirty word in the food scene, but it all comes together nicely creating a cozy artsy atmosphere without being pretentious.
They used staves (which are the curved planks of wood used to make barrels, the more you know...)  to line the restaurant walls and the bar, while the metal rings that once held those barrels together have been turned into chandeliers and light fixtures. There are also a ton of reclaimed windows fitted together into a wall where you can take a peek at the brewery machinery at work, and a seating area with mismatched vintage couches. Now the photos of the restaurant and seating area are really gorgeous online, because there's no people in them. Hygge has been packed since they've opened! There are so many people enjoying themselves that you really can't appreciate all the work that went into the atmosphere, but I'm guessing the owners don't mind. After all, business is booming!
My family wanted to go and see my step-dad and uncle's work on this place, so the day before Valentine's Day we packed into two cars and drove on over to Philly for a bite to eat. 
We had reservations, but more family ended up coming than we originally expected. I think I've mentioned this before, but my family is Italian, so the restaurant owner joked, "I should have known better. When an Italian family says 6 they always mean 10." Which is very very true. Especially when it comes to my family, but they figured out a way to seat us anyway and our server Alex was amazing. He dealt with all our indecisiveness, kept our glasses full, and he entertained us all night. He was really wonderful, and if he isn't head-waiter or server, or whatever higher ranking Hygge has for their staff, I would be absolutely shocked. If any of you have ever worked with food and hospitality in your lives, you know how hard it can be, and Alex went above and beyond while handling all the stress of a packed house with a line outside like a champ. I made sure he got a really good tip at the end of the night, but he was so great that I wanted to make sure I gave him a shout out here on the blog as well. (If you or anyone at Bar Hygge read this, Alex, you're awesome! Thank you so much for a lovely evening.) 
Now we get to the best part of this post, the food! 
At Bar Hygge they have a "board" menu, which consists of various meats, cheeses, breads, and a few more elaborate dishes. It's like a fancy grown up appetizer platter, but it's also great for snacking on if you're only there to have a few drinks. For our board we got...
  • Crispy Brussels - chili lime glaze, toasted pecans, avocado puree 
  • Bresaola - Beef, Italy
  • Acorn Squash - whipped tofu, toasted pepitas, chive
Oh man, where do I begin? I love brussel sprouts and these were AMAZING. Way better than the roasted garlic ones I make at home. They were crispy, slightly charred, a little tangy from the lime juice, and the avocado puree on the side was really refreshing. These sprouts were so good they converted a known sprout hater at our table, and he ended up wanting to order a second round of them!
The Bresaola was amazing too! It melted in your mouth and it had this awesome mustard-y flavoring. It was pate style, so you spread it onto the fresh bread, which is normally a texture I am not into when it comes to meats, but I really liked it. (Mostly because of the tangy and spicy mustardy flavoring.)  
Finally we had the acorn squash, which tasted like they had been coated in some kind of curry seasoning. The squash was tender, the seeds added a nice crunch, and the spice blend was sweet and spicy at the same time. I really liked these a lot, but my boyfriend felt like they were too sweet. 
In the center of it all was a cup of truffle butter, and my sister loved that stuff so much she kept the leftovers to spread onto her burger bun later.  
For my main course I got the Seared Atlantic Salmon, which came with quinoa, roasted beets, blood orange, garbanzo beans, and carrot.  It was light, delicious, and very refreshing. The Salmon was cooked perfectly! To be honest, I'm still not 100% on board with quinoa without added sauces, but this mixture was really good as long as I ate it with some of the sliced and roasted beets hidden underneath. (I freaking love beets.) The garbanzo beans on the side were crispy and fried with some kind of savory spice blend that was really addicting, and it added a crispy crunchy texture to this mostly soft dish. The pureed carrot on the side was great presentation, but it wasn't the star of this dish. For me, the beets and the salmon took center stage and I was really happy with my choice.
My boyfriend is vegetarian, so he got the vegan "pulled pork" sliders with slaw and fries.  He worked at a deli when he was young, so he's really picky about coleslaw being fresh, and this totally won him over. He wishes vegan and vegetarian food in Jersey was this good. He really loved his meal, and even though I didn't try any of his sliders, I did steal eat a few of his fries and they were crispy and nicely seasoned. Just the way I like them! I'll definitely have to get my own order next time.
For dessert they had this warm banana bread pudding served with a boozy whipped cream and chopped nuts. I can't find a formal write up for it anywhere to share the ingredients, but it was warm, banana-heavy and delicious. If I weren't so full from everything else I would have ate the entire thing myself. Thankfully Hygge has to-go boxes, so whatever I didn't eat at the restaurant got wrapped up so I could enjoy round two in my PJ's in the comfort of my own home. 
Bar Hygge has just opened, and it doesn't look like the crowds are stopping any time soon. Everyone at our table loved their meal, and even though we traded bites and tastes here and there, I don't think I'll be satisfied until I can try their entire menu for myself. (Especially those vegan sliders.) If you're in the area and you want some really great food in a fancy bar with a lot of atmosphere, you should check out Bar Hygge in Philadelphia. (Although you better call ahead to make reservations just in case, and if you're Italian it's always safe to add an extra person or two to the table count just in case.)
 © Maria Smith http://poison-and-antidote.net
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