Chef Jose Garces has done it again, head to Old City to check out The Olde Bar at the landmark Old Original Bookbinder’s. This contemporary oyster saloon is serving up a unique brunch with items steeping in the city’s nautical traditions. The Olde Bar is a cocktail lounge and restaurant “serving oysters on the half shell, alongside a smart menu of modern re-imaginings of traditional bar snacks and a comprehensive cocktail and spirit list.”
We’re paying homage to the original traditions that made Bookbinder’s a landmark in Philadelphia. It’s an important responsibility to live up to the history of the building and the expectations for the space. We’re going to do our best to recreate the nostalgia of that place and time, but with our own spin. – Chef Jose Garces
Stop by The Olde Bar for extensive raw bar offerings, plus evolved bar snacks and brunch plates. They have a full bar, including a classic & innovative cocktail program. The dining area is a lounge ideal for couples and small groups, while there are 2 other private dining rooms reserved for special occasions and large private parties up to 150 people.
Brunch at The Olde Bar has everything you need for a sophisticated seafood brunch. Mimosas are served by the glass or pitcher, but the real star of the show are the Bloody Mary’s. We enjoyed the Caesar Bloody Mary with tomato juice, clam juice, and horseradish. This savory brunch cocktail paired perfectly with the oysters we ordered. The Beat’n Horse cocktail is offered for brunch and dinner, with El Dorado 8 year rum, aperol, beet & horseradish syrup, lemon, and cherry shrub- that savory kick of horseradish mixed in a base of beet juice and gin.
Other signature brunch cocktails not to be missed are the Virtue Not Arms with vodka, verjus, luxardo cherry, and sparkling wine or The Thornbird with La Colombe Different Drum Rum, chicory, habanero shrub, and coffee. From the Raw Bar we sampled a dozen oysters from the East and West Coast. Other raw bar options include Middleneck Clams, Maine Lobster, Jumbo Lump Crab Cocktail, Shrimp Remoulade, and Raw Bar Tower.
If you aren’t feeling up to the Raw Bar for brunch, check out some of the mouth-watering options on the menu for snacks. We were drooling over the Olde Bar Fries with crab, lobster butter, oyster stoudt & cheddar fondue. Other snacks include:
- Iceberg Wedge Salad with roasted tomato, egg, pickled pearl onions and choice of roquefort, lemon buttermilk or “1890” dressing
- NE Clam Chowder with Cherrystone Clams, bacon, potato, and thyme
- Fried Shrimp with roasted lemon tartar sauce
For our main dishes we enjoyed the Crab Benedict with jumbo lump crab, country ham, lobster butter, poached eggs, béarnaise and the French Toast with brioche, toasted coconut, mixed berries, bourbon candied pecans, and whipped cream. Both dishes were packed with flavor and not overly indulgent so that we felt sluggish after dining.
Next time we’ll be back to try the Philly Special with fried oysters, smoked chicken salad, frisée, and mustard vinaigrette or the Shrimp Omelet with poached shrimp, roasted mushrooms, spinach, and sauce Newberg. Can’t say we weren’t eyeing up the side of Parker House Rolls with seasonal jam as well.
Be sure to check out Happy Hour at Olde Bar Monday to Friday 5-7pm, and Saturday, Sunday 4-6pm. You’ll grab some Buck-a-Shuck Oysters and bar specials including $5 house red and white wine, $4 Olde Dock Street Oyster Stoudt, $4 select beer, and $6 Fish House Punch. Bar snacks like Salt & Vinegar nuts, Deviled Eggs, Beef Fat Fries, and Buffalo Cauliflower are only $5 too!
And stop in every Thursday from 5-8PM for Old City Eats! You’ll enjoy half-off Fried Oysters and Oysters Belmont as well as a $5 cocktail, the Blushing Shrub. The Olde Bar is even available for delivery via Caviar or reservations are easily made via Opentable.
We would like to thank Corie for inviting us to stop by and sample brunch at The Olde Bar.