I suspect that many people will go to The Boilermaker for its extensive beer list and its namesake drink. For the uninitiated (like myself before last Wednesday), a boilermaker is a shot paired with a beer. But it’s not the pound-on-the-table-and-chug kind of drink you’d find at your local dive bar; rather, the shot and beer are meant to complement each other, and are best enjoyed sipped slowly. I was intrigued by the concept, and admit that was a partial motivation for attending The Boilermaker’s VIP opening party last Wednesday night. Though I enjoyed the drink, I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Boilermaker offers much more than beer and shots.
(Photo courtesy of The Boilermaker)
Headed by the folks at The Farmer’s Cabinet, The Boilermaker also offers a small but appealing (and expanding) comfort food menu–think hand carved roasts, mac and cheese, and housemade kimchi-topped hot dogs. Thanks to the management, I was able to try most of the menu at the party, and was very impressed with all of the dishes. Favorites included the cheeseburger, served on a buttery brioche roll ($12); mac and cheese, a decadent dish lightened with a sprinkling of lemon zest ($8); and the roasted lamb shoulder ($11), which arrived at the table rosy and tender. But the real standout, surprisingly, was the baked beans ($7). Sweet and smoky, the beans had a pleasant bite to them, showing they were clearly not from a can.
There are currently no desserts on the menu, but we got to preview the freshly fried zeppoli, which should be making an appearance soon. Zeppoli are Italian donuts, typically served in a paper bag and shaken up with powdered sugar. The Boilermaker’s version stays true to the classic, and are as light and airy as can be. They’ll definitely be a welcome addition to the menu.
While the food is definitely a draw for me, The Boilermaker, of course, is first and foremost a bar. Featuring 28 rotating drafts and 12 local drafts, its beer list is quite extensive. And for those who are not fans of beer or boilermakers, there is also a cocktail menu with “simple American cocktails”: Sazeracs, Cobblers, and Juleps.
I sampled the sherry cobbler, California boilermaker, and a classic mint julep (pictured above). These drinks are definitely not for the faint-hearted, as the bartenders are certainly not stingy with their pours. The cobbler, an old-style cocktail muddled with fresh fruit and sugar, was refreshing and garnished with a large straw, which was perfect for sucking up the fresh blueberries at the bottom of the glass. The mint julep, topped with a bushel of fresh mint, was heavy on the bourbon and reminiscent of the Kentucky Derby. And finally, the infamous boilermaker. Though I can see the appeal, and the effort it takes to pair the liquors with the beer, I can’t say that I’m a fan. I enjoyed the beer, light golden-colored Saison that lends itself well to springtime drinking. I enjoyed the shot, a surprisingly fruity pear gin. But I can’t say that I really enjoyed them together.
Nevertheless, I did enjoy my overall experience at The Boilermaker. I will definitely be back for a mint julep, and perhaps a side of those delicious baked beans. And with everything on the menu under $20, The Boilermaker seems to be a welcome and affordable addition to the Philly bar/restaurant scene.
216 S. 11th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107