Lemon Hill 747 North 25th St. (215) 232–2299
Don't Miss: Pastrami fried chicken wings Skip: Expensive entrees – stick with the smaller plates to share
Lemon Hill should not work. As a partnership between the owners of the restaurant Supper and the cocktail masters at The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., Lemon Hill should feel disoriented. Is it an intimate eatery on one of Fairmount’s quiet residential streets? Or is it a bar full of boozy bliss presented by Portlandia–esque mixologists? Surprisingly, it feels like both.
Fairmount’s new dive is unassuming with simple decor and a no–frills atmosphere. The bar is most impressive. Seasoned bartenders mix up favorites from Franklin like the Old Fashioned ($9). The hefty price tags range from $9–$11 — we suggest their cheaper daily happy hour specials — so we splurged on something more adventurous. The Clover Club ($11), a combination of gin, dry vermouth, fresh lemon, house raspberry syrup and a whipped egg white, promised to be an easy entry into the classy cocktail list. It certainly will satisfy any sweet tooth, and left us looking to order another from the menu. The beer list is solid and boasts various Philly brews and some Midwestern classics like the Boulder Sweaty Betty Blonde ($6.50) — a pale wheat ale.
We started with pastrami fried chicken wings ($9), a dish that's been rippling through Philly foodie blogs. We had high hopes for any meat that claimed to taste like New York deli–level pastrami, and our expectations were met. The meat — rubbed in a pepper coriander pastrami seasoning — quite literally fell off the bone. And though the serving was small (just five wings) more would have diluted the originality. For an outpost that’s only been open since the end of December, regulars seem to come back week after week for the wings and other local favorites like the California roll crab dip ($13) and the house–made beer cheese paired with homemade pickles and pretzels ($8).
Fresh flatbread combos rotate daily and we tried one smothered in pureed cauliflower, whole cauliflower, braised kale, blood sausage and pickled apples ($12). Like the wings, a whole bite of the flatbread was succulent and spilled over with flavor. It was easy to tell that the two dishes came from the same kitchen — both had the same melt–in–your–mouth effect. But the standout ingredient was the pureed cauliflower that lined the bread. The creamy texture was reminiscent of a blue cheese spread, but without all the cholesterol.
Special pastas come through the menu too; we ordered the pappardelle with basil pesto, cubed apples, crispy pork belly and shaved walnuts, which resembled Parmesan cheese ($16). The pork belly was cooked to succulent perfection and paired well with the surprisingly sweet pesto sauce. Despite now–trendy dishes like shrimp ‘n grits ($22), Lemon Hill’s menu uses classic bar fare to remind you of its alcoholic roots. Crinkle–cut wedge fries ($5) and a manager–described “stoner comfort” classic patty melt ($13) are not to be missed.
For a newborn restaurant with a gastropub label, Lemon Hill is exceeding expectations. If you know a girl who’s down to throw back a few designer drinks without the Center City hubbub, you’ve found your new date spot.