Located on a lively portion of Samson Street, behind an unobtrusive door is a world far away from 1920 Commons. While fairly new to the Philly restaurant scene, Harp & Crown has the kind of antique vibe you want your dream hipster boy–toy to reflect. The restaurant is a huge open space: There's a front area that resembles a southern sunroom, a massive open dining area with large dining tables, booths and banquette seats with round swing–arm tables for couples (sick), as well as a free–floating island bar. The restaurant has an antique attic vibe, like a place where the older crowd could go to feel at home but still relevant.
While waiting for your table, you can sit in the cozy “lounge area” sipping on a cocktail shaken by bartenders wearing bowties and suspenders. While not extensive, the cocktail menu has some unique offerings with witty names like the "Rather Dapper" and "Blind Man's Strike". Regardless, I wouldn’t come here just for a drink. The bar area and cocktail menu feels like an afterthought, and there are better options more worthy of 12 of your dollars a few doors down.
Downstairs are more two-person tables, another bar and two actual bowling lanes with a lounge area full of plush couches. I recommend asking for a table with a view of the bowling lanes: the sight of my neighbor’s pizza wasn’t the only thing making me droll. The place was full of beautiful people: think the perfectly hunky yet slim young professional in a slim flannel with tailored jeans and a 5 pm shadow, who is capable of holding a real conversation.
Based on the décor, I was expecting the seasonally changing menu to feature heartier options. While you can indulge in a ribeye for two at Harp & Crown or short rib pappardelle, the majority of the options are lighter and smaller.
We started our meal with the big eye tuna crudo. The dish came with just six small slices of the raw tuna topped with a slim slice of apple, olive, tahini and chili oil. However, what the dish lacked in quantity, it made up with in quality: The fish almost melted in my mouth, and the sweet and savory elements complemented each other perfectly.
Next we had the burrata, which was complemented by kumquats, pistachios and honey. The burrata was served with only four small pieces of mundane sub–par toast. While the burrata had the ideal runny consistency, the kumquats and mix of nuts and honey just didn’t seem to mesh. I wouldn’t waste your cheese allowance on this one.
As healthy, grown–ass women we had to get our veggies in of course. We went for the roasted garlic Brussels sprouts with chestnut streusel. Hands down, these were the best Brussels sprouts I’ve ever had. As someone who gets excited about going home because it means I can roast Brussels sprouts, this is saying a lot. Unexpectedly, the chestnut streusel complemented the savory flavors perfectly.
We ended on a high note with the smoked octopus pizza topped with mozzarella, broccolini, almonds and red chili. The perfect crust was baked to perfection, and the smoked flavor tasted like it was infused into the dough.
Don’t get me wrong, Harp & Crown could definitely be read as trying as hard as a freshman girl at NSO. I mean, their waiters wear suspenders. There are massive rusted chandeliers and antique portraits, all meant to make their image feel down–home and authentic. But to their credit, their aesthetic is well-curated, the food is delicious, and two hours in Harp & Crown felt like an experience, not just a meal. Give Harp & Crown a shot.