If there’s one thing we Penn kids are good at, it’s knowing how to SABS. Seeing and being seen is one of our most proud achievements, regarded just as highly as being able to stay up the latest out of your friends in Huntsman or being on a first name basis with Lyn. Luckily, we go to school in a city that offers far more venues to SABS than the tables outside Frontera and the benches outside Van Pelt—Parc Restaurant, The Continental Mid–town and Elixr Coffee Roasters just to name a few. To aid Penn students in our SABSing efforts, I recently tried all three.
Let me go ahead and say it—there’s nothing better than brunch at Parc on a warm Sunday afternoon. Yes, I know I may face some eye–rolls from those who believe Parc is too sceney, too corporate, too Steven Starr, but I don’t mind. It’s something about the French bistro’s black and white tiled floors, inviting red awnings, or outdoor tables facing Rittenhouse Square that just make Parc feel like a special occasion. That aside, it’s the perfect place to SABS—at 2:00 p.m. on a Sunday, way past peak brunch hour, the restaurant was still packed.
Parc is known for its egg dishes at brunch, like its famous Eggs Benedict ($15), but the menu still satisfies non–breakfast lovers like me. I opted for the Onion Soup Gratineé ($12.50) as my first course: basically a beautiful, piping hot bowl of cheese baked over the rich, steaming broth. It’s as delicious as it is fun to engage in the battle of piercing that nearly impenetrable cheesy crust. For my entrée, I chose the Chicken Paillard ($14.50), a lighter dish composed of a chicken breast topped with a flavorful almond olive tapenade and a frisée salad. If you’re dining at Parc, be sure not to skip the bread basket at the beginning of the meal, another Parc classic. Dive headfirst into the diverse spread of cranberry walnut bread, French bread and sourdough.
Though equally SABS–y, I was less thrilled with Continental, another Steven Starr and Rittenhouse Square staple. Continental seems like it’s a bit confused about its identity, and to be honest, so was I. Although that might be the point, Continental was too mismatched for my taste, from the clashing furniture to the unrelated flavors on the menu.
First up was a Crispy Calamari Salad ($14) with carrots, tomatoes, sprouts and soy–sesame dressing. The salad definitely tasted good, but wasn’t unlike any other calamari salad I’ve had at other Philly restaurants (Sampan calamari salad, anyone?). To stay in the Asian–flavors theme, I followed the salad with Grilled Thai Chicken Skewers ($13) served with jasmine rice and peanut sauce: another safe, solid order. I left feeling satisfied, but still confused about the dishes I chose to forego—Cheesesteak Eggrolls ($15) and French Onion Soup Dumplings ($10) among them.
Last on my list was Elixr Coffee Roasters, my newfound favorite Philadelphia coffee shop. Elixr was definitely a great place to see and be seen—but refreshingly, not by Penn students. Instead, the place was chock–full at 9 a.m. on a Thursday morning with yoga–goers and young professionals alike, and felt like the perfect place to get off campus for an hour or two. I was equally thrilled with the vibes as I was with my order—eclectic wallpapers and dark wood lined the café, nicely complementing my cool iced matcha latte and gluten free banana bread (gluten free means healthy, right?). The whole thing cost $7.25. As someone who doesn’t drink coffee, I was pleased with the plentiful other drink options on the menu and the extensive pastry case.
There’s no doubt that Philly is full of places to SABS. Check out these three next time you’re looking to fill that sceney craving—be it a big basket of bread or steaming latte and pastry in front of you, you certainly won’t regret it.