On the corner of 7th and Kater Street in South Philly is an elegant crown painted on a sign. I see no other words around, but this must be it: The Good King Tavern. A red brick building made discernible from the surroundings by its bright blue façade and quaint, cozy feel.
Walking in, I’m met with the dim light of the restaurant. Not necessarily good for the photos, but it’s definitely a mood. The ceiling is the same azure blue as the exterior, the walls a sunshine yellow. Were it not for the darkness, it would almost be as if the restaurant/bar had tried to bring the colors of nature inside. There aren’t too many tables; it’s an intimate setting. The bar takes up half the width of the restaurant. It’s midday and people are there, talking and relaxing. Tables line the other half, and a ceiling fan quietly whirls and bridges the aisle formed. On the sides of the walls are wine (or champagne—I’m no connoisseur) bottles and what reminds me of a Grecian urn.
Though the website said it was French food (“French Tavern Fare,” to be specific), I’m not quite sure how that reflected. The manager Patrick tells me it’s really a fusion of southwest French, African, Italian, and other flavors. It’s supposed to be a more rustic, comforting feel: destination restaurant and neighborhood bar.
While the strum of guitars plays indie folk music in the background, I look down at the menu. It’s one of those where you’re not overwhelmed with the sea of options, but you’re also bound to find something you like. The French influence is obvious in its listing of escargot, pommes frites, and a cheese board. I order a plate of mussels in garlic cream and crispy shallots (because who even gets to eat those when on campus? Does FroGro even sell them?)
I’m not quite sure what I expected when I ordered them, but when they arrived, they were, well, a big plate of mussels with black shells encompassing the juicy meat inside. A piece of burnt garlic bread topped the dish. The mussels themselves were delicious, the garlic cream having seeped in to give 'em some kick. I’m not all too sure if this was intentional, but the fact that the garlic bread was burnt actually made for a nice contrast to the cream.
The Good King Tavern is one of those places I wish I had come hungry to so I could eat more. The overall vibe says that this is a place for people to catch up—not over coffee at Saxby’s, but to actually catch up for hours. It’s definitely not a place to miss—at least not in someone's four years at Penn.
TL;DR: An atmosphere fit for a king, as long as he likes French food.
Location: 614 South 7th Street
Monday–Tuesday: 5:00 p.m.–2:00 a.m.
Sunday: 12:00 p.m.–12:00 a.m.