Since 1884, P.J. Clarke’s has been all about fresh food and good conversation.

Located in the historic Curtis building on Washington Square, the newly opened location of this restaurant chain captures the deep roots of the P.J. Clarke’s brand and the spirit of Philadelphia. As I walked through the space, I was immediately taken by the pieces of history hidden throughout the restaurant: vintage sports photographs, original stained–glass windows from the Curtis Publishing Company, and an antique scoreboard displaying the final score of the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory.

The manager led us through the dimly lit main dining room, past the raw oyster bar, and into the lounge area where guests gathered around the main bar and enjoyed the sports games being displayed on the many flat screens. We settled into a table by the window with a view of Washington Square.

Going off our waitress’ recommendations we ordered the skillet mac and cheese, the crispy Brussels sprouts, the BBQ Bleu Burger, and Pennsylvania brown trout fillet.

Photo: Paige Fishman

The Brussels sprouts came first, the strong aroma sparking the interests of the guests seated next to us. They were served with a double–smoked bacon topping that dominated the dish. I liked the rich bacon flavor, but the topping was too sweet for my taste. Next time, I would ask for them to put the smoked bacon topping on the side to give the sprouts a chance to shine.

Next came the mac and cheese. Oh. My. God. The pea and bacon mac and cheese was everything I could have asked for in an appetizer. With a perfectly browned crispy top and gooey inside, the mac and cheese had a balance of textures and a unique blend of spices that elevated this classic dish to the next level.

And then came the entrées. The trout was pan roasted with a thyme brown butter sauce and served with crispy asparagus and a lemon. The fried asparagus was a nice complement to the light fish, but the dish overall was nothing special.

Photo: Paige Fishman

The burger, on the other hand, was. With an entire section of the menu dedicated to Clarke Burgers, the BBQ Bleu stands out. Served with crispy shoestring French fries and topped with buttermilk bleu cheese, crispy onions, and sweet & smoky BBQ sauce, this flavor–filled burger steals the show. I don’t normally go for things with bleu cheese, but this mix of toppings brought everything together perfectly.

For dessert, the manager insisted we try their famous Hudson Valley Cheesecake. The cake was dressed in a berry compote and the soft creamy core of the cake paired well with the crunchy bottom. 

Overall, P.J. Clarke's is a warm, family–oriented place where everyone is bound to find something that they like. It is a little pricey and not quite worth the Uber downtown, but if you’re in the area, it’s a fun space with good comfort food that we all need from time to time.

TL;DR:  Nice people. Good food. Nothing special.  

Location: 601 Walnut Str.

Hours: Monday–Friday: 11:30 a.m.–Until the Last Guest Leaves

             Saturday–Sunday: 10:00 a.m.–Until the Last Guest Leaves

Price: $$$