Earlier I wrote about 11 things families MUST do when visiting Historic Philadelphia. One suggestion was exploring history through food. The historic City Tavern in Philly offers families a great opportunity to treat their senses to a trip back in time.
Located within Philadelphia’s Historic District (and easy walking distance from our hotel, the Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill – room tour can be found here), the City Tavern has a history dating back to the late 1700’s. This is where Paul Revere announced the closing of Boston’s port. Where Continental and British troops held prisoners of war. Where America’s first Forth of July celebrations are held.
Although the structure itself was demolished due to severe damage from a fire in 1854, an historical replication of the City Tavern was created in 1975 and opened in 1976.
When visiting for lunch, the large dining room we sat in was once the City Tavern’s large ballroom. Lighting by candlelight, period dinnerware and staff in costume transported us back in time.
But it’s not just about the atmosphere. The recipes served at the City Tavern are the result of Chef Walter Staib’s love of history and food. The menus are inspired by dishes enjoyed in Philadephia when the City Tavern first opened, created onsite with fresh farm-to-table ingredients every day.
Even a standard bread bowl is a tasteful delight, including Thomas Jefferson’s favourite sweet potato biscuits. And now my favourite too.
No meal is incomplete without raising a glass of cheer. I enjoyed the beer flight, Ales of the Revolution, brewed by the city’s on YARDS Brewing Company. The sample of four beers included General Washington’s Tavern Porter, Thomas Jefferson’s 1774 Tavern Ale, Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce (based on Benjamin Franklin’s recipe), And Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Ale. For a non-alcoholic sip, try a season Shrub. I made a Five Spice Blood Orange Shrub some time ago and loved it in cocktails. It’s a great alternative for to soda if you’re looking for a carbonated treat.
The atmosphere is one thing but we were there for the food. And kids can be the worst critics when it comes to what appeals to their taste.
Fortunately the food itself didn’t disappoint. The lunch menu was varied, offering us a great selection of dishes to enjoy. From starters like Corn Chowder and Mallard Duck Sausage to mains such as Braised Rabbit and Tavern Lobster Pie. Although I’m usually one to avoid the children’s menu, often boring and uninspiring, The City Tavern did offer some great historical options. My youngest loved her Colonial Turkey Pot Pie.
No matter how satisfied you feel from your meal, be sure to leave room for a dessert. Even if you share. Seeing the options laid out on a platter brought to your table will make it hard to resist, especially since they are made fresh in the City Tavern’s onsite bakery.
We were even surprised by a visit from Chef Staib himself. He was so personable, talking to the kids about food and what they enjoyed. It was obvious from our conversation that he truly is passionate about where history meets food. You can tap into his enthusiasm further through his Emmy Award winning PBS show, A Taste of History.
The quick video will give you a little flavour about what you can expect and what the kids will enjoy:
Thanks to Visit Philly for working with us to co-ordinate this visit but as always, the thoughts and experiences are my own.