A New Yorker in Philadelphia

The editor of Where New York pays a restaurant visit to a sister city.

As the editor of Where New York, I spend my days in the Big Apple. However, my home base is actually Princeton, New Jersey, which puts me in the fortuitous position of living sandwiched between two of my favorite cities in the world: New York and Philadelphia.

Since I commute daily to NYC for my job, my weekends are often spent driving south to wander around the City of Brotherly Love, exploring its glorious revolutionary past. (Being that the Revolutionary War is a side interest, I confess that I've visited the Betsy Ross House more than once and have been on the Independence Hall tour three times.)

Food, however, is another interest—a serious one—and when I discovered that the popular rustic eatery High Street on Market (308 Market St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.625.0988) was opening a branch in New York, I decided I had better check out the original before visiting its new outpost in the Meatpacking District.

On a recent Saturday night, I recruited two friends who live in Philadelphia's Society Hill, and we all took the brisk, 15-minute walk over to Market Street to visit Eli Kulp's newly-famous restaurant (whose other hugely popular restaurant, Fork, is connected through a back hallway).

One recent review of High Street on Market raved, “You can quench your appetite for gastronomy...from breakfast straight through dinner." I was more than ready.

High Street on Market restaurant, Philly

I was delighted as soon as I entered the friendly, rustic, no-airs-about-it spot. A small, open kitchen faces an intimate dining room filled with about 10 tables and one high communal table. With its unvarnished wood tabletops, exposed pipe ceilings, low lights and hugh, kitschy chandelier adorned with faux dripping candles, the restaurant exudes the feeling that you are in a large, friendly and rural kitchen peppered with urban-chic accents. Everyone here was all warm grins and service, from the host at the front to the servers to the fellow guests—who happily recommend favorites if you ask.

We started with High Street's legendary bread, accompanied by housemade butter, a tahini-eggplant spread and a white bean hummus spread. The breads were so rich and nutty-tasting and the eggplant spread so unusually smoky and appealing, it could have served as dinner alone.

Instead, the main event became an orgy of shared dishes that included a wonderfully spicy Angry Crab Spaghetti (enhanced with charred scallion); a hefty plate of assorted mushrooms with sunchoke, charred eggplant and a farm egg brightening the plate; and charcoal squid, given an extra oomph with pistachio, yogurt and grilled carrots. If making decisions is not your forte, no worries: as the menu notes, "Leave it to us: A selection of plates to share representing the best of what our region has to offer," puts you in superb hands.

Dessert was out of the question, as we were all groaning from cleaning our plates way past our satiation levels. Our sweet and helpful server looked so disappointed that we weren't going to finish our meal off with the kabocha cake (pumpkin seed, sour cream and pear), or chocolate and tahini with cinnamon milk jam and sesame, I almost ordered something to make her feel better.

No matter: I'll be visiting High Street on Market again, soon. That's the beauty of living at the halfway mark!

High Street on Market restaurant, Philly