Sweet 1601

One of the original meetinghouses for newly installed hipsters in South Philly, 1601 Cafe on 10th & Tasker has done some menu trimming this month. There used to be mussels done 10 ways, bruschetta done 7 ways, so on and so forth. Now, the offerings are more succinct. At lunch last week, a group of three actually walked out because they were bummed their favorite mussel rendition had gone the way of Sanjaya. They should have stayed because the mussels 1601 is doing now is way addictive. The bivalve bath is a blend that balances the sweetness of coconut milk with the bitter nuances of Dogfish Head's 60 min. IPA and the exotic heat of green curry. The bowl overfloweth with plump PEI mussels, only one of which had a trace of sand. One out of 30 ain't bad at all. The fish & chips were on London time, all flaky battered cod and crisp frites, and an arugula salad of grilled peaches, spiced walnuts, and Roquefort was big enough to share but so good you'll want it all to yourself. And of course, 1601 is first and foremost a bar, so the beer menu get lots of love. Expect Belgians--the boozy Delirium 10% makes Hoegaarden look like Coors Light--and local microbrews from Dogfish Head and Stoudts. 1601's wines (with a nice amount by the glass) are well-priced and well-balanced. McManus Vineyards's 2005 Viogner is all stone fruit and silk, the perfect complement to springy afternoons, while Dr. Loosen Riesling and crisp Chilean sauvignon blanc are cool, quaffable mates to the daytime drinking nice weather commands.

Photo: Blogalicious

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