It was one of those perfect late-spring Philadelphia afternoons at Pub & Kitchen. Sun streamed through the peek-a-boo shutters opened along the 20th Street facade, washing the long, narrow saloon in honey light. A solo customer with a Windsor burger. A vase of lilies swaying in the cool zephyrs. Barbacks moving boxes, bringing up lemons and fronds of fresh mint so big it was like they were welcoming the bartender to Jerusalem. It was quiet, serene, a way we’re not used to seeing the often jubilant, occasionally rowdy P&K. For some, pure relaxation transpires during yoga retreats and wilderness hikes. For us, these crystallized moments occur at off-peak hours at bars we love.
With a lip-puckering gin rickey, condensation inching closer to the bev-nap as Ibañez inched closer to second, we were damn pleased with life. Like we said, a perfect afternoon—one enhanced by Johnny Mac’s lunch menu that premiered last month. The spring salad embodied the color green, a generous tuft of peppery arugula, fragrant mint, sweet peas and crisp cucumbers tossed in a light, lemony dressing. For people who say cocktails don’t pair with food, we challenge them to bite this salad with P&K’s rickey, tarted up with lime juice hand-squeezed in an old-school citrus press. Honey-whisky wings followed. Pretty sure they’re available on the dinner menu as well, but before the other day we’d yet to bask in their glory. The goodness isn’t necessarily in the wings and drumsticks (perfectly cooked but kinda puny), but in the sauce: sticky and sweet, with an unapologetically boozy finish. It’s how your alcoholic uncle would make honey-whisky sauce. Service, as usual, was easygoing and genuine. The Phils went on to lose, but we were so sated we hardly noticed. Lunch served Thursdays and Fridays only.