Hickory Lane Bistro
Hickory Lane Bistro, an upscale neighborhood joint on Fairmont Ave. in Philly (next to Eastern State Penitentiary) is a good spot for tasty American fare.
The place is developing a reputation for high quality burgers, and chef Matt Zagorski is the former executive chef of burger-lover haven Rouge, so a burger seemed like a good bet. (No, it was not bison.) The hand-shaped patty is 10oz of MPZ blend beef (whatever that means), and served with aged cheddar, bibb lettuce and tomato on a challah bun.
This sucker is huge! I am known – at least among friends and family – for having an abnormally large mouth, and I still could not get the whole thing in there (TWSS). What a delicious burger it was though – beautifully charred on the outside, perfectly juicy and ruby pink all the way through. Wow. This is medium rare, people. The mound of pommes frites served alongside were pedestrian, but dutifully sopped up the potentially habit-forming garlic aoli dipping sauce.
One dining companion, who had eaten here before, demonstrated veteran guile by ordering the burger without cheese. Not that the cheese isn’t delicious, but, being aged cheddar, it doesn’t melt particularly well, and there is quite a bit of it, so it kind of congeals on top of the burger. As such, the textural weirdness cancels out the flavor positives, so one could easily do without it (and on a 10oz burger, most of us need all the calorie credits we can get).
Hickory Lane was BYOB, but a dreaded orange sign hung forlornly in the window during my visit. (The bar opened on September 7th, with BYO still allowed for a limited time.) It’ll be interesting to see what happens here – though this place most definitely has a casual neighborhood vibe to it, the prices are currently closer to destination restaurant territory ($15 for a burger, mid $20s for entrees). If the prices don’t come down with the introduction of liquor, Hickory Lane may price itself out of the neighborhood.
In the meantime, local burger clubbers should report, STAT.