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  1. It's been over two years since I have been coming to the Horse Inn, or as the locals simply call the Horse. In all my years of dining out, there is no other place that comes close to what this tavern delivers. Horse is the quintessential neighborhood spot. Its located away from the city's main hub of eateries, and not in downtown Lancaster. They don't really advertise, and there is a no reservations policy, yet each and everyday there is a line out the door prior to opening. The consensus is that is has everything to do with the owners, Matt & Starla Russell, have built along with their well informed staff. I have been hesitant on writing about the Horse, cause I wanted to keep it a secret for as long as I could, but I feel everyone deserves to know how truly awesome it is. For starters, in true speakeasy fashion, the Horse can be a bit hard to find unless you know what you are looking for. Located on a residential street on the East side of Lancaster City with no distinctive marquee or sign, you have to trust GPS to lead you to it. Word to the wise, park in the designated parking lot otherwise you can be certain that once your evening has come to the end, you'll be greeted with a parking ticket courtesy of Lancaster Parking Authority. There is a clear sign on the front door of the Horse directing patrons not park on the street, and to use the parking lot down the block. Once inside, you immediately head to the second floor of the stable. The decor of the Horse in an instant , welcomes you. It's as if you have been hear before and feels familiar. There are two bar areas, several tables , and old horse stables that have been crafted into dining tables. If you arrive any other time other than prior to opening, expect to wait for a table. A wait could be as a brief 30 minutes or as long as 90 minutes. I suggest you get there prior to opening at 4:30, or come later like 9 on weekends, if you don't want to wait long. So what do you order at the Horse? I suggest anything from the cocktail menu, and for dinner one must have the Burger. Of course there are several other delicious choices, but they vary from month to month depending on what Matt can pick up from the local producers. Matt Russell directs the kitchen, and his charismatic wife, Starla, leads the front of the house. On any given night you can see both of them at the Horse. Actually on most of the five nights they are open, you can find both of them. They are both graduates of Johnson & Wales and spent several years working at some of Charleston, SC finest restaurants. So on their menu, you can see influences from the South married with culinary traditions of the Pennsylvania Dutch. The Music City's 'Hot" Chicken sandwich,($11), is definitely an item that you won't see too often north of the Mason Dixon line, but the Horse executes it so well. The sandwich is composed of a crisply fried sweet and spicy chicken thigh that is garnished with blue cheese slaw served on a Martin sesame seed bun.A Horse favorite as I mentioned earlier is the Burger,($11). On occasion I have ordered it as an appetizer. It starts out with a proprietary blend of short rib, brisket, chuck and 10% aged beef. The garnishes to the burger are deliberate to include shredded iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced tomato , red onion, American cheese, and special sauce. No substitutions are permitted. The burger is crafted as is to deliver optimal flavor. The burger is an permanent fixture on the menu. so luckily you can get it any time. The menu changes pretty frequently to reflect the best the season has to offer. During the summer I had the joy of having zucchini blossoms .The blossoms had been filled with ricotta which were lightly fried and served over a salad of fresh sweet summer corn and patty pans dressed with arugula -pistachio pesto. Delish. Most recently I had the Short rib, ($28). A 12 -hr braised short rib served over puree of potatoes so delectable you wish you could order an additional side of it. I would say they are as delicious as the mashed potatoes at Corduroy, maybe a bit more. The rib is garnished with a bevy of root vegetables and finished off with a richly developed Bordelaise sauce. Technique in deft preparation does not go unnoticed, and you taste it throughout the menu whether it be in the prep of the burger or any of the delicious entrees.Now onto the cocktails. Cocktails. They are on an entirely different level than any other place I have visited , ever. I know back when I was living in the District, I was spoiled with endless options for a great drink. In Lancaster, the Horse Inn stands out as the most incredible bar program in the Central Pa, perhaps in all of Pa. I know , I know. Have I been to all the spots in Pa, No. Would I put money that Horse Inn is the best out there, absolutely. Each cocktail, no matter who shakes it, taste exactly the same. Why? Each component added to the drink is measured for consistency. Are the drinks strong? Well that depends on your spirit of choice. Of course the flavor of rum is going to have a different finish then rye whiskey, but every part of the drink is balanced as to not deliver a boozy cocktail. As I get older and my palate is maturing I tend to drink spirits as is,with a splash of water or plunk of an ice cube or two. That is my preference, but as far as cocktails, the Horse serves them expertly with mindful garnishes. The drink menu is presented in different categories which include Whiskey Proper, Botanicals, Grain & Barrel, and alternative spirits. Drinks on the menu are crafted with home made bitters as well as extracts. Seasonality is taken into account in composing their drinks as well. Currently there are a few of my favorites on the menu. The CIder Buck ($10) is mixed with local cider, Lairds Apple Jack , Ginger Beer, Angostura & Lime. Then there is the Chai if I want to ($10) made with Sailor Jerry , spiced rum, Chai cream, cinnamon & finished off with a shaving of nutmeg. I am certain you can find a cocktail you will enjoy on the menu , if not the bar keep cant certainly whisk up something to accommodate your liking. They also have an extensive selection of bourbons and whiskeys. Beer and wine round out the selection.Interested in something other than craft beer and just a good ol low cost brew? Order the Mystery Beer ($2) that are chilled in an old lion foot tub. So there you have it my best kept secret in Lancaster, Pa! Its a little hard to find, but once you are there , you'ill understand why I love it so much. If I am any where near Lancaster, I can be found at the Horse. #horseinnaround, kat
  2. The folks that brought us Restaurant Eve have managed to pull off a study in extreme contrasts with their recent opening the immensely popular Eamonn's Chipper and the newly opened "PX." The Chipper has its own thread and needs no introduction. The PX, which opened this evening, is the Chipper's polar opposite. It is located on the upper level of Eamonn's but you enter around the corner when the blue light is illuminated. You ring the door bell and wait for someone to recognize you before you are allowed to enter. An upscale, coat and tie/cocktail dress, cocktail lounge in the speakeasy mode, awaits you after you review the "house rules' upon entry. What awaits you is an establishment new to the DC area; a polished wood,. upscale, speakeasy. What also is polished is the skill of the bartenders and the waitstaff who will be able to make you just about any drink you can name.and then some. It is only open Wednesday through Saturday and not for the faint of heart. The lowest end cocktail is $11, no beer that I could discern. If you are refused entry, keep in mind that the place only holds a little more than 30 people. And that is post #2,000
  3. Ladies and gentlemen, your number 1 cocktail bar in Baltimore. The original establishment from Lane Harlan - who also owns Clavel Mezcaleria - WC Harlan is a cocktail joint that really does do a far better job at the speakeasy vibe than most places that would actively market themselves as speakeasies. The focus here is on amari, with an extensive menu of familiar and rare bitter spirits, and stuff that I'm amazed they procured. I need to plan a visit so I can take advantage of the amaro-tasting options. Seats can be hard to come by during peak days and times (weekend evenings primarily) owing to the fact that a lot of people go here to grab drinks while they wait for the call from Clavel. Nearly all cocktails are great, with the occasional miss (fiancee recently got something that was effectively borscht in a glass). Harlan's is non-descript but arguably one of the earliest forces in the rapidly accelerating development of Remington.
  4. Captain Gregory's speakeasy inside Sugar Shack is now in soft open - we tried it last week and we will be back. They are open Thursday - Sunday evenings starting at 6pm You make reservations via text 571-281-0059 and when you arrive you pull on the whiskey flag and the slid open the door to check for reservation. There is a two hour limit and a $30 / person minimum. There are about 22 seats and it is very dimly lit (had trouble seeing menu) by candlelight and the music is via LP. We had a great time, after the first round we moved over to the bar and chatted with the bartender Sam who was friendly and talkative. he makes most of the bitters and flavored boozes himself. The food options ($12) when we were there were long johns one with Brie/Fig/Bacon (YUM) and the other was a brushutta type (also good) The drinks ($10-15) all have a story and are all wonderful we had quite a few and all were unique and very wonderful
  5. "Where's your brother?" I demanded, looking directly into his eyes, my hand impatiently tapping the bar. "I don't know." "WHERE IS HE?" "I DON'T KNOW!" I put down my glass, and inched closer towards him. "Is it open?" "Is what open?" "IT!" He shrugged his shoulders, and muttered something. "Maybe. I don't know." I took my pen, and instead of gouging it into his eye, signed my check (2007 Chateau Magneau Graves Blanc, $8), walked out the door, turned left, and headed up the street to find his brother. --- Salad Days Sour ($12) - Celery-infused Macchu Pisco, Lemon, The Bitter Truth Celery Bitters, Burnt Cinnamon Rhum Manhattan ($14) - Neisson Rhum Agricole Reserve, Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth, Walnut Liqueur, The Bitter Truth Orange Bitters Sazerac ($8) - Old Overholt Rye, Peychaud Bitters, Kubler Absinthe. Cheers, Rocko.
  6. Thanks! Had a lovely set of drinks at Franklin Mortgage. I would have had more but they didn't have much food available. Very nice set up.
  7. Fuck Hop Sing. I have never been more rudely treated anywhere, and this is a place that didn't allow my party in because the doorman said I was wearing sneakers. Then he gave me the bird. For the record, I am wearing Mozo's Marcus Samuelsson shoes. Drinks might well be great. Wouldn't know. Todd Thrasher, Gina Chersevani, Derek Brown, Jeff Faile, et al., would never DREAM of pulling a stunt like that. Fuck those guys. Period.
  8. 124 Rabbit Club 124 MacDougal St. New York, NY10012 The tiniest little dive in the Village is actually a great craft beer bar (which basically only has craft beer, though there are some ciders). It has just three taps, but features a well thought out, Belgian-heavy bottle list. A true dive, it's in a brick-walled basement, "decorated" with coasters, candles made from broken beer bottles (some jagged), and, of course, rabbit-themed art. The German beers were particularly interesting to me, so, after a draft Stoudt's Pilsner (an outstanding Pennsylvania beer I've never before had on tap), I tried the Einbecker Schwarzbier - an excellent version of this style, which makes Kostrizer seem just ordinary. Keeping with that theme, my next beer was a Monschoff Schwarzbier, a very different, dryer version of the style with much darker malts for a smokier, almost grilled bread-like quality. To close out a rather long visit, I went with a Schlenkerla Marzen, a rauchbier, which is about as close to liquid bacon as you can come, without being actual, liquid bacon. If you find yourself in the Village and are at all into beer, this is a great place to know about. But also know, it only takes cash.
  9. Adam Bernbach suggested I visit Apothecary when I was in Philly. If you know Adam, and you know his taste in music and cocktails, you'll know why he recommended it. The list is full of complex cocktails. I just happened to hit it on the night that the two guys who does similar things to Adam were not there. I tasted three different cocktails that hit the range from Dimetapp-flavored (Aviation) to slightly margarita-like but without the crappy rum (La Paloma) to a drink Papa Hemingway-style - citrusy and only slightly boozy tasting (La Floradita). They were also out of a ton of stuff to make their version of a Manhattan, a pisco sour, or gin ramos fizz. If you hit Apothecary it sounds like it is much better to hit it on a weekend when the two crazy bartenders are there. But even so, it was a nice place to relax after a long week.
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