Thursday, May 24, 2012

Varga Bar - a review

My corner of Philadelphia has several notable characters and many character-full restaurants.  While we are packed to the gills with good eats, one restaurant consistently stands out: the Varga Bar on Spruce and 10th.

The menu is upscale bar food classics.  Appetizers run the gamut from Duck Wings in a pomegranate barbeque sauce to fried Brussel sprouts to truffled Mac and Cheese (all delicious).  Dinner entrees are reasonably priced, with sandwiches and burgers ranging from $10 to $15, and non-sandwiches varying from $17-$25.  Tonight was an old stand-by night for me - Veggie Burger with salad.

The veggie burger has a chick-pea base, and is mixed with corn, sprouts, and all kinds of good-for-you vegetables. Topped off with cheddar and cucumbers, it's refreshing, sort of like munching your way through the neighborhood garden.

The other food order this evening was the crabcake sandwich.
The crab meat itself got high marks for freshness and deliciousness, but as the photo so nicely illustrates, the bun-to-meat proportion was somewhat uninspiring.  I would have loved a little trompe-l'oeil bun action, fooling me and my man into believing that the crab was more plentiful, rather than drowning in its overly large, bready wrapping.  Old Bay fries were quite yummy, however, and the house made ketchup is spicy, sweet, and all together addicting.

Varga Bar also serves up creative alcoholic beverages named for the summer months (ie Miss July).  Being a July baby, I went all out for the Miss July - strawberry lemonade spiked with vodka - while my man gamely ordered Miss May - a mango margarita.

There's no skimping on the beverages, and my lemonade was the perfect antidote to the cloudy-muggy weather mix.

So, to recap:

Varga Bar has fun food, excellent prices, and some fabulous fruity drinks, as well as a respectable beer and wine list.  My totally arbitrary star rating, on a scale of one to five, is as follows:

Food: *** 1/2
Creative bar food, fresh ingredients, occasional proportion errors

Drinks: ****
Fruity and flavorfully fabulous

Ambiance: *** 1/2
Pin-up girls abound, as do 50s era drawings, but the windows open up and the restaurant spills over onto the sidewalk, making the whole scene fairly irresistible.

Service: ***
Friendly, laid-back, slightly overworked hipsters bring the food fairly quickly, although things like silverware and ketchup needed to be begged from the hostess.

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