Headhouse Square

By Phyllis Stein-Novack

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 6 | Posted Dec. 6, 2012

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The Headhouse Square restaurant is going through some cosmetic changes as the Dark Horse was recently taken over by the Cavanaugh’s team, which is in the process of finalizing its name change. 

Photo by Greg Bezanis

Four years ago, cousin Carl discovered Cavanaugh’s near Rittenhouse Square. We enjoyed a delightful dinner there and I have returned on numerous occasions for a good burger lunch or jumbo salad. 

Several months ago, a waiter told me the owners of Cavanaugh’s were taking over the Dark Horse in Headhouse Square. 

Edward and I looked forward to dinner on a cold evening. The transition from the Dark Horse to Cavanaugh’s Headhouse Square remains a work in progress as the old sign is still on the building, as well as the bill receipt. The menu, however, had the Cavanaugh’s name. 

We climbed a long flight of stairs to the dining room where a gentleman pointed out the blackboard specials: A choice of roast beef, roast turkey or roast pork for $12.95.

“Roast beef sounds good to me,” I said. “I can’t look at turkey for quite a while.”

We decided to join the revelers in the bar during happy hour and sipped perfectly-prepared cocktails: A martini ($9) for Edward and a Rob Roy ($12) for me. The menu includes a few of Cavanaugh’s favorites but I wanted to try the new dishes. These are happy-hour prices by the way.

Sausage rolls ($7.99) brought me right back to London. Seasoned pork was wrapped in delicate puff pastry and baked in the oven. Edward and I liked the combination of flavors and textures in this appetizer. Two large rolls came with the order along with a good size mound of salad greens dressed in a light vinaigrette.

I don’t recall whether Cavanaugh’s near Rittenhouse Square serves mussels ($6.99), but I had to try them.There was a choice of red or white sauce. A large bowl of gleaming, squeaky clean mussels bathed in a slightly milky garlic broth brightened my evening. They were perfectly steamed and not one bit chewy. Two large slices of hot garlic bread came with the dish. This was a meal in itself.

I always enjoyed Cavanaugh’s onion soup, but decided to sample New England clam chowder ($6.99). This rich soup was prepared with onions, potatoes and clams swimming in creamy broth, which was so downright warming and delicious, it rivaled any chowder I have tried in Boston.

Now on to the roast beef: Since our dinner took place a week after Thanksgiving, I craved meat. The beef was roasted rare to medium-rare and was so tender, I could have cut it with a butter knife. A rich, brown sauce topped the beef and was a fine tasty foil for the Yorkshire pudding that came with dinner. A small mound of roasted potatoes and asparagus rounded out the platter. Edward and I shared it since two large slices of meat were included.

Cavanaugh’s reminded me of the many pubs Edward and I have enjoyed in London. Cavanaugh’s is warm and cozy, complete with dart board, a friendly knowledgeable bar tender and a group of regular customers who come in for dinner or a drink.

It was obvious that care was taken in each dish we enjoyed. The ingredients were fresh and properly seasoned and the portions most generous.

Three tips of the toque to Cavanaugh’s.

Cavanaugh’s Headhouse Square 

421 S. Second St.


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Comments 1 - 6 of 6
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1. milk steak said... on Dec 7, 2012 at 01:08AM

“i literally have no idea what you're talking about. that's how bad you are at this. how was the beef a foil to the pudding? what made you crave meat a week after thanksgiving? why do you quote yourself? you're a riddle, phyllis. and apparently toque-tipping has something to do with solution.”

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2. Saul Cohen said... on Dec 7, 2012 at 06:27PM

“I literally have no idea what you're talking about, milk steak. That's how bad you were in your comment. You seem to have come from a poor family where roast beef wasn't eaten and think pudding in this context means chocolate or tapioca. LOL. You seem not to have understood the beginning of the review about the blackboard specials where she quoted herself, for clarity in making a point, about beef being the preferable choice so close after Thanksgiving.

It's OK to be uneducated. The people who have done the hard physical labor to build this country were mostly uneducated. But uneducated people shouldn't make written responses to well-composed reviews that they don't understand. Especially when they can't even begin sentences with a capital letter.”

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3. Not Craig said... on Dec 10, 2012 at 02:55PM

“Nobody thinks Cavanaugh's would serve a dessert pudding as a side dish to a protein. The issue is the stretched use of the literary phrase. Yorkshire pudding is typically served with roast beef & gravy. The gravy is placed on the pudding because the elements go together/compliment each other. Not because they clash with each other in order to highlight one over the other. See foil, Encyclopædia Britannica.

Also, the beginning of the review explaining why beef was preferable to turkey does not clarify why a full week after eating turkey, Phyllis had a craving for red meat. Had she not eaten meat all week? Had she eaten turkey leftovers all week? Like many of her sentences, it serves no purpose.

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4. Not Craig said... on Dec 10, 2012 at 02:56PM

“Lastly, "LOL" to the idea that this review is well-composed. With her non sequiturs, self quotations that add nothing to help explain the dining experience, and glossing over useful descriptions of food, nobody who knows anything about food would call her reviews well-composed, though this review was less of a head shake than others.”

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5. Angel B said... on Jan 4, 2013 at 09:55PM

“Wow, you actually compare one Cavanaugh’s to another?! Ever eaten at their River Deck outpost? Prepare for the worst cafeteria style food ever!

I am guessing you caught the Dark Horse Chef in transition. Why don't you do a review when there is actual footing made?

Restaurant transition times make for poorly posted and inaccurate reviews.”

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6. Rick said... on Mar 13, 2013 at 11:07PM

“Very Good Irish breakfast but the beers on tap need to be rotated more to add a little variety. Still a good place to watch football on a Sat/Sun morning with good bartenders who always do a good job of keeping your glass full.”


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