My first tweet was about food. I highlighted grilled beef, chimichurri and Malbec — the rich, fruity red wine from Argentina that has been gaining in popularity in America and just might appear in restaurants and on family tables. Many tweets were about Malbec.
It might be a coincidence, but a smile appeared on my face when I saw grilled hanger steak with chimichurri sauce on the menu at East Girard Gastropub. I discovered the pub weeks ago on the way to Kraftwork for brunch. Since I have not reviewed a Fishtown restaurant in many months, Edward and I decided to try it.
It’s a corner property with soft lighting, high-top tables, which also serve as a base for checkers or chess, a long bar and a congenial staff. The music on the sound system ran the gamut from The Beatles to Sam Cooke to Smokey Robinson. I was in a very good mood.
Cocktails ($9 and $10) were jumbo, expertly prepared and icy cold. The menu is a nifty mix of pub favorites such as wings and burgers, but also includes seasonal ingredients, fresh fish and beef entrées at modest prices.
Five plump chicken wings ($9) were coated in a hot and spicy honey sauce and baked until golden brown. The skin was crisp and not a bit greasy although it was fun to get messy as a result of the sticky honey. Still, these wings were among the finest I’ve tried in a long time. Homemade bleu cheese dressing, with chunks of cheese, along with the requisite carrot and celery steaks made this appetizer a mini-meal.
I have never seen lettuce wraps on a pub menu. Shrimp lettuce wraps ($9) were a tasty delight. Two large cups of cool lettuce formed the vessel for beautifully grilled baby shrimp with sautéed mushrooms napped in a slightly spicy Asian sauce. Another lettuce cup was filled with shredded carrots and daikon that also tasted fine when dipped into the spicy sauce.
Next up was a salad of baby arugula, baby spinach, julienned tart apple, slabs of tangy salty Gorgonzola cheese and crisp pecans ($8), which Edward and I savored with every bite. I especially enjoyed the sherry vinaigrette. I use a version of this dressing from Spain at home and it always highlights salad greens. The salad was perfectly seasoned by the way.
A helping of fried cauliflower ($4) was a fine intermezzo before we dug into the beef. Bite-size pieces were seasoned with salt, pepper and spices before they were cooked and served with a homemade chili mayonnaise, which was outrageous in flavor. I’ve got to try this mixture at home.
A glass of Malbec ($10) was in order to properly savor the national dish of Argentina. During a walk through Buenos Aires, one will discover numerous restaurants with large slabs of beef grilling in the windows. The people of Argentina take their beef quite seriously.
Hanger steak ($16) was a site for the eyes and the senses. There must have been at least eight ounces of tender beef seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled to a perfect medium-rare. The outside of the beef was seared and crisp, which is the way I prefer it. The steak was sliced and served with pencil-thin grilled asparagus, which are in season now, and fingerling potatoes.
Chimichurri sauce is prepared with parsley, coriander, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. It can be made in a blender, food processor or by hand using a mortar and pestle. This perfect sauce had a richness and creaminess that I especially liked. Jackson Pollack-like squiggles of this sumptuous sauce were all over the beef, which, by the way, just melted in my mouth.
Service was first-rate. The bartender and a waiter kept the almost-filled pub happy as many guests were enjoying a beer while watching the basketball game.
Prices are truly moderate. I cannot think of any restaurant that charges $16 for a fine steak dinner.
Three-and-a-half tips of the toque to East Girard Gastro Pub.
East Girard Gastro Pub
200 E. Girard Ave.
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