The Good King Tavern

By Phyllis Stein-Novack
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 13 | Posted Jan. 2, 2014

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Chef Paul Lyons is cooking up popular French dishes at The Good King Tavern, which recently opened in Queen Village.

Unless you have been living deep in the Australian Outback, you know I adore French food. I’ve stated I would love to retire in Provence. Olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs form the foundation for simple fare that borders on peasant food. These are the dishes that please me.

The Good King Tavern, which opened more than a month ago in Queen Village, offers these types of dishes at moderate prices. Chef Paul Lyons is at the culinary helm turning out appetizers, entrees and homemade desserts. There are many vegetarian options and yes, burger and fries are on the menu as well.

The foods of Provence depict the sunny nature of this region in warm weather months, so it was enjoyable to find a bit of sun on a cold winter night.

Edward and I were shown to a booth and perused the menu over expertly prepared cocktails. Prices were spot on, $12 for a Bluecoat martini and $12 for a Rob Roy.

There’s a bar in the front and booths that line windows covered in pretty white lace. The building’s original tin ceiling is painted a dark blue, lighting is fine and James Brown was playing over the sound system. This put me in a fine mood.

Brussels sprouts ($7) were not at all bitter beauties that were roasted, bathed in tangy Chevre and topped with toasted hazelnuts.

Lyons obviously enjoys pickling vegetables, which was evident in eggplant three ways ($7). He pan seared eggplant wedges, including a finely chopped eggplant spread, which packed a nice spicy punch and pickled eggplant. Thinly-sliced cool radishes and sunchokes were included on the plate.

I really enjoyed the mushroom croquettes ($6). Mushrooms and spices were pulverized, rolled into balls, coated in seasoned crumbs and quickly fried to a crisp golden brown. Four came with the order, but I could have eaten a dozen. They rested on a bed of pickled mushrooms that I thought contained too much vinegar.

One of the specials of the evening, which were written out on a separate sheet of paper and appeared on the blackboard, was braised artichoke hearts with lentils. Three globe artichokes were expertly peeled down to the centers, which were braised in white wine, a bit of olive oil and herbs. French green lentils retained a bit of bite and shared company in a heavenly white wine, olive oil, garlic and chopped vegetable sauce. Rectangles of toasted homemade bread gave us the delicious opportunity to mop up the sauce.

A glass of house Pinot Noir ($6.50) and a fine French Chardonnay ($7.50) drank well with our entrees.

The feature of morteaux gratin ($12) was the homemade chicken and pork sausage, which I found required more fat and seasoning. Lyons took a gratin dish and layered it with au gratin potatoes, which needed salt and could have been hotter, temperature-wise. He then crammed the sausages in the dish and topped it with arugula. I found this an odd presentation. When vessels like this are used to bake more than one ingredient, the temperature varies with the ingredients.

Skate wing was popular 10 years ago, and I have not seen it on a restaurant menu in years. Lyons placed his version ($16) on the list of specials a week ago, describing it as skate wing with pork belly in a saffron broth. I received perfectly pan-seared skate that was first dusted in unseasoned flour. The fish was so bland I had to ask for salt, pepper and lemon wedges. This improved the fish’s flavor. The squares of pork belly were perfectly done, crisp on the outside and creamy inside, but the broth was a disappointment. I did not detect the yellow color or flavor of saffron. It was milky white and sweet with sautéed leeks, carrots and onions.

Do not miss the homemade pot du crème ($6). This French version of chocolate pudding is among my most enjoyable ways to end a meal. It was topped with chopped nuts and a dollop of perfectly whipped cream.

The Good King Tavern is a welcome addition to Queen Village. Some of the dishes were uneven, but I want to return and sample the steak frites and frogs’ legs.

Three tips of the toque to The Good King Tavern.

The Good King Tavern

614 S. Seventh St.

Contact the South Philly Review at

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Comments 1 - 13 of 13
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1. Tony said... on Jan 2, 2014 at 07:04PM

“The hot topic along East Passyunk Avenue is the recent addition of the 26-seat Laurel, 1617 E. Passyunk Ave., a modern French-influenced American BYOB under the direction of chef/owner Nicholas Elmi. The name may sound familiar to fans of the hit Bravo reality series “Top Chef,” as he is involved in the current season that was filmed in New Orleans. The restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call 215-271-8299 or visit

Unless readers here have been living deep in the Australian Outback, you know the reviewer adores French food and would visit one in Center City before even thinking of visiting one below Washington Avenue, especially if they don't make Rob Roys. So submit your own reviews here in the Comments section.”

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2. Phyllis Is Boring said... on Jan 2, 2014 at 09:24PM

“Nicely put, Tony! She needs to escape her little pampered world and bring her bubble butt to the true South Philly.”

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3. argggggggghhhhhhhh said... on Jan 3, 2014 at 09:03AM

“Let's hope she retires quickly!

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4. Marty Medals said... on Jan 3, 2014 at 10:47AM

“I am a bit confused.
Is the Rob Roy a cocktail developed in France?”

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5. Professor said... on Jan 3, 2014 at 12:44PM

“Marty, the Rob Roy was developed in Edward's basement, after years of experimentation. Edward, along with his drinking buddies Rob and Roy, found that wearing a French beret while drinking keeps in the body heat and thus prolongs the buzz.

Next week: history of the Bluecoat martini”

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6. argggggggghhhhhhhh said... on Jan 3, 2014 at 01:10PM

“There was a guy who used to comment and call her pretentious. He was right.

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7. Anonymous said... on Jan 4, 2014 at 09:54PM

“She's irrelevant. Period. A relic. Should be put out to pasture.”

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8. Slim said... on Jan 5, 2014 at 06:14AM

“C'mon, Anonymous #7, that's unduly harsh. If you care one whit about food and know how to transport yourself 20 minutes from your house, then this review was relevant and informative. Think of it like porn if you must: the girl in the photo may not be your type but now you know what she looks like.”

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9. Tony said... on Jan 6, 2014 at 03:08PM

“Didn't like this review? Go read one on the same restaurant in the City Paper. Come back and tell us what you think. Don't just say that review is better (or worse). Say WHY. That way the reviewer here can improve her product. The link:”

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10. argggggggghhhhhhhh said... on Jan 7, 2014 at 01:19PM

“I read the review in the CIty Paper by Adam Erace. First let me state that I cannot stand to review PSN's reviews. Someone called her pretentious and mentioned the NY Times. I agree with that and I'd like to see her go.

However the review in the City Paper would have been better if the prices were noted - she does that here. Also he had so many paragraphs (too many in my opinion) going off on a tangent or not directly reviewing the restaurant and the meal that I didn't like it - again just my opinion.

Lastly I have a nasty filthy mouth and I'm ashamed to say I curse way too much. The City Paper may say it's Pretty F***ing Dope but I guess I'm not cool enough to appreciate their writing style.

I do read the Philly Inq's reviews by Craig Laban. No I don't always agree (LOL - most times I don't) but I do find them interesting.

Anyway maybe a year with no PSN??? Fingers crossed!

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11. Tony said... on Jan 7, 2014 at 02:34PM

“Thanks, Aargh. You have to give Phyllis credit for including things the common man thinks about: prices for every item, attention from servers, lighting for menu-reading, temperature of entrees, room ambiance. I'm not sure the common man gets excited about: Edward's cluelessness, dipping sauce ramekins, lack of salt on food, fatty appetizer, fatty entree, fatty dessert, Bluecoat gin, Center City bias, grandmother's cooking, one-visit reviews.”

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12. argggggggghhhhhhhh said... on Jan 8, 2014 at 07:35AM

“I don't understand why the management of the newspaper doesn't get it either.”

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13. Silverbullet69 said... on Feb 5, 2014 at 10:05PM

“Phyllis's reviews get more comments and clicks a day than Craig Laban, Adam Erace and Drew Lazor combined per month.

Who the hell wants to read another review about the latest boa boa boa opened by bla bla bla serving a witty take on bla bla bla. All Phyllis all the time”


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