Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Frankford Hall: A Real Good Time Despite Insane Heat Lamps

As a kid who was born in Fishtown, moved somewhat quickly, but still has a ton of family in the area, I can definitely say that I did not see the influx of hipsters coming. But now that they have been there for a while, I feel a bit of a need to thank them for the slew of great bars they have brought along in their wake. First it was Johnny Brenda's, which is not only a very good bar, serving local standout brews, but also a pretty good spot to catch a band (I saw the Ting Tings there; they were outstan-Ting). Then it was Memphis Taproom, a place cool enough to host a kid's day during Beer Week so that me and Spicy Hawaiian were able to kill exotic cans in their beer garden while our toddler watched some weird lady break it down Raffi-style on her acoustic ax. Finally, Barcade came along, with its wicked combo of 80s and early-90s era video games and a superb selection of national microbrews.

So when I heard that my cousin was having his bachelor party at Stephen Starr's Fishtown outpost Frankford Hall, I was definitely psyched. (Full disclosure: OK, this was not the actual bachelor party. That was at Daydreams (yeah, probably not cool for me to link this; sorry, fellas). However, I boycotted that because I am not willing to pay an exorbitant cover charge to get into a place to see breasts that I am not only not allowed to touch, but would receive a severe beating if I had the temerity to accidentally rub up against.)

I really didn't know what to expect as I drived to the place. For wahtever reason, I thought it would be a huge expanse in some old abandoned parking lot or something. But actually it was very well built into the area's urban landscape. After walking into the place and navigating the two fellows who were there to check my I.D. even though I usually feel like I am the age of Tony Hopkins, I spied a large heavily populated bar on the left and a series of tables for dining. On the right was a ping-pong table, which was kind of odd. Not because there was a ping-pong table in a bar. No, that seems like exactly the kind of thing hipsters would want to do whilst swilling suds. It was simply funny because I was hitting the spot at 8 p.m., it was getting dark, and the table was completely underlit, making it impossible for the players to see such a small bouncing sphere. Of course, this made perfect sense as I assumed they were just swinging the paddles to look cool anyway.

As I made my way out to the courtyard, I spied my "homies" at one of the establishment's many communal tables, designed so people will be forced to make new friends. Basically, my worst nightmare. But it was nice. It had been a slightly rainy night, but the open-air area was still somewhat packed. Being that it was a tad bit nippy, I had dressed warmly: flannel shirt, cardigan, Chucks with athletic socks, fingerless gloves that I planned to keep on no matter how hot I got because I just thought it looked cool. However, despite the slightly chilly temperatures, the place felt a bit like a sauna. This is because of the heating lamps, which seemed to be operating at wildly disparate levels. While some were letting out a little bit of a blue flame, the one nearest us was spilling out heat in the manner of Sherman doing his best to completely eradicate Atlanta, Ga. In the heat department, the camp fire in the middle of the courtyard, which customers are able to roast Smores over if they buy them for a minimal price, probably didn't help either, but I did enjoy how it sent me home smelling like I had just spent the evening camping in the forest instead of downing beers in the city of my youth. Seriously, I spent half of the next day sniffing my attire.

And what of the beers I consumed? Well, I certainly wasn't taking notes at a Fishtown bachelor party if that is what you are wondering. I will simply tell you that they were affordable enough for people who are used to spending way too much at metropolitan night spots and they were available in 16-ounce and 1-liter sizes. Since I can't imagine what the last sip of even the best one-liter beer would taste like, I went with the smaller ones. The first beer I had was Eliot Ness Amber Lager by Great Lakes Brewing Company. It was very good. The second was Hofbrau Sommer. It was very good. The third I had was Victory Prima Pils. That was very good, too. But then again, when you are drinking beers with your cousin who is about to get married, hanging out with good men you rarely get to see other than at momentous events, and getting served by unusually attractive ladies with massive amounts of tattoos, it usually tastes very good.

I cannot vouch for the food at Frankford Hall. I didn't have any. The truth is that the menu mostly consists of sausages and I don't really love sausage that much. Also, I forgot that I was hungry due to all of the "hipster-gawking" I was doing. (Actually, the truthier truth is that I was saving my money in case I wimped out of saying "No" to the strip club and had to spend my evening giving women money for baring their lady parts and pretending that they found me remotely sexy.)

All in all, in the two or so hours I spent at Frankford Hall, I had a wonderful time. But how could you not? There's beer, ping pong, beer, a couple ladies in lederhosen, beer, gigantic pretzels with cheese sauce, beer, heat lamps that could render the Antarctic a gargantuan puddle, beer, and a band that featured an accordion, a tuba, and a jug player (can't believe I forgot to mention them!). Basically, it's hipster nirvana and I can't wait to go back on a nice, sunny day because...dude, wait 'til you see my rockin' Fear in Loathing in Las Vegas tee!

Frankford Hall
1210 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19125

Frankford Hall on Urbanspoon


The Pizza Project
Just a nibble:
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