Review By: Eric Hoover –
Folks, you do not know how much I love a scotch egg. Eggs are one of my favorite foods, as they are amazingly versatile and easy to make when hung over on a Tuesday Sunday morning. Adding pork, batter, and deep-frying them only broadens the horizons of artery-clogging goodness. And I’m late to game – scotch eggs have been a hip staple in bars from Brooklyn to Portland for years. I only recently began partaking. In fact, my first was at Watkins and I’m a convert.
During this Drinkery visit, I grabbed a happy hour “on the engine” (a.k.a. hand cranked and delicious) Yards Vanilla Love Stout. You can’t go wrong with a Stout, and Yards Brewing Co. hits the spot with this one. It’s not overly sweet, which is good because I like my beer to taste…well, like beer. It is a great compliment to the crispy coating around a scotch egg that arrives with a perfectly soft center. I’ll admit, the batter was slightly under-salted, but this is the only instance that has occurred, so I’m not too worried. There’s also a flavorful dipping sauce involved, but I honestly never use it. Save it for the fries. Or eat it off your fingers. I won’t judge.
Watkins was my first scotch egg experience, and it’s now been my first rabbit experience. I’ve wanted to try the meat for a while and figured this was a good time. Yes, as I assumed it tasted like chicken, with that slow-roasted smoothness you get with pulled pork. I couldn’t quite place the BBQ sauce – something between the tanginess of buffalo wings and a sloppy joe. Served on soft challah bread mini-rolls and topped with crunchy cole slaw, you’ll wonder why their menu only offers 3 or 6 sliders. Honestly, 10 would probably sell. After all, isn’t it wabbit season?
Watkins Drinkery is the latest in a string of “gastropub” type establishments to open in South Philly. This one’s a bit different, as it’s not located on East Passyunk Ave. – it does fall just outside the border of a newly branded touristy area, “Passyunk Square.” Like most neighborhoods in The City of Brotherly Love (by Brotherly Love, they mean the kind of love a sibling gives by shoving your head in the dirt or stealing your toys) this predominantly Italian-American area is witnessing a rapid change. Some call it gentrification, others call it the cycle of city living. But we came to talk about deep fried eggs and beer – leave politics to the politicians.
My point is, due to the location of Watkins you’re at the bar with half old-school South Philly residents, half “hipster” 20-somethings from the Midwest. I live close by, so Watkins has become my go-to pub since returning to the neighborhood in December. I have never felt unwelcome by either old-timers or new arrivals. It’s the local bar, a place you go after work for a beer, to watch the Phillies (probably lose) with your neighbors. You get to know everyone, we’re all family for a while. You can’t beat that.