Wishing Well on 9th & Catherine, just a block north of the Italian Market, recently opened so we stopped in during the first week to check out their drink selection and sample a few features on the compact but promising menu.
The cuisine seems gastro-pub and doing some research on the chef, who used to run a place called the Lamplighter in Atlanta which also focused on southern-style gastro-pub, I was expecting good things.
The menu is divided into small plate/large plate, with about 4-5 large options and nearly double the small options.
The menu has some pretty decent beer selections, as well as a wine-by-the-glass selection that was comparable to the draft pints in price and selection. Elizabeth had glass of Spanish white for $7 and I enjoyed some PBC Fleur de Lehigh .
The room itself was a little bright for a pub and it seemed like the front half was the pub and the back half of the room was a little more refined...it was a good mix though, much like the drinks menu, you could lean toward a solid pint to sip or a glass of wine to savor...have a few beers w/ friends at the bar or do a bit of serious dining in the back.
But let's talk about the food.
We weren't too hungry and just ordered a few small plates to share, along with the daily special, a half-dozen Cape May salties...they arrived with a Meyer Lemon mignonette, flecked with coarse black pepper...a sweet & peppery twist on the salties.
The Fritto Misto was a fun mix of fried morsels..shrimp, scallops, mushrooms, onions and lemons...thinly sliced, the fried lemons were my favorite. The coating on the fritto was a simple seasoned dusting and not some greasy batter. I saw three more bowls of the Fritto fly out of the kitchen while we were enjoying our dish.
The Short Rib Quesadilla had some serious chipotle flavor in the accompanying sauce, but the meat was smoke-kissed & tender and the flakiness of the tortilla made for a delicious texture. The tomatillo/avacado salsa was unremarkable. I noticed that the quesadilla is not on the menu any longer...disappointing because I would've ordered it again. However the short rib is making an appearance of it's own on a larger plate now.
We weren't in the mood for a burger but I hear that the Wishing Well is throwing it's hat into the burger ring with the SHAME burger...a scrapple & easy egg topped burger that's already gotten some good reviews over at Unbreaded.
Not quite ready to replace places like Royal Tavern and SPTR at the top of the South Philly gastro-pub pile, but I like Wishing Well for the mix of wine & beer offerings, the fresh decor and the offerings on the menu...it's not trying to be like those other places and its offer two distinct directions for dining options make it a great neighborhood spot.