LimpD: So, G-LO, once again our presence as Esteemed Members of The Media was requested at a “soft opening” for the new concept restaurant by our friends at PJW Restaurant Group; a chance to preview Central Taco & Tequila (CT&T) from the team that brought us P.J. Whelihan’s Pub, The Pour House, The Chophouse, and Treno Pizza Bar. How could I possibly pass THAT up? Thankfully, The Powers That Be, i.e. Benita (aka My Better Half), didn’t balk at my request for a couple hours leave from my usual parental responsibilities, so I was all set to have a little fun!
G-LO: Yes yes! When The Booze Signal lights up the night sky, this Not Quite Dynamic Duo always come a running! We’re like the Batman and Robin of Booze with a whole lot of “BOOM!”, “POW!”, and “OOF!”…
I was particularly interested in this event because while I knew that CT&T is housed in what was formerly The Irish Mile, I never actually set foot in the place, so I was curious to see what the inside was like. Let’s just say that The Irish Mile, a rather shabby looking shack masquerading as some sort of low-rent, cut-rate Irish Pub, wasn’t exactly warm and inviting looking on the outside, so I would always skip it on my way to The Pour House, Keg and Kitchen, or some other more desirable spot.
Before we get to the food and drink portion of this post, let me start things off by saying that I was really impressed with the interior of CT&T! The high ceilings, lighting, and open floor plan were really inviting, and I like how the bar is pretty much in the middle of the action. Do you have any idea what it looked like before when it was The Irish Mile?LimpD: I think as superheroes, it might be a little more like, “OOF! Ohhhh… my aching back!”, than any “BOOM!” or “POW!”. Ya feel me, Boy Blunder?
I had never been in The Irish Mile. Benita had gone there a few times with a girlfriend as it was about half way between the two of them. When I asked her about the interior, she said that it was just a big room with a giant bar, and that they had great pizza, but were otherwise unimpressed with the place.
Per my brief chat with PJW Restaurant Group CEO, Jim Fris, CT&T underwent a major renovation that took about a year to complete. I think the place looks fantastic, and the partially-enclosed patio is a really nice touch. I also like that they spent almost as much time working on the food and drink menu as they did on the physical structure, and based upon what we sampled during the event, I’d say that all that effort really comes through in the finished products. Of the six different cocktails that we sampled, i.e. the Blood Orange, the Cosmorita, the Jalapeño Mezcal, the Central Paloma, the Smokey Arroyo, and the Oaxacan Old Fashioned, which was your favorite?
G-LO: I’ll see your “OOF!”, and raise you an “OOF-AHHHHH!”, because you can take the boy out of South Philly, but you can’t take the South Philly out of the boy.
Based upon your wife’s description of The Irish Mile, I’d say that we most definitely didn’t miss a thing. And I agree about the patio; definitely a nice addition, and I stand by my PATCO drinking game, i.e. do a shot every time a train goes by. That would make for a dangerous night of drinking!
I was quite impressed with the cocktails, and I really like that the prices are pretty reasonable, ranging from $7 to $11 per drink, with most of them priced at $9.50. As far as what we sampled goes, the only one that was kind of ho-hum was the Blood Orange as I found it to be a bit too sweet for my taste, plus it was lacking the blood orange juiciness that I was expecting. My two favorites were the Oaxacan Old Fashioned thanks to those delicious chocolate bitters that come through in the finish, and that Jalapeño Mezcal was muy delicioso thanks to that chili salt coating around the rim. I don’t generally like salt on the rim of my cocktail glass, but this one totally worked for me. Honorable mention goes to the Central Paloma thanks to the addition of those Old Fashioned Bitters which were a delicious counterbalance to the tart grapefruit flavors. I have a strong suspicion that I’ll be going back again several times in the not too distant future to take an even deeper dive into their drinks menu.
How about you? Did you have a favorite cocktail of the six that we sampled? And what did you think of the food?LimpD: Hey now, Mr. South Philly! Let’s keep those “OOFs!” G-rated. This is a family show for chrissakes!
Depending upon the time of day and the number of trains, I think that drinking game of yours might be a little too ambitious. But, hey, I’m certainly game for it.
I agree about the Blood Orange; too sweet and just not enough blood orange flavor for my taste. At the opposite end of the spectrum, I think the Jalapeño Mezcal was a little too spicy for me, and that chili salt on the rim was a real WOW! I had the Central Paloma as my first drink and it was quite refreshing with just the right amount of fruit juice, and those Old Fashioned bitters capped it off nicely. As my last drink I had the Cosmorita which was perhaps a bit too fancy of a presentation for me. I should have ordered it in a rocks glass. Presentation quibble aside, my oh so dainty self found the Cosmorita to be another winner with just the right amount of Reposado Tequila and orange Vodka. I had a sip of your Oaxacan Old Fashioned and that too was a winner. If I had to pick a favorite though, I would go with the Central Paloma.
And then there was the food…
Three kinds of tacos (pork, fish and veggie), Mexican street corn, and a salad with pomegranate seeds. Twas quite a nice little spread. I thought the pork was the best of the three tacos, and mixing that street corn in to the salad made a nice combination. What were your thoughts?G-LO: As far as Mexican food goes, let’s just say that I’m a big fan of that cuisine, so I was all in with all that was on offer during our Esteemed Members of The Media sneak peek. While the pork (spit-roasted achiote pork, cilantro, caramelized pineapple, onion, salsa roja) was the definite winner of that taco trio, the fish (beer battered mahi mahi, chipotle crema, roasted jalapeño pico de gallo, spicy cabbage) and veggie (roasted broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, onion, carrots & potatoes, goat cheese crema, spicy pecan chipotle salsa) tacos weren’t far behind. And I’m with ya on the salad too! They had me at pomegranate and cotija cheese. Sadly though, I didn’t toss any of the Mexican street corn into my salad, and only had it on its own. That being said, that corn was pretty darn tasty thanks to its buttery, creamy and mildly tangy/spicy goodness.
What you neglected to mention was the Tuna Tostada (soy citrus marinated ahi tuna, chipotle crema, avocado, crispy leeks). That was a pretty to look at and even better to eat little mouthful of crunchy tortilla and fresh fish goodness. Although there’s no mention of smokiness on the menu for this item, I could swear there was some smoke coming through while I was savoring it. And that’s not a complaint by the way. Me likey the smoky fishy! My only disappointment with this dish is that I couldn’t get more of it. I swear, us media types are like vultures! As soon as the plate was dropped, everyone swarmed in and they disappeared. VULTURES!
Any final thoughts before we wrap up this little chit-chat of ours?
LimpD: Oh, the Tuna Tostada! How could I have forgotten that? And you seem to have left off the churros that ended our meal which were just the right blend of crisp dough, cinnamon sugar, and a delicious chocolate dipping sauce. It’s not like you didn’t eat at least five of them at the end of the event. OK, now I’m starting to drool…
Between the renovated environs, the delicious food and the fantastic cocktails, I’d say the PJW Restaurant Group has another hit concept on their hands. My only concern is the lack of parking. I hope CT&T does a brisk business based on the foot traffic thanks to its such close proximity to PATCO and the surrounding neighborhood.
And, I’m with you. Let’s break out the calendars and find a date to take our Benevolents on a night out.G-LO: CHURROS! How the hell did I forget those crispy, sugary, cinnamony, and chocolatey bits of bite-sized goodness? I’ll blame it on the cocktails of which I may have had one too many.
And I concur on the parking. That situation needs to be rectified. Then again, we could always just take PATCO or an Uber. That would allow us to take a REALLY deep dive into that oh so tempting cocktail menu of theirs.
With regards to that night out with our Benevolents, I’ll check in with my Budding Broadway Star, and you check in with your American Ninja Warrior Princess. Let’s get something on the calendar for early January!