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Oh Snow! Dinner at Varga Bar

February 2, 2011
Entrees from Varga Bar visit

So, Meg and I had reservations at Mercato during the second of two weeks of Restaurant Week(s) in Philadelphia. We both looked forward to the meal, as we’d heard so much good stuff about the place. Anyway, two snowstorms hit Philly, the second of which was a 10-incher the day before our reservation and, with public transportation non-existent on the night of our reservation, we decided to bag it.

We will return, Mercato.

So a week has passed since our reservation and we decided to meet a friend for dinner. After putting our heads together for a little while via IM today, we decided to give Varga Bar, located at 10th and Spruce in Philly, a shot.

I’d heard a lot about this place. It has a really good beer menu, and it’s very well known for its mac and cheese, which happens to be Meg’s favorite food of all time.

Anyway, Meg and I arrived, and simultaneously we noticed a special app of “popcorn cauliflower.” When we were seated, we asked our waitress about this, and she told us it was roasted cauliflower that was then tempura battered and fried. After hearing this description, we smiled and ordered.

We also ordered our entrees at this point, which I’ll get to, and after that I tested my sugar and took my meds, but first, let me tell you, if every restaurant had popcorn cauliflower, I’d order it every time. It was that good. It was tempura-battered heaven. Served with a truffle aioli, I was tempted to get another order.

Yes, it was that good.

Anyway, I left Meg and our friend by themselves as I left for the restroom. (At this point, I should apologize to Meg because I thought I went to the men’s room, but it turns out there are two unisex restrooms. I made the mistake of telling my beloved wife that I was in the men’s room. When she said “Which one?” I took the opportunity to try to embarrass her a bit, which didn’t go over well, since she was right. Consider this my mea culpa, darling.)

Let me tell you, space at the Varga is a rare commodity. There are only a handful of tables, and a nice bar, but the restaurant has a long, but not deep, footprint. The restrooms are both tucked next to the bar, right next to each other, and they are not the biggest spaces in the restaurant. They maximize their space, I suppose, but, again, I was forced to utilize the top of the toilet in order to lay out my meter, test strip, alcohol swab, insulin pens and syringe-tips, and carrying case, as you can see above, and also just below in the video.

(I did, however, enjoy the fact that they had speakers pumping music into the restroom. I enjoyed their juke box.)

Entrees from Varga Bar visit

From left, truffle mac and cheese, sirloin cheese steak sandwich, and turkey burger.


For our entrees, Meg, of course, had the truffle mac and cheese, which you can see at right. I had a taste and really enjoyed it, too. I tried the sirloin steak sandwich with cheese, which was served with hand-cut fries with the truffle aioli served on top of them. Yum. Our friend had the turkey burger, served with hand-cut fries. His description of the burger: “It’s OK.” Not the most ringing endorsement.

Anyway, as you know, this isn’t solely about the food, which was really, really good. (By the way, I also enjoyed a couple Laughing Dog Alpha Dog IPAs, which were also really, really good. I’m a big fan of IPAs, and this one had a nice, sharp finish. Yum.) Between the food and the beer, I’d definitely go back.

The rest room, on our rating system (which ranges from “Piss Poor” to “Hypoglycemic” to “OK” to “Rated A1C”), would come in somewhere between “Hypoglycemic” and “OK,” but I’ll have to knock them back to “Hypoglycemic,” because I just had to question the cleanliness of the restroom. Also, Meg got back from her visit to the other unisex restroom (not, for the record, the ladies room, as I believed it to be) and said there was a problem with one of the faucets, which would blow water on the user’s hands whenever they finished using the hand dryer located just above the sink.

Another suggestion for Varga, as well: As you can see from the video, there were some disturbing stains in the sink in the bathroom. I don’t want to see that. Someone should take some tyme and bleach the sink.

No one should see stains in the sink when they visit any restaurant.

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