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The Devil’s in the Details

March 9, 2011
Devil's Alley, Philadelphia

Devil's Alley, located on Chestnut Street in the Rittenhouse section of Philadelphia.

So, back a couple Saturdays ago, Meg and I ventured into Center City to run some errands and decided to stop in at Devil’s Alley, located at 19th and Chestnut, to have some brunch. We wanted sandwiches, and it seemed like a good idea, as the restaurant is right around the corner from where we were shopping, so in we stopped, hoping for some devilishly good food.

On this cold, cold Saturday we were shown to a table on the second floor, which had a few other customers, as well as a few tables on the first floor of the restaurant. Our hipster waiter (glasses, ironic facial hair and not-terribly-enthused attitude all part of the standard uniform) came by to take our order, so off I went to test my sugar and take my meds.

The facilities at Devil's Alley.

Men's room on the second floor of Devil's Alley, Philly.

The restroom was nothing to write home about. It was clean (except for the un-flushed toilet), it had room on the back of the toilet to keep my meds — which, as you should know by now, is not the best-case scenario as far as I’m concerned. Seriously, I understand that there are room constraints, but are you trying to tell me that no one in the city of Philadelphia makes a small folding table that could live next to the sink in a restroom? If you tell me it’s not possible, I’ll tell you you’re not thinking or trying hard enough. But, left with no tables again, I made do and packed up to return to my beloved wife and brunch.

Now for some disclosure: I really enjoy chicken salad and Meg really enjoys grilled cheese. We were in luck, as Devil’s Alley had both on the menu. I ordered the BBQ chicken salad sandwich, which I thought might add an interesting twist to the offering. I’ve made chicken salad numerous times, and I’ve had some really good versions of it. My friend and old housemate Danny used to make a fantastic

My chicken salad sandwich.

My chicken salad sandwich.

Waldorf chicken salad, and my friend BR once made a BLT chicken salad that really made me happy.

Unfortunately, the BBQ chicken salad wasn’t that great. First off, they used way too much mayo. I like when it’s used in a more Spartan manner, just to bind the chicken and other fixings. The roll was really good, and it was served with grilled red onion on top, which was a pretty nice touch. However, there was just chicken and mayo. I understand the onion was grilled and served atop the sandwich, so there wasn’t any in the chicken salad, but there wasn’t any celery or anything else to provide any texture to the sandwich.


I had hope Meg would enjoy her sandwich a little more than I did, and she did, so fortunately we weren’t both forced to occupy Dante’s Inferno. (OK, that was a little rough, because my sandwich wasn’t that bad.)

Grilled cheese sandwich

Was the grilled cheese everything they advertised?

Meg had the grilled cheese, which was advertised as being served with “bacon, apples and cheddar.” Hopes were high. Cheddar was melted and tasty. Bread was grilled and crunchy. Bacon was glorious and bacony. Alas, there was no apple, which Meg was looking forward to. But she’s a good sport. “How bad can it be? It was crunchy and cheesy and had bacon.” But she would have liked the apple.

Really, the brunch at Devil’s Alley wasn’t bad. It didn’t exalt, but didn’t leave us descending to the fiery depths either. On my personal rating system for the restaurant (Piss Poor, for the worst; Hypoglycemic; OK, and Rated A1C for restaurants that have great food and are very accommodating for my diabetic needs), Devil’s Alley gets an OK rating. But, as the headline says, the devil’s in the details, and they were lacking just enough to keep it from the top rating.

At this point, I’d assume 90 percent of the restaurants in Philly rate between “Hypoglycemic” and “OK,” depending on cleanliness. This makes me a little sad, as I’d like to see some places that were willing to combine good eats with a comfortable and clean place to test my blood sugar and take my insulin.

Anyway, my rant is done, and here’s my video of Devil’s Alley’s second-floor restroom.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Joe permalink
    March 29, 2011 2:23 am

    Brian, you need to tell us how much the food cost. That helps in deciding on the value. Also, if you have to put quarters in the john to get access to the bathroom. That helps in deciding value, too!

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