Pennsylvania 6—114 South 12th—takes its name from the oldest existing phone number in America. The post-Prohibition era dining room boasts bold red leather upholstery, black walls, and mirrors. New Orleans-style music—funk, jazz, bluesy soul—plays as bartenders pour bubbles and bourbons. I came for brunch; I stayed to write. It is Sunday evening at 7:00, and I snuck in at 3:30. That’s the witching hour in the city. Most people typically have had brunch, and it’s too early for dinner.
I was pleasantly surprised to squeeze in a brunch. I tried elsewhere but arrived promptly at three when most restaurants close. Dejected, I headed for Reading Terminal Market to grocery shop for the week. I consoled myself with the promise of a grilled cheese sandwich from MELT, which is never a bad choice.
I was still without my morning coffee and starting to feel the edge of caffeine depletion so I snagged an iced Americano from the Starbucks at 12th and Walnut. My alter ego Jane must have ordered, because I got her coffee. A couple sips in, the edge smoothed as I ambled up 12th.
Sometimes I’m able to woo the host or hostess into squeezing one last tiny brunch in before a kitchen closes, but my powers only work on the few who are enchanted by 41-year-old crow’s feet and slightly crooked teeth. I’m abysmal at batting eyelashes and haven’t mastered the cute laugh. Mine is more like a gorilla’s guffaw, and it’s possible that’s what I look like as I throw my head back and those in the vicinity can check my tonsils.
In the midst of my ponderings, I happened upon Pennsylvania 6 and noted the glorious announcement that they serve Sunday Brunch until four. Ruefully, I looked at Jane’s Americano, still mostly full. “If that’s the worst thing that happens all day,” said Justin the barkeep when I apologized for bringing outside drink into his establishment, “then I’d say it’s an okay Sunday!”
There’s nothing like an easygoing bartender to enhance my dining and drinking experience. He walked me through the menu and I mused over Eggs Benedict, Brioche French Toast, Sausage & Eggs. I decided on the Penn 6 Omelette with lump crab meat, wild mushroom, truffle, asparagus, and grana padano cheese. “Can I get that made with egg whites?”
Justin delivered a fluffy egg-white omelette, a side of crostini (instead of English muffin, which I find too heavy), and mini yellow potatoes fried with caramelized onions.
For dessert, I ordered Coffee Black, a chilled drink with Myers’s Dark Rum, Frangelico, black walnut bitters, and lemon peel. Oddly enough, though there was none in my drink, I tasted orange. Mixologists are magical; it’s as if they use libations as colors and mix the paints on their palettes to create new hues of flavor.
Shift change brought Vance behind the bar. He brought the dessert menu, so I indulged in the Guayaquil Chocolate Terrine: dense, flourless chocolate with a scoop of espresso gelato over raspberry gel, sprinkled with peanut brittle and peanut powder. It’s ridiculous. How does Pennsylvania 6 know these four flavors are my favorite? Thanks to Justin, Vance, and Pennsylvania 6, I missed grocery shopping day at Reading Terminal Market.
I have no regrets as I scrape my dessert plate (will anyone notice if I lick it clean?). I’ve been entertained as much by my art-on-a-plate as the staff. But maybe servers and barkeeps don’t like to think of themselves as entertainers. Perhaps they’d rather be viewed as artistes, aficionados, experts in their fields.
Visit www.pennsylvania6philly.com for the full menus and hours of operation.
Staff Writer: Jann Simmons Andiamo