20 Manning Grill

The Occasion:

I went to college with my friend Lindsay.  We ran cross country together and therefore spent virtually every day with one another.  Graduation happened and life quickly began pulling us in opposite directions.  She remains one of my dearest friends,  but unfortunately we don’t get to spend much quality time together these days.  Linds actually lives in Philadelphia now as well, but she is a med student and I have a “grown up” job so our schedules rarely seem to match up.  Every once in awhile though, we both realize how insane it is that we live a mere 3 miles apart, and yet have not seen each other in months.  A couple weeks ago, Lindsay posted  this to  my facebook wall:

Hey can we hang out soon? And do dinner at one of your foodie places or something? I miss you.

DONE.  A Friday night dinner date and much needed catch-up session was on.

My lovely dinner date.

The Location:

A few months ago, I ate at Audrey Claire, an adorable little BYO on the corner of 20th and Spruce.  Since then I’ve been dying to try AC’s sister restaurant, 20 Manning Grill, on the same block of 20th street.  This seemed like the perfect occasion.

First things first, I love the location.  This may be my favorite block in the entire city.  Small homey restaurants along side little boutiques and vintage shops.  So.  Freaking.  Cute.

The Food:

Before we get to the food, let’s talk about the drinks… and how much I loved them.  The drink list is fabulous.  They have a decent selection of beers, both bottled and on tap, as well as wine available by the bottle or glass.  We chose to order from the  cocktail list which was long and fairly priced.  At the suggestion of our waitress, I chose the Old Fashioned and was super impressed.  Sometimes whiskey based drinks can be harsh, but this one had the perfect balance of sweetness, with a nice little kick at  the end.  If I hadn’t been driving, I would have ordered  a second ; )

For our meal, we skipped on the appetizers which turned out to be a good idea, because the dinner portions were huge.  I have a theory about center city restaurants where higher prices typically equal smaller portions.  Definitely not the case at 20 Manning, as we both took home left overs.  I ordered the Beef Sirloin Noodle Bowl and loved every bite!  The dish contained rice noodles, crunchy veggies, fresh herbs, a tangy dressing, and was topped with a ton of beef.  Often times in  stir fries and noodle bowls, they skimp on the protein, but it was the complete opposite at TMG.  Like I said… leftovers!  Lindsay ordered the tuna burger an really enjoyed it.  I gave her french fries a try and they were super crunchy and delicious.

For dessert we split the Half Baked Toll House Cookie with vanilla ice cream.  It was good, but probably not worth the seven dollars.  Nonetheless a solid finish to the meal.

The Atmosphere:

Since it was Friday night, I made a 7:45 reservation on Open Table.  I’m glad I did because the place  was packed by 8 PM.  It was crowded and a little on the noisy side, but not overwhelming in any way.

I absolutely love the ambiance.  Twenty Manning is rustic and comfortable, completely lacking the pretentious air of many center city restaurants.  It is the kind of place where you could go grab a drink and some appetizers at the bar, or enjoy a long dinner and conversation like Lindsay and I did.  The service was friendly and attentive, and we never felt like we were being rushed so they could clear us out and fill  our table.  Our server also had  excellent cocktail  suggestions, so bonus points to her!

My Thoughts:

I’m always wanting to try new things, so with the exception of a couple neighborhood joints, I rarely return to any restaurant with much frequency.  I can’t say I will make it back to 20 Manning all the time, but there is no doubt in my mind that I will make another trip soon.  It is just so easy, and comfortable, and serves a quality product.  That’s what I call a win-win-win.

As an added bonus, I didn’t see any nuts on the menu.  My roommate has terrible terrible food allergies, and its nice to find a place where she can eat and not worry.  As soon as I got home, I told her to add 20 Manning to her “places to go” list.  I guess that makes this a win-win-win-win, right?

Bang For Your Buck:

I had zero complaints when the bill showed up, as it was exactly what I would expect to pay around Rittenhouse Square.  TMG might be a tad bit overpriced, but in reality is very consistent with the other restaurants in the neighborhood.  Appetizers will run you between $7-$12, sandwiches are in the $15 range, and entrees will set you back $20-$25.  As far as the cocktails are concerned, I think they are downright cheap for a center city establishment.

See ya again soon 20 Manning!


Tall One


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