Lunchtime on a recent Friday at Rybrew (2816 W. Girard Ave., 215.763.1984) was like a contemporary version of one of those old Sesame Street song-and-dance numbers where people of every ethnicity and religious affiliation and sartorial proclivity get along as one big, happy human family, regardless of their outward appearance. That’s how lunch ought to be, of course; well-prepared food and a beer or three go a long way toward putting a body in a good metaphysical place. Rybrew, in other words, seems to be just what the neighborhood needed: a reliably good sandwich and brew spot perfect for either take-out or eating in, right there in its charmingly industrial, unselfconsciously cool space.
Depending on what you order, the components here will either be brought in or made in-house, but they’re all conceived and crafted with smarts and careful attention to detail. The crab cake anchoring the “Rybread” sandwich, for example, is a lightly packed, filler-free, homemade puck of notable elegance. Despite the name, it’s served on a fluffy brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, and a chipotle mayonnaise that packs just the right kick.
Turkey is lovingly roasted by the Rybrew team, and makes appearances (if you like) in the reuben-referencing “New York” sandwich and others. The “Buffalo” panini features Boar’s Head meat; it’s the accoutrements that lift it to a higher level. With shredded carrots and gorgonzola, as well as that punchy chipotle mayo, it’s a winner, and a delicious justification for a quick IPA at lunchtime to pair with it.
There’s also a solid selection of salads, and a rotating roster of soups. A recent cream of broccoli, though it could have used just a bit more brightness, offered a hearty, almost chewable portion that managed to split the difference between healthy (broccoli is a vegetable!) and less so (creamy goodness).
Last week, I saw a steady stream of people lining up to place their orders at the counter—moms with their kids, local construction workers, office-types and more. Regardless of whether they were there for a quick bite to eat or to stock up on beer from the well curated selection of bottles, there was a distinct sense of pleasantness that hovered over the place. It’s easy to see why.
PW's Taste of Philly 2014