Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Midtown Village Fall Festival

This past Saturday afternoon, there was a familiar autumnal crispness in the air, the kind that makes you want to throw on a cozy wool sweater and dig into a warm slice of apple pie. However, considering that I had not baked any pie and that all of my cozy wool sweaters were still sealed up in storage, I needed an alternative plan. Thankfully, this was also the perfect weather for sampling the seasonal offerings of trendy Philadelphia bars and restaurants while listening to live music, so I jumped on the eastbound trolley for a trip to the Midtown Village Fall Festival along 13th Street. Seeing as how this particular stretch of the city was home to some of Philadelphia's finest fare, I was sure Fall Festival wouldn't disappoint. I was right. As soon as I crossed over to 13th and Chestnut, I was struck by a wave of enticing sounds, sights, and smells. A lively jazz/funk band called The Sermon! performed onstage. Cooks from several neighborhood eateries (including El Vez, Vintage Wine Bar, Opa, and Zavino, among others) huddled under white tents, tending meticulously to their stations and slinging out everything from gyros to cheeseburgers to pork tacos. In the Fall Festival fantasy of my mind, every one of these culinary delights would be lavished upon us, the attendees, free of charge. Alas, that was not the case, so I decided to part with five dollars in exchange for a dish that looked especially delicious: Zavino's ricotta-stuffed veal meatball sandwich with parmesan. It was tasty. Very tasty. In fact, it would be appropriate to say that I basically inhaled it.  The meatballs were juicy and tender, and very nicely complemented by the sweet, flavorful tomato sauce in which they nestled. The grated cheese added a pleasantly savory contrast. And, of course, the roll was just right in that signature Philadelphia way: light and chewy, never soggy. (Side note: When I got home, I decided to check out the restaurant's menu online. As it turns out, it is quite reasonably priced. I've also read phenomenal things about their pizza, so you might want to make Zavino your next downtown dinner destination.)

Now, every good sandwich deserves to be accompanied by a good beer (or, dare I say it, two) and there was plenty to be found at Fall Festival. My libations of choice? Magic Hat and Flying Fish OktoberFish. While I enjoyed the Magic Hat, the OktoberFish was slightly too bitter and hoppy for my taste, although fans of stronger beers would probably find it very agreeable (and the fact that it is brewed in nearby Cherry Hill, NJ also adds to the cool factor). Walking the streets of classy Center City with an open plastic cup of alcohol was an odd sensation, but I'm not complaining! It certainly contributed to the overall relaxed atmosphere.

So, was I glad that I decided to break from my normal Saturday afternoon routine of being lazy and doing nothing in order to go to Fall Festival? Absolutely. As a senior who is trying to maximize the number of positive Philly food experiences under her belt before graduation approaches, while simultaneously not trying to go broke, I love events that allow you to explore quality restaurant cuisine without having to pay quality restaurant prices. Midtown Village, keep doing what you're doing, because you do it well.


  1. Great food, good music, terrific atmosphere ...see you there next Fall.



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