10 months ago

What’s up Passyunk Avenue!

We spoke to general manager, Tim, about what this American-centric bar is all about. And we had a really good time whilst we were there.

The Passyunk bars have been going for a little while- they have three other sites that preceded their newest Battersea location (which only opened in mid May earlier this year). Their OG location in Fitzrovia is the first place that homesick Philly expat, Tim, headed to when he landed in the UK after moving here. A few years later and he’s just overseen the opening of the 4th Passyunk… which just gives a little hint of what kind of addictive, welcoming atmosphere this place exudes.

So what’s it all about? According to Tim the Passyunk bars are all about the vibe- he’s going for the kind of place where you can pull up a stool for a post work pint and talk to the person doing the same next to you, talk to the bar tender or just watch whatever game is currently on one of the screens. It’s, in his words; “a local for everyone”, which really is what it feels like. On our visit it was already busy at 5pm on a Wednesday, a group of people going for a round of drinks after a day at the office, a family making the most of the £1 wing deal, there was a duo on a date and a few single people having a beer at the bar. Tim is keen on that lovely American feel where the bartenders will know their regulars by name and there is constant friendly interaction- none of that anonymous throwing a glass of wine at you by a grumpy server like you’ll find in many a British pub. It was something we witnessed in full force- regulars coming in to be welcomed by friendly banter from the servers, servers coming in for their shift welcomed by friendly banter from their regulars… it made for a lively feel.

The decor is true Americana. The walls are plastered in memorabilia like caps, posters, sports shirts, flags and nicknacks so there’s a lot going on that would fool you into thinking you just stepped across the pond when you crossed the threshold. There’s a lot of sporting bits too, and that makes up another big pillar of Passyunk. According to Tim Philadelphia is a big sports town, and though Passyunk will celebrate all of the big American holidays, the sports matches are really, really celebrated and there is always some kind of US match on one of the TVs dotted around the venue. And when the big seasons hit you’re welcomed to go in and request whichever team you want to cheer on. Though it better The Eagles (especially if Tim is around).

Ok, so there’s a lively dive bar feel to Passyunk- but there’s more to it than just that. The food and drink is really good here too. The drinks menu is heavy on American beer, but we appreciate that they’ve also collaborated with local brewery Samsbrooke (based in Wandsworth) to create their bespoke Passyunk pale ale. Tim recommended trying his favourite the Hawaiian ‘Kona big wave’ beer for something a little bit lighter and tropical, which we did and which we loved. It went well with a very dirty, zingy pickle martini which came with a whopping spear of pickle and was alarmingly drinkable. A must order if you love a pickle as much as the Philadelphians clearly do.

A peep at the food menu will give you a hint that pickles are big players, and they dot the diner-style, relaxed eating menu. But the main highlight? Why, the Philly cheesesteaks of course! According to Tim it’s the ultimate Philly comfort food that’s been made high-end at Passyunk. They use proper ribeye of beef and proper cheese in the sauces and they’re served in a traditional hoagie. So of course we ordered one. Packed with well seasoned meat and melty cheese and served with- what else but- a pickle, this was comforting, filling and fun all rolled up in a hoagie. Wonderful. We also tried the other bestseller- the chicken wings. According to Tim they are the best in London and according to us? Well, we can’t remember having any better. Get them with the ranch dip and maybe an additional ranch dip because you’ll go through that creamy, delicious sauce in no time. Straying away from Tim’s suggestions we also tried the tender eggplant dippers which should not be overlooked. They were incredibly moorish; breaded slices of very, very soft aubergine ready to be dunked in a tangy marinara sauce. Lovely. The onion rings were a crunchy addition- not a touch of sogginess in sight and the little bucket of them was soon left empty. Though not all the staff are from the US, they do all have those classic cheerful, helpful, characteristics you’d find in the hospitality world state-side and our meal came to us swiftly and with casual conversation that we appreciated. It was really great, easy food to share and though gimmicky twists can often infiltrate themed bars, we were pleased that this is just not the case here. The food is Philly themed, sure, but it’s pulled off incredibly skilfully to leave any tackiness off the menu.

And that food menu is about to expand at the Battersea location too! Passyunk are starting their breakfasts which will be an all week long offering of filling, comforting diner-style dishes. Pancakes, bacon, breakfast burritos and unlimited coffee? If it’s anything like their dinner menu then yep, sign us up. So that means that the location will be open from 8am until midnight (or 1am on Fridays and Saturdays) and in that time you can often find live music and DJs and other fun entertainment.

Passyunk Avenue is a real American treat in the UK. An immersive experience that you’ll not want to emerge from, it is as authentic an American dive bar that you’ll find in London- it’s staff, food, drinks, sports and soul are Philly through and through and we won’t fault it for that.

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