Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Winnie's Le Bus, Manayunk

Been to Manayunk? It's still a nice area - I love all the old houses and older buildings, squeezed together in a setting that almost feels turn-of-the-century. If I could point to a downside, I think it's not a very robust neighborhood. Based on the concentration of restaurants vs. all other types of business, it's more a nightlife destination than a real residential area where you buy groceries and get your cleaning done. Still, that makes it quite lovable for those of us that just want to go there for dinner.

This guy loves it too, even though he doesn't show it all the time.

Le Bus is a local institution. Mom has been going there off and on for about as long as I can remember, and you see other restaurants around town advertising the fact that they used bread from Le Bus's bakery (not on site, I think, but hey). Judging by the web site, Winnie really did start it in a bus, and judging by the exterior I'd guess she moved into permanent premises some time in the 80's. It's not that everything looks terribly out of date, but there's something about it that makes me think 80's. The inside perpetuates it too. Is it bare walls and neon? Makes me think of a comedy club, somehow.

The counter is pure beer bar though - horseshoe-shaped and woody, with a healthy number of taps. I read in the City Paper that I picked up after dinner that 'beer is Philadelphia's drink', and to that, as well as warm and welcoming bars, I say "Yes!"

To $3 happy-hour beers, like this organic Napa Smith, I say also "Yes!" You know what this would cost in Tokyo? That's right, you couldn't buy it. But if you could, it would be $12-15. It was all I could do not to drink 4 of these out of joy.

Mom had some fish tacos, which I suspect were quite good. The fish looked like good quality and well-fried, and I know from tasting that the dips and sides were good. This shows a bit of the confusion on the menu though - tacos here, grilled fish there...

Daily special baked squash yonder. It's a cheerful mix though, with a pronounced healthy slant. The squash was a good size, and with the brown rice-vegetable-cheese stuffing and crispy basked top, it was pretty much a winner.

Having had only a virtuous squash stuffed with brown rice and vegetables, I had the bright idea to get dessert. Fortunately I was 'saved' from this idea, diet-wise, by my parents. They hatched the plan to get the sampler plate (3 half-portions), and then arranged for the other 4 people at the table to eat most it. OK, maybe not really, because I have firm opinions on each item. The key lime pie was really a standout - lighter, creamier and sharper than expected, all at once. The bread pudding was a little less good than advertised by our enthusiastic waitress, and the chocolate brownie was pretty much forgettable.

That's Le Bus, then. I would happily stop in here any day for those Happy Hour beers. Couldn't believe they were $3. And the food to go with it, if not distinguished in one particular vein, seems like it's always going to be solid and pleasant.

Hey, if you're not on Le Bus, you're off Le Bus.

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