Aside from the lack of thick, Irish brogues and boisterous footballers, New Deck Tavern fits the bill of an authentic Irish pub. This shouldn’t be surprising to find, since millions of Irish immigrants docked on American shores in the 1800s and 1900s, bringing their culture and food with them to cities like Philadelphia.
And whether it’s a fair connection or not, we have to be honest – the Irish are associated a hundred times more with alcohol, and not with delectable Irish cuisine. New Deck wins at both.
Tucked away on Sansom Street between Drexel’s and the University of Pennsylvania’s campuses, New Deck Tavern is hidden from Main Street traffic and the obvious eye. A standing menu is perched out front, so if you find yourself waiting for a table, get a jumpstart on your order. Out for a late lunch, my group and I were seated near two televisions – lucky for us, the ping-pong championships were on ESPN.
Drinks ordered, we pounced on the menu and waited for the server to return. And waited, and waited. Too bad I forgot my air traffic controller batons to guide her back to the table. After nearly 40 minutes, my friend convinced the hostess (not the waitress) to take our order.
A nice surprise was that instead of the usual bread and butter appetizer, New Deck serves a giant bin of peanuts still in the shell near the hostess’ stand. I had dinner planned for later that evening, so I decided to order my usual baked potato soup and add a tossed Cobb salad to avoiding overstuffing.
On my previous visits to New Deck, it’s been the typical pub grub of fish and chips for me – golden-fried, battered cod with thick steak fries.
Aside from the fish and chips, if you order
one thing it should be the potato soup. As I inhaled steaming chunks of potato and long strings of Colby cheddar cheese, I monitored my apparently nonexistent progress toward the bottom of the soup crock and as usual, I never found it.
It’s hard to avoid large portions here, as not only was the soup filling, but my salad of lettuce, bacon, bleu cheese, Colby cheddar, tomatoes, chicken and ranch dressing sat in a bowl that could pass for a 10 gallon hat if this was Texas.
It’s not just the food that sells New Deck Tavern, but it’s a one-of-a-kind casual Irish scene that originated across the Atlantic in Cork, Ireland, where the bar imports its coveted tap. New Deck is the place where you can pound down pints, chips and, if you have the stomach, Jameson whiskey – it’s just the Irish way.
Brianna Barry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.