WHAT: Think of Biba, at 3131 Walnut St., as an Old World wine cellar that just happens to be open to the public. A wine bar that also serves beer and a wide selection of cheese and small-plate snacks, Biba offers a calm and cozy respite from the daily hustle. It is owned and operated by the same folks who run the two popular Tria wine and cheese bars in Center City, and sticks to the philosophy that good food and good drink should be a shared social experience.
TAKE A SEAT: You’ll make friends at Biba, even if you weren’t planning on it. There are 32 seats inside the petite wine bar, and no individual tables. Guests are encouraged to share long communal tables, sitting elbow to elbow. Also, the bar has no televisions, no games and there is no Wi-Fi. Owner Jon Myerow says his aim was to create a European wine bar atmosphere, where good food, drink and conversation take center stage. He wants people to unplug.
RECLAIMED BEAUTY: The burnished wood tables are made out of reclaimed redwood that comes from a 100-year-old Philadelphia water tower. The floor is reclaimed oak. The aged wood imbues the entire space with a calming, secret hideaway feeling.
AGED TO PERFECTION: The menu offers 26 different wines listed in categories such as: “bubbly,” “luscious,” “sociable,” “funky” and others. Five-ounce servings range in price from $6.50 to $9.50. The wines come from across the globe, with selections not only from France, Italy, Chile and Spain, but also from New Zealand, South Africa, Portugal, Argentina and even the United States.
INCREDIBLE EGG: In addition to the dozen delicious cheeses on the menu, Biba offers a variety of gourmet small plates, appetizers and crostini and paninos for those with a deeper appetite. One of the most popular dishes is a truffled egg cooked in a tiny cast iron skillet with potatoes, wild mushrooms, spinach and fontina cheese. Another crowd pleaser is the smoked chicken panino with caciocavallo cheese, roasted pepper and balsamic onion. All the food is under $12.
TOAST THE NIGHT: Instead of having a traditional after-work happy hour, Biba hosts a late-night happy hour Monday through Thursday, called Biba Before Bed. From 6 p.m. until midnight, guests can order anything off the wine list for $6 a glass.
MORE INFO: Biba is open Monday through Thursday from noon to midnight, Friday from noon to 1 a.m. and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. The bar is closed on Sunday. Find Biba online at www.bibawinebar.com, or give them a call at 215-222-2422.
Originally published on February 17, 2011