Movable Feast: World Cafe Live

 
 

On a recent Thursday afternoon, with deadlines looming and a Movable Feast still to write, the Current staff took a nice long (for us) walk up Walnut Street.

Our destination? World Cafe Live.

Located way out there at Walnut and 31st, the combination restaurant/bar/music venue isn’t the most obvious place to pop in for a quick drink or a bite to eat. But as we discovered, World Café Live offers a refreshing change of pace from the usual happy hour routine.

And nothing sets the place apart more than the building it calls home—the wonderfully restored Hajoca Building, which offers the kind of stunning setting we’re quite confident you won’t find at any other West Philadelphia hangout. The first-floor bar and restaurant space (the concert venue is downstairs) is light, airy and picturesque. Sitting at the light, airy bar on a sunny afternoon, we were glad not to feel hidden away in some dank barroom.

A brief wait for our bartender, who was lost somewhere in the kitchen, gave us time to peruse the short but high-quality beer list. The day we stopped by, the bar had three wonderful local beers on tap: Prima Pils from Downingtown’s Victory Brewing Co.; 60 Minute IPA from Delaware’s Dogfish Head brewery; and Milk Stout from the Lancaster Brewing Co. The bar also offered happy hour specials on well drinks and wines, but with beers this good, our choice was obvious. We would stick with beer.

We sampled all three local brews, and were impressed with each. The Prima Pils was a high-quality take on a traditional pilsner, a light, crisp beer that left us wondering why anyone would order a Budweiser, given alternatives such as this. The Milk Stout was as dark and potent as any (think Guinness), but also slightly sweeter than others we’ve tried. And the 60-Minute IPA lived up to its reputation as one of the nation’s best India Pale Ales: It was hoppy and bursting with flavor, without being overly bitter.

The menu offerings were hit-and-miss—mainly because we had no way of knowing what the chefs were capable of preparing.

Though the kitchen did not officially open until 5 p.m., we were told we could order selected dishes from the regular dinner menu—our bartender just didn’t know which were available. After a few orders fell through, we settled on a simple Hummus Platter. At $12, this dish was a steal: It was substantial enough to feed three people, and each portion of the dish—hummus, roasted red peppers, stuffed grape leaves, grape tomatoes, grilled pita bread and olives—was prepared just right. The perfect happy hour dish to cap a refreshingly different happy hour experience.

World Cafe Live is located at 3025 Walnut Street. For more information, call 215-222-1400 or visit www.worldcafelive.com.

Originally published on April 13, 2006