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Jan 4, 2009 06:20 AM

Campbell's Place - Chestnut Hill

After much anticipation of the new ownership of this long time establishment.....
The location is fantastic for a local tavern. The downstairs has an old time beautiful wood bar with booths that capture your spirits the minute you step inside and are greated by the hostess. The new owners created some additional carpeted and brightly lit space upstairs with a 4 seat formica bar which does not offer the ambience of downstairs but does offer some upbeat music and a casual small dining area if you do not want to wait to be seated downstairs.

The updated menu is great with offerings of typical tavern food and a few upscale entrees and appetizers as well. However, some of the food quality is very disappointing and a bit pricey compared to most taverns. The fish and chips were the biggest let down. Chewy, floury breading and stinky ammonia smelling fish, served with standard french fries for $14.50. After eating fish and chips at well over 100 establishments, this is the only time I actually could not eat the fish (2 sticks). I decided to just eat the fries after a few bad bites of the fish, but had to give the waiter back the ketchup for him to give to another table. This is after having to ask for it in the first place. The malt vinegar was not served either.

This was my second visit. The veggie burger was really a curry rice cake which is described yet more ricey than expected. A grain burger would better describe it. The mussels were decent, a bit chewy but fairly good and the crab cake dish was also tasty. Friends enjoyed the french onion soup, a salad and lamp chops.

Again, the prices are a bit steep for a tavern. A draft beer was $4.50 which is reasonable but a glass of their house wine was $9.00 per glass. So, a basic meal for two people is in the $50.00 range compared to most of the other local taverns that come in around $35.00.

The establishment looks like the type of place you really want to hang out at. However, I do draw the line when the food is bad, as in rotten. For a Saturday night with a busy crowd, there is no excuse for bad fish. This could be due to the new owners inexperience in managing a restaurant and I hope they turn things around. It has great potential.

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  1. Any interesting beers on tap or are they serving the usual mass-produced stuff? At $4.50 a pop I would hope they would have something more than the typical Guinness, Heineken, Bud Light, Stella Artois, etc., etc, etc.

    2 Replies
    1. re: G Goo

      I believe they only have 4 draft beers on tap, Guiness, Bass, I think a Sierra and one other. They have some micro-beers in bottles - approx 15.

      The best microbrew local tavern in the Mt. Airy/Chestnut Hill area - with great tavern food as well - is McMenamin's. Right on Germantown Ave. Great food, crowd and excellent beer. Approx 20 micro-brews on tap and 15 or so are continually changed. Prices are also very good.

      1. re: chowphilly

        I'm a semi-regular at McMen's (I live 3 blocks away) and I whole-heartedly agree with your assessment. In Philly anymore, even way out in the Northwest, bar owners would be wise to upscale their beer selections to meet the demands of this beer-savvy town. I don't think it is a stretch to assume that places like McMen's and Earth draw such a consistently large crowd partly b/c of their excellent beer selection. Guinness, Bass, Sierra Nevada, etc. just doesn't cut it anymore. Lots of people, myself included, expect to see some Yards, Philly Brewing Co. or Victory on tap, at a minimum.

    2. We were there shortly after they reopened. Husband had and hated the fish and chips. I had the veggie burger; OK, but I wouldn't rush back. Overpriced. Service was awful. Ambience: just so-so; we were in the last booth, across from the not-very-scenic coat racks -- they could put up a wall and make it a little nicer back there. Crowd: throwback old-school Chestnut Hill, which you don't really see much nowadays; it was like a time warp. We live around the corner. We won't be back.

      1. chowphilly, next time you're in the mood for a local pub - but with good food - please check out Tavern on the Hill a few blocks up from Campbell's. I keep flogging this place on the board because I'm afraid we'll lose it in this unforgiving economic environment. Homey, cozy, classic pub feel and excellent food prepared thoughtfully by the young couple that took over ownership a couple of years ago. Here's an article from the CHill Local:

        4 Replies
        1. re: GDSwamp

          Maybe we'll give it a try... i'd be more enthusiastic if the exterior wasn't so foreboding!

          1. re: Bob Loblaw

            I know, it looks grim from the outside. In fact I ended up trying it precisely because it's so gloomy-looking. I was doing some work next door at Chestnut Hill Coffee and saw that they had a sign in the window for a half-price wing special at lunchtime - I thought, "man, it must be hard to pull in customers when your storefront looks like the place might be out of business," so I tried it. Ended up being the best wings I've had in the area.

            "Flogging," yeah. Webster's online gives as definition 3 c: "to promote aggressively : plug <flying around the world flogging your movies — Peter Bogdanovich>."
            But they say that this usage is "chiefly British" so maybe I picked it up watching old Office episodes.

          2. re: GDSwamp

            We ate there a couple of years ago. The food was quite good, but I was really put off by an incredibly arrogant and condescending sommelier. I wonder if this was before or after the change of ownership, and if he's still there. I haven't been inclined to return because of this experience.

            1. re: chriscatva

              No sommelier in evidence, and the service is pretty down-to-earth.

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