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Please recc your favorite (higher end) BYOB

I'm taking my husband to Philly in late March for his birthday and his best friend and his wife are going to meet us. I'm looking for a great BYOB where we can actually have a conversation. I'd like the food to be American, New American, seafood, steakhouse or some sort of asian or asian/fusion. Since we will be able to bring our own wine, pricing isn't really an issue. We are staying in downtown Philly, so I'd like to eat downtown as well.

We will probably go to Tria for drinks beforehand.

I did a chowhound search and didn't see anything on thsi topic, but if I missed a post/thread, please post the link. A few places I'm looking at are: Matyson, Pumpkin, Fond, Cochon, and Bistro 7

Also, a question for a BYOB newbie - can you only bring wine, or can you bring hard alcohol in a flask as well?


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  1. Drinks before at Tria? Matyson is around the corner. Done and done.

    1. I know that places like Lolita encourage you to bring tequila and provide mixers. That said, the issue may more be with PA open container laws. If you are driving with an open bottle of wine or liquor, you will not get into trouble with the police if you put it in your trunk. I am not sure if a flask would be considered an open container or not, but driving I would err on the side of caution and put it in your trunk.

      I second the recommendation for Matyson. I am heading there tonight for their lobster tasting . If you are in Philadelphia on a Monday-Thursday, the Matyson tasting menu which usually ranges around $45 - $55 dollars is a great value. Small space that you can definitely hear yourself think, with good service and creative food.

      1. I like Matyson but wouldn't recommend it as a place out-of-towners must visit. Fond is the best place on that list, I'd say Bistro 7 and Pumpkin are tied for second (out of the places the OP listed), Matyson is slightly below those two. Some people find Fond to be too noisy, I've never had a problem though. It's not downtown, it's in South Philly. Cochon doesn't belong on the list, it's pretty French and if you're going to a French BYO you want to go to Bibou.

        You can bring any alcohol you want to a BYO but why would you want to bring hard alcohol? It doesn't exactly pair with food, and very few places offer mixers to go with it.

        My favorite BYOs in the city, cuisine type notwithstanding, are Bibou, Fond, Kanella, Koo Zee Doo, Han Dynasty, and Modo Mio. Kanella is the closest to where you'll be (I'm guessing, "downtown" isn't that exact).

        6 Replies
        1. re: Buckethead

          Thanks for your great comments Buckethead. What do you like about Pumpkin? I never have had the pleasure going there. The menus look like they source locally, but the menus never struck me as that "ingenious." Have you been there recently?

          1. re: cwdonald

            I was there maybe 8 months ago. I agree the food is simple, but they do a good job of picking good ingredients and not screwing them up. I wouldn't say it's one of my favorite BYOs in the city (I've only been there maybe three times over the years) but the OP mentioned it by name. It's also very small and quiet.

          2. re: Buckethead

            An after dinner cognac would be nice!

            1. re: Bigley9

              You're right! I guess I forgot about the pre- and after-dinner drink possibility. And I've definitely seen a few people practically bring their own bar into a BYO, 750ml bottles of vodka, mixers, etc.

            2. re: Buckethead

              There have been occasions when we've brought cognac, or vin santo, or Moscato d'Asti to have with dessert or a cheese course after dinner.

              1. re: Buckethead

                l feel Cochon is very good, yes Bibou is as well, l will going there tonight, but Cochon, Modo Mio, Bibou and Han Dynasty would be my list. The trouble is, of those Han is the only one with just minor transportation concerns.

              2. I would rate Matyson above Pumpkin or Bistro 7. Consistently good and creative.
                We went to Bistro 7 recently and were very disappointed. My husband doesn't care for Pumpkin.
                Heard great things about Fond but it is not downtown.

                If you won't be drinking a lot by the time you have dinner, perhaps you should consider a place that is not byob. Meritage is one of our favorites, and fits all the other criteria. Take a look at their menu.

                1. For higher end, fond is a great choice. And a new cocktail bar called Stateside just opened up across the street. However, i think the best overall is cochon, tho it's a little louder perhaps. And for cocktails beforehand, Southwark is very close and fantastic. But u can't go wrong with any of your choices. Have fun!

                  1. I've been to Pumpkin about a year ago and it wasn't very memorable to me, but it doesn't mean that it will be the same for you.

                    It isn't downtown, but Koo Zee Doo is my favorite BYOB so far. It is a Portuguese restaurant in Northern Liberties and the 5 courses for 50 bucks is the way to go.

                    1. I very much like The Farm and the Fisherman -- impeccable sourrcing of ingredients and excellent cooking and chef/owner with an impressive resume.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: Nancy S.

                        Thanks, all of this feedback is exactly what I am looking for.

                        Nancy - I read about the Farm and the Fisherman recently and will take a look

                        As far as brining in flasks, yes, we were thinking about drinks before dinner.

                        1. re: jrl2929

                          I would recommend against Farm and Fisherman, ingredient sourcing, proper cooking, and a nice resume didn't add up to a great meal for me.

                          Sorry I misunderstood about the flask question.

                          1. re: Buckethead

                            I'm curious about your dinner. I've been there twice and thought it was excellent. My parents have been there no less than 10 times and have expressed only praise. I was a fan of the chef's cooking at Blue Hill Stone Barns, so I was happy that he came to Phila.

                            1. re: Nancy S.


                              Short version: it was fine, a good neighborhood BYO but not a place I'd recommend to someone visiting from out of town who wants to sample Philly's best.

                              1. re: Buckethead

                                Going next week, will see who l agree with.

                                1. re: Buckethead

                                  I had high expectations for this Farm and Fisherman , and feel that it has so much potential. I hope in time they will be able to deliver.

                                  The menu is essentially set up as a three course tasting menu, with dessert as an optional. Changing daily, based on what they are able to source, it is clearly a surprise what is on the menu.

                                  As it was a blustery fall night, I opted for two dishes that felt like they were fall to me.. a delicous butternut squash soup, that also had sunflower seeds and a bit of speck in the bottom. Great,,, a taste of the season. I followed that with acorn squash ravioli, served with hazlenuts, and gala apples in a brown butter sage sauce. Good but not as flavorful as I was expecting. This course they also messed up my DC's order, forgeting to put his lobster in. That threw off the whole pace of the dinner.

                                  The third course we both opted for lamb shoulder, served on a bed of spinach, and turnips. Felt like the dish was a bit salty, and not sure if this was a result of over salting, or whether the sauce reduced while cooking extra long while the lobster dish was fired.

                                  We passed on dessert as the choices were uninspiring (creme brulle and an apple struedel,,, ). We also had a hiccup with the final bill as they under charged us, and wanting to be honest, we brought that to their attention, which then resulted in an additional ten minutes to leave the restaurant.

                                  I love the place, the staff, and the concept. I hope it becomes more consistent over time.

                                    1. re: Nancy S.

                                      OK, l will check in on Farm and Fisherman. Went early last night, got a spacious 2 top in middle of room. Everything was done nicely regarding res and coats, etc. Waiter was a little too helpful explaining everything on menu, everything. We had our wines opened, poured, and put in little holders very easily as well. Decided to split the famed beet, each have a small, and each have a main. Thought the beet, well praised in reviews, came piping hot, served on two dishes for the split, with a hint of balsamic and with the proviso l love beets, l loved this dish. Felt their homemade Parkerhouse rolls and homemade butter ( our waiter said he made the butter) were ok.
                                      Next course consisted of the pork cheeks braised with dry fruits for me and the egg sandwich for her. Both were excellent with the note the pork cheeks tasted more to me like beef cheeks, but regardless, l loved them. No slips in either food or service.
                                      Main course for her was the chicken cooked in hay, we had requested the dark meat, and three thighs came on the platter with cheese spaetzle and greens, every morsel was eaten by the two of us. For me was the duck breast, regretfully, my bad, did not tell them not to slice it so was drying as it came, and by the time l got to the end of the dish, it was room temp and quite dry. Might have been a good breast but will never know. As there were a few other things on the menu we wished to try, we also ordered two sides. The pork belly was non crispy and frankly boring; the salsify puree was water thin and again not interesting but the puree was very well made texturally. We split a dessert of lemon and something, it was very unremarkable. No coffee or fussy water, meal, tax, tip, came to $ 145. Room noise was very handleable. We liked it a lot and will return, if only for the beet and chicken, they are two mainstays on the menu. It is tough to compare any restaurant on hospitality to Bibou, as Charlotte/Pierre set a standard l have never seen before or since going to their restaurant, Bibou is beyond perfect.

                        2. i know that you can definitely bring in hard alcohol to matyson. i brought vodka in the past, but i also brought little cups for us to drink it out of as well (didn't need any mixers).

                          1. I'm a line cook at a BYOB that's just outside the city, which I would highly recommend if you weren't looking for Center City. That being said, my top picks would be Koo Zee Doo, Bibou, and Little Fish.

                            Koo Zee Doo was a perfect meal -- my husband and I had a tandem tasting (by far the best way to go) meaning that we did a chef's tasting where they sent each of us different plates for each course, so a 5 course tasting means getting to try 10 things on the menu, assuming that your husband will share. ;) We had also brought a bottle of white wine, and they sent out 2 complementary glasses of red when we had a course that it was suited to.

                            Pierre Calmels of Bibou has done a guest chef dinner at the restaurant where I work and I have the utmost respect for him and am in awe of his talent. You can't go wrong with Bibou.

                            Little Fish is a bit cramped, and on the noisy side but they've got some of the best fish in town. The flavors are creative without being forced, the staff is great -- very knowledgeable but not overbearing about it, and it's amazing to see them put dinners out of that TINY open kitchen they have.