HOME > Chowhound > Philadelphia >

Discussion

The Lucky Well= BBQ+

Much anticipated by many; the Well in Ambler opens Monday (today).

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I await reviews. Ambler is about equidistant to souderton for me. But Jesse's is closed sunday and monday.

    1. Anyone been yet? Daddy needs a review.

      1. Search for The Lucky Well on yelp. There are already a handful of reviews there, mostly positive.

        2 Replies
        1. re: GreatElAndyo

          My concern with the reviews on the Y site is that most of them were people that went to pre-eating. These people are often friends of the management. That said, waiting to hear the reviews. The one positive thing I heard was that Forest and Main is providing a house beer for the well... that shows they are committed to locally sourced products (in addition to where they are sourcing their beef ribs among other things.) I will say I was surprised they chose to highlight New Jersey smoked sausage, especially considering the proximity of local purveyors for products that are made in Bucks or Mont co as well as the great products being made in Philadelphia, especially in Port Richmond.

        2. So, I just returned from an early dinner at the Lucky Well.

          First impression: somebody put in a lot of time and money on this redo. The bar is still in the same location as when it was Shanachie (I'm sure that spelling is way off). That's the only similarity. The space is bright now. The bar area has long rustic tables as well as a comfy seating area. We were seated in the back dining room which is also bright and really much more "elegant" than I expected. (Really, cloth napkins at a BBQ joint?) Lots of B&W photography on the walls.

          Anyway, on to the important stuff. I ordered the 1/2 order of beef brisket with a side of mac & cheese. DC had the 1/2 order of beef ribs with a side of cole slaw. The brisket was OK--it wasn't hot and it had both the dry rub and way too much of the Carolina-style sauce. The result was the flavor was all sauce, no beef. DC pronounced her beef ribs similarly "OK," suffering from the oversauced syndrome. (And that was a problem, because that one cloth napkin was becoming a hot mess). I'm also glad that our server told us that the "whole" portions of their entrees are enough for two. The beef ribs 1/2 order was three ribs, which DC powered through. The 1/2 order of brisket was enough for two meals for me.

          The sides, however, were excellent. The mac and cheese was creamy and hot, with a nice topping of crumbs. The cole slaw was very fresh and light, with a hint of apple in the dressing.

          Service was a little clunky, as I expected it would be one week in. However, the servers seemed well-trained and knowledgeable--I overhead one telling his table the staff had to taste everything on the menu, including the specialty cocktails.

          So, despite some disappointment with the mains, I will return in a few weeks. It's hard to write off a restaurant that's only one week old after one visit, especially since there were high notes with the sides. Also, I didn't indulge in any alcohol on this visit and their specialty cocktails looked intriguing. And there is quite a list of whiskeys, scotches and bourbons.

          Chad was in the house and visited a few tables, but not ours. (We already had our food, and he only visited tables that hadn't ordered to explain his meat sourcing.) Even early on Tuesday there was a decent number of diners, so apparently there are a good number of folks looking to support this local independent.

          It will be interesting to see how/if any of the concept will evolve. Cloth napkins. Mains served on essentially small metal baking sheets lined with paper; sides served in sculptural white dishes. Oh, and no pre-packaged hand wipes: extra large wipes, warmed, and served on a dish with a lemon slice "to cut through the sauce on your hands." So it seems it is presently struggling to decide if it's down home BBQ or upscale Barbecue.

          Oh, and at the far area of the rear dining room is a section called "The Barn" which we checked out before leaving. They have three picnic-style (think high-end picnic) tables that seat 30. Our server came over and explained that the center art work conceals a tv that can also be used as video screen for slideshows, etc and that the barn doors close to create a private dining room. Apparently, it's already been booked for a bridal shower. (It also has a big B&W photo of a pig that stared at me throughout dinner . . . so I was glad I ordered beef ;)

          ETA: Sorry this was so long and so focused on the space itself.

          17 Replies
          1. re: gaffk

            Thanks for the detailed review. I believe you spelled Shanachie correctly but you probably did not pronounce it correctly, since none of us did. This sounds a lot like my impression of Rosie's BBQ (Chad's old BBQ joint): solid sides, okay BBQ. However, the rest of the menu looks tremendous. I am excited to get there & try out the non-BBQ items.

              1. re: knappy123

                Yeah, we used to call it "story teller."

                I think my next visit will be to the bar with sides and apps to try with the drinks.

              2. re: gaffk

                Thanks for the thoughtful review. As it happens I went to Jesse's today because I cannot resist dining on his outdoor porch. No sauce is poured on any of his meat and the different sauces are self serve as is everything there.
                Don't believe I've ever been to a bbq that serves cocktails although many in the south do serve beer. I know I won't be able to resist trying this place when the weather is cooler. The napkin problem I'll be ready for as I've learned to carry spare paper napkins in my huge purse being a wing lover. Having lived in NC I'll be comfy with the pig picture, they have pig statues etc etc all over the place at their barbecue places usually.

                1. re: givemecarbs

                  In Kansas City, Jack's Stack is a higher end bbq place with locations on the Plaza and the Crossroads sections. They are not quite white napkins, but it is a nice enough place to entertain clients. And the bbq is quite good.

                  In this area Bridgeport Roadhouse is a biker type bar with bbq, but does have a full bar.

                2. re: gaffk

                  Thanks for the details of your visit. Giving them time to improve, perfect what it is they do, before making any final pronouncements is fair enough. Having lived for a few years in NC and traveling the south on business I have tried different styles of BBQ and have come to the conclusion, shared my many, that "they" do BBQ best. Just not sure why this is. That the Well is still seeking to find its identity is understandable the only disappointing news is that the mains are just OK. I am sure they will thrive as it seem they fill a space not occupied in the general area.

                  1. re: gaffk

                    Thanks for the review! I'm looking forward to checking the Well out with friends in a few weeks.

                    1. re: gaffk

                      Thanks for the review. It sounds like a mildly negative review to me. So I guess I won't be going there. Thanks again.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Wait. A "mildly negative review" about a restaurant open <2 weeks would dissuade you from trying it?

                        1. re: Michael Klein

                          Michael, it might make me want to wait. I would never want to write a restaurant off in the first month of its opening, (I remember the crying about Il Pittore and salting food in the first month of its opening.. ) as you know all too well places settle down after a while.

                          1. re: Michael Klein

                            I should say that I wasn't completely motivated to try it from the start, so a mild negative review is not going to change my mind, and somehow makes me to try it. In other words, I didn't start at a "I want to try" position.

                            We all have limited amount of time, so we try to spend it wisely. It just seems like there are many other places for me to try.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Fair enough. I find myself hungry and in Ambler pretty often, so I was anticipating this restaurant to work into my rotation.

                              Curious, if 3 months from now everybody posts how fabulous this place has turned out, would you reconsider?

                              1. re: gaffk

                                Sure. I love barbecue. The other thing in your review which scared me was that "sauce overwhelming the meat" I really don't like that. I lived in Georgia, and I personally prefer to add as little sauce as possible. So too much sauce can really turn me off. Also, I should say that I prefer sauce on the tables -- let me add. Granted, ribs are different.

                                You shouldn't feel bad that your review turns me off from this place. A good review should always be accurate, which describes the goods and the bads.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Yeah, the oversaucing was the real disappointment of the meal. I can only hope that, since the owner is wandering around the dining room, he gets some feedback that triggers a change.

                                  After dinner I joked that I'd return for cocktails and sides ;)

                                  1. re: gaffk

                                    I was at places in Kansas City over Labor Day (Gates. OK Joes and LCs) and suffered from the over sauced problem there in three well established places. My take away is if I want sauce I either get it dry and then order sauce on the side or say light sauce. I do the same thing with my wings, dry sauce on the side.

                              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                Agreed ck, graffk, cw: A position I often find myself taking regarding a restaurant which has had not-go-good reviews is the "lost opportunity" issue which is quite the same as "limited amount of time". Fortunately for we in the Philadelphia area options for dining are many and diverse and thus with only so many opportunities reviews by kindred reviewers help me choose more intelligently in applying time and money resources. I certainly would need to hear more good things about The Well before investing.

                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              I haven't written it off--as I said, I will return. Remember, my visit was on day 8 of the restaurant's opening. I'll try it again in a few weeks.