Bridge Street in Phoenixville is bubbling with a variety of hidden gems. Most main streets in a lively town are pretty straight forward. What you see is what you get. However, this unique Philadelphia ‘burb sometimes requires a second look. Pepperoncini’s tasty Italian treats are tucked away in their cozy basement and nobody expects to find Pickering Creek Inn’s above-par offerings behind their saloon-like, historic exterior.
The same has been true for the Fenix, a poised bar just next to Molly Maguire’s. However, their creative concoctions like the Peanut Butter Cup Martinis are now surpassing many cocktails in the area. Perhaps this is because the said mixture is made with a house-infused PB Cup vodka and the same personal attention goes into all their offerings? Offerings, which as of late have been taken to the next level with new food items and an extensive craft beer list.
I escaped away into the unexpectedly modern, but laid back Fenix on a Friday night with a foodie friend. Arriving earlier than the usual “going out crowds” we had our fair share of seating options to choose from in the spacious venue. I get giddy over restaurant couches and decided to satisfy my obsession by occupying one of the comfortable black leather cushions with my bottom. It was tucked nicely in a corner with a few other chairs around a low set table which invoked an inviting, lounge-like atmosphere. I didn’t hesitate to sink back into the love seat between my scrumptious courses.
The Fenix crew was eager to take me on a tour of their new small plate menu and offered a unique pairing approach to go with it. I had no interruptions as they briefed me on the three individual courses. Instead, every ounce of energy went toward containing my excitement for the food to come.
Crab, Spinach & Artichoke Dip with Fried Naan Strips | Chardonnay, Sean Minor
If you’re thinking “how great could a basic appetizer be?” think again! First off, the crab addition was a nice touch, elevating the creamy starter to a whole new level. We could smell the savory seafood as they brought the dish to our table.
I nearly forgot about the unique dipping apparatus’ until taking my first bite. “Hmmmm, it’s like a French fry and a pita chip,” I thought. The Fried Naan Strips were a delicious combination of texture and taste, presented in a tower with old-fashioned newspaper lining. They were appealing to the eyes as well as the taste buds.
Fenix employee, Will Tribendis, was particularly careful to point out the wine pairing for this course.
“The beer and Dogfish Head is an obvious combination with a BBQ item but, to me, there is nothing like this Chardonnay and dip pairing. It’s pure perfection. The flavors of the wine highlight the crab and vice versa.”
He was spot on and, unlike other restaurants who feature crab in their appetizers, there was no skimping here. It definitely wasn’t overpowering but you weren’t whipping out a magnifying glass to find it either. We were more than pleased with the first course.
Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Mayo, Sweet Soy Reduction and Sriracha Sauce | Pomegranate Vodka
I always thought I wasn’t a big fan of Ahi Tuna. I liked it but wouldn’t go out of my way to order it. Still, I was excited to sample the light appetizer, especially with a spicy Wasabi Mayo and Sriracha on the side.
They brought out six generous slices with a new drink, pomegranate juice mixed with vodka and a touch of rum. Again, the presentation was way above the average appetizer image. Swirls of sweet soy reduction and strategically placed sauces rendered the plate appealing to all my senses.
Tuna quality is typically a concern when eating a dish like this but I was more than pleased with their flavorful offering. The contrasting temperatures from the flawlessly seared outside and fresh raw middle were extremely kind to my palate. I explained to Ryan Norris, Fenix’s Manager, that immediately after my first bite I had to call a friend who adores ahi tuna and tell him Fenix was the spot to get his next bite.
BBQ Pork Tacos with Pico de Gallo and Fiesta Slaw | Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
On to the final pairing, a food and drink marriage of my usual sorts. I was overjoyed about this last dish since it contained two of my favorite fares in life, beer and tacos. I was told the heat level of the BBQ pork would fall around a 7 but, if eaten right before a sip of the heavy hopped 90 Minute IPA, the index could rise all the way to a 10! Although there was an enjoyable kick to the south of the border item, it was absolutely bearable and not to be feared.
The pork was shredded but not obnoxiously pulled apart. It was very tender like the kind your grandmother makes in her crock pot. Juices flowed and the meat melted in my mouth during each hearty bite.
By this point a crowd had started to form and small gatherings took their seats at the casual dining areas around us. I wanted to befriend each one of them and suggest the exact menu I just enjoyed but my mouth was full with BBQ pork goodness. Also, after taking a second glance at all their offerings, a part of me wanted to try the whole kitten kaboodle so I left it up to them to decide.
Nevertheless, I didn’t have any regrets upon peering through the entire menu, just high hopes for the future. I will certainly be returning soon to nosh my way through their other various small plates like the Margarita Flatbread, Buffalo Chicken Dip and Jerk Chicken Quesadilla. The only downfall? Trying to decide on a beer from their extensive craft selection. I guess I’ll have to try them all.
Find the Fenix Martini Bar at 193 Bridge Street in Phoenixville or online at thefenixbar.com.