Weathering the Growing Pains of Goat Hollow
by Iris McCarthy
In working class Mt. Airy, a gussied up gastropub would stand out like a (very) sore thumb, so, perhaps, that's why Goat Hollow takes the humbler approach and bills itself as a "neighborhood brasserie." If that sounds too froufrou for the area, don't fret—friendly, down-to-earth servers and a relaxed vibe keep any and all pretentiousness at bay. An impressive little bar stocked with a varied selection of beers has attracted a gaggle of regulars, while chef Adam Glickman’s well-executed menu of mussels reminds patrons of his near decade-long stint at Monk's Café.
"They're really good. Seriously." It was this ringing endorsement from our waiter that prompted our decision to order what very well may be the restaurant's standout dish.
A heaping bowl of bivalves, studded with house-cured tasso ham, caramelized onions, and bathed in a flavorful pool of beer broth, arrived with a worthy companion of Belgian frites, all of which was quickly devoured and universally praised by all at the table.
Unfortunately, the magic of Goat Hollow came to a temporary halt while daring to navigate the minefield of an often overly ambitious menu. Pickled pork belly dumplings sounded tempting, but arrived slicked in grease and with a gloopy, unremarkable, ginger-tinged dipping sauce. Hoping for some sort of porcine redemption, the restaurant's namesake burger—a hefty two-hander topped with pickled pork belly and provolone—was promising, but would have greatly benefited from a crisper swath of said pork. Paying homage to Philadelphia’s love affair with sandwiches, tender but regrettably under-seasoned slices of brisket were enveloped in a toasted, appropriately chewy roll and topped with braised greens. Redeemed with a shake of salt, it could easily give the city's other sandwich a run for its money.
Despite the missteps and occasional let-downs (easily absolved with the help of a warming, pleasant bowl of chicken and rice soup), this is exactly what the area needs—a place full of potential, which is not unlike the neighborhood itself.