I remember first hearing about the Spanish restaurant Bar Ferdinand in 2007. This, of course, was only a year after my semester abroad in Spain and needless to say I was still obsessed with all things Spanish, especially its food. However, it would take close to a decade for me to get there but I finally did this past Christmas while I was visiting for the holidays, for brunch that is.
Bar Ferdinand is located in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood, a one that has become gentrified in recent years and today is home to a slew of popular, hipster eateries along with some of the best brews in the area (I can’t vouch for the latter but I hear Northern Liberties paired with good beer all the time). The inside is fantastic-I’d describe it as an American re-do of a Spanish bar meaning stuff is clean, flashy, and smokeless. The mosaic mural of a bull was my favorite.
The brunch menu is broken down into huevos (egg) dishes and tapas (a forewarning about the tapas-they’re more like raciones, plates that give you a lot more food than what a tapa typically does, so order accordingly). I didn’t know this and ended up over ordering by quite a bit.
I opted first for a perennial favorite of mine-tortilla espanola ($5). Frankly, you can never go wrong with a dish that combines potatoes and eggs and it’s one that’s perfect for both brunch and dinner.
I also selected the Patatas Bravas ($4). These are one of Spain’s most iconic tapas dishes and when translated into English mean “fierce potatoes” due to their slightly spicy taste. They came with a spicy tomato aioli sauce. I was the purist and found them delicious enough sans sauce.
During my ordering blitz, I had something of a mind freeze. You see, Spain has a type of French Toast that I’m aware of, except that its name is torrijas and in Spain it’s considered more of a dessert dish. However, it consists of a slice of bread that’s been soaked in milk or wine with honey and spice, and after being dipped in egg batter, it’s then fried in a pan with olive oil. Well, minus the wine part, to me that’s French Toast. When I saw on the menu an offering for “Spanish Toast $6) I ordered it thinking I would literally be getting toast with seasonal fruit and whipped cream as the description noted. Well, it was French Toast, pan fried bread and all. It was delicious but definitely put me over the whole glutinous edge.
And then because I hadn’t ordered enough, I decided to finally try Morcilla ($5) which, vegetarians cover your ears, but is pork blood sausage. They’re sausages that have been filled with blood and are then cooked or dried and mixed with a filler until they are thick enough to congeal when cooled. I never tried this when I was in Spain so I figured now was as good a time as ever. It wasn’t bad, definitely had an interesting taste to it, not sure if I’d find the need to get it again.
Both of my parents went with the Fontina and Sautéed Spinach Omelet ($8), the least Spanish-sounding dish ever. But they said it was quite tasty.
D opted for a more traditional Spanish dish, specifically the Chorizo, Morcilla, Potato Hash, Piquillos (a type of pepper), and Poached Egg platter ($8). He also was just okay on the morcilla taste. He had also ordered a side of bacon.
We dined there the day after Christmas and it was quite dead and deserted, but the food was good and the service excellent. I look forward to returning during the dinner hour and trying other tapas and specifically the sangria.
1030 N 2nd Street Philadelphia, PA. 19123