Our Verdict: Sidebar Is Top Notch

The Philadelphia Attorney burger with a barrel-aged Old Fashion.

The Philadelphia Attorney burger with a barrel-aged Old Fashion.

Nestled alongside the Second Street Bridge is Sidebar at Whiskey Row, one of the city’s newest hotspots.

The aptly-named bar – it’s located on the side of the historic Whiskey Row Lofts – is a casual albeit sexy space with a focus on bourbon, beer and the best burgers we’ve tasted in a long time. Each patty is a hand-crafted mix of Certified Angus Beef, brisket, short rib and chuck, and comes served atop what Chef Richard Schaefer lovingly calls a “butter bun.”

Sidebar also pays homage to the legal definition of its name – a discussion between the judges and attorneys at the bench off the record – by sticking to a court-themed menu. The Preliminary Hearing is a list of appetizers that range from zucchini fries to hummus to beer cheese. The Trial is a collection of burgers with names like Hung Jury, Ambulance Chaser and Philadelphia Attorney, as well as a grilled salmon sandwich called the Material Witness, and a vegetarian mushroom and edamame patty, cheekily coined the Jones’n For A Burger.

Salad lovers will enjoy the Deliberation portion of the menu, which features a number of salads, and dessert fans will want to reach The Verdict, a selection of hand-blended vanilla bean ice cream shakes served with or without alcohol and the best sharable settlement you could ever ask for: Death By Chocolate.

The cocktail menu is bourbon heavy, includes a solid number of both draft and bottled beer choices, four wine options and a handful of original cocktails, though the friendly bartenders will serve up just about anything you desire.

In addition to the food and drink offerings, the menu also includes a section titled, “We’ve Sentenced Ourselves To Community Service…” and the explanation: “By providing sustainable jobs and charitable contributions, we will build a better community – not just a better burger.”

Our verdict: Sidebar may be one of the city’s newest hotspots, but will prove to be a popular local favorite. That’s our final ruling.

Sidebar is open noon to 1 a.m. Sunday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Wednesday; and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune 

The Men Behind Sidebar

Richard Ruth Sidebar Operating Partner
Favorite item on the menu? The Bailiff.
Your drink of choice:  Kentucky Maid.
What type of place is Sidebar? A great place where educated people can gatyer without being judged by others, have a great drink and a great deal in a casual but sexy environment.
Favorite night: Friday
What do you want patrons to remember? How comfortable the environment was, how great the product was and walk out the front door talking about how great the service was.

Richard Schaefer  Sidebar Executive Chef
Favorite item on the menu? Ambulance Chaser.
Your drink of choice: Ginger Ale.
What type of place: It’s Americana. We just like to put out good food.
Favorite night: Friday.
What do you want patrons to remember? Just a pleasurable dining experience, great service and just a really good burger.

Jason Brauner Sidebar Consultant
Favorite item on the menu? The Philadelphia Attorney.
Your drink of choice: A bourbon straight up.
What type of place is Sidebar? A hip, casual burger joint.
What do you want patrons to remember? What a great time they’ve had.

Jason Scot Pierce Sidebar Assistant General Manager and Culinary Director
Favorite item on the menu? The Bailiff.
Your drink of choice: The ginger lemonade.
What type of place is Sidebar? A classica Americanqa style restaurant with smooth and elegant interioor deisgn features and it’s just a fun place. It’s very classy and upscael but also fun. We’re not pretentious.
Favorite night: Friday.
What do you want patrons to remember? The food, the atmosphere and the service. And we’re very humble about what you do. We’ve made it a point not to put “best” anywhere on the menu or in our public relations. We want our customers to say that for us.

Justin Brown Sidebar Marketing Director
Favorite item on the menu? Hung Jury with extra beer cheese.
Your drink of choice: Sidebar Four Roses Single Barrel on the rocks.
What type of place is Sidebar? Comfortable but cool.
Favorite night: The night I’m sitting at the bar.
What do you want patrons to remember? The drinks were great, the food was flavorful and the service disarming.

  • Greg Hoover

    Stopped by for a drink on the way to the Derby balloon glow, but it was still several days before they opened. Not to worry, Richard unlocked the door and asked if we’d like to see the place anyway. As he toured us around the restaurant space he described the beef they were “crafting” for their burgers and it was obvious the passion and quality he was bringing to this project. The last stop was the bar where Richard was training a new hire and working on their barrel aged cocktails. The review above and the subsequent dining experience at Sidebar totally backs up that precursor of a visit. Awesome joint, incredible food, even better staff and ownership team.