By: Michael Wechsler
There likely isn’t any neighborhood in Philadelphia more dynamic than Rittenhouse Square. The name Rittenhouse evokes many images, from the high society in rowhouse mansions and park facing co-ops, to students and young professionals buzzing around at the endless selection of bars and restaurants, to the crowds of people from all walks of life that can be found relaxing in the eponymous square itself. The frenetic energy of store fronted avenues and clustered high-rises sit side by side with charming tree-lined streets populated by elegant homes and sidewalk cafes. The fact that it sits within the most densely populated zip code in the city is no coincidence: everyone can find a reason to want to live among Rittenhouse’s splendors.
Across from the northeast corner of Rittenhouse Square, you’ll find an imposing brick building towering behind Barnes & Noble. 10 Rittenhouse, the aforementioned grande dame designed by famed architect Robert A.M. Stern (designer of such renowned buildings as New York’s 15 Central Park West, the iconic ultra luxury condo chronicled in the illuminating House of Outrageous Fortune) has lured everything from CEOs to sports players with it’s unbeatable location, laundry list of prime amenities, and top of the line finishings.
Here at At Home Philly, we caught ourselves a pretty rare listing: Unit 804 was the only one bedroom unit available in this exclusive building when it went on the market. This deluxe condo perched above 18th St. offered up a sumptuous living room, a gourmet kitchen decked out in Poggenpohl cabinets tucked behind a large breakfast bar, a powder room (always a rarity in 1 bedrooms) and a soaking tub laden master bath upgraded with a pretty sweet dual vanity. Can’t really fault the hotel-like amenities either: It’s quite nice to have a doorman, pool, fitness center, valet parking, and an available guest suite at your disposal.
Frankly, a 1-bedroom condo might just be the perfect format for city living. Comfortable, but small enough to not bog down a resident in endless maintenance. Of course, the reasons for owning a condo like this one might not be in the building at all: It’s those alluring restaurants, cafes, bars, and clubs right outside that draw people to downtown living.
One of my favorites is not far from 10 Rittenhouse. By not far, I mean DIRECTLY across the street. Living here would really leave no excuse not to head downstairs and into The Dandelion at every chance. A British-themed gastropub, The Dandelion matches 10 Ritt’s pedigree with one of its own: It’s a member of the restaurant group helmed by Stephen Starr, a man whose name is familiar to most that have eaten out in this town (After all, he is the James Beard Foundation’s pick for best restaurateur in the country right now, and pretty instrumental in forming the outstanding food scene we currently enjoy in Philly). Set in an intricately decorated corner rowhouse, the pub is divided into a mesh of unique, homey spaces spread over two floors. The menu has as much variety as the decor: Come for brunch, lunch, a true English tea-time, and dinner.
I could write about how amazing it is to snuggle into a table in a room that looks like the kitchen of a cottage in the Cotswolds, await a towering tray of tarts, cookies and finger sandwiches, and pour yourself a cup of soothing whole leaf tea. I could write about that, or about other hits on the expansive menu. I won’t do that however, because one unassuming dish at the Dandelion stands well above the rest. Ladies & Gentlemen, there is one particular delicacy I have tried at every Philadelphia establishment known to prepare it well, and I have come to the conclusion that this very pub produces the best of this unassuming menu staple. It is my humble opinion that no visitor to the Dandelion should forgo the best cheeseburger in the city. Yes, that’s right! It might not scream “British pub fare” like much of the menu, but you have my word that their burger will take your mouth on a joyride.
The menu describes it simply as the “House Blend Aged Beef Burger” and adds that it contains Vermont sharp cheddar, Brooklyn brine pickles, applewood smoked bacon, and churchill sauce. It does not go on to say that the burger has a near perfect ratio of bun-to-meat, or an intoxicating smokey finish. I for one could be very happy living where that glorious burger is but a brisk elevator ride away.
The Dandelion may not be the only reason or even a major reason to want to live next door at 10 Rittenhouse. That may be, but it is an amazing advantage. If I had designed the building’s website, let’s just say the amenities page would focus less on bellhops and more on burgers.